Anambra State, politically, is a unique state for a number of obvious reasons. A cursory look at the 36 states of the federation singles Anambra out as the only state that is governed by a political party (All Progressives Grand Alliance) other than one of the two major political parties in the country. Suffice it to say that when and where the governor is not from the national ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC), then he is from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ever since the historical change of political leadership baton of the state from PDP to APGA in 2007, courtesy of reclaiming a lost mandate through the courts, with its torch-bearing governor, Peter Obi, on the pilot seat, the party has enjoyed an unbroken stint in the governance of the state.
The achievement is not without a formula. APGA as a political party, adopted and ordained by the Biafran war general, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a highly revered Igbo leader, transcended partisanship and became a near ideological movement. It culturally and emotionally endeared itself to the people of the state. Sprinkled with vision and good leadership, a recipe for unquestioned loyalty emerged—and for years, the party fed Anambrarians this virtue.
But as the saying goes, nothing last forever and change is ever constant. Things, overtly and factually have changed if not fallen apart in APGA. With the demise of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the protracted leadership tussles, non-democratic party primaries, exploitation of aspirants and the selfish leadership style of the party leaders, the party has totally lost its script and vision, and consequently witnessed the exodus of its bigwigs, ex-governor Peter Obi inclusive. With the crisis of interest, dwindling followership, and conflict of vision that informed such massive departures, the signs are clear that the party is becoming a shadow of itself. The leadership style and poor performance of the incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano is robustly fanning the embers of rejection and hatred of the party by Ndi Anambra.
For the first time, therefore, a real and true possibility arises for another party to take over the reins in the state after those long years. The opportunity has presented itself but, with clear demands. The political party must have had a far reaching solid structure and some comparative competitive edge to what already exists, it must not open old wounds, and must present a candidate that is devoid of past political baggage that would inevitably fragment and factionalize the party.
The PDP, for a few reasons, looks like the party to take up the challenge. Anambrarians like other Igbos exercises little or no patience with individuals or organisations who have connections to that ugly experience of the Biafran war and the perceived marginalization of ndi Igbo in Nigeria. The APC, seen as a Northern party and led by President Muhammad Buhari, an active player in the war, is blighted by a seeming impossibility of acceptance in the state. To the average Anambra citizen, “there is no APC in Anambra”, a sentiment promptly shared by Emmanuel Okonkwo, a banker in the state. The APC is not only disqualified by sentiment and emotion, rather it is also handicapped by history, hence yielding the battle ground to PDP.
However, it is not a tea party such that without the enumerated starling qualities, any PDP standard bearer could pass for victory. No way. APGA, despite its muddied reputation, still wields enough power to give PDP a good run for its money. For this, PDP must work hard and the hard work begins with the choice of candidate to be presented to the people of Anambra State. In that regard, studded with an overwhelming number of eminently qualified aspirants, the party suffers not.
The intimidating list of aspirants being paraded by PDP includes Sen. Uche Ekwunife, the incumbent senator representing Anambra Central; Engr. Chris Azubogu, member House of Reps; Dr Godwin Mmaduka, Mr. Obiora Okonkwo, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo, and Valentine Chineto Ozigbo.
For PDP, the enigma would be who, among this long list of eminent personalities, fulfils the many determining factors and brightens or dims the chances of the party’s victory at the polls.
The first consideration and arguably the most important factor relates to the issue of zoning, having in view the current state of mind of Ndi Anambra. Zoning sincerely speaking is part and parcel of our life, it is beyond Anambra—it is a Nigerian thing. It is a reality that persists in a nation with diverse people and cultures. For Anambra, albeit the same culture and language, power shifts between the three zones: Anambra Central, Anambra North, and Anambra South. It is a principle that ensures the equitable distribution of political power, erasing the chances and suspicion of one side of the state monopolizing political power and the imagined benefits that accrue from it.
However, given that Anambra Central and Anambra North have had their day, all hands point and all eyes look, in the direction of Anambra South for the provision of a candidate for the party. Like Ockham’s razor, this zoning principle cuts the PDP longlist down to two aspirants, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo and Chris Azubogu.
Amadi Nnamdi, Onitsha