Correspondent NWANOSIKE ONU examines the preparations of the political parties for the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State.
The governorship election in Anambra State is gathering momentum. Although the political parties have not conducted their primaries, some of them already have ‘candidates.’
For now, only six political parties are in the governorship race, while others are still peeping.
Major parties in contention are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the All Progressive Congress (APC), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) and the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Governor Willie Obiano is expected to emerge as the APGA candidate, a chieftain, Dr Elo Aforka, has said that he will also contest.
Also, the PPA has Mr. Godwin Ezeemo as its candidate without any primary. Dr Stephen Obiorah Mbah is expected to emerge as the PRP candidate. The APC has eight aspirants. The PDP has four. APC aspirants are the National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, Dr Obinna Uzor, Hon Tony Nwoye, Sir Paul Chukwuma, National Youth leader of the party. Others are Barth Nwibe, an engineer, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo, Senator Andy Uba and Dr Chike Obidigbo.
In the (PDP), Chief Osita Chidoka has indicated interest. Also in the race are Dr Alex Obiogbolu, Mr. Oseloka Obaze and Zeribe Ezeanuna.
The APC has assembled some political eggheads in the Southeast into a committee to deliver Anambra to the party on November 18. The Anambra State Gubernatorial Election Planning and Strategy Committee of the APC is chaired by Senator Jim Nwobodo, the first civilian governor of old Anambra State. Other members are the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, vice chairman, Senator Emma Agboti, secretary, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Nkechi Wogu, Chief Madugba Cosmas and Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu.
The committee is to monitor the political environment and report to the party leadership, evaluate the aspirants in the party, raise funds and advise on zoning. The decision was reached during the Southeast APC meeting in Alor, the home town of Senator Chris Ngige. In a communiqué by the zonal publicity secretary, Hon Hyacinth Ngwu and the National Vice Chairman, Hon Emma Eneukwu, party members were urged to gird their loins, ahead of the poll.
Apart from APGA, PPA and APC, no other party has begun full preparations for the election.
The Chief Willie Obiano Support Group, led by Sir Jude Emecheta, has traversed the nooks and crannies of the state selling the governor’s candidature.
Despite moves by the APC to wrest power from APGA, the PDP is not relenting in its bid to re-capture power. Its arrowhead is former Governor Peter Obi. PDP aspirants have been moving round the state to sell themselves to the people. The party lost power to APGA in 2006.
But, the crisis in the PDP has been a major blow to the aspirants and their followers. Indeed, the PDP is divided in Anambra State.
As a result, many PDP chieftains have either defected to the APC or the APGA, while Prince Ken Emeakayi, the chairman, is fighting hard to reposition it.
Recently, Emeakayi raised the alarm that about 12 cases instituted in various courts in the state by various groups and individuals have hampered the progress of the troubled chapter. The members are confused on whether to align with Obi or follow the aspirants.
On its part, the UPP said it has put machinery in motion to battle other parties. Its Publicity Secretary, Uchenna Amaku, told The Nation that the chapter will not allow those he described as political hawks to hijack the political space in Anambra.
He said such people had deceived the state and the zone in the past, adding that the UPP will battle them to a standstill.
The anger of UPP, according to Amaku, stems from the fact that the youths in the Southeast are being killed and the political leaders are aloof.
The aspirants across the parties are as follows:
Tony Nwoye (APC)
He is a former Chairman of the PDP in Anambra State. He was the party’s governorship candidate in 2014. Nwoye is a member of the House of Representatives representing Anambra East and West Constituency.
He hails from Nsugbe, Anambra East. He is from the same local government with Obiano.
Not only a dogged fighter, but a great mobiliser, the former student union leader is determined.
The only obstacle to Nwoye’s ambition is that he defected from the PDP to the APC. He is not a foundation member of the party.
His major strength is his closeness to the grassroots and his philanthropist activities. One of his major supporters is Prince Arthur Eze, an oil magnet.
Stephen Obiorah (PRP).
He has said that his main objective is the reconstruction of Anambra State. Dr Stephen Obiorah is a political feather weight in the politics of Anambra. He may not make any head way during the election.
Besides, the PRP has no footing in the state. He told The Nation that the party has given him a platform to pursue his ambition. He was briefly in the APGA, but found the party too tough and dumped it in last year.
Mbah said APGA does not give people chance to lead. He also alleged that the party does not believe in the ability of any other person, except those around the government.
An Awka indigene, Obiorah is not a threat to anybody in the race.
Osita Chidoka (PDP)
Osita Chidoka was the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and former Minister of Aviation under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The only strength he has is the position he held and his romance with members of his political party.
