Anambra 2021: Aspirants To Watch

Anambra 2021: Aspirants To Watch

Mustapha Suleiman

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has another herculean task ahead as the Anambra State governorship election inches close.   The INEC under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu has been adjudged to have performed creditably well at the previous governorship elections held in Edo and Ondo states respectively.

  The two guber elections led to the re-elections of the duo of Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo). So, this next line of action is the Anambra election scheduled to hold in ““  next year next. Be as it may be, the electoral body has reiterated its high preparedness to conduct all the pending elections before the 2023 general elections. Aside the electoral body readiness for Anambra state governorship, a state that is known for high wire politics that paraded many war chest politicians with vast connections, getting a free and fair election poses a greater challenge to both INEC and the aspirants. Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not announced the date of the next gubernatorial election in Anambra State, it is going to take place sometime next year before Governor Willie Obiano leaves the stage in March 2022. Even though the election is still many months away, the campaign has started subtly.

As the race for Government House, Awka, Anambra State, in 2021, gathers momentum, it is necessary to take a cursory look at the front runners.

One of the major aspirants aiming to  take charge of the  state`s affairs next year is Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former Central Bank of Nigeria governor.  Soludo is the APGA choice. APGA has run the state throughout this democratic dispensation. Yet on October 9, 2009, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chose Soludo as their consensus candidate in a field of about 47 candidates. His bid, however, failed following an inconclusive primary that ended up with court injunctions. The experience of Prof. Soludo garnered over the years is yet to be exploited on the home front in Anambra. Depending on which side you are in Anambra politics, the Soludo baggage could be a factor as the race for 2021 rolls over in Anambra.

Another aspirant is Ike Oligbo, since he made public his intention to contest for governorship election in the state, he has been taking his campaigns to the grassroots in the state. Oligbo, an international security, unlike other contenders that are still weighing their options, Oligbo has put his resources on the ground, building party offices in local governments and ensuring that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had a head start in the quest for the Government House in Awka.  Although new  in Anambra politics, Oligbo has impressed a lot of Anambrarians  during the upsurge of coronavirus in the country as he was in the forefront to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the people. Using his well-funded Hon. Amb. Ike Oligbo Foundation, he created awareness and sensitised the people on the pandemic, beginning from Eke Awka on April 1, 2020, providing COVID-19 preventive kits which included face masks, sanitizers and hand gloves. Again, the medical team of his Foundation were present in 21 local governments in Anambra State. As a new man in the politics of the state, Ike Oligbo carries no baggage in this quest and if opinions in the state is anything to go by, he remains among the most trusted politicians in Anambra State

Another high stake aspirant is Uche Ekwunife, an experienced politician and a veteran in governorship contests in Anambra State. In 2007, Iyom, contested under PDP for Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency and won. Again, in 2010, she contested for the governorship position of the state on the platform of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), while still a member of the House of Representatives. She was the first woman to kick-off COVID-19 awareness campaign in the state, providing preventive kits, and later other palliatives. Meanwhile, the gender issue and the zoning issue in PDP could be an issue in her way to Government House, Awka.

Ifeanyi Uba, currently a senator of the Federal Republic, Uba can safely be described as a veteran of governorship contests in Anambra State. He contested under the Labour Party in 2013 and failed. He tried under PDP in 2017, unsuccessfully, before decamping to APGA. He was however successful following his contest for the Senate on the platform of YPP. He has since indicated interest in the governorship contest for 2021. He lacks political flair but has proven to be no pushover, as he defeated some known political giants on his way to the Senate. Ifeanyi Uba has so much baggage as he leads his team for Agu Awka in 2021.

Godwin Maduka is a well-known name in the politics of Anambra State. He joined PDP from APGA in 2019. His movement to PDP was celebrated as he went along with many of his supporters. While being new in political statecraft, Maduka has no known baggage. He was outstanding during the early lockdown in Anambra State, providing palliatives like rice, face masks, sanitizers, etc. to all the 181 communities and 326 wards in Anambra State.

Tony Nwoye is a politician who has been in the scene for a long time. Nwoye has lots of political baggage. He has contested for governorship twice under the platform of PDP (2013) and APC (2019), respectively, and failed in both attempts. He is currently a member of APC, but will have a tough time in replacing Governor Willie Obiano, with both coming from Anambra North.

Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central) has also indicated her interest in the race to occupy the government house, Awka.

Sen Ekwunife said she was presenting herself as the best for the battle to remove the ruling APGA from the Anambra State Government House.

Ekwunife who is one of the aspirants on the platform of PDP, described herself as the best and most qualified to lead the battle to defeat APGA in the state.

Among all these political gladiators, it will take a great effort on each of the aspirants to succeed Obiano at Government House, Awka.  By and large, every aspirant for the poll will depend on his or her charisma, personal appeal and grassroots connection to win the election. In all, Anambra 2021 is going to be a hot, fierce and interesting combat between known and little known political gladiators. It is one contest that money, power and influence cannot be jettisoned in determining who takes over from Obiano.

In a related development, The Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State has assured members of the party that it will conduct a free and fair primary for the 2021 governorship election even as it admonished aspirants not to malign each other.

The chairman of the party in the state, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu made the promise at a meeting of members of the state working committee, while playing host to a governorship aspirant, Mr Johnny Maduafokwa.

Nwobu said, “We shall ensure that the processes leading to the primary election are fair, transparent and free. We are doing this because we know that if the primary election is transparent, aspirants who did not win will support the winner.

“You must not malign each other, because the same aspirant you malign today, you may need to sell him to the people tomorrow for the sake of the party. On our part, we will ensure that only someone of character will be the candidate of the party.”

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