Anambra: The Fear of UPP is the Beginning of Wisdom


Chike Odenigbo

Chief Willie Obiano must have to traverse the distant lands to cross the proverbial seven rivers and seven wildernesses if he does not want to join his predecessors in the camp of one-term governor, a record which has only been broken by his immediate predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi.

Obi indeed broke what appears to be a jinx, which had trailed the political trajectory of the state, even as far back as 1991 when the old Anambra State was split into its present enclave and what is now comprises as Enugu and Ebonyi states.

Chief Jim Nwobodo, had emerged the first governor when the country returned to civilian rule in 1979 after a long stretch of military rule. But that was all there was to it as he was eventually displaced by the late Chief Christian Chukwuma Onoh before the army, once again, sacked the Third Republic that era represented.

Then came the period of Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, by the time the new Anambra had already been created. In the ill-fated transition programme that ended with the truncation of the June 12, 1993 election, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife took over as the new governor of the state. Then came the military again, which sacked the government even before its second birthday.

In the present dispensation, the state has seen the faces of four governors in a period of 18 years, a record in the country, due to the peculiar circumstances that have trailed its political history. First, came Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who ran a government that some people have described as not too good in the history of the state so far and was therefore booted out after the first four years.

Then came Dr. Chris Ngige, whose era could be described as the most troubled, where for the first time in the nation’s history and even that of the world, a governor was kidnapped right inside his own office like a commoner. But that was not the end of the story, as the stormy era, ended abruptly when a court of appeal sitting in Enugu showed the ex-governor the exit door from government.

It was the culmination of a potpourri of the bizarre, the outlandish and the eerie, communing with the good and the desirable. Beyond the kidnap event, Ngige’s office, was completely razed down by some hoodlums said to be hired and supervised by some indigenes of the state working for the Federal Government. He was accused of visiting the infamous Okija shrine to swear an oath. A video made of him making out with a woman also surfaced. His convoy was run out of the road on several occasions. His traducers even went to the extent of procuring the infamous Justice Stanley Nnaji’s judgement which sacked him from office on the ground that he was not properly sworn-in.
However, Ngige’s government, which had on the flip side the introduction of what is seen as real governance, apart from the positive public perception of his ability to stand up to his traducers, was eventually sacked on account of the political heist, which brought him to power in the first place.

Obi, the beneficiary of the new turn of events, though, had his own side of the sad political story of the state, with the highpoint being his “impeachment” from office, was however able to weather the storm due to a combination of sheer suave political brinkmanship and practical transformation of the state into an exemplary viable entity, even with its scarce resources.

Today, however, signals suggest that Obiano, who is currently in the line of fire and receiving his own baptism, may be in the line of has-beens not on account of his volition, but from the strong forces welling up against him.

To say that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is in tatters, may be a hard way of putting it. But what is not in contention is that it is in turmoil, with a leadership struggle that is already tapering towards the Mbadinuju sad story.

Like Mbadinuju, who was denied the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in the wake of the campaigns for the 2003 election, the prospect of Obiano, also being denied the APGA ticket to contest the forthcoming election is now the talk of the town. This is as a result of the political intrigues that have thrown up Chief Martin Agbaso as the new APGA National Chairman in place of Chief Victor Oye.

In recent times, the governor was said to have been in and out of the courts through his agents to try and get a reprieve from the order of mandamus, issued to INEC by the Enugu State High Court, transferring power to Agbaso, whose brief is, according to reports, to deny Obiano the APGA ticket.

However, events suggest that the onslaught from his party, might even be the least of his problem, that is if he is able to surmount it. This is on account of the fire the influence of the United Progressives Party (UPP), has wrought in the Anambra polity.

The birthing of the UPP, has seen the reinvigoration of the spirit of APGA of old, apparently because it takes the same parentage from the originator, who designed and promoted the APGA philosophy and roadmap from the first day.

When Chief Chekwas Okorie, declared that those who took APGA leadership from him were only holding the carcass, not many seemed to understand the import until the party practically began to falter and finally relapsed into its present inertia and stunted growth, as evidenced by its inability to win any other state in the South-east, its major catchment area even with its huge potentials.

Now, that spirit seems to have returned in a new body in form of the UPP. In fact, the spirit has not only returned, but actually bursting with bristling energy given the new political reality in Nigeria today in which the Biafra agitation is now the singsong in the South East…

Therein lies the new reality. For the Anambra governor to get around this, therefore, is the task is the Gordian Knot that must be untied.

Odenigbo lives in Awka, Anambra State