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Gubernatorial Elections: Can Anambra Afford Another Slide?

By Okuta Oloibe
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Nigerians were used to the saying, “it will never happen here; we are not Banana Republic,” until General Sani Abacha happened. Again the man who benefitted from Abacha’s demise, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, decided to test the resolve of the people and breach the Constitution in a failed third-term bid. But thanks to an alert Federal legislature, Obasanjo was stopped in his tracks and is still living in denial.

Fast-track to Anambra 2017, at least two gubernatorial candidates squaring to upstage the incumbent governor in the November poll are undeniably lackeys of godfathers bent on taking the now prosperous state 20 years back when it existed at the mercy of political buccaneers and their sponsors.

It is no longer news that the contending political parties have all chosen their candidates but the controversy surrounding the emergence of Hon. Tony Nwoye as flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Sir Oseloka Obaze, a carpetbagger in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to abate. In obvious throw-back to the dreadful years when godfathers reigned supreme with Ndi Anambra as vassals, money bag Chief Arthur Eze is confirmed to be bank-rolling Nwoye's choice against all odds, whilst former Governor Peter Obi, a beneficiary of the demystification of one-time godfather Chief Chris Uba by his god-son, now Minister, Senator Chris Ngige, has schemed out others and foisted Obaze even while jury is still out on the man’s claims to the diplomatic scrolls of honour.

Indeed ‘wonders shall never end.’ We have also heard the saying; ‘’the greatest lie the devil ever told is convincing humanity that he doesn’t exist.” Indeed, we are witnessing the re-enactment and scheming for power and control well-known to the Anambra populace. However, the puzzle is the brazenness on display by the neo-godfathers, which seems akin to the gullibility that lords of the manor in medieval Europe associated with the serfs. On one hand, Chief Eze, a well-known philanthropist and power-broker with no known industry or investment traceable to his name within the state, is sparing no expense to install a young man with markedly suspect credentials as governor. On the other hand, Chief Obi, a trader-turned politician who relied on his wily nature and native intelligence to dominate the state for eight years, is driven by hate of his friend and the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano over yet unspecified disagreements which has seen him fighting to unsettle the governor for over three years and is bent on supplanting him with a neither-here-nor-there Obaze. The question begging for answer is. Why do these gentlemen want the state under their thumbs?

Interestingly, none of the godfathers fanning the ongoing intrigues and power-play appear concerned about the interest and preference of the citizens in their schemes. They are essentially men of means who live outside the state but want to control the state. Whereas Chief Eze is playing in familiar territory haven been worsted over the years by dirtier players in the arena of power and the electorates, he refuses to give up, investing millions on candidates in the hope that luck will smile on his protégé no matter how unmarketable. On his part, Chief Obi is fast unraveling since his present public stance belies his preachment as governor such that many who lapped-up his ‘gospel’ of prudence and decency in office may choke on seeing his current desperation and scheming to dictate for the state through his godson Sir Obaze. But what are the options for Ndi Anambra?

It is not in doubt that Ndi Anambra has seen the evils of godfathers and the consequences of allowing a slide back to the heady days. They can also relate to the benefits inherent in a government run without dictations from the outside. Anambra has made a quantum leap since the fractious term of Ngige who unwittingly exposed the evils of godfathers, the eight years of boom under Obi who sustained development beyond roads, and the three-and-half years of Obiano which has seen security of lives and property, physical transformation across the state, rapid return of investments and growth of entrepreneurship in a recession-plagued economy. Of these eras, they can easily make a clear choice to assure the future children yet unborn.

With the unparalleled stability evident across the state, the positive economic indices and rating as the state with lowest poverty index in Nigeria, coupled with investor confidence on display in support of the Obiano administration, it smacks of sheer brinksmanship for anyone to toe the part the neo-godfathers are currently charting. Save for the lure of pecuniary gains by a few, who may be going for droplets from Chief Eze and Chief Obi on behalf of their godsons, it stands to reason that Ndi Anambra are wiser. They know that their decision is beyond the elections hence they will not swallow the bait of a poisoned chalice thrown by desperate men who are sharing money in pursuit of power and control.

Oloibe writes from Umudike Ukulu