Sunday, 24 September 2017

Nigeria: How political parties are gearing up for Anambra 2017 governorship election

Posted On Thursday, 29 June 2017 00:39 Written by Ogbonna Onyekachukwu
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NIGERIA: About six months away to the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for November 18, 2017. Ogbonna Onyekachukwu examines the preparation and the political horse-trading ahead of the d-day. 

In spite of the fact that the commencement of campaigns by political parties as stipulated by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would begin on August 18, 2017, a clear one month after publishing of the notice of the election according to section 10(1) of Electoral Act 2010 which stipulates 90-day gap, politicians have been overtly and covertly campaigning to gain acceptance among the electorate.

In their frenzy to make their marks, four months before the collection of forms by political parties from INEC for issuance to their candidates, some political parties seem to have already chosen their candidates without primaries.

In the meantime, only six political parties are in the governorship race while others are still in there holes. The parties in contention are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the All Progressive Congress (APC), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) and the United Progressive Party (UPP).

As the National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie would put it; “the governorship election in Anambra State will be a direct encounter between two political parties of the same DNA.

“The impending defeat of APGA should be a surprise to any who is closely monitoring the progressive and revolutionary agenda of UPP which deeply rooted in Self Determination, Restructuring, Referendum, Fiscal Federalism, Devolution of Power etc. There is no other Political Party in Nigeria that parades such Social Contract. Like the great Zik would say, UPP will be magnanimous to APGA in victory while we expect the party to accept DEFEAT gallantly. After all it will be a family affair.”

But despite the fact that there are political heavy weights in Anambra state  in PDP as well as in APC, Chief Okorie declared that the two political parties are not in the race in Anambra State for all ‘intents and purposes’. 

The heightened schemes by various interest groups, including political parties and godfathers, are giving the impression that the election is a matter of days even as such calculations would continue through September 18, 2017, which is the final day for the submission of forms CF001 and CF002, for governors and deputy governorship candidates.

Going by the history of governorship elections and decisions as to who becomes the governor of Anambra State; it is usually taken to Abuja the seat of power, but with the new wind of change in the political landscape in the country, especially the continuing improvement in the electoral system, some political parties have begun to readjust to realities in a bid to make their platform competitive and compete favourably in the election.

The APC in its quest to wrestle power from APGA has assembled some political eggheads in the Southeast into a committee to deliver Anambra to the party on November 18. The Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Planning and Strategy Committee of the APC chaired by Senator Jim Nwobodo, the first civilian governor of old Anambra State, is charged with  monitoring the political environment and report to the party leadership, evaluate the aspirants in the party, raise funds and advise on zoning, a measure in ensuring the party’s victory at the polls.

Other members of the committee are the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, vice chairman, Senator Emma Agboti, secretary,  Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Nkechi Wogu, Chief Madugba Cosmas and Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu.

Though there were reservations about the caliber of persons in the committee; mainly those who defected to APC as a way of testing their relevance to the party, some believe that the committee may recommend a candidate on the basis of the highest bidder.

Apart from APC’s scheme; the Chief Willie Obiano Support Group, led by Sir Jude Emecheta, has traversed every nook and cranny of the state selling the governor’s candidature.

Even as the PDP is not relenting in its bid to re-capture power, with former Governor Peter Obi the campaign machinery, PDP aspirants have been moving round the state to sell themselves to the people. The party lost power to APGA in 2006, but the crisis in the PDP has been a major blow to the aspirants and their followers. Indeed, the PDP is divided in Anambra State.

As a result, many PDP chieftains have either defected to the APC or the APGA, while Prince Ken Emeakayi, the chairman, is fighting hard to reposition it.

However as people are defecting to APC to contest Anambra governorship election on November; they should remember the event of 1979 mini-convention of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) at Igumu, National Arts Theater, where a motion was moved by Alhaji Dr. Umoru Dikko, that Chief Mko Abiola having not stayed in the NPN party for six (6) months cannot seek the presidential nomination under the NPN, and that the party ticket is not for sale.

