Anambra 2013: Clash of the titans

Anambra Guber Aspirants: Idigo, Soludo, Ngige and Andy Uba

Anambra Guber Aspirants: Idigo, Soludo, Ngige and Andy Uba

Ahead of Anambra governorship poll, aspirants seeking to flag off their political parties are in fight to finish in preparation for their party primaries, as they are adopting every available slogan and strategy to woo supporters to their side. Tony Oraeki, our Anambra correspondent carried out an in-depth analysis of political situation in the state.

Anambra State has recently become the centre stage of political activities as party faithful are driving around party secretariats in the name of party congresses and primaries for their imaginary governorship aspirants.

All manner of political party flags are hoisted at all corners of Awka town, some are being operated by a single family with few close friends who are mostly ‘fishers of men’ thus as a kind of sinew to sustain the party till the INEC decides what to offer the parties for the election.

The big four in Anambra State, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and the newly registered All Progressives Alliance (APC), no doubt are squaring up for the great show down and it indeed promises to be a battle to finish. What is indeed striking about these four political parties is the fact that they parade the first eleven aspirants who have all it takes to be in government house, Awka.

However, there remained one fundamental issue that has been controlling the crescendo of Anambra politics which is the power shift to the northern part of the state.

Governor Peter Obi’s sympathy for Anambra North senatorial district has indeed affected the tempo of this year’s contest and has also enlisted apprehensions among both political parties and the gladiators within. The apprehension among political parties is, if the governor can keep to his promise of picking an APGA candidate from the North, so that they can return to the drawing board to make permutation. Yet, another apprehension is among the aspirants of other political parties who have laid low for a while to understudy the body language of their party leadership over the issue of Anambra North.

But last week, these apprehensions were allayed when former Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, governor, Professor Charles Soludo resigned from the PDP to join APGA, and that singular action has to a large extent changed the political indices in Anambra. It has also indicated that the issue of APGA picking a candidate from Anambra north cannot be relied upon as an aspirant made in the mode of Soludo is never a match to the legion of green horns that are dreaming to become APGA flag bearer.

However, this could be a large minus for APGA if it fails to zone the candidacy to Anambra North. The zone has always been the decider in every governorship election and they are capable of pulling a protest vote against the party.

Already, the recalling idea of picking a running mate from Anambra North is ruled out because the zone has handed down a stern warning to all aspirants not to accept to be running mate to any candidate from Anambra Central and Anambra South. The consequences of this are that the persons would be set ablaze and he and his family banished from the community. In the light of that, Soludo may have to pick a running mate from the Central if he eventually emerges.

At this point, political analysts are of the opinion that Soludo’s entry into the party at this last minute is part of the divisible techniques of PDP to further put Governor Obi and Umeh into political crossroad which could create cold war on who pursues Soludo’s agenda in the party.

While APGA grapples with its power shift agenda, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is indeed a pictorial of a wrecked war ship carrying on board a platoon of generals that are going ‘to war with several bruises on their bodies. Even as they move on that voyage, the bruised generals are at war with each other while the wrecked ship has two different captains navigating with different compasses.

Observers are of the opinion that the PDP with all the big gladiators and heavy spenders may not get it right this time unless the thin-gods subject themselves to the leadership of the party and accept who ever the party presents as candidate.

They also feel that any PDP candidate would certainly meet a similar fate which Soludo had in 2010 where party members ganged up to play the spoilers role against their party.

However, it is being rumored that Soludo’s membership of APGA may not have been unconnected with the pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan from external forces in Otta farm to give Senator Andy Uba the ticket of PDP, hence Soludo was allegedly told to run under (APGA), and to return to PDP if he eventually wins if he had his way through this manner.

But yet, another trouble spot is the APC in Anambra. The party is yet to harmonise its leadership and this initial problem may affect the fortunes of the party in 2013. Already the former chairman of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Prince Chuba Ikeagwu is having issues with All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) counterpart, Orjiakor over leadership of APC and the earlier it is resolved the better for the party.

Similarly, Senator Annie Okonkwo’s faction of APC is yet another headache and it is being rumored that Okonkwo who is said to be nursing a gubernatorial ambition is sponsoring another aspirant against his kinsman, Senator Chris Ngige, which the National leadership is currently against.

Against speculations of observers, the APC appears more battle ready than the rest in view of the fact that it is going into its first major election as a new party. To the national leadership of APC, Anambra State would be a litmus taste for the party’s popularity and the party has vowed to go with its best among all the aspirants angling for the party’s ticket. The party has allegedly ordered its governors and National Assembly members to commence preparations into relocating to Anambra State to ensure that its candidate wins the governorship election and this is currently sending trepidations with the political landscape of Anambra State.

