UPP set to spring surprises in Anambra guber poll

Chief Chekwas Okorie

• Incumbency factor inconsequential, says Nwike

Not a few upsets and surprises have been recorded in the Nigerian political landscape since the return to democratic rule in 1999.One of the interesting twists however is that election in Nigeria is becoming more unpredictable as its democracy matures. In 2015, an incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was defeated in a an unprecedented manner.

Earlier this year, Governor Segun Mimiko lost his bid to install a successor just as the candidate of the PDP recently dusted the preferred candidate of the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregebesola in the just concluded Osun West Senatorial bye-election.

Progressively, the country’s political space is becoming increasingly dynamic as voters become more enlightened, proactive and discerning in deciding who leads them. More and more, the general polity begins to tilt towards issue-based and winning elections, a function of credentials, experience and personality, raising hopes also for independent candidature.

Amidst these developments, the United Progressive Party (UPP) is spoiling to take advantage of the changes in the political atmosphere to achieve the aim of defeating the ruling party and the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano in the coming November 18 governorship election scheduled to hold in Anambra State.

The UPP is also spoiling to relegate the influences wielded by the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra ahead of the governorship election. Though, relatively unpopular, UPP is however beginning to show signs of renewed vigour going by the credentials of some of the aspirants it currently parades on its platform ahead of its next month primary election.

It is believed that the party is also currently boosting the chances of fringe parties in the country and hoping to use the coming Anambra governorship election as a launch pad.The national chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie maintained that that the UPP would win the November 2017 gubernatorial election, saying, “I have the confidence the Anambra election is for UPP, we don’t have a major contender.”

According to him, “The reason for my optimism is because the big parties in Nigeria are currently in tatters and weakened by endless internal wrangling. The PDP, once described as the largest party in West Africa, has lost its luster having been blighted by unyielding factions. Likewise the APC, which controls the Federal Government, has lost its relevance after the 2015 general election. APC’s pre-election bogus promises have disconnected it with the electorate. To me, Nigerians are merely tolerating it until they will have the chance to vote it out of power.

“As it were, the South East zone is perceiving the APC with suspicion. Equally, the Anambra State ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has not recovered from the post-election trauma that has widened the crack within its ranks.”

Another advantage the UPP is hoping to cash in on was the fact that the crisis ravaging the PDP at the national level has not abated, neither has the seething supremacy battle in APGA between Obiano, who has indicated interest in re-contesting, and his predecessor, Chief Peter Obi ceased.In regards to the APC, Okorie posited it would be a surprise “if any rational Igbo man will go to the polling booth and vote for APC in the coming governorship election.”

Meanwhile, the party boasts of aspirants like Mr. Chudi Ofodile, an experience member of House of Representatives, who served two terms from 1999 to 2006. He was formerly of the PDP.

Another stalwart on the platform of UPP is the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, who has substantial experience in public service. He served as the corps marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and Minister for Aviation. While in the FRSC, Chidoka led the transformation in the commission that is being witnessed today.

Chidoka told The Guardian he is ready to replicate what he did at the FRSC and the Ministry of Aviation in Anambra if given the mandate.An Anambra based analyst, Nnamdi Ndubusi said the coming governorship election would ultimately amount to the battle between two indigenous Igbo parties, APGA and UPP. He noted that November 18 election would not be won only in Anambra alone but also with serious influence of stakeholders in Lagos and Abuja.

MEANWHILE, a governorship aspirant on the platform of APC, Dr. Patrick Bufo Nwike dismissed as mere propaganda, the use of incumbency factor by Obiano and the claims by UPP, saying, “APC administration would key into the South-East Regional Economic Development (SEREDEC), to move Anambra forward.”

Nwike, who is also a medical doctor, said it is imperative of the South-East people to key into the APC development programme said, “The development program, if properly implemented is capable of moving the entire South-East States to an enviable industrial and infrastructural height. No state or region is expected to be an island.”

He said if the APC chooses the best aspirant, which he claimed to have the necessary credential to pick, “the November election is as good as won. I stand a good chance of picking the ticket going by the quality of my programs.”He added that his programs, which are based on his slogan, ‘New Face, New voice, New ideas’ will do away with the old ideas that had failed to move the state forward and replace them with new ideas that will ensure growth, progress and massive development of the state.

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