The past week was particularly an interesting one for the governorship candidates of the various political parties in Anambra State. First was the rumour of the interception of two truck load of sensitive materials in a hotel in the Okpuno axis of Awka. The rumour, which first surfaced on the social media, pointed fingers at the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the mastermind. But the national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Oye, quickly called together a press conference to authenticate the interception of the materials and also accused the opposition parties as being responsible.
Oye said the police had possession of the confiscated materials, and that two persons, who were suspected to be members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were behind the importation of the materials. Oye, who addressed journalists on the subject, said his party would not tolerate any form of rigging in the election and urged the INEC to remain resolute in the delivery of their promise of a free, fair and credible election.
But in what seemed like a funny twist to the entire situation, the state police commissioner and the resident electoral commissioner, Mr Garba Umar and Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji respectively, faulted the report of the interception of electoral materials in Okpuno. While the police commissioner feigned ignorance of any such arrest in the state, the INEC REC insisted that its materials were not missing and could not have been intercepted in a hotel.
Another issue that has also rocked the political space was the recent interception of voterâ€™s register belonging to INEC in the possession of some politicians in the state. But again, the REC, Nkwachukwu, who was presented with the register after they were retrieved from the politicians, dismissed it as just a printout from the electronic copies availed politicians in the state as a fulfillment of the electoral act, which stipulates that the voters register must be displayed for the participating political parties to study, 30 days to the election.
The Candidates and Their Moves
Obiano Consolidates with More Endorsements
At the last count, the Anambra State governor and candidate of APGA, Chief Willie Obiano had concluded a tour of the 21 local government areas of the state. The governor, who was at Neni, Anaocha Local Government Council Area, the home town of a former governor of the state, and Obianoâ€™s arch rival, Mr. Peter Obi, perhaps used the visit to Neni to mark the end of local government campaigns, knowing he was visiting the home town of his rival.
The well-attended rally witnessed attendance from notable personalities, who trooped out to welcome the governor, having been heralded with a 21 gun salute. Obiano reassured them that his government has met its obligations one hundred per cent for the formal take-off by December of the Agulu Hotel Resort, which was handed over to him for completion by their son, Obi.
He reiterated that his government does not have any differences with Ndi Agulu, despite the disagreement with their son as they have benefited immensely and will continue to benefit from it. He said the only thing he required from them was their block votes in the upcoming governorship election, promising them that if they supported him, he would reciprocate.
Within the week, Obiano also received the endorsement of popular Catholic priest, Rev Fr Emmanuel Chibuzo Obimma (Ebube Muonso), who prophesied before a huge crowd of members of his church that Obiano would be re-elected for a second term in office.
Speaking at the Adoration Ground, Uke, the priest said the anti-people plan to rig the election would not work. He assured the governor, who came to participate in a special thanksgiving mass that the people are with him as shown by the excitement of the congregants. â€œGovernor Obiano will win the Nov 18th governorship election but thereâ€™s plan to rig him out. God will not allow them,â€ he said.
He however announced that other candidates for the November 18 Guber Election had in turn came for prayers at the Adoration Ground but commended Obiano for his good works in the state, noting that â€œthe people know the right thing to doâ€.
As the state goes to poll next Saturday, many Obianoâ€™s supporters are confident that he would win. Though the opposition insists that he has underperformed, Obiano claimed he has thoroughly turned the state around. Some of his major achievements include the provision of security, which has made kidnapping and daylight bank robberies a thing of the past. In infrastructure, he insists that he has given Awka a facelift and has completed most roads bequeathed to him by his predecessor, just as he has kept the state afloat even in the period of recession.
An Obiano victory may partly be made possible by the craving for power by the people of the Southern senatorial zone. A zoning arrangement for power has favoured the Northern zone, where Obiano hails from, before power moves to the South. The people also believed that voting anyone outside Obiano might delay the return of power to the south.
Ezeemo Quietly Penetrating the people
The PPA gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, Mr. Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo, has been quietly endearing himself to the people through the signing of a social contract with all groups and people from all walks of life in the state. One needs to see how the gubernatorial hopeful bandies the contract papers everywhere he goes.
In a recent gathering, he revealed that he has sponsored several politicians in the past but that he was disappointed by all of them given their inordinate selfishness at the expense of the Anambra people. He named the current Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige as one of the politicians he sponsored, who are more concerned with climbing the political ladder than providing sincere leadership to his people.
He said he did not want to dabble into politics, but was pushed to do so by the insincerity of those he had sponsored. Ezeemo said it was at this point that he moved back to Nigeria and established his business headquarters in his hometown, Umuchu, resolving that he would spend the rest of his life in his place of birth fighting to get to be the greener pasture that Anambra youths are daily dying in the Sahara desert.
During the week too, Ezeemo enjoyed the endorsement of devotees of Catholic Adoration Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Uli, who were estimated at 10,000. The worshippers declared their unalloyed support for Ezeemo as the next governor of the state. This was after an interactive session with them during their routine adoration night programme, where Ezeemo exposed the ills of the current political system and how it had hitherto kept the people stuck in the viscous cycle of poverty in all its ramifications.