Consequent upon the fact that the four political parties have their separate kittles of crisis, the more lethal danger is the choice of candidates. Away from the issue of Anambra North agenda, the dramatics personae in these parties has become an issue under discuss as it is true to Anambra politics that it is not the political party that the electorates vote for, but the candidate of the party.

It is fast becoming a town union election in Anambra as even the old woman that sells tomatoes at the remotest market has become an analyst and can comfortably tell who is who in a gubernatorial race.

Of all the political parties contesting for the election, APGA has the highest number of aspirants, followed by PDP, while Labour Party and APC have three aspirants each. However, only one aspirant has picked form for the primaries in Labour party.

A rundown of some of these aspirants show that they all are well qualified to become candidates and ultimately governor, but the best had to appear.

APGA between green horns and oracles

Iyom Uche Ekwunife, second term National Assembly, member is a woman with the heart of a man. She has it on record as a politician who despite her feminism, thread where angels fear to tread upon. She was gubernatorial candidate of PPA in 2010 and almost had her way but for the alleged intervention of Ekwunife, has that nag for taking good advantage of every political atmosphere. She also has grassroots’ support and runs one of the most organised political structures in the state.

In fact observers are of the view that Ekwunife has no odds against her, only that she needs to oust Soludo to become candidate.

A lot has already been said by Professor Charles Soludo and he needs no introduction just like Ekwunife. But the Anambra North sentiment is the only issue that would surely hunt him if he eventually emerges as candidate. However, Soludo has to play down on aristocratic politics and play the game in a language that protuberates in the villages and motor parks will understand. He has to detach himself from that high academic platform in order to relate with the wretches of the earth.

Dr. Chike Obidigbo, an industrialist and businessman from Anambra North senatorial zone, had it all going for him before Soludo stormed APGA. In fact he was among those being considered from Anambra North and he also has the ears of Governor Peter Obi should APGA insist on going to Anambra North. Obidigbo would be among the first five that would certainly emerge and he has the clout to pull through in the main election, with the assistance of the incumbent of course.

Also in the same league is Prince Chinedu Idigo who is from Anambra North senatorial zone. At some point last month it was even rumored that Governor Obi has finally settled for him and the tempo at which he heightened his meetings and consultations became phenomenally high until the Anambra South Professor Soludo came into the picture.

Dubem Obaze was commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters under Governor Peter Obi. Whatever the governor may claim to have done at the rural areas and communities was through the instrumentality and administrative ability of Dubem Obaze. Though he hasn’t declared officially, most APGA members are demanding that he should be made consensus candidate of the party. Ironically, his brother is also in the race. Oseloka Obaze, the current secretary to the state government, has his posters all around Anambra, but party members see him as too decent and holistic to be a governor. They feel that he is not a home grown politician and would be overwhelmed by the trappings of Anambra politics.

Mr. Pat Obianwu is a man that has spent his life in the private sector and has linkages with several humanitarian organisations. Obianwu is not the loud talking type but he is seen as a very calm and calculated man. His chances in APGA are dependent on what the party says about Anambra North town. Obianwu is one of the aspirants from Onitsha Anambra North.

PDP and the battle of titans

Almost every aspirant in the PDP is capable of winning nomination of any political party in Anambra. They have the grassroots, they have the fellowship, they have the financial muscle and they also have that vital element of mass cohesion. That underscores why the party is in a different dilemma and none of those mighty men and women is ready to blink for another to have his way. Also, the leadership problem between Mr. Ejike Oguebego and Prince Kenneth Emeakayi over the party in Aanambra is also another headache. However, the aspirants are seen as potential flag bearers of the party.

Senator Emmanuel Obiajulu Anosike hails from Anambra North and has been in PDP politics since 1999. He enjoys the acceptability of the leader of PDP in Abuja and other gladiators of PDP in Anambra.

He is seen as a loyal party man and a man that do not see the ticket issue as a door die affair. He is about the only aspirant that is ready to sacrifices his ambition in the interest of peace. Should Anosike pick PDP ticket, he is capable of returning the party pack to the government house. This is simply because his relationship with people cuts across political parties. It is even being regretted by most PDP stakeholders that had it been that he was made candidate in 2010 in place of Soludo, PDP would have won.

Senator Nnamdi Uba is a serving National Assembly member and a former governor of Anambra State. It is being rumored that the pendulum is fast swinging to his favour as it is alleged that President Goodluck Jonathan perpetually owes his political rise to stardom to Andy Uba. He has gained experience all the years in politics and his track records of achievements in the senate is a good advantage for him. He is also seen as a man that takes the political challenge easy but will ultimately get there. However, how Uba hopes to overcome the fight and attacks that would trail his candidacy is left for history to tell.

Onitsha born medical practitioner, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu has been in the race since 2007 and has been consistent. He has refused to be running mate to anybody and has played vital roles in the resolution of PDP problems at the national and state levels and is well known among the leadership of PDP. Should the PDP choose to turn its face towards Anambra North zone he would be one of the top contenders.

