Anambra 2014: Old War Horses, New Entrants in Battle for Awka Government House

24 Feb 2013

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Peter Obi

Anambra State governorship election is around the corner. Going by the information posted on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the state would go to the poll around November to decide who takes over the reins of power in the state for the next four years. The tenure of Governor Peter Obi ends on March 17, 2014, by which time he would have completed his two-term of eight years. One issue in the extant race, however, is whether there is a consensus or not among the political actors that the next governor of the state will come from Anambra North, which is yet to produce the governorship of the state, writes Olaolu Olusina...

The battle line is gradually being drawn for this year’s governorship election. The aspirants, mostly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Accord Party and Labour Party, have all indicated their interests in the race and are at present busy positioning themselves for the office. The state Governor Peter Obi has shown preference for Anambra North to produce the next governor. Expectedly, however, the race parades aspirants from the three senatorial zones in the state. They include the old gubernatorial combatants with a sprinkling of new ones…

Dr. Chris Ngige
Since 2003 when he held sway as governor in Anambra till date, Ngige’s popularity is yet to wane. The fact that he won the 2011 senatorial election for Anambra Central attests to this popularity. In 2010, he came third in the governorship election and went to the tribunal. He, however, lost in court. Ngige was declared winner of the 2003 governorship election on the ticket of PDP, but the Court of Appeal nullified the election and awarded it to current Governor Peter Obi. Prior to the judgment, Ngige and his political godfather, Chief Chris Ubah, had traded blamed on how the election that brought him to office was rigged. Now a member of the ACN, Ngige has been telling his friends that he wants to return to Government House, Awka. Ngige remains strong in the state but he does not have much to lose if the election does not favour him as he is not expected to resign his seat in the state to contest for governorship.

Senator Andy Ubah
Senator Andy Ubah was governor of Anambra State for about 17 days before the Supreme Court declared that Governor Obi’s tenure had not ended in 2007 when INEC conducted the election that brought Ubah to office. He is at present the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District in the National Assembly. 

Ubah served as Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Obasanjo, during which he was extremely influential.  He was in control of PDP machinery in the state at that time, which bolstered his chances in getting the party’s ticket then in 2007. In the 2007 election, he polled more than one million votes, but in 2010, when he contested for governorship on the platform of Labour Party he could not get up to 30, 000 votes. In the coming governorship race, Ubah has been making moves to get the PDP to concede the ticket to him. His camp argues that since the Supreme Court set aside the election that brought him to power in 2007, he should be compensated this time with the governorship nomination. But it is doubtful if that will sail with PDP as the party is talking of conducting primaries at all levels. Besides, it seems the Anambra people are wary of the recurrence of the Ubah brothers in the PDP nay state’s politics, given the role allegedly played by Chief Chris Ubah, Ubah’s younger brother, in the state political crisis before and in the aftermath of the 2003 election.

Dr. Obinna Uzoh
Dr. Obinna Uzoh is the Chairman/CEO of GOCUZ Group Limited. Uzoh’s popularity at the grassroots and among Catholic Church faithful is rising. Uzoh, a PDP chieftain, hails from Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area but his popularity extends to the entire state owing to his philanthropic activities. When flood ravaged some communities in the state, Uzoh was among the first individuals to donate relief materials to the victims. He donated food and cash running into millions of naira. Recently, he was in Amansea, where the dumping of corpses into Ezu River polluted the source of the people’s drinking water.

He donated bottled and sachet water to the people. He also devoted a tanker to the community to fetch water and dispense to the villagers to help solve the drinking water problem. Uzoh has severally sponsored free rural health treatment in Anambra communities. He contested the state’s governorship election in 2003 but lost the PDP ticket then. Uzor holds Bachelor’s degrees in Law and Business Administration, a Masters in Marketing and PhD in Economic Studies from the University of Lagos and Lagos State University. He has the support of Catholic Church youths, who openly endorsed him last year. Also, the South East Students Association has thrown its weight behind his aspiration. His plan, according to his aides, is to restore the glory of Anambra, through the transformation of its infrastructure, health care, education, commerce and industry in order to create wealth and employment. Some allege a plan is afoot to gang up against Uzoh in PDP and stop him from getting the party’s ticket. But his camp says they would checkmate any such move.

