Anamabra Election: Not A Walkover for Obiano

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Tony Amadi

Southeast’s flagship state of Anambra is ready to elect a new governor next week, exactly two days after Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s birthday. The other Nnamdi had wished that the election is boycotted to enable his Indigenous People of Biafra who preached the secession of the Southeast from the rest of Nigeria to become another country.

Although he has rescinded the threat even before his organisation was proscribed by President Buhari’s government and a court of competent jurisdiction, I had wondered how he intended to achieve that ambition of stopping elections in Nigeria. Much as he has achieved some positives so far which has led to bringing the issue of restructuring to the front burner nationally, Mr Kanu must realise that his policies and plans could lead to killing more of his people just like the Ojukwu-led war resulted in the loss of millions of lives at the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war some forty seven years ago.

This is not to say that the Igbo proverb that says that you will not stop going to war because people will die does not hold water. The way the Igbo has been treated in Nigeria for generations is worth going to war for, but having fought one war and lost even Ojukwu himself was against a second one as the current government controlled NTA has been re-quoting the wise words of the ex-war lord to counter the governments’ anti new-Biafra war propaganda machine.

So IPOB or no IPOB, the people of Anambra are set to vote their next leader on Saturday, 18th November 2017. And virtually all the political parties that are contesting the election have concluded and elected their candidates in the inevitable primaries that come before the gubernatorial race. The governing party in the state, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has incumbent governor Willie Obiano set to carry the mantle for a second term in office while in hot pursuit is the APC, All Progressive Congress with the dynamic and young parliamentarian, Dr Tony Nwoye, a member of the House of Representatives who will carry the mantle of the national ruling party in the elections.

As for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the umbrella party and the largest party in Nigeria if not Africa, its flag bearer is the former Secretary to the Anambra State Government under former Governor Peter Obi, Chief Oseloka Henry Obaze, a suave and decent technocrat and diplomatic mastermind bred in the United Nations line of diplomacy and now trying his hands in the muddy politics of Anambra state where brother fights brother, father against son and godfather against god son and god daughter etc.

The purpose of this article is to state in clear terms why the incumbent governor Chief Willie Obiano is ahead of the rest of the contestants despite the frightening arsenal ranged against him. His image maker, Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta, accepts that it will not be a walkover for his boss whom he met decades ago as his senior at Christ the Kings College, Onitsha, once and still the Eton of the former Eastern region. ‘’We have our work caught out in this election’’, he told me in a telephone interview, “and that is to point out what Obiano has done since he took over the mantle four years ago and the massive difference he has made since his inauguration”.

But the APC is desperate to take over the government of Anambra state and with its federal might which it has flaunted at its campaign flag off last month, the party is leaving nothing to chance to achieve its dream. The crucial question asked by a member of the PDP was how the ruling party, APC, could hope to make any impact in the elections after sending a heavy military force codenamed Python Dance II which buffeted the Southeast with an unprecedented force, yet coming cap in hand for votes from the same people.

On the other hand, former Anambra governor Peter Obi is campaigning heavily under the PDP platform for his former Secretary to the Government of Anambra State to become the next governor after convincing everyone to vote for incumbent Willie Obiano four years ago. When Dr Azikiwe handed over to Dr Michael Okpara in 1959 to become President of the Nigerian Senate and later Governor General, he never interfered in the governance of the former Eastern Nigeria. The know-all Peter Obi can pick and choose who rules Anambra State because he was the best governor that Anambra ever produced.
Tomorrow, if Mr. Oseloka Obaze wins and disagrees with Peter Obi for interfering with his governance, Mr. Okwute will shop for us another leader in the 2021 elections. The people of Anambra must jettison these kind of leaders who think they remain the best and the wisest in their history. Mr Obi should sit down in the comfort of his Agulu hometown and wait for the verdict of history on his administration instead of parading different characters who he believes are the best to rule over Anambra.

Ogbuefi Nnachetta believes that Obiano’s record will stand him in good stead when the votes are cast and counted next month. “There is virtually no community in the state that the governor has not touched this past four years’’, says Nnachetta, “either in the provision of infrastructure or in the farming revolution that has led to the empowerment of the rural population in rice production”. A traditional chieftain in Nnokwa and former Airforce Wing Commander of the Nigerian Air Force, Chief Joe Anyika agreed with Willie Obiano’s image maker. He said that “Obiano in his bid to fast track development in Anambra state approached each community and asked each to name the project dearest to them and gave each of them N20,000,000 (twenty million naira) to go ahead with it. Some like my own community of Nnokwa chose to build a civic centre which includes a town hall, library and offices for entrepreneurial training and vigilantes to checkmate criminals before the police get involved”.

Chief Anyika added that following the handover of the Nnokwa Civic Centre commissioned by Governor Obiano recently, the community is waiting for another round of development money to construct a Copper’s Lodge in two secondary schools in Nnokwa as the second phase of the development programme. It was revealed that communities that completed their first project under the Obiano Community largesse, will get a second tranche to continue the development blitz across the state. For instance, Nnobi, a neighbouring town chose to build a town hall while Ndikerionwu has built a doctors quarters to ensure that health care delivery is unhindered in their community.

On the economic front, Obiano has made huge impact, and have generally touched the people greatly but it is in the area of political intrigue that he may have problems. He has been having a running battle with former Governor Peter Obi who is behind the candidacy of PDP’s Oseloka Obaze. Obi was very angry the way he was treated by Obiano when he guided him through the political labyrinth of the state politics. The former governor is working to show that he still has enormous influence in Anambra. But the governor’s supporters dismiss any impact that the quarrel with Peter Obi will have on the electoral outcome. As for the damage that the APC candidate Dr. Tony Nwoye may cause the electoral chances of Obiano, political pundits in the state characteristically dismissed Nwoye’s chances as not very strong enough to cancel the incumbency and high performance levels that Obiano has achieved. Not even the federal might can have any effect in the politics of Anambra state.

In the last the election that brought Obiano to power APGA polled 180,178 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, then Nwoye with 97, 700 votes while the third place was 95, 963 votes for the APC. Nwoye came close to beating Obiano, however the equation has since changed. Nwoye is now APC with Federal power clearly behind him but commentators have also said that it is going to be difficult for the All Progressive Congress to take Anambra government given the perception that APC is behind the marginalisation of the Southeast under the Buhari administration. Obiano would have been in great trouble if Nwoye had remained in the PDP, a party that is far closer to the people of Anambra than the APC.

For the Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha, to boldly castigate the Igbo as the worst political players in Nigeria because as he claimed, the Hausa-Fulani of the North and Yoruba of the West don’t need the Igbo of the Southeast to win elections in Nigeria, he must have something up his sleeves. It is not unlikely that the APC is counting on the federal might to win Anambra, but as one leading chieftain of the PDP involved in the election postulated last week, it is virtually impossible for the ruling party at the centre to win elections in the Southeast given the 5% banding of the area in distribution of federal projects as well as the ongoing python-dancing military onslaught in the region.