Former PDP state chairman, Comrade Tony Nwoye is about the youngest of them all in the race. Nwoye should have been at the National Assembly by now but for the long drawn legal battle over candidacy of PDP for Anambra East and west constituency. Nwoye is from Anambra North senatorial zone and he has grass root followership.

Dr. Obinna Uzor had his first shot at the gubernatorial race in 2003 under another political party and not PDP. But ever since Uzor has been in PDP, he has continued to mobilise all forces for the party. He is one of the top contenders and he at some point was considered as a consensus candidate before the top kingmakers came into the picture. Uzor is from Anambra South District.

Barr. Mike Ikegbunam from Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra North District is also another strong contender in PDP. The likes of Nicholas Ukachukwu and Sen. Andy Uba had at some point agreed to have him as a consensus candidate should the big contenders accept to abandon their ambitions. He also enjoys the patronage of the Christian community and the youths of Anmabra State. Ikegbunam may not have that financial strength like other big contenders but he is seen as the only last resort to the peaceful resolution of the PDP crisis.

For Nicholas Ukachukwu it is a different ball game. He has two billboards at a certain high rise building, but he is yet to declare his intentions. Ukachukwu’s main worry is to stop Sen. Andy Uba and not because he wants to become candidate of PDP. His emergence certainly would further deepen the crisis in the party.

Similarly, there other aspirants who are also in the rate such as Tony Akachukwu and Ugochukwu Okeke among others, and observers see the contest in the PDP as one that would end up producing a consensus candidate that is not known too well but is neutral in the unending leadership crisis.

Labour Party and the rising profile

Not too many people could recon with the Labour Party. It had in the past been seen as an underdog until the emergence of its party chairman, Chief Sam Oraegbunam who has been able to put the party at the apex of political activities in Anambra. Though the party has three aspirants so far, it is very clear that Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah would be the candidate of the party and he has so far heightened the stakes and challenges of 2013 gubernatorial election. Ubah has been able to build a formidable political structure in the party and has collapsed a chuck of most strong campaign organisations of traditional top contenders in other political parties with age on his size. Ubah who ordinary would have been counted among the new entrants into the contest has become a candidate to watch. His supporters believe that nothing can stop Ubah from flagging the flag of the party in 2013 and he has that ability to battle other top contenders head long. For Ubah, Labour Party ticket is a work over as he is more concerned in the main election.

APC and Anambra’s litmus taste

All Progressives Congress (APC) would be testing its popularity in Anambra in 2013. This is the first major election this party is going into. Already the party has three gubernatorial aspirants.

Two aspirants, Sen. Chris Ngige and Godwin Ezeemo came from the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), while Engr. Hygers Ifeanyi Igwebike came from the former congress for progressive change, CPC. Unlike other political parties, these three aspirants enjoy some form of synergy and unity of purpose targeted at ensuring that the party secures the seat at the government house.

Engr. Ifeanyi Hygers Igwebuike is new in the race and has a formidable political structure in the then CPC which is a strong factor in APC contest. The retired military officer has been able to establish contacts and grass root awareness in Anambra State, observers see him as a lamb without blemish and has never had any political bruises so far. Should the APC organise its primaries, Igwebuike would certainly cause a major upstage in the election.

Godwin Ezeemo is running a better campaign structure rooted in the mobilisation of party members. Since his entrance into the race, he has been able to convert several non members of APC into the party and that is a plus to him. Ezeemo is against consensus candidate in APC, adding that he is ready to subject himself to the primaries of the party and is ready to accept the outcome in a free and fair process and not imposition. Ezeemo’s experience in management has it going for him and the APC primaries would not be mere child’s play.

Apparently Senator Chris Ngige is about the most popular politician in Anambra State. Observers describe him as a show man who has that ability to arrest any crowd even along the streets of Anambra. What he has going for him is his past as governor of Anambra State, where he distinguished himself in governance. Ngige’s victory in the last National Assembly election have been seen by observers as one that has solidified his relevance in Anambra politics and it has also made him the arrow head of APC activities in the south East zone.

But how these qualities can be converted to physical vote at the APC primaries is a different kettle of fish. The likes of Ezeemo and Hygers Igwebike are giving him a good run for his money and should he fail to put his feet on the ground a different story would be told about him.

Ironically he is the only one capable of challenging Soludo, Andy Uba and Ifeanyi Ubah head long in view of his popularity. It also depends on the body language of the National leadership of APC over who gets the ticket and how the primaries would be conducted. Besides, APC cannot afford to lose its first election and the party would like to use a popular, matured and acceptable candidate that do not need so much dissipation of energy in introducing to Anambra people. Going by such qualities, observers feel that the candidate to chose is already known and waiting to go.

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