As political parties fix dates for their primaries to select their candidates for the forthcoming Anambra state governorship election slated to hold on November 18, OKECHUKWU OBETA examines the chances of the multitude of the aspirants who have filed out to contest the election, emerging as candidates of their respective parties
The political environment in Anambra State is currently charged. On the 18th of November, the electorate in the State will file out to the polls to elect their governor for the next four years.
Some Political parties have already fixed dates for primaries to pick their flag-bearers in the election. These are essentially the frontline parties in the contest: the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress ( APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP). The Progressive People Alliance (PPA) had already chosen a candidate, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo. Close watchers strongly believe that these four political parties, in addition to the United Progressives Party ( UPP) are the major contestants in the governorship race.
As the date draws near, observers are making predictions on who could emerge for each party as candidate. Certainly the integrity of each aspirant will be the highest consideration by the respective political parties in making choosing a candidates. This because the integrity of the candidate will determine the chances of any party carrying the day in the election. The political platform will place a secondary role in the direction the electorate will cast their votes.
Godwin Ezeemo (PPA)
The chances of Godwin Ezeemo clinching PPA ticket was predictable even before the primary. He has been the sole financier of the party in the state since former governor Peter Obi’s re-election in 2010. He is passionate in his quest to govern Anambra state. He is highly philanthropic. But that seems to be the highest selling currency for the Umuchu entrepreneur turned politician. Zoning, however is against his chances. He is from the South senatorial zone, but, the North senatorial zone where the incumbent governor hails from is mostly favored to retain the seat, so as to enable the area complete second term uninterrupted.
Willie Obiano (APGA)
The election in Anambra State will be hard fought as the incumbent is also running. But the leadership crisis currently rocking the APGA is seen as a huge obstacle against Governor Willie Obiano’s re-election bid. There is strong fear that the Chief Martin Agbaso led factional leadership of the party may not give him the party ticket. The Victor Oye factional leadership which favors his re-election bid is not legally recognized as the authentic national leadership of APGA in view of the order of mandamus by a High Court of Enugu state which declared Agbaso as the legally recognized national chairman of APGA.
Agbaso has already fixed the conduct of primary for August 14, while the Oye faction has slated the same event the following day, August 15. If Oye failed to get Appeal Court to vacate the order of mandamus made in favor of Agbaso by Enugu High Court, before conducting the primaries, the fear is that the outcome of his primary might be a product of illegality.
Also, though the achievement of the Obiano administration in the area of security is rated very high, observers however strongly express fear that the inability of the administration to complete most of the projects, especially roads, it inherited from the former governor Peter Obi administration will be used against him during the election by opponents.
During the Peter Obi era, the state was popular for having the best road network in the entire South East geo- political zone. But the situation appears o have changed as most of the roads are collapsing due to lack of maintenance. Deadly pot holes litter virtually all the roads now.
Sen. Andy Uba (APC)
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.
Alex Obiogbolu (PDP)
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.
Oseloka H. Obaze (PDP)
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.
Osita Chidoka (UPP)
The former Aviation Minister and one time 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 traverses party within the State. Chidoka, who prides himself as a democrat, 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 politics. 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. He was heard complaining to confidants that Obiano was exploring jumping into UPP because of the leadership crisis in APGA. If Obiano decides to run under UPP, Chidoka will certainly have serious obstacle cinching the party ticket.