“Let political defectors, and cross-carpeters know that you do not join a political party for contesting public office as a primary objective. This is the trouble with Nigerian ambitious politicians who do not want to build anything”, a political pundit said. 

Mr. Godwin Ezeemo is already a candidate of PPA without any primary; while Dr Stephen Obiorah Mbah is expected to emerge as the PRP candidate. The APC has eight aspirants. The PDP has four. APC aspirants are the National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, Dr Obinna Uzor, Hon Tony Nwoye, Sir Paul Chukwuma, National Youth leader of the party. Others are Barth Nwibe, an engineer, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo, Senator Andy Uba and Dr Chike Obidigbo.

In the (PDP), Chief Osita Chidoka has indicated interest; but it appears that he is yet to make up his mind on which political platform UPP or PDP to try his luck. Also in the race are Dr Alex Obiogbolu, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and Zeribe Ezeanuna. In APGA, the incumbent governor Chief Willie Obiano is expected to fly the flag, although other people like Elo Aforka is interested.

An activist, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo is expected to fly the flag of United Progressive Party (UPP) in the governorship election. Although there are persons like Chudi Ofordile who is also eying the flag of the party.

Profiles and chances of all the candidates in the election

Willie Obiano (APGA) 

He became the governor through the instrumentality of Obi, his predecessor, through zoning arrangement which played to his advantage in 2014. The Aguleri borne shortly he became governor turned his back on his political mentor.

Though, since he came to power he has not really faced any opposition as the power brokers have rallied round his government.

However, trouble started when Obi defected to the PDP because of their disagreement over the purported 75 billion naira bond the former governor said he left in the state purse when his tenure expired.

Obiano’s sins, according to the people, are many. Although he has some good works to his credit, some people want to have a pound of flesh during the election.

Some opposition politicians believe he runs a government of deceit. But, he is not cunning. He is a honest politician.

His strength lies in his support base. The people of Anambra North are behind him. He has been accused of concentrating his projects and appointments in the area.

The governor is shielded by a cabal. Although he is a good administrator, he is surrounded by hawks.

Observers are of the opinion that if he is a politician, he would have win, but despites elders of the state are with him; they don’t vote in an election. Many progressive in Anambra who are adherent believer of APGA, they are not happy with him and it may work against his ambition.

Tony Nwoye (APC)

He is a former Chairman of the PDP in Anambra State. He was the party’s governorship candidate in 2014. Nwoye is a member of the House of Representatives representing Anambra East and West Constituency.

He hails from Nsugbe, Anambra East. He is from the same local government with Obiano.

His experience in National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is an added advantage. As a dogged fighter, he is also a great mobiliser, the former student union leader is determined.

The only obstacle to Nwoye’s is that he hails from the same council area with the incumbent governor Willie Obiano. The recent rumors that he participated in the burning down the Anambra government house when Sen. Chris Ngige was governor.

His major strength is his age and contacts across the state as the former chairman of PDP. His ambition is backed by Prince Arthur Eze, an oil magnet.

Stephen Obiorah Mbah (PRP).

He is has said that his main objective is the reconstruction of Anambra State. Dr Stephen Obiorah, an Awka born industrialist, he is a greenhorn in the politics of Anambra. He may not make any head way during the election.

Besides, the PRP has no footing in the state even as he had told his traducers that the party has given him a platform to pursue his ambition. He was briefly in the APGA, but found the party too tough and dumped it last year; his reason is that APGA does not give people chance to lead. He also alleged that the party does not believe in the ability of any other person, except those around the government.

Osita Chidoka (PDP)

His ambition is sorry because he is from Anambra central that produced Peter Obi and Ngige; if zoning is anything to go by, his chances slim.

The former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and former Minister of Aviation is confused on which political platform to contest as currently, he is romancing with the leadership of UPP even while in PDP.