He hails from Obosi in Idemili North local government area and stands a chance of defeating other contestants at the primary.
Some members of his party have described him as a snub and arrogant person. But, the primary of the party will tell.
George Moghalu (APC)
Moghalu is the National Auditor of the APC. Hehails from Nnewi North local government area.
He had contested for the governorship on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in 2003.
After the contest, he went into political oblivion because his party did not make it. He was the only face of the ANPP in Anambra.
One thing going for Moghalu is his simplicity and maturity, which had endeared him to the people, despite his lack of a deep purse.
Some APC members are saying that he should be given the ticket for his loyalty. Besides, The Nation gathered that Nnewi kinsmen are investing heavily on his ambition.
Moghalu is somebody that can call you by your name any where he sees you just like Senator Chris Ngige, Tony Nwoye and few others. He is unlike those who see themselves as demigods.
Osekola Obaze (PDP)
He is the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under the administration of Obi. Obaze is simple, intelligent and easy going. Despite his position, he was in the shadow of his younger brother, Dubem Obaze, who is the former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, who was the de-facto- governor.
Today, Oseloka Obaze wants to govern Anambra state and he is seen as Obi’s favourite in (PDP).
He hails from Ogbaru local government area but his main undoing is his selective and discriminatory attitude.
He is a political neophyte. He relies on Obi and his younger brother Dubem for relevance and victory.
Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo (UPP)
According to observers, Okonkwo is not a lawyer, but he seems to know the law more than the lawyers, judging by his references to the law at each turn. He hails from Nnobi in Idemili south local government area.
Though not seen as a strong contender because his party, the (UPP) is perceived as a party on the fringe, the party has the backing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other agitator.
This is not the first time Okonkwo is contesting for governor. He may not have the financial muscle to challenge others in the race.
But, because of his eloquence and background as a rights activist, he may get the blessing of the founder of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie.
The UPP Publicity Secretary, Uche Amaku, said other aspirants have indicated interest in the ticket. But, their posters are not yet out.
Godwin Ezeemo (PPA)
He stormed out of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) because of the disagreement he had with the party leader, Ngige, over the ticket in 2014.
Ezeemo joined the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) to pursue his ambition. He came fourth. Since then, he has not looked back in his bid to be governor. He has made PPA stronger in Anambra with his philanthropy.
The aspirant is perceived as a gentleman by all and sundry, and a man with meek of kindness. His major problem is that his party is a small party. It can hardly compete with the APC, the PDP, and the APGA in the state.
Majority of the people in the state see him as a good material for the position, but those around him are not interested in what he is doing. Sources said they are around him to get his money and disappear.
Ezeemo has the wherewithal to prosecute his ambition. But, a major obstacle he is facing now is that he has another aspirant from the same Umuchu community in another party. People in the state see him as one who the cap fits.
Willie Obiano (APGA)
He became the governor through the instrumentality of Obi, his predecessor. The former governor had insisted that Anambra North, which had been marginalized, should produce the governor in 2014.
The sentiment worked. Obi made Obiano governor. He got former president Goodluck Jonathan, who abandoned his PDP, to support him.
Since Obiano came into power, he has not really faced any opposition as the political juggernauts have rallied round his government.
However, trouble started when Obi defected to the PDP because of their disagreement over the purported 75 billion naira bond the former governor said he left in the state purse when his tenure expired.
Obiano’s sins, according to the people, are many. Although he has some good works to his credit, some people want to have a pound of flesh during the election.
Some opposition politicians believe he runs a government of deceit. But, he is not cunning. He is a honest politician.
His strength lies in his support base. The people of Anambra North are behind him. He has been accused of concentrating his projects and appointments in the area.
The governor is shielded by a cabal. Although he is a good administrator, he is surrounded by hawks.
An APGA chieftain, Dr Elo Aforka, is challenging Obiano at the primary. It will be a futile effort. A source aid APGA is ready to prosecute the electoral project with billions of naira.
Barth Nwibe (APC)
Barth Nwibe is a strong contender in the APC. He has been in the political family from the days of he defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN).
He contested for House of Representatives under the CAN. He lost his deposit. He is a close associate of Ngige. He is a party financier.
Before now, some people used to see him as a political neophyte and an arrogant. But, Nwibe is humble, intelligent and he is a good listener.
If the APC holds a free and fair primary, the Igboukwu-born politician may make a statement.
He is wealthy. It has been alleged that he is preferr4ed by Ngige, the APC leader.
Elo Aforka (APGA)
Dr Elo Aforka may be a jester in the race. He cannot withstand the Obiano machinery. According to observers, it will be difficult for him to get the ticket at the primary where the governor is the strong contender.
