USAfrica: Anambra Governorship, personalities, strategies and issues. By Mike Uzuagu
Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet
Let’s start with critical issues and factors that will determine the contest and the battle for the election of Governor this Saturday, November 6, 2021 in Anambra State of Nigeria.
These will, amongst others, include: zoning, pedigree of the aspirant, financial capability, aspirant’s acceptability by the voting public and of course the most worrisome new development is the sectarian use of church affiliation.
The first is zoning.
Power shift has gained acceptance by the voting populace. Thus, it could be said that the winner will definitely emerge from Anambra south, since Anambra north and central have had their own turns.
The continuing, dangerous dimension to the 2021 gubernatorial race is the factor of religious denomination into the State body politic. According to speculations the Anglican denomination has
decided to give their block vote to a particular candidate who is one of their own. To make the rumor look real, they recently, inducted him into the Anglican knighthood of the Ekwulobia diocese.
The Pentecostal church has also resolved to stand behind one of the candidates who is an avowed member of the church.
The Catholics on their own part are singing discordant tunes on whom to pitch their tent with. You may recall that one of the candidates is constructing a Cathedral for one of the diocese. Aguata and Onitsha diocese also have their own preferred candidates.
Besides those three major candidates featured in the November 1, 2021 Arise News debate, namely the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Andy Uba; the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, there are many other candidates running on the platforms of other political parties. Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young People’s party (YPP), Dr. Godwin Maduka of Accord Party, Obiora Okonkwo of Zenith Labour Party, Chidozie Nwankwo of African Action Congress, Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankwo of African Democratic Congress, Ben Etiaba of Action Alliance, Obiora Agbasimelo of Labour party and Obinna Uzoh of Social Democratic Party.
They are jostling for the coveted position of Governor of a great State. But the key question remains Who will secure the key to the Agu-Awka Government House, this Saturday?
Political maneuvering and mobilization of stakeholders are ongoing, to the very final minutes in all the parties.
Each of the parties are seriously oiling their political machineries for electoral victory; given by the permutations of the various contenders and their supporters.
However, USAfrica political analysts are of the opinion that most of the contenders will become, in a manner of figurative description, mere spectators when the chips are down.
It is expected that before the voting occurs, some of the smaller parties may form alliances with any of the major or mid-capacity parties. Expect some endorsements of the major flag bearers.
The political parties are working hard to get the seat. Observers contend that the race will be interesting because the old political feud between the: APGA, PDP and APC in the state will be rekindled. YPP cannot be underestimated since they have a sitting Senator Ifeanyi Uba as an aspirant.
There is no gain saying the fact that the vibrant ideas, financial war chest, and visibly transformative infrastructure built by the Accord party standard bearer, Dr. Godwin Maduka may be a great plus for the party. His iconic status and invaluable contributions of his community Umuchukwu speaks volumes for him. His life is indeed a classic in the study of selfless service for the upliftment of humanity. Not a few Ndi Anambra believe in the capabilities of this American trained pharmacist. He is vocal, cerebral and pragmatic. Today, opinion polls in Orumba north and south local government positions this great philanthropist as a factor to be reckoned with.
Dr. Maduka may be new in the state’s political terrain but he is definitely not a pushover.
Billionaire businessman, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Zenith Labour party who hails from Ogidi in Idemili north has a herculean task in convincing Ndi Anambra why the zoning principle already accepted by the state should be discarded because of his personal ambition. For now, many believe that the ZLP has weak structure in the state. How far Dikeora Okonkwo can re-engineer the party and reposition it for the November 6, battle is an epic challenge. The exercise will be a challenge to the ZLP, which is testing its popularity and strength in Anambra State for the first time.
Oil magnate Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, a sitting senator is the YPP governorship candidate. He contested for the gubernatorial seat on two previous occasions but was unsuccessful. However, he is not leaving any stone unturned to realize his ambition of piloting the affairs of the state. His party the YPP could be said to have substantial leverage in the Nnewi North area of the State.
Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo of the African Action Congress (AAC) cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand due to his solid constituency in the state. The Pentecostal church group in the entire state routs for this Onitsha based business mogul who is a dedicated evangelist in the Lord’s Vineyard. Despite the unpopularity of his party in the State, his presence is gradually changing the fortunes of the once unknown party in the State.
Chukwuma Charles Soludo, former Economic Adviser to ex-President Obasanjo and later Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the supporters of APGA, has all it takes to lead Anambra.
APGA basking in the euphoria of the incumbency of Gov. WiIlie Obiano has boasted that Agu-Awka office is theirs for keeps. But the party has some hurdles to cross as people go to vote on Saturday: assurances of safety of those who come to vote and assuaging discontent which arose from the poor management of their post-primary elections crises. Third, APGA has also faced issues from legal incubus to defection of members to other political parties.
But the fact remains that Prof. Soludo is the most popular guber candidate in Anambra State, today.
Valentine Chineto Ozigbo, popularly known as VCO is the People’s Democratic party (PDP) governorship candidate.
The billionaire businessman who was the former managing director of Transcorp plc, a conglomerate, is a political miracle, He assailed other experienced aspirants in the primary of the PDP.
Buoyed by the support from the nation’s corporate sector, Ozigbo is rated as a strong contender for the seat. He is articulate, measured and very knowledgeable. Another influencing factor to note for him is the strategic importance of former Governor Peter Obi. If he sticks with Ozigbo, his party flag bearer, it also benefits him. This is because many Nigerians and Ndi Anambra believe that Peter Obi needs to have the State as a political base, for him to make an impact in his 2023 presidential ambition.
However, the post primary crisis also dealt a terrible blow on the PDP and it needs aggressive mobilization to survive the effect of defections.
Dr. Okonkwo of ZLP and Dr. Maduka of Accord party were former powerful chieftains of the party. Therefore it is logical to anticipate a backlash on PDP precipitated by the exit of these two giant iroko trees.
This former personal aide to President Olusegun Obasanjo is the governorship candidate of the All people’s Congress (APC). He has contested for the Governor’s seat on three occasions but failed. However he is leaving no stone unturned in his struggle to win the seat this time around.
However the unpopularity of the APC in the state seems to be beyond him to bring salvation. Despite the defection of five Anambra State House of Assembly members to the party, the fact still remains that the rejection of APC party in Anambra State is substantial. The APC has never won a single election, not even councilorship election in the State. Observers argue that APC is not Anambra people’s choice.
To make matters worse, the post primary crisis that engulfed the party has remained an albatross for the party. The disposition of the Leader of the party in the State who is also the Minister of Labour and Productivity Dr. Chris Ngige, Dr. George Muoghalu and 5 other governorship aspirants of the party on Uba’s ambition could, at best, be described as frosty. How APC can win this battle with a divided house is yet to be seen.
This intriguing battle may be too close to call. But many issues will definitely shape the outcome of the November 6 contest in Anambra.
-Uzuagu is a Special Correspondent and Analyst for USAfrica magazine and USAfricaonline.com