While many of the governorship candidates in the forthcoming November 18 Anambra election are ‘jokers’, the serious ones have some forces behind them, considering the role the ‘godfathers’ played ahead of the primaries and what they stand to do in the coming days.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the issue of godfatherism has come to stay in the Nigerian political space.
In Anambra State, for instance, it is a known fact that one cannot contest, not to talk of winning any election (no matter the office), without being backed by a godfather. In fact, before developing the interest, it is incumbent on one to have someone in mind to stand behind him. Anything short of that is tantamount to waste of time, energy and resources.
Certain names that had dominated the Anambra political milieu as godfathers include Sir Emeka Offor, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Prince Arthur Eze, Dr ABC Orjiakor, Chief Ernest Obiejesi (Obijackson), Chief Chris Uba, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Sir Cletus Ibeto, just to mention a few.
Virtually all the 37 governorship candidates that have just been published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the election have their godfathers.
Willie Obiano (APGA)
Chief Willie Obiano, may, on the surface, appear not to be backed by any visible godfather, being the incumbent governor of Anambra State. But besides the power of incumbency mixed with all the state machineries at his disposal, other forces are quietly working behind the scene to ensure he retains his seat come November 18.
Prominent among them is the former national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh. Apart from the major role he played in Obiano’s emergence as governor, Umeh had been a strong pillar of the governor as he had always stood by him in thick and thin.
Umeh, who is currently heading Obiano’s second term campaign train, can be said to have gradually assumed the role the former governor, Peter Obi played in 2014.
Political analysts in the state view the governor as one banking heavily on Umeh, his deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke, as well as his wife, to produce the larger chunk of the votes the party needs to coast to victory at the November poll.
There is also wide speculations that some financial heavyweights, including the controversial ‘Bishop’ of Ozubulu, Aloysius Ikegwuonu and other millionaires may be among those on whose back the governor would climb to retain power.
Oseloka Obaze ( PDP)
Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is another political force that is already sending jittery signals to Obiano’s camp. The panic, undoubtedly, is traceable to the former governor of the state, Peter Obi, who had repeatedly vowed to ensure his successor did not retain his seat.
Obi’s obvious godfather role to Obaze has severally been manifested in different times and at different fora. It was alleged that he was instrumental to the delay of the party’s delegates list to the primary through the two governors of Rivers and Ekiti states, Nyesom Wike and Ayodele Fayose, who were present in the state to conduct the primary.
He was also alleged to have left no stone unturned to ensure that other contestants for the PDP ticket lost out, which eventually paved way for the emergence of Obaze.
Political observers have it that Obi’s support to Obaze’s candidature, who served his administration as Secretary to the State Government (SSG), may not be unconnected with his purported fallout with his successor, Obiano after he was sworn in as the governor of the state.
Obi, it was also alleged, had jettisoned those who were being seen as possible candidates of the APGA, including Uche Ekwunife, Chukwuma Soludo, Chinedu Idigo and Dubem Obaze, just to ensure the emergence of Obiano in 2014 as the sole candidate.
But since the relationship got sour following Obiano’s alleged betrayal, Obi had been working tirelessly to unseat his successor, accusing him of “biting the fingers that fed him.”
Both those who were not happy with him for “imposing” Obiano on them and those whose Obiano’s style of leadership might have favoured, are of the opinion that it would not be business as usual in playing the godfather role of installing another person as governor.
Besides, political watchers also contend that the former governor is already playing god by ensuring that no governor in the state retains power for the two terms of eight years, thereby arrogating himself as the jinx breaker.
In the history of Anambra politics, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju got four years, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife spent 2years, Senator Chris Ngige spent 34 months, Dame Virgy Etiaba spent 3months while Sen. Andy Uba spent only 17days.
Dr. Tony Nwoye (APC)
Dr. Tony Nwoye, no doubt, is one of the major political bulldozers Obiano must be ready to contend with.
Ever before he emerged victorious at the keenly contested party primary in Awka, recently, Nwoye had always been backed up by certain godfathers. The likes of Senator Andy Uba, who accidentally was among the contenders of the gubernatorial aspirants he defeated in the party primary, was largely believed to have brought him into political limelight.
Another name that cannot be missing in the list of Nwoye’s godfathers is that of the oil magnet, Prince Arthur Eze, who was believed to be largely instrumental to his emergence as the party flag bearer.
Those who observed the party primary would simply agree that Arthur Eze’s influence was pronounced during the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary for Nwoye’s emergence, as he did everything to march any other person.
It is also rumoured that Nwoye had, over the years, been a loyal servant to the oil mogul, who he takes as his son. Many also believe that Nwoye’s poor background, as well as his humble and penchant disposition to the poor and needy may have endeared Prince Eze to him.
Eze’s supportive role to Nwoye, who is equally financially balanced as a current member of the House of Representatives, however, did not come as a surprise to many, particularly to those who are familiar with his philanthropic gestures to all, including politicians, irrespective of their political inclinations.
Godwin Ezeemo (PPA)
Mr Godwin Ezeemo is another contender who seem not to have any visible godfather, but may spring surprises in the election.
Ezeemo has been an advocate of independent candidacy in politics so that people would not be coerced into unnecessary spending.
Though running under a party that is relatively unpopular in the state, his penchant for helping the less privileged, widows, the poor and the needy, as well as the youth in the society, may constitute a stepping stone to his emergence as the governor of the state come November 18.
Political analysts have reasoned that the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) flag-bearer would have had a shot at the top had it been the religious politics in the state favoured the Anglican Church since he is the strongest Anglican contender in the race.
How far these godfathers would go in catapulting their various candidates to the exalted seat of government in Anambra State, however, would only be determined in the next couple of weeks.
Culled from Daily Trust