Anambra poll: Evaluating the contenders (ANALYSIS)

Anambra poll: Evaluating the contenders (ANALYSIS)
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By Yemi Esho, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed its readiness to conduct the Anambra governorship poll which will be held next month. The electoral body has fixed the election for November 18. Candidates from established and not so established political parties have signified their interest in Governor Willie Obiano’s position while the governor is also seeking reelection.

“We are committed to providing a level playing ground for all candidates and political parties. I like to state with confidence that we are ready for the November 2017 Anambra state governorship election. We promise a transparent, free, fair and credible election in the state,” Nkwachukwu Orji, Anambra State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner was quoted to have said.

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Apart from the PDP which ruled the state from May 29, 1999 to March 17, 2003 under the administrations of Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Chris Ngige, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has held sway in Anambra under former Governor Peter Obi and incumbent Willie Obiano. Over 30 candidates have signified interest to contest the election and AljazirahNigeria, in this piece,  weighs the chances of four major candidates.  

 

PDP- Oseloka Obaze

Oseloka Obaze, PDP Guber candidate

The former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) won the PDP primaries in August beating Chief Ifeanyi Ubah and Dr. Alex Obiogbolu to the coveted ticket. Obaze gathered 672 votes while his closest challenger Obiogbolu got 190 votes; Ubah came distant third a paltry 94 votes. The PDP flagbearer is bringing his international experience to bear which he believes will impact positively on the people of the state. Obaze is a former United Nations diplomat who has served across Europe and Africa, an international civil servant with the Nigerian Diplomatic Service. He is an administrator, a writer and a politician par excellence. His experience in governance has placed him in a good stead for the poll and he seems to be winning the support of the electorates daily. As SSG, he served former Governor Peter Obi and was reappointed by the incumbent Governor Obiano apparently because of his doggedness, exposure and composure. In his capacity as the SSG, he also served as the chairman board of trustees of the Anambra State Flood Disaster Emergency Fund and the Anambra State Flood Disaster Relief Coordination Committee. His level-headedness has endeared him to the people. He has promised to fix Anambra if he becomes the governor and has accused the incumbent governor of not doing enough for the state.

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His candidature has received a boost from no other than former vice president Alex Ekwueme, whose first daughter, Chidi Onyemelukwe, is a running mate to Obaze. Ekwueme while addressing party supporters in his family house at Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area said PDP will take over the state after the poll. “Anambra State is a PDP state from inception. We shall now continue with the PDP. Time has come for us to take away power from APGA,” the former vice president said. What could also work in Obaze’s favour is the feud between former Governor Obi and Obiano who no longer see eye to eye apparently because of political differences. The icing on the cake for PDP is the readiness of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Ahmed Makarfi (National Caretaker chairman of PDP) and PDP governors’ plan to storm Obaze’s declaration in Awka at a yet to be fixed venue and date.

 

United Progressive Party – Osita Chidoka

United Progressive Party – Osita Chidoka

The former FRSC boss has thrown his hats into the rings to contest for the top job in Anambra. He was a card-carrying member of the PDP before he decamped to the UPP in June. A statement issued by the Director General of his campaign organization, Bright Nebedum, described Chidoka as, “a highly visionary administrator, propelling a new and innovative team spirit, with exceptional vigour and remarkable experience”. It also added that “Chidoka stands out with his reputation as a forthright administrator and manager of resources in whose hands no assignment had ever failed.”

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What towers him above others is the fact that he has not hidden his love for Igbo unity and he has slightly identified with the IPOB. His youthfulness has won him a large followership of youths in the state irrespective of party affiliations. He is reportedly not resting on his oars to take over from Governor Obiano and has been meeting those who matter in Anambra on how to chart a new course for the state. Chidoka has had exposure in public administration which he believes will help him to move Anambra to greater heights. He served as a personal assistant to the late former Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe; he also served as a Senior Special Adviser on Legal Matters to former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2004. He was appointed Minister of Aviation by former President Goodluck Jonathan where he distinguished himself. The UPP candidate has received royal blessings from the traditional rulers in the state. Traditional rulers from the south-east part of Anambra have endorsed him for the coming poll because they believe he has the “proficiency and political will to tackle the challenges facing the state”. His endorsement is also gathering momentum in the religious circle and this is a pointer to the fact that Chidoka may be the beautiful bride among the candidates.  

 

APC – Tony Nwoye

Tony Nwoye, APC Guber candidate

Nwoye sprang surprises during the APC primaries when he defeated Senator Andy Uba. The member of the House of Representatives representing Anambra East/West constituency scored 2,146 votes to Uba’s 931. He was a student activist in his studentship days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and became the Speaker of the Student Union Government’s House of Representatives in the school, the first medical student to do so. The unionism in him saw him become the first and only student of Igbo origin to become the National President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in December 2003.

At age 31 in 2006, he became the youngest party chairman (of PDP) in the country and before that had served as the Assistant Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Anambra State PDP in 2005. His acceptance by the youth in the state and his philanthropy gesture to indigent students is likely to pave way for him during the poll. He is presently in the National Assembly where he is representing his people well delivering democratic dividends.

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Nwoye is a grass-root mobiliser and a very consummate political strategist who has promised to sustain the legacies of former governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi who made workers’ welfare their priority. “Our determination is to ensure that not only are salaries paid when due, but we will adjust our model from a minimum wage structure to a living wage structure where civil servants will not be financially disadvantaged. We will adopt the procedures set down by Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi,” The Tony Nwoye Campaign Organization said in a statement during the week. He has the advantage of being in the ruling party as the party apparatus at both state and federal levels are ready to throw their resources into the election in making sure that Anambra becomes the second APC-controlled state in the south-east after Imo State.

His greatest albatross is that APC is not a popular party in the state and every Igbo person will make sure that the APC did not win especially with the alleged marginalization of the Igbos by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Another minus for Nwoye could be his purported agreement to share positions with billionaire Prince Arthur Eze, who has been alleged to be footing Nwoye’s bill.  It was alleged that Nwoye has agreed to allow Prince Eze to have 10 commissioners, as well as 30 percent of the state’s internally generated revenue, (IGR), if he wins the election.

 

APGA – Willie Obiano

Willie Obiano, APGA Guber candidate

Obiano enjoys the confidence of his people especially the party leaders who unconditionally endorsed him for second term. He has continued from where his predecessor, Peter Obi, stopped in infrastructural development and education development. A Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Investment Inflows, Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke, has stated that Obiano deserves a second term to consolidate his gains and good work in the state.   

“Gov. Willie Obiano has values that our youths can look up to. He has the kind of value that our parents had. Anybody who wants to sit in the hot seat in Awka must give us stability in religion, social values, politics and family life. That person must also get it together economically and in governance. Gov. Obiano is the darling of the people because he has verifiable values and pedigree. The governor has listening ears. He addresses the needs of the people. He is a people’s governor. It is also on record that he has identified with poverty alleviation in the state and is the workers’ friend. We want him back for continuity,” Ajulu-Okeke said.

Former national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, has said Governor Obiano must be allowed to continue beyond 2017. Umeh, who is the chairman of Obiano Re-election Campaign Organization said APGA is fully on ground in Anambra. Obiano’s second term bid received a boost when the Ohaneze Ndigbo and the State Elders’ Advisory Council called on all stakeholders to allow Anambra North where the governor hails from to complete its eight years in office before it goes to another zone. What may likely work for APGA during the poll is their perceived link to the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, who is still seen as the leader of the Igbo nation.  

 

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