Anambra 2017: Dark shadows of godfathers

From left: Iyom Josephine Anenih, Bran Okudo, Igwe Abacha, Oseloka Obaze and Peter Obi at campaign rally recently

Guaranteeing free, fair and credible election on November 18, 2017 should be the best gift the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could give to Anambra State and its people. The governorship poll, which is just two weeks away, will leave behind a lot of lessons.

The election is crucial in many ways because it would help to settle a lot of misconceptions and clear some doubts about the ability of the people to choose their leaders, especially in the light of the common belief that moneybags and godfathers determine what happens in the state.

Electioneering has advanced and flag bearers have been mouthing promises and arguments to the effect that they would perform better than the incumbent. The electorate on the other hand, seem to have bought into the refrain and are challenging Governor Willie Obiano to show his achievements in office for the past three years.

Cobwebs Of Outside Interests
Whoever thinks that only Anambra people determine who sits at the Government House in Agu Awka, must be misguided. Anambra is believed to be the gateway to Igbo land and as such political and business interests always converge to influence the choice of governor.

While candidates of the leading political parties, continue to canvass for votes across the 326 wards and 21 local government councils of the state, reasons why the Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial district, Andy Uba, was denied the ticket of All Progressives Congress (APC) made the rounds in the state.

It was said that Uba was denied the governorship due to a combination of factors, including his closeness to Senator Bukola Saraki and Bola Tinubu. Sources close to the Senator disclosed that facts emerged that apart from leading a pack of serving and former senators to pick his nomination form at the APC national headquarters at 44 Balantyre Street, Wuse 11 Abuja, some elements in the Presidency were not pleased that he fell back on Tinubu’s support despite assurances from the ‘right quarters’.

“You know a lot of people did not believe that Baba will come back to Nigeria in good health. The Senator shifted alliance because maybe he thought the election will take place before Baba returns. But when doctors gave the go ahead, the President returned and we saw that he should also consider a second term to complete the good work he has started,” the source stated.

But chief among the reasons why the APC leadership insisted on going ahead with the result of the contested governorship primary was said to be the resolution by Anambra council of chiefs, Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Anambra chapter and other leaders of thought on zoning arrangement in the state.

It is perhaps against the background of the stiff challenge to his victory at the governorship primary that the APC candidate, Hon. Tony Nwoye, has been campaigning vigorously to show that his nomination was not a fluke. Although his financier, Prince Arthur Eze, was said to have played crucial roles in ensuring that Nwoye instead of Uba clinched the ticket Nwoye, who was once the state chairman of PDP has penetrated the grassroots and attracted known political actors to his side for the election.

National coordinator of APGA Media Warriors, Chinedu Obigwe, however, said that a state that produced people like Emeka Anyaoku, Philip Emeagwali, Chike Obi, the great Zik of Africa, Oby Ezekwesili and Dr Alex Ekwueme cannot be governed by a lesser man.

But, speaking on the chances of Nwoye in the election given the behind the scene schemes, Director General of Nwoye campaign organisation, Osita Ezenwa, said the APC flag bearer should be seen from the perspective of a giant killer. Ezenwa, who was Secretary of State Government (SSG) during the administration of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, noted that Nwoye has always been a grassroots mobiliser, stressing that even when he may not be visible in the media, he usually does well in election.

But despite the optimism of Ezenwa, APC denial of the ticket to Uba is likely going to impact negatively on Nwoye’s vote tally in South Senatorial district. Voters in Anambra South, who expect that the governorship will swing to their zone in 2022, are wary that a victory of the APC candidate may deny them the opportunity as they claim that with age on his side, Nwoye might naturally seek a second term.

Obi’s Triangular Duel
Former Governor Peter Obi has been a regular feature on the campaign stands of the PDP flag bearer, Chief Oseloka Obaze. Apart from serving as chief salesman for Obaze, Obi is entangled in a triangular political duel.

On various campaign stops, the immediate past governor who still wins plaudits for the able way he governed the state, does not fail to defend his record and reputation. While his successor and incumbent, Obiano, goes about telling Anambra people that the chief reason he parted ways with his benefactor was that he (Obi) demanded a refund of N7.5b spent on the election that brought him (Obiano) to office.

Believing that a cocktail of political mischief and baloney is being dished out in the name of electioneering, Obi went to the Supreme Court to depose to affidavit of facts. The former governor listed cash and investments he handed to Obiano. Armed with these documents, including certified copies of bank records detailing deposits, Obi has been reminding voters of his promise to join them to vote out Willie Obiano if he does not do well in office.

That is but one flank of Peter Obi’s battle. On another front, the former governor is tackling the Deputy President of Senate (DSP), Ike Ekweremadu, who is believed to have influenced PDP governors against Obaze, who is believed to be Obi’s preferred candidate.

Sources disclosed that Ekweremadu is up in arms against Obi for two main reasons. The soft-spoken former governor is believed to have dispossessed Ekwereamdu’s staunch ally, Olisa Metuh of the Anambra PDP structure. Secondly, the DSP might be inadvertently working against Obi’s interest in the Anambra governorship in the belief that winning the poll would enhance his chances to emerge as the possible Presidential running mate to a powerful northern aspirant.

The third political challenge that Obi is grappling with is the distraction from disgruntled former leaders of Anambra PDP and governorship aspirants, who continue to accuse the former governor of hijacking the party structure and foisting his preferred candidate as the flag bearer.

Although some people say the three-sided battles against Obi could negatively affect the fortune of the party in the election, most voters see in Obaze and Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, nee Ekwueme, as the most balanced governorship ticket in the race.

In a state where religious sensitivity is very high, while Obaze is Catholic, his running mate is not only an Anglican, but also a woman. And as the duo are described as two at the price of one, Obi assures that with the eloquent backgrounds of the PDP governorship candidates, Anambra should be sure of a replication of the feat he achieved in office.

Governorship Debate Scare
Incumbent governor failed to turn up for any of the many governorship debates lined up towards the election. As expected candidates of PDP and Action Democratic Party (ADP), Oseloka Obaze and Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, showed their debating skills, elocution and mastery of their manifestoes.

At Parktonian Hotel, Awka, Okonkwo told the audience that voters in the state should be on the look out for intelligent persons to elect as governor, stressing that vision and courage are the necessary hallmarks of good leadership. He disclosed that he was the only person in the state who dragged the state government to court for failure to conduct local government election, stressing that if voted into office, he would devolve more powers to the communities.

On his part, Obaze decried waste in governance, pointing out that a lot of what goes on in government was stealing by public officers. He has mapped out what he intends to achieve in four years.

The PDP candidate disclosed that by creating special information and communication technology centres with free Wi-Fi, young people could be empowered while at the same time establishing economic hubs like the Silicon Valley in California USA.

At a debate organised by the Anglican Communion for the flag bearers in Idemmili north, Okonkwo stunned the audience when he stated that voters should guard against the election of persons whose only qualification to contest was that they were in government and stole public money.

He charged the voters to ask those sewing uniforms and dancing around the streets where they got the money to be celebrating the fact that they were seeking votes from suffering masses.

UPP Tackles INEC
The United Progressive Party (UPP) has petitioned INEC asking it to fulfill its pledge that political parties shall be fuly involved in voter education, stressing that the time is now to put words into action.

In a letter signed by the national chairman, Dr. Chekwas Okorie, UPP noted that voter education would be very helpful and encourage voter turnout in the Anambra poll. Areas which the party said the commission should emphasise in the voter enlightenment are: use of upgraded Card Readers, the availability of functional Card Readers for all the 6,200 Polling Units, as well as, the provision of standby Card Readers in the event of any breakdown during the exercise.



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