Awka Govt House: How the Candidates Stand

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With the primary elections of all the contending parties over, David-Chyddy Eleke examines the respective candidates and how they stand as Anambra votes in a major governorship election this November

Bookmakers have insisted that the November governorship election would be the most keenly contested in the history of the state. Of course, Anambra is rated among the most politically conscious states in the country, and to convince an electorate to part with his vote in the state, a candidate must do extra work.

Just as the saying goes that the taste of the pudding is in the eating, the primary elections of some of the most popular political parties in the state have given the signs of what the main election could be. So far, only five out of the 33 political parties that would be participating in the election are known to be either popular enough among the people to win election, or are fielding candidates, who are popular or have the capacity to truly prosecute their election to the point of victory.

The parties and their candidates are: All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), with Chief Willie Obiano, the incumbent governor, as its candidate; All Progressives Congress (APC), has Hon. Tony Nwoye; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is fielding Mr. Oseloka Obaze; Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) has on its platform, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, while the United Progressives Party (UPP) is to run with Chief Osita Chidoka.

Now, let’s look at the candidates and how they stand within the equation and how their strengths and weaknesses could do and undo their chances respectively.

Willie Obiano

The incumbent governor of Anambra State is in the race on the platform of APGA. He is among the few, who had a smooth sail to the governorship tickets of their parties. Reasons being that his party considered him as having performed creditably in his first term to the extent that it announced it would not entertain anyone else vying against him for the ticket. It came to pass, and after it primary election in Awka, APGA announced Obiano as its candidate for the election.

The governor will have so many factors working in his favour in the election, and they include his performance, power of incumbency, the war chest to successfully prosecute the election among others. Obiano is seen as having performed well in the close to four years that he has held sway as governor.

Some of his achievements include the provision of infrastructure as could be seen in the construction of roads in various parts of the state, his effort to beautify Awka and give it the deserved status of a state capital. His performance in various communities of the state, where he initiated the ‘choose your project initiative’, in which he empowers communities with N20million for them to name and build their own priority project may have also contributed to their love and support for him.

This may have been part of the reason he has received endorsement from several communities of the state, who have pledged their support for him. Association of leaders of the town unions have also held a ceremony to endorse him for his work in their communities, just as farmers had also done same in view of what they see as his massive support for the agricultural sector.

Obiano is reputed to have grown agriculture in the state to the level that the state today has reduced the importation of rice, with the growing popularity of Anambra Rice.

Today, Obiano is widely known among civil servants as the alert governor, reason being that since the commencement of his administration, he has constantly paid civil servants their salaries and most importantly, as early as 25th of every month.

Some have however argued that payment of salaries is no achievement as the governor is obligated to pay, but what is important to Obiano is that the civil servants to whom he has constantly fulfilled this obligation are appreciative of the gesture, knowing quite well that some governors owe backlog of salaries spanning several months in some states. It may be for this reason that the civil servants in the state recently endorsed him for a second term in office, pledging to mobilise support for him to win the election.

It could also be for some of these advantages that the leader of the APC in Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, noted recently at a meeting of South east stakeholders of his party that winning an incumbent governor like Obiano may not be easy. He enjoined members of his party to work hard to ensure that peace and cooperation reigned in the party if it would achieve the dream of dislodging Obiano.

Obiano’s Anambra North root is another factor that would work for him, as elders of the party had months ago sat and agreed that power must remain in the northern zone of the state for it to complete her statutory two terms before moving to the southern zone. However, what may seem a problem to Obiano is his frosty relationship with the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, who was instrumental to his ascendancy to power and still very much loved by the people.  There are also political baggage that go with incumbency factor, which include unmet expectations and political enemies created from political actions and government policies.

Tony Nwoye

He is widely regarded as a strong grassroots politician, and his calm and humble mien has endeared him to many people. Nwoye, a member of the House of Representatives, is the governorship candidate of the APC. He had in a surprise primary election beaten Senator Andy Uba, who is considered his godfather after bringing him to limelight through an appointment as the chairman of the PDP in the state. He is young, and known to have a strong connection with youths being a Student Union leader in his undergraduate days.

Nwoye hails from Anambra North, the zone favoured for the governorship seat, and it is only good for the party that it went for Nwoye over Uba. But the election of Nwoye, who is just like Uba and some other politicians in the party seen as a new comer may not go down well with some of the staunch party members.

