With the Anambra State governorship election billed to hold later this year, David-Chyddy Eleke writes on the top aspirants rooting to take the mantle of leadership in the state
All things being equal, Anambra State will go to the polls in November of this year to elect a new governor for the state. Political gladiators in the state have already oiled their machinery in readiness for the time, just as secret meetings are continually held, and alignments and realignments made. Though the dramatis personae in the election would largely remain the same, the circumstances and conditions of the election would vary. For example, while a former governor, Mr. Peter Obi would be playing a serious part in the election, he would not be doing so as a sitting governor as he did in the election that produced the incumbent, Willy Obiano.
Another serious difference that the election would witness is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had always been a serious opposition party in the state and which has now been led for over 10 years by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) would not be so much of a force to reckon with, as the All Progressive Congress (APC) has poached most of its members to its fold.
While this year’s election would witness the most aspirants on the platform of the APC, contrary to the PDP it has always been, the APGA already has an automatic candidate in the incumbent, Obiano, who is Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, for whom the party has foreclosed the same intention from any other of its members.
In no particular order, below are the top contenders for the governorship position later this year, and the factors that may shape their performance in the exercise.
Ifeanyi Ubah: Billionaire oil magnate and chairman of FC Ifeanyi Ubah is a young and rich politician from Nnewi North local government area which incidentally falls in Anambra South senatorial zone, one of the zones favoured for the governorship position of the state. He recently joined the APC in what was described as a secret defection, and has been making serious consultations with the powers that be in the party to fly its ticket.
His major advantage in the race is his connections to people that matter in the corridors of power, his popularity among the youth and the aged because of his FC Ifeanyi Ubah platform, which he has used to uplift youths in the state, and his philanthropy, which has touched the aged respectively. If APC wants a man who can vie and win the governorship of the state on his own financial strength, Ifeanyi Ubah could be that man. But many contend that being rich and popular are not all that are needed for governance, moreso at the govenorship level, and this group of people think Ubah lacks the intellectual capacity to govern a complex state like Anambra State.
Andy Uba:He has been governor of Anambra State, even though it was just for 17 days only. Since the court sacked him from the position to make way for Obi to complete his tenure, and also stopped him from assuming power on the expiration of Obi’s first term as a governor-in-waiting, ruling that a fresh election was necessary to give Obi the chance to seek re-election, he has never hidden his quest to return to the seat he left about 10 years ago.
He recently jumped ship, from the PDP to APC, though secretly too. He is regarded as a very experienced politician, also very connected, and to cap it up, he is rich. He has the capacity to run for the election on his own capability if wealth was the sole yardstick for measurement.
Though Uba has a political structure with followers that can help him prosecute election, he is also very easily discreditable because of the role he played during the dark days of Anambra, when he was seen as the most powerful aide in the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo presidency in which the state’s assets were set ablaze.
He has however tried to exonerate himself from it all, but the mere mention of his name brings back some unsavoury memories. May not exactly be his own Uba as his younger brother, Chris Uba was also in the forefront of happenings in those days. Some political analysts says he has already secured the ticket of the party for himself, using his godfather, Chief Obasanjo, and has also been the brain behind the blocking of the incumbent governor, Obiano from trying to form any form of alliance with APC at the centre as Obi did with PDP, even while in APGA. Uba hails from Uga, Aguata LGA, Anambra South senatorial zone.
Chike Obidigbo: Another APC member, Chike Obidigbo joined the party from the APGA. An industrialist, chairman of Hardis and Dromedas – a company that deals in cosmetics and other household products – he contested for APGA’s governorship APGA with Obiano in 2013 but failed. He accused the party of sabotaging him, after raising his hope, following the endorsement of his candidacy by the entire Anambra North traditional rulers, where Obi had insisted that the next governor must come from.
In a recent briefing with journalists, Obidigbo noted that though he is new, and going by APC’s usual insistence on handing tickets only to old members, if the party wants someone who can win them the position, then they should consider him for the ticket.
Godwin Ezeemo: He is a notable grassroots politician, who has impacted the people through his philanthropy. He has investments in the media, oil sector, haulage, tourism and many others. He is considered a rich man by every standard, and also known for his consistency. Ezeemo has supporters who are fanatical in their belief in him and also known to be a man of ideas. He is one politician who believes that things must be done right in the state if it must regain its glory. However, he does not seem to be lucky with political parties.
Ezeemo contested the ticket of the ACN in the 2013 governorship election against Dr. Chris Ngige, who then was seen as the alter ego of the party in the state. He contested against advice from many people that no matter his popularity, he cannot win the ACN ticket from Ngige, who was seen as the owner of the party. The party was literarily snatched off him by Ngige then, and he was said to have been offered a place in APGA as the deputy governorship candidate to Obiano, to which he rejected saying, ‘being a deputy governor is like being a spare tyre, and if I take it, I would not be able to impact the state as I truly want to’.
He then moved to the less known Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), and has since been the major financier of the party, and its leader too. Many believe that If Ezeemo vied in a more popular party, he would sail over other candidates, but he remains adamant over his belief that he would be governor of the state through PPA. He is one of the aspirants who are automatic candidates of their parties.
Willie Obiano:He is the incumbent governor of the state and will most likely pull the weight of incumbency. He is from APGA, and may likely not have anyone contending for the ticket of his party, just like Ezeemo. The biggest argument of his supporters have always remained that he has a right to complete the 8-year term of his zone, Anambra North senatorial zone.