He is one-time Special Assistant to Obiano on Political Matters. He is believed to be Chief Victor Umeh’s apogee. But, one thing is clear; he is in the race to spoil the fun for Obiano.
Andy Uba (APC)
The three-time senator from Anambra South was once elected governor of Anambra State in 2007 in error. He spent 17 days before the Supreme Court booted him out. The verdict was that Obi’s tenure had not expired.
Uba was in the PDP from where he defected to the APC. He said he left the PDP because of its protracted crises. Uba has paid his dues in Anambra politics. He is a disciple of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
But, he has started battling opposition in his native Uga, Aguata local government area. His younger brother, Chief Chris Uba, regarded as the political godfather, is bitter that his brother deprived him of the opportunity to be a senator in 2015.
His kinsmen see him as somebody who has not done enough in the Senate to warrant being a governor. Some have even agitated for his recall.
Uba may not get the APC ticket, having joined the party recently. According to an APC chieftain, “APC does not behave like other parties; we do things according to hierarchy.”
Furthermore, some politicians in the state have christened Uba as a use-and-dump politician.
His closeness to Obasanjo may continue to give him hope. Also, if money is the deciding factor, he is a strong contender.
John Bosco Onunkwo (APC)
He is a rich politician. The young politician hails from Umuchu in Aguata local government area.
His father was Ngige’s teacher and that closeness with the family has made some people believe it is his turn.
Onunkwo’s philanthropy has endeared him to the people, especially the youths who believe that there is the need for a generational shift. He is a loyal party man, who has shown commitment from the days of the ACN. He has stronger contenders, including Moghalu and Nwibe, to contend with at the primary.
Paul Chukwuma (APC)
He hails from Umeri, a neigbouring community Obiano’s village in the Anambra East Council Area.
Not much is known about the young man with tremendous wealth. He is the Southeast Youth leader of the APC.
Nobody knows where he draws his strength, but he is close to manyAPC big wigs.
One APC chieftain who pleaded anonymity told The Nation that Sir Paul Chukwuma is being used to play spoiler’s role in the governorship game.
Zeribe Ezeanuna (PDP)
He is an unknown quantity. The only time his name was heard was some years back in a protest.
Zeribe Ezeanuna is not a serious contender.
Though from Aguata local government area, he is based in Onitsha. He does not possess that political clout like other contenders. Indeed, he is a pretender.
Alex Obiogbolu (PDP)
The people of Anambra believe that Dr Alex Obiogbolu will behave like Obi, if he becomes the governor.
He is a loyal party man, having been in the PDP and gone through thick and thin, unlike others who jump from pillar to post each time one appointment or the other elude them.
Obiogbolu is a former Chairman of Anambra State Local Government Civil Service Commission and also a former chairman of Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA).
He is an orator and a gentleman.
He comes from Onitsha North Local Government Area in Anambra North. The zone has been protesting its marginalization from the scheme of things. The aspirant is close to Obi and Senator Stella Oduah. But, will Obi allow him to gain upper hand against Obaze?
DR OBINNA UZOR (APC)
Dr Obinna Uzor is a man of many parts. He is a successful business man from Ihiala local government area.
The only thing working against him was his outspokenness. In 2003, he said he was coming to clear the mess of former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju. Both are from the same area.
Uzor contested that governorship election on the platform of National Democratic Party (NDP) and lost.
He had built a Catholic church for his people and he engages in philanthropy.
The people of Anambra say he does not have the clout of a governor and it will be difficult for the APC to give him the ticket, despite his closeness to Ngige.
One thing is clear about Uzor; he is a good man with a good heart. But, he is perceived as a serial defector. Indeed, moving from one political party to another has eroded the trust and confidence of the people.
Chike Obidigbo (APC)
Dr. Chike Obidigbo gave Obiano and Obi a run for their money during the 2014 contest.
The disagreement and controversy that trailed the selection process made him to drag the party to court where he lost.
After the court judgment, he decided to team up with the APC.
Obidigbo is from Umunya in Oyi local government area. He is not seen as a grassroots man. But, he has a deep purse.
He was derided as political neophyte when he joined APGA. He is now perceived as a political heavy weight.
However, it is now obvious that three persons are contesting the election from Anambra South; Moghalu, Uba and Uzor.
The Central Zone parades eight Nwibe (APC), Onunkwo (APC), Ezeanuna (PDP), Mbah (PRP) and Okonkwo (UPP).
From the North, six persons are in the race with Obiano (APGA) leading the pack. Others are Nwoye (APC), Obidigbo (APC), Obaze (PDP), Obigbolu (PDP) and Chukwuma (APC).
But, is zoning a factor? Time will tell.