Just as Dr. Jim Nwobodo, the leader of the party in the South-east had advised in a congratulatory message to Nwoye that the aspirants should rally behind Nwoye to ensure the party attains victory; it may be disastrous for the party if the other aspirants decide to work against him.

It is more so, when Uba and other losers in the election have not made any statement showing their support for him. Uba, who made a press release pledging not to leave the party, also did not state any support for Nwoye.

Another factor that may possibly sell Nwoye is the belief that the federal might may come to play. Most of the aspirants on the platform of the APC were hoping that the presidency would press the right button for the state to be delivered to APC, but this may not exactly work out.

Anambra electorate is among the most politically aware and is known to have resisted attempts by moneybags, security or thugs to rig elections. And, with a party like APC, it would be easy to start all over again to brand the party as a northern party, and discourage rural voters from voting it. So if APC will win Anambra, it has to do extra work to get the people to believe in it.

Oseloka Obaze

A diplomat, author, seasoned administrator and time tested technocrat hails from Ogbaru LGA in the northern part of the state. He served as Secretary to the State Government under Mr. Peter Obi. Obiano later inherited him from Obi, when the going was not so rough between the duo, until about a year of service and he bowed out.

His Anambra North root will help push his aspiration, just as his personality as a former United Nations official would too. He is known to be highly read, and also very cerebral, and has the backing of the former governor of the state, Obi, who is gradually assuming the position of a king maker in Anambra after defying all odds to install Obiano in the first tenure.

With Obi behind him, an Oseloka victory is possible, as Obi, having served the state for eight years and also still impacting it has a cult-like following in the state. He is also known for his political mastery of the state, and would most definitely deploy everything to win Obaze the election.

One factor that has remained doubtful is Obaze’s financial capacity to prosecute the election, but that may be waived as a source recently told THISDAY that PDP governors are bent on making a political statement, using the Anambra election as a subliminal message by rallying round the party’s candidate for the election.

Godwin Ezeemo

Most people in the state have adjudged Ezeemo as the best man for the Anambra governorship if Nigerian politics were the ideal one. Ezeemo, a philanthropist, farmer, publisher, enterprenuer and manufacturer is one of the biggest investors in the state. He prides himself as the only candidate, who has impacted the state most with his investment, which he brought back home from the UK, where he was based.

He hails from the Southern part of the state, and was the only aspirant for the governorship position, who challenged the zoning of the governorship seat to the North. His argument was that his zone has only had a shot at the governorship seat once, and that having been there before the northern zone, it was pertinent for the zone to take a second term before the North which had served one term in Obiano would be allowed to go for another.

Ezeemo who is vying on the platform of the PPA once told journalists that as much as people believe that he would make a good governor, but are concerned because his party is less-rated, noted that time was when people voted for party. Ezeemo said he was sure that the people of the state would vote for personality and not party, and that placed side by side with all the other candidates, he was sure to beat them as he has a proven track record of achievements outside office. Ezeemo is not known to be associated with any godfather, but vying on his own conviction, popularity, and financial strength.

Osita Chidoka

The young, suave, smart and debonair former Minister of Aviation, who is also a former Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corp, is vying on the platform of United Progressives Party, UPP. Chidoka showed strength weeks back, when he clinched the party’s ticket over another aspirant, Hon Chudi Offodile, a former member of the House of Representatives.

Chidoka like Ezeemo is not also known to have any godfather, but told journalists recently that he was vying on the power of idea, having been convinced that there was need to move the state forward. His performance at FRSC and the ministry of Aviation has been applauded by many, and he recently stated that he was coming to change things for the better in the state.

He is from Anambra Central zone, and the zone is known to have produced the duo of Dr. Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi as governors. This might likely work against his emergence, just as THISDAY gathered that the refusal of PDP to field a candidate from anywhere other than Anambra North was the reason he moved to the UPP.

But Chidoka, while making remarks after his nomination to fly the ticket of the party said he has the solution to the constant agitation for a sovereign state, and that he would end such agitation with good governance.

His party gained popularity after a faction of IPOB through its political arm, Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN), supported it but Chidoka’s hope has further dimmed with the withdrawal of their support from the party in protest after what the group described as the rigging of the party’s primary.