As much as he is trying to impress the people of the state with infrastructure, he will have his predecessor, Mr. Obi to contend with, as it is believed that the former governor will work hard to take back from him, what he had given him. Obi is reputed to have single-handedly given Obiano the governorship as an old secondary school friend, and a colleague at Fidelity Bank. But no sooner that Obiano took office than both men started bickering.
He is also believed to have made lots of enemies in office by bringing in most of his Aguleri kinsmen, who determine who gets what from government. The task ahead of him is a daunting one, and his media aide, Mr James Eze acknowledged so when he said recently that Obiano who was out of the state for about one month had gone to rest, so that he will squarely take on those contesting his seat as it is an election year.
A member of the House of Representatives, who rose through student union activism to become a party chairman, and a big wig politician in Anambra. He had also run for the governorship in 2013 on the platform of PDP and missed it by whiskers. His loss was occasioned by the factionalisation in the party then, leading to multiple candidatures, but through the help of Obi, Obiano trounced him and all the other candidates.
He is now in the APC, and also known to be young and popular. He may however have a problem of funds. In 2013, he was said to have had his aspiration sponsored wholly by billionaire oil magnate, Chief Arthur Eze, and whether Eze will sponsor his aspiration again is a question for another day.
Anambra, however, has become averse to candidates who are sponsored by godfathers after the Ngige/Chris Uba saga. Nwoye hails from Nsugbe, a stone throw from Aguleri, the home of the incumbent governor in Anambra North, the zone favoured for the completion of their eight year term.
He is a staunch party man, who will not easily jump ship just to contest election. That is how George Muoghalu is described in most quarters. He was a foundation member of the APP, and also remained in the party when it transformed to ANPP. He joined his colleagues in the party to make negotiations that saw to the emergence of the APC. He is trusted to be APC in blood and flesh, and said to be favoured for the ticket of the APC being the oldest member of the party among those gunning for the seat.
Moughalu is an old politician, but said not to be rich enough for the kind of funds required to run for governorship, especially in a state like Anambra. He hails from Anambra South, Nnewi precisely, and seems to have the support of the powers that be in the party, just as he may have backers to help him with funds is he is eventually favoured with the party’s ticket.
Oseloka Obaze: A well-known diplomat, full of ideas, and coupled with a charismatic and dynamic personality, Obaze’s type, in more refined societies like the former central Bank governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo should be invited to come home and contribute their ideas to bettering the society, but not in Nigeria where less qualified people get nominations over more qualified pones.
Obaze was invited back home to serve as the secretary to the state government by Obi, and he did not disappoint. He is seen as a man who would transform the state with his ideas if given the chance, but the odds against him are a legion.
He does not seem to have the kind of money required for the contest, and is not known to have any visible godfather to back him up in that aspect too. Besides these, Obaze will be running for the election on the platform of an unpopular political party, UPP, founded by Chief Chekwas Okorie.
He has launched an extensive campaign seeking to dislodge the incumbent governor, so as to complete the remaining four years of the Anambra North people, where he comes from. It is still doubtful how he will bring that to reality.
Alex Obiogbolu:A veteran governorship election contender in Anambra State, Obiogbolu is also a thorough bred gentleman and medical doctor full of ideas. He is a smooth talker and very eloquent in speech delivery. One can always tell that Obiogbolu will contest any governorship election in the state, even without him announcing his ambition, because he usually contests.
A staunch and unwavering PDP stalwart, Obiogbolu has come near to clinching the seat in previous elections, but the factionalisation in the party has always taken the ticket taken from him. In all his attempts to seize government, Obiogbolu has always presented a clear and workable manifesto as to how the state could be transformed, but the trouble has always been how he can win the election. Like a few others in the race, He would have to seek the help of a godfather with loads of cash if he intends to win the election.
Barth Nwibe:A multi-millionaire business man, Barth Nwibe was a financier of the ACN, before it joined other parties to metamorphose into APC. He is a staunch party man and will be contesting for the ticket of the APC for the election. He is not so much of an experienced politician, but has had a shot at the Anambra South senatorial race before now.
He is reputed to be the ‘second in rank’ in terms of popularity to Ngige, among all the old ACN members. How he fares in the contest for the APC ticket among the big wig politicians that have flooded the party will determine what he will be able to do in the main election. Nwibe is from Aguata area, which falls in Anambra South senatorial zone.
Obinna Uzor:A lawyer, entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, Uzor is from Ihiala, Anambra South zone of the state. He may likely be the choice of the Catholic Church for the governorship position, that is, after Obiano who is also favoured by the church. He is a staunch Catholic who has favoured the church with his wealth, executing projects for them. He is also said to be the favourite aspirant of Ngige, who remains the leader of the party in the state, besides Muoghalu.
Uzor is rich and popular. He has also endeared himself to the people of the state, and known to be a grassroots politician too. He has had more than a shot at the government house, but has never been lucky.
Osita Chidoka:Rich, young, smart and popular former minister of aviation is also interested in the governorship seat. He is a core PDP man, and had recently declared that all those exiting the party to the APC were doing so to secure federal might to run for the election. He declared further that he would remain in PDP, saying Anambra is a PDP state, but was only lost to APGA because of a certain oracle (Peter Obi). But “now that the oracle is in PDP, APGA has lost its power, so Anambra will return to PDP.” Those who know him say he is seriously working and making consultations too on how to achieve his aim in the forthcoming election.
Though the dramatis personae in the election would largely remain the same, the circumstances and conditions of the election would vary. For example, while a former governor, Mr. Peter Obi would be playing a serious part in the election, he would not be doing so as a sitting governor as he did in the election that produced the incumbent, Willy Obiano