Anambra 2017: Keen contest for tickets as primaries unfold

Peter Obi

From tomorrow, the cobwebs on the contending political platforms for the Anambra governorship poll would begin to clear, but not so for the clouds of suspicion and intrigues among the candidates. Yet, as the parties begin the real journey to November 18 by conducting the primary elections, push will come to shove and shibboleths unmasked.

Within the next seven days the crowd of aspirants would thin out as flag bearers emerge of the respective platforms. For instance, by August 19 only one from the 11 aspirants screened by the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the election would remain. Those who have got the nod to test their popularity and acceptability with the delegates include, Mrs. Ada Kate Uchegbu, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Chief Barth Nwibe, Senator Andy Uba, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Mr. Paul Chukwuma, Chief George Moughalu, Dr. Obinna Uzoh, Chief Onunkwo Johnnosco, Mr. Madu Chukwunonso and Chief Donatus Okonkwo.

Even within the come backing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seven aspirants have surprisingly met the preliminary requirements to seek the party’s ticket. They include, Dr Alex Obiogbolu, former Secretary to Anambra State Government (SSG), Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze; Prince Okechukwu Emeka; Ms. Lynda Ikpeazu; Princess Adaeze Stella Oduah (ASO); Chief Patrick Ubah and Mr. Akolisa Ufodike.

Perhaps on account of the leadership confusion in the party, the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has three challengers contesting the party’s ticket against the incumbent, Governor Willie Obiano. When the Ochudo Martin Agbaso-led rival APGA platform holds its governorship primary in Awka or Owerri, Dr. Elo Afoka, Mr. Chinedu Idigo and Chris Orazulike, will file out.

For the United Progressive Party (UPP) four aspirants are also on the line to contest the party’s primary on August 19. They include, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, Mr. Chudi Offodile, Mr. Osita Chidoka and Mr. Ejike Obumneme. The peculiar thing about UPP is that four aspirants hail from Anambra Central Senatorial district.

Unless another aspirant shows up before September 2, The Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) stands out as the first party to produce its gubernatorial candidate, as Chief Godwin Ezeemo has purchased the party’s nomination forms.

Newly registered Young Democratic Party (YDP), Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) and Mega Peoples Progressive Party (MPPP) have one aspirant each in the persons of Ogbuevi Nonso Ozoemena, His Royal Highness, Chief Ojukwu and Mr. Paul Obiora.
Webs Of Intrigues

Anambra people are renowned for enterprise, especially trading. Somehow politicians from the state bring in the trading acumen into the power game. It is not easy to know what constitutes the compound interest of Anambra politician. Despite the passionate intensity that comes with governorship chase, at some point it ends up as a bargain for fiscal empowerment or vengeful enterprise.

The rerun election ordered by the Court of Appeal for Anambra Central Senatorial seat is yet to hold more than eight months after the court asked INEC to conduct the poll within 90 days. Former national chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh believes that the incumbent did not do enough to make him win the election and holds it against Obiano.

Umeh was also said to have expressed regrets for the way and manner the governor sidelined him and breached agreements in appointments and dispensing favours. At the height of that angst, the former APGA chief was said to have reached out to former Governor Peter Obi seeking his support to stop the governor’s second term. Suddenly Obiano appoints him Director General of his campaign committee. The question on the lips of many APGA faithful in the state is whether with his botched senatorial ambition Umeh would be a propeller or saboteur to the governor’s second term ambition.

Those in the know said that despite the charge of being a rookie politician, Obiano strategically appointed his mercurial wife, Ebele, into the campaign committee to checkmate Umeh’s capacity for mischief or disruption of victory plans.

Exactly two weeks after she said she was not interested in the governorship race, former Aviation minister and senator representing Anambra north in the Senate, Princess Adaeze Stella Oduah, appeared for screening to contest for the PDP ticket.

Although mixed reactions trailed Oduah’s sudden interest in the guber poll, discreet enquiries by The Guardian revealed that she was aghast because of a young US returnee, Mr. Akolisa Ufodike, who was showing serious signs of clinching the PDP ticket.

