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Anambra 2013, Beyond The Campaigns

By Okechukwu Anarado

In less than two months, the Anambra electorate will be at the poll to determine Governor Peter Obi's successor. Some months past, the people expressed great anxiety over the array of aspirants whose posters dotted the nooks and crannies of the state. The parties' primaries however abridged the list of the contenders, regardless of the haziness hovering over who the PDP will finally go to the poll with and Maxi Okwu's expression of abandonment by APGA.

Beyond the menacing anxieties prior to the parties' primaries and the mixed reactions that followed the results, lies the determination of some politicians to scuttle the electoral process should their parties fail to serve their bids. The defiant colouration of the resolve of this small group suggests some elements of uncertainty over the turn the Anambra election might take.

The People's Democratic Party has for many years running proved ineffective in managing its Anambra State chapter. This is largely predicated on the vaulting ambition of the party's revolving aspirants to the State House. At the parallel primaries of the party in Awka, it produced Dr. Andy Uba as INEC-recognized candidate, while Dr. Tony Nwoye's candidacy enjoys the recognition of the party's National Executive Council.

As Prof Attahiru Jega's INEC and Dr. Bamanga Tukur's NEC measured supremacy on who should play the arbiter, the public was confounded by INEC's volte-face by recently listing Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu as the authentic PDP candidate in deference to the judgement of a Port-Harcourt High Court. The last might not however have been heard about who PDP will finally take to the poll.

While the PDP uncertainty looms, political activities in Anambra are aglow, nonetheless. Dr Chris Ngige expresses compulsive eagerness to resume occupation of the Government House from where he was evicted in March, 2006 consequent upon the historic judgement of the Court of Appeal, Enugu, invalidating his inauguration as governor in 2003.

Ngige enjoys warm fellowship with the APC Governors who were at Awka a few days ago to inaugurate the party's national committee for the Anambra election. On the other hand is the exuberance that Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the candidate of Labour Party, bears in the pursuit of his gubernatorial bid.

Ubah is believed to have facilitated the influx of non-residents of the state for registration in the Anambra voters' registration update concluded a few weeks ago. The discerning public has not ceased to express concern over such prodding on random-returnees, many of who confessed not being indigenous to Anambra State. Dr. Ubah's generosity might however be his major mark, instead of the prize, in the contest.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance, the ruling party in Anambra State, has Mr. Willie Obiano, a respected banker as its candidate for November 16. Though his emergence ruffled some feathers in the party, the public expects nothing short of a formidable front by the time these discontents are fully addressed. The party's strength derives from the passionate followership and participatory ownership it enjoys from the people. APGA to Ndigbo represents a rallying point from where they seek effective reintegration with the rest of Nigeria.

The Igbo spirit in APGA was consolidated by its total endorsement by the late Ezeigbo Gburugburu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who even in death bears the totem of Igbo dignified and resilient consciousness. In the Igbo cosmology, the dead is believed to commune with the living. This is alluded to by the frequent recourse to Ojukwu's spirit by the National chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, particularly in the party's troubled and memorable times.

Governor Peter Obi provides the litmus with which APGA's claim to being people oriented is tested. But for Mr. Obi's commitment to a comprehensive transformation of Anambra, which has resulted in improved school system, the best road network nationwide, improved health system, enhanced institutions of government, civilized and effective policing, youth empowerment, care of the indigent aged etc, the story of APGA would have been distasteful. But because of Mr. Obi's success in the state, Ndi-Anambra reaffirm their confidence in APGA as their gateway to good governance. In essence, APGA-consciousness for Ndi-Anambra and Ndigbo is like the prevailing Yoruba-spirit in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.

The Yorubas, however, have stepped up their negotiation for a strategic role in the politics of Nigeria. Their persuasive influence in the affairs of the APC, which is the machination of the Yorubas for stretching their hegemony across the Niger and northward, is a masterstroke. Ndigbo are duly challenged to match this move by the west by aggregating efforts to further strengthen APGA as a robust platform for the bumpy journey to the centre of Nigeria.

The lowly presence of some other parties in the Anambra contest pales them into nominal participants incapable of pulling any significant electoral surprises. Given the above purview of parties and candidates to face the Anambra electorate come November 16, it is evident that there are two or three shades of contenders in the contest.

There is the PDP which presents a sour image among Ndi-Anambra. It carries weighty baggage in the forms of the rudderless government of Dr. Mbadinuju (1999 – 2003), the stigma of Dr. Ngige's electoral fraud and the unprecedented chaotic politics of 2003 to 2006. Still counting against the PDP is Dr. Uba's hocus-pocus which afforded him an austere and ignoble seventeen days rule as governor in 2007. The Labour Party, on the other hand, can go just as far as Ifeanyi Ubah takes it – and that promises to be some distance away from the mark.

The Anambra electorate regards the APC with suspicion, particularly following the party's avid support for the recent rude 'deportation' of some Igbos from APC's Lagos. That act reminds Ndigbo of the towering need for a home-grown front that would foster the Igbo cause in an evolving Nigeria nation.

Dr. Ngige's defence for that rejection of our people might never be acceptable to Ndi-Anambra.

Given its records of good governance, APGA commands overwhelming followership in Anambra State. And for living Governor Obi's conviction for an Anambra North successor, APGA makes a case for equity in the context of Nigeria politics.

Its choice of Mr. Obiano, a prudent banker, as its candidate in the election is instructive. Other things being equal, Anambra State promises vibrant electioneering; and the electorate, awake to the intrigues of politicians, cannot afford to blow this opportunity of entrenching good governance in the state.

Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu.