BY CHIMA CHRISTIAN#
On the 18th of November, the electorate in Anambra State will go to the polls to elect their governor for the next four years. Political parties are already fixing dates for primary elections and the embargo on open campaign will soon be lifted. As the date draws near, observers are making predictions on who could emerge for each party and their chances. We look at the major Aspirants from notable political parties.
PPA (Godwin Ezeemo)
From all intents and purposes, Godwin Ezeemo is a de facto candidate, being the sole nominee of his party, the PPA, but that seems to be where the advantage ends for the Umuchu entrepreneur turned politician. Zoning seems clearly against his chances. He continuously soaks against zoning, and when given a chance hardly says what he has to offer Anambra people. He seems to mistake charity and philanthropy for good governance.
APGA (Willie Obiano)
The election in Anambra State will be hard fought as the incumbent is also running but the well-informed in the State agree that the current governor has overseen the retrogression of the State from where Mr. Peter Obi stopped. Anambra is littered with abandoned projects which Gov. Willie Obiano refused to continue reportedly because the contractors were engaged by the former governor. Of the thirty eight roads he inherited, he has completed only three. He started new ones mainly in the Aguleri area where he hails from. The road from the Enugu-Onitsha express to EnugwuUkwu the home of his deputy remains at the flag off stage.
The roads built by Peter Obi which earned the State the honour of having the best road network in Nigeria are now saturated with deadly pot holes as traffic moved from the failed Awka-Onitsha expressway to the internal State roads. One of the most glaring signs harped on by observers who believe the current government has failed is the Ifite road that leads to Nnamdi Azikiwe University. The failed portion of that road which leads to the University gate is not more than one Kilometer but in over three years of his administration, the governor couldn’t fix the road and has only sent in contractors now that it has become a campaign issue.
Outside the government’s excellent use of media propaganda, which has worked so well among the uninformed public, observers point to the many self-indulgent advisers and sycophants around the governor as the reason for the poor governance in the State. Anambra which was consecutively ranked tops in NECO and WAEC examinations under Peter Obi has just fallen to the sixth position in the 2017 WAEC examination.
However, the governor having expanded on the security foundation he inherited, has earned good review in security of the State. He’s also having a fractured relationship with some churches and religious leaders owing to his believe that with money, he can always get his way. But Obiano’s greatest headache is that he has lost his footing in APGA. The party leadership crisis is still roiling. Incumbency may not be an advantage after all.
APC (Sen. Andy Uba)
Senator Andy Uba is running as he has done in the past despite a recent attempt by his constituents to recall him. He is in a crowded APC race for the ticket. He is from the South senatorial zone. He’s one of those that believe the incumbent has performed very poorly and that the North should relinquish the position after 4 years. Since being evicted by the court after becoming governor of the State for two weeks in 2007, the Senator has contested every election ever since. He stands a good chance of picking the party’s ticket but will hardly fly with Ndi Anambra. He’s bought cars for the 21 local government Chairmen of the party and their task is to deliver him at the primaries.
For his years at the Senate, there’s hardly enough to show for it and he remains unpopular among the electorates of the State. However, just like the governor, he has the financial might. Uba has two Anambra North candidates, Dr. Chike Obidigbo and Dr. Tony Nwoye to contend with, along with George Moghalu, an old hand in the party and Barth Nwibe, who is also from his zone.
PDP (Alex Obiogbolu)
Dr. Obiogbolu is an old PDP hand and a serial aspirant. He is a clinical politician, yet his loyalty to the party has not paid off and still may not. He has the in-party machinery and know how. However, when he lost the nomination in 2013 he went on to serve as Nicholas Ukachukwu’s DG in another party, thus giving a glimpse of his true loyalty. But there is a greater strike against him. As an Onitsha indigene, he could hardly win the Onitsha municipality, talk less of the the state. Non Onitsha indigenes are loath to vote for an Onitsha politician. Reportedly, he does not enjoy the support of his town’s monarch. Obiogbolu’s aspiration might have garnered impetus, but that was until Obaze entered the race in the later part of 2016. Interestingly, he enjoys a warm rapport with Obaze, so both might still find common grounds for collaboration. Look for him to join and support Obaze if his personal bid else fails.
PDP (Oseloka H. Obaze)
Since the former United Nations official separated from Obiano’s government in June 2015, the failure in the administration’s performance became unmanageable. Some insiders in Obiano government have confessed lately that Obaze was the only one that could look the governor in the eye and tell him the truth and that the governor was deeply respectful of him.
Obaze reportedly was reluctant to run. He is a PDP newcomer, but well respected. Mr. Obaze played a key role in bringing governorship to Anambra North in the build up to the 2013 election. He was Peter Obi’s chioce to replace him in 2013, one of the reasons behind pulling him out of the United Nations, but for the selfish interests of some party leaders in APGA who played the Obiano card. When he was disqualified on technicality in 2013, he showed real class, by immediately rallying forces behind Obiano, his party’s flag bearer. He has publicly admitted that he was amongst those who supported Obiano, but that the bargain turned bad. He’s currently the main challenger to Gov. Obiano.
Obaze has good governance in his fingertips. He is considered by many as the most qualified for the job. An astute technocrat, he believes governance is about service delivery and adding value. Some people who have worked or interacted with him believe Anambra State will be getting an improved version of Peter Obi with him. He is very discerning, which some mistake as selective or discriminatory. Coming from the international community background where he served for about 30 years and also putting in two years into Peter Obi’s administration, Obaze does not believe in cutting corners and frowns at the frivolities bedeviling the current administration.
Obaze, widely seen as one with impeccable integrity, has embarked on a peace mission within the PDP to reconcile the two factions in the State and get set for the election proper and members of the PDP are excited that this aspirant is not just interested in his personal ambition of getting the party ticket, but in unifying the party as a credible alternative for Ndi Anambra. He has also said clearly that he will only serve Anambra State for four years if elected as he played a big part in negotiating eight years for Anambra North, which the incumbent has served over three years of it.
There’s also the added advantage that Obaze is well regarded among the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal churches as well as within the organized private sector, especially after his management of the 2012 flood disaster in Anambra State as the Chairman of the State Flood Disaster Committee. The fear, observers believe, is that Obaze is no money bag and will need to work harder to convince the electorate without throwing money at their faces.
UPP (Osita Chidoka)
The former Aviation Minister and FRSC Boss is considered smart and only second to Oseloka H. Obaze in competence and capacity. Coming from the Central Senatorial District, he left the PDP after being informed that the North will produce the candidate in a zoning arrangement that traverse party within the State. Chidoka, who prides himself as a democratic, is seen as disrespectful of equity and zoning, by holding that zoning was an APGA arrangement he is not bound to. His Obosi townspeople and local government electorate still frown that while his younger brother is already in the National Assembly, he wants to become governor. On the traditional level, many of his kit and kin still await his comeuppance for preceding his aged father in taking the traditional Ichie title.
Chidoka’s added political disadvantage comes from being new to Anambra State. He is struggling to understand the dynamics and where it pinches the electorate most. Chidoka has sent his team out to communities to get information on what really the issues are and what areas to focus on; but it will be no surprise if he makes a deal with PDP to support Obaze. Some believe his running is aimed at securing a deputy governorship slot ahead of 2022. Finally, Chidoka was heard complaining to confidants that Obiano was exploring jumping into UPP. If true, he has more challenges to contend with.
*Chima is an Awka-based journalist and a public affairs analyst.