His only strength is the position he held and his romance with members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

He hails from Obosi in Idemili North local government area and stands a chance of defeating other contestants at the primary if he vies in PDP because it is believe that the Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu is backing him.

Those who knew him in FRSC described him as a good man, but the world in road safety is deferent from the world of politics. But, the primary of the party will tell.

George Moghalu (APC)

Moghalu is the National Auditor of the APC. He hails from Nnewi North council area.

Having contested the governorship position on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), in 2003; he went into political oblivion after his gruesome defeat in the election. He was the only face of the ANPP in Anambra.

What nobody can take from Moghalu is his simplicity and maturity, which had endeared him to the people, despite his lack of a deep purse.

Some APC members are saying that he should be given the ticket for his loyalty and steadiness. He is somebody that can call you by your name any where he sees unlike those who see themselves as demigods. 

Oseloka Obaze (PDP)

Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Selonnes Consult Ltd; a management and strategic policy advisory entity. 

He is the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under the administration of Obi. Obaze is simple, intelligent and easy going. Despite his position, he was in the shadow of his younger brother, Dubem Obaze, who is the former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. He is seen as Obi’s favourite in (PDP), but his greatest undoing is his selective and discriminatory attitude.

The Ogbaru born politician relies on Obi and his younger brother Dubem for relevance and victory.

Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo (UPP)

He hails from Nnobi in Idemili south local government area. He contested election in Anambra state for governorship 27years ago. In 2003 when he contested the governorship election with Obi, his name and party was conspicuously removed from ballot paper. The Supreme Court described Okonkwo is an intelligent man after he addressed the full panel of the Apex-Court in the land for 45 minutes. He is a layman but he knows the law more than the lawyers, judging by his references to the law at each turn. No wonder he defeats Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SANs) in court up to Supreme Court.

Okonkwo is an anticorruption crusader, right and environmental conservative activist. He is mentor of other leaders. He knows the problem of Nigeria political system; he is an adherent caller for total restructuring of Nigeria. He knows the problem of Ndigbo is lack of visionary and purposeful leaders. He is the man to look for if he emerges candidate of his party. Though, he may not have the kind of money other candidates’ parades, but none of them can match his intellectual hue in debate. His party banks on the backing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other agitator.

Though, there are other aspirants in UPP; people like Obumneke E. O. and Chudi Ofordile but, Okonkwo are eloquent, more popular and accepted.

Godwin Ezeemo (PPA)

He wants to governor of Anambra state at all cost. In 2014 dumped the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) because of the disagreement he had with the party leader, Sen. Ngige, over governorship ticket.

Ezeemo who hails from Umuchu community joined the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) to pursue his ambition. He came fourth. Since then, he has not looked back in his bid to be governor. He has made PPA stronger in Anambra with his philanthropy.

The aspirant is perceived as a gentleman by all standards; he is ‘meek and humble of heart’. His major problem is that his party is a small party. It can hardly compete with the APC, the PDP, and the APGA in the state, but he has the wherewithal to prosecute his ambition. But, a major obstacle he is facing now is that he has another aspirant from the same Umuchu community in another party. He is loved by the people for his philanthropic guests. 

Barth Nwibe (APC)

Barth Nwibe is a strong contender in the APC. He has been in the political family from the days of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

He contested for House of Representatives under the (ACN) and lost. He is a close associate of Ngige. The Igboukwu-born politician is not only a party financier; he is also humble, intelligent and he is a good listener.

If the APC holds a free and fair primary, the Igboukwu-born politician may make a statement.

He is wealthy and his closeness with Sen. Ngige make people believe he is preferred candidate of APC. 

Elo Aforka (APGA)

Dr Elo Aforka may be a jester in the race. He cannot withstand the Obiano machinery. According to observers, it will be difficult for him to get the ticket at the primary where the governor is the strong contender.

