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Awka Govt House: The Gladiators

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David-Chyddy Eleke in this piece x-rays the chances, strengths and weaknesses of some of the contenders in the upcoming Anambra State governorship election

While there is a legion of contenders for the Anambra State governorship, it is clear that as it always is, some of the aspirants are in the race to distract the others, or gain attention. But some are in the contest to see what compensation, financially or political position they can use their aspiration to bargain.

There are also several factors that could help contribute to the victory of any of the serious contenders, and some weaknesses too can lead to their fall. As the election date draws near, some aspirants have already emerged candidates of their parties, while others are still jostling for tickets, their chances would only be determined by their ability to clinch the tickets of their party and sell their candidacy with an entirely different approach.
So far, only four out of the over 30 political parties participating in the election have the potential to clinch the coveted position of the governor, and the jostle is on for their tickets. These are the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). But, who are the potential candidates?

Willie Obiano
He is the incumbent governor of the state and has recently crossed the primary election hurdle by clinching the APGA ticket. He will most likely pull the weight of incumbency to keep his seat. The biggest argument of his supporters have always remained that he has a right to complete the 8-year term of his zone, Anambra North senatorial zone. He is believed to have worked hard to deliver on some of his campaign promises, and one of the things working for him is that he has stamped his feet in the state through provision of visible infrastructure as well as carrying the people of the state along.

So far, he has several groups in the state in his kitty, just as a good number of them, ranging from professional bodies, market groups, civil society and communities have endorsed him. He has also received endorsement from a good number of people, who have assured him of their votes. The traditional rulers’ council of all the communities in Anambra North, where he comes from, has also endorsed him for a second term, and has promised to mobilise their subjects to vote for him.

In September, he will be receiving another endorsement from traditional rulers from Anambra Central, just as the association of presidents general of all the communities in the state had endorsed and promised to mobilise support for his victory. Obiano’s only prayers now may be that the electoral body, INEC will play fair and that the endorsers will not change their minds overnight. Besides, Obiano’s poor relationship with his estranged benefactor, former governor Peter Obi, might stand somewhat in the way against him.

Godwin Ezeemo
Ezeemo was the first candidate to emerge from the state through the primary election of the PPA. Of course, it was clear to all that nothing could have stopped his emergence as he was the sole aspirant of the party. He is also known to be the major financier of the party since he joined it in 2013. He is a notable grassroots politician, who has impacted the people through his philanthropy. He has investments in the media, oil sector, haulage, tourism and many others. He is considered a rich man by every standard, and also known for his consistency. He has supporters, who are fanatical in their belief in him and also known to be a man of ideas. He is one politician, who believes that things must be done right in the state if it must regain its glory.

Many believe that Ezeemo’s only disadvantage would be his political party, PPA, which they contend is not as powerful as a few others. But in a recent interview, Ezeemo told THISDAY that he was not among those who jump from party to party just to get political positions. He said he studied the ideology behind PPA and found it fit for himself and decided to join it. He, however, stated that the Anambra people had become wise and would not vote for parties in the forthcoming polls, but would look at the individual candidates and vote for them according to their merit. He told Anambra people not to be deceived again as some of the so-called big parties had disappointed them and therefore needed to change them.

Andy Uba
The current senator representing Anambra South district is a man with deep pocket. He is vying for the governorship under the platform of the APC, and has been touted as the man favoured for the ticket. He however has a problem with some people in the state, who believed he joined the party just to ride on its back to win the election. Just as many as Uba’s enemies, are his friends. He is no doubt a strong grassroots politician, and has deployed his reach in the fight for the ticket of the party, where he has been making consultation with all those who may have the connection to help him clinch the party’s ticket, no matter how lowly or highly they are.

Though he is also known to have very powerful people in the corridors of power, many believe that his antecedents especially his involvement during the dark days of Anambra State, which led to the destruction of properties belonging to the state government and the eventual kidnap of the then governor of the state, Dr. Chris Ngige, has put a dent on him.

To clean off these, his media office has been working assiduously to polish his image before the Anambra voters, and have almost succeeded in shifting the blame of all that happened then to his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, who is a known political godfather in the state then. His major test would be to win the ticket of APC, before thinking of the governorship seat. He certainly stands a very good chance afterwards.

Tony Nwoye
A member of the House of Representatives, who rose through student union activism to become a party chairman, and a big time politician in Anambra, he had also run for the governorship of the state in 2013 on the platform of PDP but missed it by whiskers. His loss was occasioned by the factionalisation in the party then, leading to multiple candidates. Obiano trounced him in that election, and that seemed to be the closest he had come to the governorship of the state.

His root in Anambra north is an added advantage to him in the race, as most groups had resolved for the zone, where the incumbent governor also hails from to complete their two terms before moving power to the south to help that zone to be at par with others. However, many still believe that the victory of Nwoye may herald another round of godfatherism in the state, as he is touted to be sponsored by an oil magnet in the state,

Ifeanyi Ubah
Oil magnate and chairman of FC Ifeanyi Ubah is a young and rich politician from Nnewi North local government area, which incidentally falls in Anambra South senatorial zone. He recently made a surprise appearance on the state’s political turf by purchasing a form for the governorship contest on the platform of PDP, despite having earlier been reported to have joined APC.

