There is no doubt that it would be a Herculean task wrestling the Anambra State governorship seat from whomsoever Mr. Peter Obi decides to support in the November 2013 governorship election in the state. This has to do with the awesome “power of incumbency” at the disposal of Mr. Peter Obi as the sitting governor of Anambra State. In Nigeria, “power of incumbency” has, unfortunately, come to mean the ability of a sitting president or governor to manipulate state institutions (electoral and security) to rig elections.
The story is there in the streets that the powers that be in Anambra State may deploy the humongous state resources at their disposal to influence electoral and security institutions to do their bidding in the November 2013 governorship election. Of course, whether these political god-fathers will succeed in their alleged grand design for the November 2013 governorship election will depend on whether the people will allow them manipulate the state institutions and resources to determine the outcome of the forthcoming electoral contest.
However, whatever may be the case, the main obstacle to the realisation of the gubernatorial ambition of whomsoever becomes the anointed candidate of Mr. Obi in the 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra State is the publicly declared interest of Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, in the race. Most people resident in Anambra State believe that Ifeanyi Ubah is the candidate to beat in the electoral contest.
They hinge their main position on a recent development where almost all the members of the Anambra State House of Assembly, most traditional rulers, presidents-general of town unions, including the main influential stakeholders in the affairs of Anambra State that cuts across political persuasions, abandoned a state sponsored tree-planting exercise by Governor Obi, to attend the wedding ceremony of Ifeanyi Ubah’s junior sister in far away Lagos. Other reasons why the most important stakeholders in the politics of Anambra State snubbed Obi, a sitting governor, are not far-fetched.
Most women in Anambra State who are likely to vote in the election are said to be rooting for Ifeanyi Ubah because his Kero-Direct Scheme ensures that they buy kerosene at the subsidised price of N50 per litre. Majority of Okada and Keke NAPEP transporters are said to be behind Ubah because he has continuously supplied them free fuel for their business concerns every Monday of the week for the last five years.
In fact, traders, who arguably constitute the largest segment of the voting population in Anambra State, see Ubah as their unassailable choice for the tenancy of the Government House, Awka, in 2014, because of the many life-saving assistance and philanthropic gestures he has extended to them over the years.
Now, if it is realised that the traders, women, students, artisans, farmers, transporters amongst others who are identifiably rooting for an Ifeanyi Ubah candidacy in the November 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, are the children, brothers, sisters, and mothers of the political stakeholders who shunned Mr. Peter Obi and attended the wedding ceremony of his sister in Lagos, nobody needs the services of any prophet to tell that most Anambra State voters are headed to Ifeanyi Ubah’s political camp.
As a matter of fact, most people—teachers, professionals, workers—are said to see Ubah as the only man with the demonstrated capacity to embark on the industrialisation of Anambra State, as well as developing its crude oil resources for the employment and empowerment of the teeming idle hands in the state’s labour market. Most importantly is that almost all the citizens of Anambra State are said to have adopted Ubah as their candidate in the November 2013 governorship election because the spirit of all self-respecting Igbos appears to be rooting for an Ubah candidacy in the election.
It will therefore take a counter-directive from the late Dim Emeka Ojukwu to stop the political train called Ifeanyi Ubah from occupying Government House, Awka, after the tenancy of Mr. Peter Obi.
Interestingly, the living representative of the late Eze Gburugburu of Ndi-Igbo, Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, has this to say about Ifeanyi Ubah: “I see in Ifeanyi Ubah, hope for Anambra State. To have an idea of what a man is capable of doing, one has to look at his antecedents. This is a man who, by any measure, has been immensely successful in business, a man who is a philanthropist and a man, who has dedicated himself to addressing the needs of the downtrodden. Ifeanyi Ubah has demonstrated great leadership and bravery.
He showed it, for instance, when he took on the powers that be and stood against the injustice that was being perpetrated against the Igbo traders in Lagos. He is a man who has demonstrated uncommon foresight and the ability for strategic thinking, which led to his success in Apapa, where he controls a fair share of the maritime real estate at the Wharf, where he built truck depot years in advance of an anticipated need. He is a man, who continues to rise from the ashes, no matter the pitfalls set against him by his detractors.” (Saturday Independent, May 18, 2013, page 47). Can there be any better testimonials about Ubah’s leadership qualities than the ones expressed here by Emeka Ojukwu Jnr?
With the necessary information about how sitting governors rig elections for their anointed candidates at the disposal of the teeming masses of Anambra State, it may well-nigh be difficult for Obi to stream-roll his preferred candidate in the election into Government House, Awka. With the awesome people’s support for the gubernatorial ambition of the chairman of Capital Oil, not even Mr. Obi himself will stand a chance against the political moving train called Ifeanyi Ubah.
In fact, with the determination of many civil society organisations to discreetly monitor the activities of INEC, the police, SSS, Peter Obi’s government functionaries, including the judiciary, to ensure that no rigging takes place during the November 2013, governorship election in Anambra State, it is clear to all and sundry that any annointee of Peter Obi will be a non-starter against a popular and intimidating political force called Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.
Nkemjika is a researcher and media consultant