He is one-time Special Assistant to Obiano on Political Matters. He is believed to be Chief Victor Umeh’s apogee. But, one thing is clear; he is in the race to spoil the fun for Obiano.

Andy Uba (APC)

The three-time senator from Anambra South was once elected governor of Anambra State in 2007 in error. He spent 17 days before the Supreme Court booted him out. The verdict was that Obi’s tenure had not expired.

Uba was in the PDP from where he defected to the APC. He said he left the PDP because of its protracted crises. He is a disciple of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Recently Uba has been battling to save his face from allegation certificate forgery.

The Uga born politician, he need to defeat the opposition in his family. His younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, regarded as the political godfather, is bitter that his brother deprived him of the opportunity to be a senator in 2015.

Across his constituency, he has not done enough in the Senate to warrant being a governor. Some have even agitated for his recall.

Uba may not get the APC ticket, having joined the party recently. 

He a wealthy man but his activities in office as governor of Anambra state is still fresh in the mind of many Anambran. Despite his closeness to Obasanjo, many said he would never be governor in Anambra state no matter his money.

John Bosco Onunkwo (APC)

 He is a rich politician. The young politician hails from Umuchu in Aguata local government area.

His father was Ngige’s teacher and that closeness with the family has made some people believe it is his turn.

Onunkwo’s philanthropy has endeared him to the people, especially the youths who believe that there is the need for a generational shift. He is a loyal party man, who has shown commitment from the days of the ACN. He has stronger contenders, including Moghalu and Nwibe, to contend with at the primary.

Paul Chukwuma (APC)

He hails from Umeri, a neigbouring community to Obiano’s village in the Anambra East Council Area.

Not much is known about the young man with tremendous wealth. He is the Southeast Youth leader of the APC.

Nobody knows where he draws his strength, but he is close to many APC big wigs.

Zeribe Ezeanuna (PDP)

 He is an unknown quantity. The only time his name was heard was some years back in a protest.

Zeribe Ezeanuna is not a serious contender.

Though from Aguata local government area, he is based in Onitsha. He does not possess that political clout like other contenders.

He is in the race for business. 

Alex Obiogbolu (PDP)

The people of Anambra believe that Dr Alex Obiogbolu will behave like Obi, if he becomes the governor.

He is a loyal party man who has been in the PDP swimming through thick and thin; unlike others who jump from pillar to post each time one appointment or the other elude them.

Obiogbolu is a former Chairman of Anambra State Local Government Civil Service Commission and also a former chairman of Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA).

He is an orator and a gentleman.

He comes from Onitsha North Local Government Area in Anambra North. The zone has been protesting its marginalization from the scheme of things. The aspirant is close to Obi and Senator Stella Oduah. He is the man to beat in PDP primary if there are free and fair contest.

DR OBINNA UZOR (APC)

Dr Obinna Uzor is a man of many parts. He is a successful business man from Ihiala local government area.

He is not a pretender as his outspokenness, cut him many enemies. He describes Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration who hails from the same area with him as mess that needs to be cleared in 2003.

Uzor contested that governorship election on the platform of National Democratic Party (NDP) and lost.

He is a philanthropist, who has touched many lives, but he does not have the clout of a governor and it will be difficult for the APC to give him the ticket, despite his closeness to Ngige.

One thing is clear about Uzor; he is a good man with a good heart. But, he is perceived as a serial defector.

Chike Obidigbo (APC)

Dr. Chike Obidigbo is an industrialist. He joined APGA in 2013 for the purpose of contesting 2014 governorship. He gave Obiano and Obi a run for their money during the 2014 contest.

The disagreement and controversy that trailed the selection process made him to drag the party to court up to Supreme Court where he lost. After the court judgment, he decided to team up with the APC.

Obidigbo is from Umunya in Oyi local government area. He is not seen as a grassroots man. But, he has a deep purse.

Read 102 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 June 2017 01:01

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