Like Uba, Ubah has deep pocket, and can adequately finance his election, but the fear today is that he may not be very prepared for the race, following the distraction he currently faces due to allegations of tampering with NNPC’s N11 billion petrol stored in his storage facility, a development that led to his incarceration for several days by the Department of State Security Service. Many believe that he may have other ulterior motives of joining the race, but certainly not to win the election.

Another APC member, Chike Obidigbo, joined the party from the APGA. An industrialist, chairman of Hardis and Dromedas – a company that deals in cosmetics and other household products – he contested for APGA’s governorship with Obiano in 2013 but failed. He accused the party of sabotaging him, after raising his hope, following the endorsement of his candidacy by the entire Anambra North traditional rulers, where Obi had insisted that the next governor must come from.
Obidigbo is among the strong proponents of zoning as he hails from Anambra North. He insists that the present governor has not made the people of the zone proud, and that if given the opportunity, he would prove to the state that Anambra North governor has the capacity to transform the state. His remains one of the leading aspirants of the APC.

George Muoghalu
He is a staunch party man, who will not easily jump ship just to contest election. That is how George Muoghalu is described in most quarters. He was a foundation member of the APP, and also remained in the party when it transformed to ANPP. He joined his colleagues in the party to make negotiations that saw to the emergence of the APC. He is trusted to be APC in blood and flesh, and said to be favoured for the ticket of the APC being the oldest member of the party among those gunning for the seat.
Moughalu is an old politician, but said not to be rich enough for the kind of funds required to run for governorship, especially in a state like Anambra. He hails from Anambra South, Nnewi precisely, and seems to have the support of the powers that be in the party, just as he may have backers to help him with funds if he is eventually favoured with the party’s ticket.
He is one of those strongly favoured for the ticket of the APC as the national body of the party is said to believe that it would be a good compensation to a loyal party man. His closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari from the days of ANPP may also be an advantage for him, just as the absence of the president in the country can also militate against his chances.

Oseloka Obaze
A well-known diplomat, full of ideas, and coupled with a charismatic and dynamic personality, Obaze’s type, in more refined societies like the former central Bank governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, should be invited home to contribute their ideas to improving the society, but not in Nigeria, where less qualified people get nominations over more qualified ones.
Obaze was invited back home to serve as the secretary to the state government by Obi, and he did not disappoint. He is seen as a man, who would transform the state with his ideas if given the chance, but the odds against him are a legion. He does not seem to have the kind of money required for the contest, and is not known to have any visible godfather to back him up in that aspect too. Obaze is running on the platform of the PDP, where he has more experienced politicians, and richer personalities.

Alex Obiogbolu
A veteran governorship hopeful, Obiogbolu is also a thorough bred gentleman and medical doctor full of ideas. He is a smooth talker and very eloquent in speech delivery. One can always tell that Obiogbolu will contest any governorship election in the state, even without him announcing his ambition, because he usually contests.
A staunch and unwavering PDP stalwart, Obiogbolu has come near to clinching the seat in previous elections, but the factionalisation in the party has always taken the ticket away from him. In all his attempts to seize government, Obiogbolu has always presented a clear and workable manifesto as to how the state could be transformed, but the trouble has always been how he could win the election. Like a few others in the race, he would have to seek the help of a godfather with loads of cash if he intends to win the election.

Barth Nwibe
A multi-millionaire businessman, Barth Nwibe was a financier of the ACN, before it merged with other parties to become APC. He is a staunch party man and will be contesting the ticket of the APC for the election. He is not so much of an experienced politician, but has had a shot at the Anambra South senatorial race before now.
He is reputed to be the ‘second in rank’ in terms of popularity to Ngige, among all the old ACN members. How he fares in the contest for the APC ticket among the big wig politicians that have flooded the party will determine what he will be able to do in the main election. Nwibe is from Aguata area, which falls in Anambra South senatorial zone.

Osita Chidoka
Rich, young, smart and popular former minister of aviation is also interested in the governorship seat. He recently moved to UPP from PDP, where he started his political career. His chances of picking the ticket of the party is high, but his problem remains that he might be unable to match candidates from bigger political parties as his pocket may not be heavy enough to fund a political party like other politicians. Many believe that Chidoka is merely using his governorship aspiration to create awareness about his ambition to vie for senate in 2019.

Senator Stella Oduah
Another former minister of aviation and current senator representing Anambra North is among those who made a surprise entry into the governorship race. Many said everything about her ambition has been shrouded in secrecy as she never made noise about it nor was it known to some of her supporters when she submitted her form. She is believed to be among those who are in the race as a tool to negotiate for other political position or consolidate on her senatorial seat.

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