Political Contenders in Anambra After Peter Obi
As the 2014 sign-off date for Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State approaches, the grassroots of the state has started getting feelers of the men (and women) that would want to step into his shoes. Hitherto, what has ruled the pages of our national dailies
are more or less paid-for promos from the camps of interested parties that seldom delved into issues. Eight names are prominent from the grapevine of the grassroots that can be summarised thus: A Crown Prince, Two Dons, Two Returnees and Three Moneybags.
The Crown Prince.
While Obi's tenure lasted observers were forever busy looking out for whom he would choose from among his faithful to anoint as his successor. According to one respondent: 'This has even gotten hazier as the zero hour approaches, given that all that subsists are mere guesses hazarded to suit conveniences. '
Nevertheless, across the board many still see the man to emerge as no other than Mr Dubem Obaze his immediate past Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. His omission from the latest list of the state executive council serving as the only concrete proof to cite at yet. While he held sway many had seen him as the de facto Deputy Governor given the power his office commanded following the intractability of the conduct of local government elections in the state.
Going for him also is the truth that his senatorial zone - Anambra North - has been heavily marginalized in the post; having never produced an elected governor of the state since its creation from the old Anambra State with headquarters in Enugu. Another respondent, a baker in Otuocha said he tips the affable gentleman to make it on the wings of the APGA machinery because 'he played his role for the serving governor with aplomb.' Speaking at the venue of a recent event called to drum in this peculiar predicament of the zone he added that it was also via an APGA governor succeeding Obi that the celebrated Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy ( ANIDS) would be put into second gear.
However, his candidacy does have a muffled setback concerning his days in the USA which almost all the respondents appear to have got wind of in spite of how unsubstantiated it is. On this, most responded that he it is who is the butt of the innuendoes cast by Mr Victor Umeh the embattled national president of APGA in some interviews he granted at the height of the APGA crisis. In the words of a diehard APGA faithful if from Anambra East LGA this undisclosed problem if exposed 'will be the only thing standing between him and the exalted diadem as we from these quarters cannot easily forget the extraordinary transformation this APGA government has brought here which he will continue if he takes over.'
Unlike the former heading that has just one candidate, two very prominent contestants in the list have - albeit in controversial circumstances - mounted the exalted seat in truncated tenures. The grassroots is rife with their cherished targets of mounting the seat properly to satisfy a lifelong aims of serving the people of their state to the maximum.
At the fore here is Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige (MON) the serving senator representing Anambra Central in the upper chambers of the federal legislature. If he decides to run like is expected across board, he is favoured to go a notch or two higher than his dismal third position at the last dispensation that re-elected Obi.
'If he as much as decides to run,' enthused a female respondent from Umunze in Orumba South LGA, 'he will surely get a lot of votes from this side given this road that you rode to this place that he put in place.'
It was general opinion that most of the road networks that he put in place while his illegal tenure lasted still speak volumes for him. Another point in his favour remains the current crisis in APGA. According to a respondent from his hometown Alor in the Idemmili South LGA, 'If he has only the PDP candidate to contend with in the forthcoming elections, he will surely win.'
Another respondent, an Onitsha-based banker, also saw him leveraging on the capacity he would build up from the fact that up until now he remains the only candidate of note to hail from the Anambra Central Senatorial zone.
Though his subsistence on the seat was a dash compared to Dr Ngige's three-quarter-mile, Senator Andy Uba has all it takes to join this queue. A certain tongue-in-cheek respondent hinges this to his unrestrained eagerness at reaping the heirloom bequeathed him by General Obasanjo at the tail end of his presidency. A strong point to his possible achievement of this dream remains his still resurgent Igwebuike state-wide campaign organisation still at his beck and call. The way and manner they swung into action for him to win both elections into his current senate seat was, to say the least, phenomenal.
Doubters of the possibility of his return bid are however of the opinion that his academic potentials may prove his undoing in a state that prides itself to be The Light of the Nation . 'He may have to prove to us individually how it turned out he was not a medical doctor like he was earlier touted to be by all and sundry,' said one respondent who hails from his hometown Uga in Aguata LGA. 'Perhaps, like Prince Jegede Sokoya of The New Masquerade fame he is a Doctor of Pool Forecast,' he joked.
All the respondents were however agreed that whatever he lacked wherever is more than made up by the weight of his bank book.
Talking about the bucks, it remains that a concrete fact that it has never being the ultimate determining factor in the decision of who occupies the Anambra State government house - dating as far back as to the days of Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife (Okwadike Igboukwu). Yes, money apart, it remains true - given the state's peculiar propensities - that its men of letters can never be discounted in the decision of who governs it. In the ensuing dispensation, two of them are prominent in the list of those lined up in the minds of grassroots Anambrarians to replace Mr Peter Obi when he bows out with incumbent grace come 2014.
Topping this grouping for now remains the one and only Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo . Well known nationwide for his trendsetting days at the CBN, one transporter in Ekwulobia stated that he stands an 'ogbonga' chance of making it the next time around. According to him, his second place rally the last time around only happened because of the disarray his undemocratic imposition caused in the ranks of the state PDP. Though this appears not to have been taken care of even by mother time so far, another respondent in Nnewi who ardently belonged to the Soludo Fan Club of then thinks amends would have been done by the time of the next elections; when the entire party in the state will bring him out in unison. He, however, warns that he avoid some of the pitfalls that bedevilled his last effort top of which he said was an aberrant 'overdependence on federal might'.