He promised that if he is given a chance, he would enthrone social justice, provide free and quality education, cut down the cost of governance and ensure that constant power supply and all other basics of life are made available for all, thereby making Anambra conducive for speedy economic growth and development.
For Chidoka, Itâ€™s Harvest of Endorsements
Chidoka is one candidate that made a very huge leap in the past week in terms of his aspiration. From getting endorsed by traders, Chidoka was endorsed by traditional rulers and again by a number of clergy.
Thousands of traders in the densely populated Onitsha Main Market in Anambra State on Tuesday rallied support for Chidoka, whose support base has continued to swell due to his pro-people plans and programmes. In addition, his stance in defense of the interest of the masses has continued to endear him to the people, which was the reason given by the traders, who suspended business activities to demonstrate their support, when the UPP campaign train stormed the market on Tuesday.
This came on the heels of resounding receptions in Njikoka, Idemili and Anaocha areas, where thousands of supporters, especially youths also abandoned their businesses to show solidarity with the UPP candidate in separate rallies in the areas.
Chidoka, in Saturdayâ€™s election, would be expecting victory as he insists that only he and Obiano are the only two candidates in the race. His media assistant, Richard Ihediwa who spoke with THISDAY said as much.
â€œChidoka and Obiano are the only two candidates in this race. We are not talking about APC which cannot find its feet anywhere in the south east, or is it PDP that has more factions than they can count? This election is between Obiano and Chidoka, and I am sure that Chidoka will win.â€
Though young and likeable, his major problem is not being a candidate from Anambra North. But for him and Ezeemo, almost all the candidates in the election are from Anambra North, and this is as a result of a zoning arrangement authored by elders of Anambra State in collaboration with Ohaneze Ndigbo, where they insisted that Anambra North should serve out its remaining term so that the Southern zone of the state can take its turn. The Arrangement looked believable, considering that both Mr. Obi and Ngige, who held sway in the state for 11 years are both from Anambra Central, where Chidoka also hails from. How Chidoka will surmount the arrangement to emerge as governor is yet to be seen.
Obaze Perfects His One Term Deal
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Oseloka Obaze has moved from canvassing for votes in Anambra to Lagos, and this seems a good move for him because a large chunk of the citizens of the state live and ply their trades in Lagos. They most probably will return to cast their votes.
Working in sync with the zoning arrangement of the state, which was ceded to Anambra North, where he and the incumbent come from, Obaze has devised a very potent method to woo votes from Anambra people. The candidate says that since the northern senatorial zone is entitled to two terms of a total eight years, he would do only one term, since Obiano had already taken one term. This, he said would make it possible for power to move to the south after his four years without delay.
But former central bank governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo has faulted with the argument that anyone, who says so, either does not know how power works because they have not tasted it, or is plainly mischievous and wants to hoodwink Anambra people. Soludo, who comes from the Southern zone where power is billed to shift after one more term in the north, said electing anyone outside Obiano in the guise of electing someone from the North will delay the return of power to his zone as such a person will definitely seek a second term.
Oselokaâ€™s team visited nine markets â€“ Electronics/ Electrical Alaba; Balogun Business Association (BBA), APT and ASPAMDA, among others. In each of the markets, Obazeâ€™s message was the same, and were always about his regret on the emergence of the current governor in Anambra State whom he said has failed not only by poor representation of the North Senatorial District, but also by total failure to sustain the gains recorded by his predecessor.
The PDP candidate listed his major campaign thrust to the people, and said his manifesto is hinged on education as the major tool for the emancipation of the people. He said not only would 26% of the budget go to education, 10% of it would go to governmentâ€™s critical partners in education, namely, the Church. He also said they would come out with a template for functional vocational education.
On election day, Obaze would be counting on the votes of the people, especially as he has been tipped for victory in the election by several groups that have endorsed him, but he would also be contending with his fellow PDP members, who have sworn to ensure that his aspiration ends on a awful note, as they have insisted that he was never a member of the party, but brought in and also imposed on them as a candidate of Obi. Prince Ken Emeakayi, expelled chairman of the PDP in the state, who spoke to THISDAY, said his group, which he described as the authentic PDP in the state would not rest until Obaze was trounced.
Nwoye Boasts Federal Might
The fear of most stakeholders in Anambra State is that the federal government may try to favour their own by winning the election, using the apparatus of the federal government as a way for APC to make an in-road into the South-east.
Activities of the medical doctor turned politician have remained under wrap, as he is one candidate, who is known not to make too much noise about his activities, but has continued to move into the hinterlands to solicit for support from the people of the state.
Nwoye, in a campaign ground in Awka, said though he hails from the same local government as the incumbent government, but he would trounce him to show his popularity over the governor. He said he was sure he would win the election in the local government and even go ahead to win in the entire state as Obiano has remained unpopular in the state.
As Saturday beckons, THISDAY has gathered that some members of the APC were already withdrawing their support for Nwoye, albeit secretly. A source, who begged not to be named said letting Nwoye win would truncate the zoning arrangement, which the state already has in place as he (Nwoye), unlike Obaze has never made any comment about doing one term, which means that he may probably gun for a second term. â€œMost members of our party would not vote for him, even those you read everyday trying to hype him on Facebook.