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo
When former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof, Chukwuma Soludo, joined the political scene in 2010, it was with panache and some controversy. There was controversy because many were in a quandary as to who or what actually prompted the former CBN governor into the race. At the time, Soludo was said to be the favourite candidate of the power-that-be in Abuja who wanted an egghead like him to change the face of Anambra politics. That was to later emerge as a baggage for him as some saw his candidature as being foisted on the people. It was with that controversy over his emergence that PDP went into the election. Soludo came second behind Governor Obi, and the rest is history as they say. Today, the former CBN governor Soludo is still being seen in Anambra as a thorough bred professional that he is, but not a politician. How far can he go with this categorization in Anambra politics? How would this rating affect him? His recent encounter with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his tenure as CBN governor may also be an issue if he joins the race, as some of his opponents may raise it against him, though no court has yet found him guilty of any corrupt practice while in that office.

Mr. Godwin Ezeemo
Ezeemo is a London-based Anambra State businessman who has spent his time, energy and money in helping the less-privileged. Recently, he sponsored a five-day seminar in Awka, the state capital, to help Anambra people direct their thought on choosing the right leadership.  Since then, he has been under pressure to join the race. If antecedents are anything to go by, the Umuchu-born Ezeemo merited the invitation of his people to offer a selfless service to the people of the state. The businessman is at present sponsoring more than 150 students in post-primary and university levels. He recently single-handed built and donated a press centre to the Nigeria Union of journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Council. He is also constructing a gigantic church building for the Anglican Community in Umuchu, his hometown. He has also made several donations running into millions of Naira to the Catholic Church in Anambra State. If he decides to throw his hat into the ring, Ezeemo may run on ACN or APGA platform in the state. His success, however, according to political observers, depends much on what Ngige, who is in ACN, does with respect to the race.

Hon. Afam Ogene
Hon. Afam Ogene, a former prominent journalist, represents Ogbaru Federal Constituency in the state on the platform of APGA. He is one aspirant that is counting on the alleged promise of power shift to Anambra North. Ogene said of the major aspirants who pledged they would support a candidate from Anambra North extraction for governorship in 2014; only Governor Obi is keeping faith with the promise. Others who allegedly made similar promise, according to him, were Ngige and Soludo.
Ogene is contesting on APGA platform but the debilitating crisis rocking the party at present may be his Archille’s Heels. But the lawmaker says in a recent interview that he does not see the problem within the party as a crisis. “I see it as a process, regeneration for a greater APGA. APGA is a movement; it is not a political party, so it’s bigger than any single individual in Igboland. APGA is a mass movement of Ndigbo, so if they localise the problem of APGA as it is today to the governorship of Anambra State, it will be begging the question”.

Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo
The Secretary of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) and Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters, Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo, who hails from Okija in Ihiala Local Government of Anambra State, is also eyeing Awka Government House. He’s a classmate of President Goodluck Jonathan and has worked with him right from Bayalsa State up till now. Some people reckon that the only thing going for him is his relationship with President Jonathan. How he will convert his present position to advantage in the race is yet unclear. In fact, some allege that in his years working with Jonathan his impact is yet to be felt on his area in the state. He would have a tough time convincing people to back his aspiration.

Emma Anosike
Anosike has always featured in all elections in Anambra. He was a member of the House of Representatives and a senator. His tenure in the Senate was cut short when the court sacked him over the crisis that trailed candidate nomination by the PDP in the state. He contested for the senatorial election at that time but the court said he was not the validly-nominated candidate for the poll. He later emerged as the deputy governorship candidate to Prof. Soludo in 2010, an election they lost. He was personal assistant to Senator Alphonsus Igbeke, who also lost his Senate seat in controversial circumstance.
Anosike is at present building his structure to, once again, contest the governorship. He has always been at the centre of Anambra PDP crisis. Somehow, Anosike often gets nominated for any office he wants but hardly gets far. Will the story be different this time?

Hon. Uche Ekwunife
Ekwunife is a member of House of Representatives, a seat she first occupied as a member of PDP. She later first defected to PPA on which platform she contested the 2010 governorship election. In 2011, she joined APGA and contested for the House of Representatives seat and won. She also won a rerun election ordered by the court.
Ekwunife is one of those who make APGA tick at present. She is said to be popular in her constituency and her involvement in philanthropy is also well-known. However, it is not clear yet if Anambra is ready for gender shift as far as the governorship is concerned.

Oseloka Obase
With Governor Obi’s declaration of his preference for Anambra North to produce the next governor of the state, Mr. Obase stands a good chance in the race particularly in the Obi-led faction of APGA. He’s presently the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in Anambra, a position, which gives him ample opportunity to know the workings of government. Most of the time, Obase represents Governor Obi at state functions in Akwa and in Abuja.

Through such presence in government’s activities, Obase is gradually becoming popular at the grassroots. He was in charge of the settlement of flood victims, an assignment he was said to have done very well. But again, within Obi-led APGA, many are busy jostling for the governor’s blessing for their aspiration.

Tags: Politics, Nigeria, Featured, Anambra 2014

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