Many in Soludo's camp till remember his avowed dream of transforming the state into Africa's Dubai-Taiwan with a tinge of nostalgia and would not wait to see him step in to actualise the wonder. Nevertheless, many a respondent from his hometown Isuoffia in Aguata LGA did advise that he should make efforts to straighten his home base to avoid losing vital votes in his own backyard regarding his stand in the autonomous community saga ravaging the enclave. 'You cannot say you are not one of us now and claim to be part and parcel of us then,' he enthused.
Another titan in this category of the men doused head-t- toe with experience from the ivory tower is Professor Ilochi Okafor (SAN) . The immediate past Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University does pack a punch. A native of Ogbunike in Oyi LGA, he is easily the only other notable contestant from the Anambra North Senatorial Zone. Thus, he is bound to benefit from the afore-mentioned drive by the zone to claim what is their due. The eminent Professor is also sure to be aided by experience he garnered from the last dispensation when his showing was not good enough. A supporter of his bid that responded from Awka-Etiti in Idemmili South LGA maintains that he 'possesses the will power to take the state to the next level given his monumental achievements at UNIZIK.'
But according to another respondent from Onitsha North LGA, the most notable minus to his candidacy also originates from his days at UNIZIK. According to the apparently well informed alumni of the school, the way and manner he invested the institutions funds in 'useless' ventures - viz: the Osile/Unizik Water Project and Abuja American Hospital - paints the picture of a bad governor of funds. Said he: 'How could he have invested a whooping =N=85 million in a spurious hospital project in one spell while only a paltry =N=1,479,515 was all that was expended as research grant in his entire four-year tenure as VC.' A claim borne out by the report of the Visitation Panel to the institution that covered his last year as VC: 'It is difficult to believe that a lawyer with the status of SAN will leave office without resolving this somewhat intractable issue.'
However you hate, loathe or detest them, there is no ruling out the man who by his own personal achievements decides to hoist himself on the people with his political ambition. This holds true in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the Anambra State of Nigeria. If I heard your mind's voice well, they must be opining that Anambra state politics has always reckoned with candidates whom the prime entry on their CV is the money at their disposal.
Topping this selfsame list on the lips of all our respondents is Mr Ifeanyi Uba the CEO of Capital Oil. The youngest in the pack, he came into national limelight on the trust of celebrations that marked the celebration of his 40 th birthday. A respondent from his hometown Nnewi validly dismissed accusations of his political novelty by making us think of how some people that are now otherwise household names in the polity started out.
'There is always a first time,' he argued. 'A guy must not wait till he is close to the grave to take a first step, more so in this dispensation when all he wants to render is service.'
The height of his cash stash apart, Mr Uba stands to gain from the fact that as at now he appears to be the only other notable candidate from the ruling party in the state. A situation a respondent from Agulu in Anaocha LGA claims is the real cause of the trouble in the leadership of the party. Be that however, some respondents favour him strongly given that APGA is peopled by those who could be swayed by paltry monetization as evidenced in their last primaries for candidates to represent them at federal legislature elections of 2011 when rank outsiders were forced on them for a mess of potage.
A respondent from the oil industry who came home from his base in Port-Harcourt however wondered out loud how far Uba could go in the general elections assuming he buys the ticket after all. According to the bubbly young man, he may be out to play only a destabilising role 'as his bosses are also in the race.'
Quite transparent in this list too is Chief Obinna Uzor of Gocuz Group who had run as the candidate of one of the lesser-known parties in the last election into the post. A philanthropist to the core, he has equalled every other in the state in the vogue of monetary community service. The sitting governor's representation at his handing over of the church he built for his community in the recent past even fuelled rumours that he may berth with APGA at the time. A native of Ihiala in the Anambra South Senatorial District, he is not overawed by the other contestants from this zone as his maintenance of his state-wide machinery in these piping times of peace attests. 'We are proud of him and solidly behind him,' a respondent from Azia, a neighbouring town to Ihiala voiced.
Bringing up the rear here is one Mr Godwin Chukwunenye Ezeemo who comes with lateral strength from the Diaspora a la Obi in his first dispensation. He first made inroads in his hometown Umuchu in Aguata LGA - again of the Anambra South Senatorial District - where he had set up a foundation in the name of his mother. He was to up the ante by wading into the heady waters of state-wide philanthropy after he set up the Orient Newspaper Organisation based in Awka the state capital. He subsequently took up the onerous task of the ongoing completion of the state's NUJ secretariat - a notable PR move that ultimately made him earn this mention given the preponderance of his name in news bulletins from the state. He is rumoured to have had romances with all the leading political parties in the state but is believed to have pitched his tent with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
According to a respondent from Awka South LGA, his chances hinge imperiously on whether Dr Ngige runs or not. Some pundits even move a step further to imply that he may after all settle for something less if the coast does not clear in his favour. An option upheld by a respondent correspondent from one of the national dailies: 'He has nothing to lose,' he wrote in an article in the back page of his newspaper. 'With his press-based philanthropy he is making all the proper moves regarding entrance into the haloed altar of national service.'
Ndu John Ezekwo a grassroots politician wrote from Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LGA.