Policy Briefs

News Track: Anambra 2017: Atmosphere Getting Charged

Barely five months to the Anambra State governorship election, the gladiators are already junketing the nooks and crannies of the state to promote their candidature to the electorate now treated as beautiful brides. RAPHAEL ONYEKACHUKWU reports on the political showmanship ahead of the zero hour.
Going by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, particularly Section 10(1) that stipulates a 90-day timeframe for electioneering campaigns, stakeholders interested in the Anambra gubernatorial seat have commenced politicking ahead of time to gain acceptance and political mileage among the electorate.

Evidently in their haste, these gladiators are ignoring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines on official commencement of campaigns, a date that is still about two months away, precisely on August 18, 2017.

Interestingly, almost four months to the collection of forms by political parties from INEC for issuance to their candidates, some may have settled for sole candidatures. And for now, it appears only six political parties are formidable and ready to have a crack at the governorship race.

Leading contenders are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) and United Progressive Party (UPP).

But the UPP National Chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, thinks differently and he puts it more succinctly that: “The governorship election in Anambra State will be a direct encounter between two political parties of the same DNA”, adding, “the impending defeat of APGA in Anambra State should not be a surprise to anyone, who has been closely monitoring the progressive and revolutionary agenda of the UPP which is deeply rooted in self -determination, Restructuring, Referendum, Fiscal Federalism, Devolution of Power etc.”

According to him; “There is no other political party in Nigeria that parades such social contract. Like the great Zik would say, UPP will be magnanimous to APGA in victory while we expect the party to accept defeat gallantly.” In spite of the presence of political heavyweights in PDP and APC, Okorie insists both parties are no threat in the guber race for all ‘intents and purposes’.

Curiously, heightened schemes by various interest groups, political parties and godfathers, give the impression the election is only days away, a setting expected to subsist through September 18, 2017, the final day for submitting forms CF001 and CF002, for governorship and deputy governorship candidates.

However, given the fierceness associated with Anambra governorship contest, where Abuja, usually decides and the wind of change, especially continuous upgrading of the electoral system, parties are already re-adjusting to make their podiums attractive and competitive for the election.

For instance, in its quest to wrest power from APGA, the APC has assembled eggheads in the South-east political chess game. Charged with taking over Anambra on November 18, 2017, the APC’s Anambra State Governorship Election Planning and Strategy Committee is chaired by first civilian governor of old Anambra, Senator Jim Nwobodo. With a mandate to monitor the political environment and inform the party leadership, the Committee will also evaluate all aspirants; raise funds; and advise on zoning as part of measures to ensure the party’s victory at the polls. Other Committee members are former Abia governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu – vice chairman; Senator Emma Agboti – secretary; Senator Ifeanyi Ararume; Senator Nkechi Wogu; Chief Madugba Cosmas; and Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu. However, reservations about the committee’s membership centre on fears that most of them, being only recent defectors to APC, may settle for a candidate, who is the highest bidder.

Matching the APC’s scheming is Chief Willie Obiano Support Group, led by Sir Jude Emecheta. It has traversed the length and breadth of the state on behalf of the governor, just as the PDP, riding on the back of former Governor Peter Obi’s campaign machinery, is not relenting in its bid to re-capture power.

However, the PDP crisis remains a sore point for aspirants and their supporters, as it is seriously polarized. Many chieftains have either defected to the APC, UPP or APGA despite efforts by its chairman, Prince Ken Emeakayi to reposition the party in Anambra.

On its part, APC has eight aspirants eyeing its ticket while the PDP has four. Among the APC aspirants are National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, Dr Obinna Uzor, Hon Tony Nwoye, Sir Paul Chukwuma, the Party’s National Youth Leader. Others are Barth Nwibe, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo, Senator Andy Uba and Dr Chike Obidigbo.

For PPA, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo has already emerged its sole candidate without primaries while Dr Stephen Obiorah Mbah is tipped as the PRP candidate.

On the UPP’s platform, former Aviation Minister, Chief Osita Chidoka is set to confront names like Dr Alex Obiogbolu, Oseloka Obaze, Zeribe Ezeanuna, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, and Chudi Ofordile.

In APGA, incumbent, Chief Willie Obiano looks set to fly the flag, although the likes of Elo Aforka have indicated interest to unseat him.

The Aspirants Willie Obiano (APGA) – He became governor through the instrumentality of Peter Obi, his predecessor, whose adherence to the zoning arrangement that gave him advantage in 2014. Shortly after his emergence, the Aguleri-born politician turned against his political mentor. Many admit he really did not face serious opposition as the power brokers rallied round his government. However, trouble started when Obi defected to the PDP following their disagreement over the N75 billion bond claimed to have been left in the state purse when his tenure expired. Though there are some good works to his credit, critics said Obiano’s sins are many. Some persons are seeking their pound of flesh for his perceived betrayal after the election. This is just as others accused him of running a government of deceit. But his strong point is the support base, particularly in Anambra North where he is accused of over-concentrating projects and appointments. His albatross would be the many progressives, who as adherents of APGA, are not happy and may work against him.

