The Anambra governorship election scheduled for this year is gathering momentum as gladiators are beginning to emerge, CHIBUZO UKAIBE, writes
The battle for Anambra State governorship seat is already here. And the state governor, Willie Obiano and his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) have a tough battle ahead, going by the array of aspirants already gearing up for the position across party lines.
But it would seem that he has less to fear of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the pioneer ruling party in the state upon Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
Even before it lost the governorship seat in 2003, PDP in Anambra State, had been in disarray. The god-father and god-son clashes between Emeka Offor and former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and then later Chief Chris Uba and former governor, now minister of Labour, Sen Chris Ngige, amidst series of party chairmanship tussles were some of the high points in years of intense internal wranglings within the party.
And while the famous Uba brothers showdown in 2007 peaked, APGA, assumed control of the state, under the governorship of Peter Obi, who enjoyed massive support from the legendary, Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu.
However while AGPA dominated the governorship seat, PDP and defunct ACN by force of the personalities that flew the flags of those parties occupied federal legislative seats from the state.
Still, PDP has remained second fiddle to APGA, as the later successfully returned to power after eight years in office.
But the PDP Organising Secretary in the state, Prince Samben Nwosu, believes that the PDP, in a move to actualise the dream of taking over Anambra in the next election has reconciled factions in the party to become a united big family under one strong indivisible umbrella.
Nwosu explained that Anambra is primarily a PDP state, adding that APGA in power merely capitalised on crisis and fractionalisation which rocked the PDP in the past.
“I am happy to inform you that every shade of interest has been taken care of in the newly constituted and inaugurated executive council which has automatically taken care of issues of our party splitting into many factions, as a result of that, many of our members who are on sabbatical in other political parties have started discussing with us to facilitate their return,” he explained
The PDP organising secretary said another factor that would help the party regain power in Anambra State was what he called colossal failure of the incumbent the APGA government to address the issue of power, roads and infrastructure especially in the industrial town of Nnewi, the headquarters of Anambra South senatorial zone.
“I was shocked to hear that Governor, Chief Willie Obiano came to Nnewi and flagged off street lighting project of an individual, to make matter worse, the so called street lights are on roads that are not motorable. So of what purpose is a street light on a bad road?” Prince Nwosu queried.
But while it would seem like there is little expectation of the PDP, the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be primed to give APGA the much anticipated fight for the seat.
With the PDP almost prostrate, the array of personalities, lining up in APC, most of them former PDP members, appear daunting for the ruling party in the state going into the much anticipated polls.
So far, former CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, Capital Oil boss, Dr. Ifeanyi Uba, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, and ten other aspirants have indicated interest to contest for the APC ticket.
Others, who indicated interest to contest the APC ticket include: Chief George Muoghalu, Chief Barth Nwibe, Mr Obinna Okonkwo and Chief Paul Chukwuma. Others are Dr Chike Obidigbo, Chief Raph Okeke, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief Tony Nwoye, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Sen. Andy Ubah, Chief Obinna Uzor and Prince Donatus Okonkwo.
Chairman of APC in the state, Mr Emeka Ibe, revealed the list of aspirants, stressed that there would be no automatic ticket for any aspirant, adding that they would all participate in the state`s primaries to emerge as candidate for the election. “We will give all aspirants equal playing ground. There is no special interest in any aspirant. “We will hold transparent primaries for them because they are all qualified to unseat Gov. Willie Obiano. “Any of them who emerges as our candidate in the state is capable of removing Obiano from office,’’ Ibe said.
He added that the party would embark on continuous membership registration exercise before the end of the month to accommodate those who want to join in the state. Ibe, however, said that anybody with criminal records would not be allowed to join the party in the state. He maintained that there was no zoning arrangement in the party, adding that new members would have equal rights as old ones.
However, watchers of Anambra politics aver that with the nature of politics in the state which is like no other, the APC is in for a hard time managing these political juggernauts.
Much like what obtained in the PDP, a barrage of money bags and political heavy weights throw in their hats into the race for the party’s ticket and aftermaths of party primaries often heralded near implosions.
With huge war chest to dispose with, it was usually difficult for those that lost to stay out and help the eventual candidate win. How well the APC will address this issue remains to be seen. However if the outcome of the Ondo State governorship election is anything to go by then there could be hope.
Much more, with the party already talking tough against automatic tickets and ensuring level playing field for aspirants ahead of the polls, there are better days ahead it would seem.
However much more for the APC will be a test of its popularity not just in Anambra State but in the South-east, ahead of its plans to make major inroads in the region.
Still, for Obiano, he hopes to ride the wave of his performance in office, considering that he has been up to date with payment of salaries, thanks to the saving ability of his predecessor, Obi.
Although they have since become political foes, with Obi defecting to the PDP, many watchers believe that the success story of Obiano cannot be written with a major mention of the soft spoken former governor. Now that they are in different parties, many wait to see what impact it will bring to the contest.
But Obiano has already had to fence off an attack within his party, following a leadership tussle last year in the party which poised to remove Chief Victor Oye as national chairman. He was suspended by some members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
Obiano had moved in and save Oye from being sacked.
More so it was gathered that at the height of the tussle, the governor was approached to defect to the APC if he wants to secure a second term in office.
In an apparent response, Obiano, while debunking rumours of his defection, reaffirmed that he would seek re-election on the platform of APGA in the 2017 governorship election in the state, adding that as a consummate banker of repute and a principled professional of many years standing, “he is not known to be an ideological flirt and would not learn bad manners now as a fully grown political personality.”
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Strategic Communications and Legislative Matters, Prince Oliver Okpala, the “rumoured intention of the governor’s defection is a figment of the imagination of the opposition which can only be consigned to the rumour mill where it has been.”
The statement added that “Governor Obiano has no intention of dumping the party which has brought so much dividends of democracy to Anambra people.”
He added that the rumour that “Obiano is in talks with another political party with a view to jump ship is a wishful thinking of the rumour mongers and at best a calculated attempt by the opposition to cause disaffection and confusion amongst the Governor’s teeming supporters.”
The statement affirmed that the has over the years implemented the APGA manifesto which has imparted positively on the life of Anambrarians and would therefore continue to stay with the winning team and formula.
He noted that the fruits of the APGA platform is there for everyone to see and he would continue to champion the APGA cause just as his re-election bid gathers momentum.
The statement stated that Governor Obiano does not need to dump APGA or join another political party to win re-election as his giants developmental strides and gigantic footprints are there for all to see.
He noted that the “Governor, sticks to his long held ideologies and would never succumb to the shenanigans of political flirtations.
“He has gone further to make a call to all Igbo’s, even beyond Anambra state to sustain their support for APGA as it remains the best political machinery to achieve their collective dreams and aspirations.
“Governor Obiano has also affirmed his resolve to ensure that APGA wins more states to brighten its chances of contributing more to the Igbo cause and to national development.”
Nonetheless the die is cast as all eyes move towards Anambra ahead of this major show down.
Report by: Chibuzo Ukaibe