Before Ufodike came on the scene, only Oseloka Obaze, who is being supported by Obi, was chasing the governorship. But even though both hail from Ogbaru, Oduah seemed convinced that the former SSG would not go far to encumber her senatorial seat. There were also talks that the former Aviation minister had a pact with Obiano to ensure that her teeming followers support his second term, a gesture that would be reciprocated in 2019 when she seeks a second term in the senate.

Oduah had earlier denied interest in the governorship, stressing: “I love what I am doing and one would like to continue representing the people in this capacity.”

Could it be that her sudden about face was necessitated by Senator Andy Uba’s plan B of returning to PDP in the event APC denies him the governorship ticket? The Senator representing Anambra South in the senate was said to have rebuffed resigning his membership of PDP before joining APC. However, being an arch supporter for zoning, it is quite unlikely that Oduah would be playing spoilsport for a candidate from Anambra south.
Confounding Issues: What Will Voters Hear

As Anambra 2017 governorship enters into another phase, the issue of what candidates would market to voters is creeping out. Perhaps, the fact that all its aspirants hail from Anambra Central, the contest of ideas is fierce in UPP. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo seemed to have ignited the debate on what politicians would tell voters when he posed the rhetorical question: “Let someone explain to me what those campaigning for November 18, 2017 governorship election will be telling the voters about the big issue of Nigeria versus Biafra?”

Okonkwo contended that Senate’s position on the issue of restructuring has necessitated a new thinking on Nnamdi Kanu’s stand. He expressed the belief that Kanu is winning the ideological battle, based on his evaluation of the Nigerian situation and the characters running the system.

He added: “Kanu has seen the entrenched position of the north and their unwillingness to relinquish the skewed advantage bequeathed to them by northern military heads of state. He has probably come to the sad conclusion that the north will never allow any meaningful restructuring of this country.

“Out of 95 senators 48 voted against restructuring. Of course, we know where those 48 are from. That is the problem. The political equation of the nation was so skewed in favour of the north that the three southern zones, even if they voted in unison, cannot get a majority in either house. Indeed, it is so skewed against the Igbo that the number of representatives from Kano alone is bigger than the number from three Southeast states. Kano and one other state from northwest have the total number of representatives from the entire Southeast. How then do you effect any change the Northerners do not want? It is to all intent and purposes dead on arrival.”

While insisting that Igbo and Yoruba ethnic nationalities cannot propagate their world view as a people without being obstructed by external ethnic nationalities, he contended that as traders and businessmen, what it means is that Igbo cannot make laws that will aid businesses and increase growth, because some people will vote it down if they feel it will empower the Igbo and other nationalities.

“With this in mind, it is now obvious that Kanu’s agitation for Biafra may actually be the only logical position. It is clear that northern politicians will rather not have the nation restructured. But then, the status quo is unacceptable and at some point, something must give.”

Okonkwo challenged Anambra voters to go for the best brains for the governorship, stressing that the time calls for deep thinking and not deep pockets.

However, immediate past Aviation minister, Osita Chidoka, said what Anambra needs is a government with conscience, stressing that leaders must be responsible and responsive. Speaking on the massacre of innocent worshippers in a church at Ozubulu, Chidoka reasoned that November 18 provides a golden opportunity for the people to avoid a carefree and imprudent administration that lacks the presence of mind and capacity to provide the desired quality of leadership in the state.

He said: “Ndi Anambra have had enough. Government has over time failed to stand up for the people when the occasion demands. Our people are our greatest assets and deserve a government that upholds their interests and values.”

Chidoka lamented the lot of young people, stressing that the discussion on the table should be on youth empowerment, pointing out that the level of youth unemployment in the state is unacceptable.

It is expected that when the lamentations and protestations that would follow the governorship primaries thin out, voters would be treated to fierce contest of ideas on issues that border on good governance. That would be the first surprise to come out of Anambra 2017 governorship. That would be the real change as INEC promises that votes would count. If so then, Anambra people are set be king makers and leaders.



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