Tony Nwoye (APC) – The former PDP Chairman in Anambra State and its governorship candidate in 2014, Nwoye currently represents Anambra East and West Constituency in the House of Representatives. A dogged fighter and great mobiliser, this ex-Students Union leader hails from Nsugbe, Anambra East, the same local government as Governor Obiano. Though he has the governor as the major obstacle, his age and wide contacts across the state as the former PDP boss are considered major selling points.

Stephen Obiorah Mbah (PRP) – Claiming that his main objective is to reconstruct Anambra State, this Awka born industrialist is a greenhorn in Anambra politics. Though his party, PRP, has no sound footing in the state, Mbah is daring his traducers that having raised the platform, the march to Anambra Government House will be historic.

Osita Chidoka (UPP) – With the existing unwritten arrangement, the former Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and Minister of Aviation, may find it tough actualizing his guber ambition. He hails from Anambra central as immediate past governor, Obi. His strength however lies in perceived romance with Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and backing of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

George Moghalu (APC) – The National Auditor of APC hails from Nnewi North. Moghalu contested the governorship under defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in 2003 where he was the only face of the Party in Anambra. What nobody can take from Moghalu is his simplicity and maturity that has endeared him to many, despite his lack of a deep purse.

Oseloka H.  Obaze (PDP) – Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Selonnes Consult Ltd; a management and strategic policy advisory entity, Obaze was former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) during Peter Obi’s administration. Simple, intelligent and easy going, Oseloka, despite his position, has been in the shadow of his younger brother, Dubem Obaze, who was former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. Seen as Obi’s favourite, the minus might be his perceived selective and discriminatory attitude.

Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo (UPP) – He hails from Nnobi in Idemili South Local Government and contested governorship election in Anambra state 27 years ago. In 2003 when he faced Peter Obi at the polls, his name and party were conspicuously missing on the ballot paper. The Supreme Court described Okonkwo as an intelligent man after he addressed the Apex-Court full panel for about 45 minutes. He is a layman but knows the law more than some lawyers, judging by his submissions at each turn. Okonkwo is an anti-corruption crusader, right and environmental conservative activist.

Godwin Ezeemo (PPA) – Desirous of becoming Anambra governor at all cost, Ezeemo dumped the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2014 because of disagreement with the party leader, Senator Ngige, over the governorship ticket. Hails from Umuchu community, he joined PPA to pursue his ambition and came fourth. Ezeemo has since not looked back and his philanthropy has made PPA stronger in Anambra.

Barth Nwibe (APC) – Among APC front-liners, Nwibe has been in this political family since the defunct ACN days when he contested for the House of Representatives but lost. A close associate of Senator Ngige, the Igboukwu-born politician is not only a party financier; but also humble, intelligent and a good listener. If APC holds a free and fair primary, Nwibe is sure to make a bold statement.

Elo Aforka (APGA) – A former Special Assistant on Political Matters to Governor Obiano, Aforka is considered a paperweight to withstand his former boss’ political machinery. Thus, it would be an uphill task getting the ticket.

Andy Uba (APC) – The three-time Senator from Anambra South was once elected governor in 2007. In default, he spent 17 days before the Supreme Court threw him out on the grounds that Governor Obi’s tenure had not expired. He defected to APC owing to the protracted PDP leadership crises. A staunch disciple of former President Obasanjo, Uba has recently been battling to clear his name from certificate forgery allegations. However, the Uga-born politician needs to silence family opposition, particularly his younger brother, Chris Uba, dubbed the godfather of Anambra politics. His constituents also accused him of doing very little to warrant becoming governor.

John Bosco Onunkwo (APC) – A rich politician from Umuchu in Aguata Local Government, Onunkwo’s philanthropy has endeared him to the people, especially the youth, who believe that there is urgent need for generational shift. He is a loyal party man with provable commitment from the ACN days.

Paul Chukwuma (APC) – Hails from Umeri, a neigbouring community to Obiano’s village in the Anambra East, Chukwuma is the APC’s Southeast Youth Leader with closeness to many Party big wigs.

Alex Obiogbolu (PDP) – A cross section of the electorate believes Dr Alex Obiogbolu will be like Obi if elected governor. He is a loyal party man; unlike others who readily jump ship each time an appointment or juicy job eludes them. He is seen as the man to beat if the PDP primaries are free and fair.

Dr. Obinna Uzor (APC) – A man of many parts and successful businessman from Ihiala Local Government, Uzor is not a pretender, even as his outspokenness has earned him many political enemies. He once described the administration of Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who hails from the same area with him, as a mess that needed to be cleared in 2003. As a philanthropist, he has touched many lives.

Chike Obidigbo (APC) – An industrialist, who joined APGA in 2013 for the purpose of contesting the 2014 governorship election, Obidigbo gave Obiano and Obi a run for their money. The disagreement and controversy that trailed the selection process saw him dragging the party up to Supreme Court where he eventually lost out. After that ruling, he decided to team up with APC. Though not considered a grassroots politician, admirers say Obidigbo, who hails from Umunya in Oyi Local Government, has a deep pocket capable of giving him the ticket.


Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

Leave a Comment