ANAMBRA POLITICS: Men Who Want Obiano’s Job

Governor Willie Obiano. Image: Twitter

Ahead of the next governorship election in Anambra State, OKEY MADUFORO examines current intrigues, factors and permutations that will determine which senatorial district will produce Governor Willie Obiano’s successor

With about two years and eight months into his second term in office as the governor of Anambra State, Governor Willie Obiano on doubt has began to brainstorm on who would succeed him at the end of his eight years tenure.

His party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has an internal arrangement of rotation among the three Senatorial Districts in the state and it has, accordingly zoned the gubernatorial seat to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.

But some elements in APGA are, however, contending that since the zoning formula has gone full circle from South to Central and down to the North it is only proper and fair that the North should start the fresh circle of rotation, irrespective of the fact that the incumbent governor is from the North.

This pressure has already deepened the challenges currently being faced by Gov. Willie Obiano whose kinsmen from the North are breathing down his neck to pick the APGA candidate from the North.

Should Obiano give in to their pressure, the likes of Prof. Charles Soludo who has been touted as the chosen one may well forget the ambition of flying the flag of the party in the next election.

Conversely the North also has a second trump card of drafting the current member of the Federal House of Representatives from Anambra East and West Constituency, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe or the current Chief of Staff to Obiano, Mr. Primus Odili as possible running mate to Prof Soludo from Anambra South Senatorial District.

But fears are being entertained that the propagators of Anambra North may have an agenda of orchestrating a plot to impeach the would be governor from the South to enthrone the Northern deputy governor as substantive governor hence actualizing their initial agenda. Be that as it may the South is pulling all stops in producing the next governor of Anambra State hence polarizing the zone into three separate political blocks.

The Ihiala political block would certainly not get the nod of the South since former governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Uli, Ihiala Council Area has taken the slot. The Old Aguata Union (OAU) Aguata, Orumba North & South is neck deep in the contest irrespective of the fact that it had produced Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Sen. Andy Uba who they contend never completed a full tenure of four years. Ezeife spent less than two years while Andy Uba spent 17 days in office.

Nnewi Political block is currently shopping for strong candidates across Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo council areas and as at the time of this report it has over five aspirants and the more proactive camp is the Nnewi North Local Government Area with heavy power brokers in the race.

Former governor Chris Ngige had earlier during the issue of zoning described the concept as the poisoned chalice, insisting that the idea is one that nobody knows who would drink from it.

Ngige has been seemingly vindicated in view of the extraneous influence the church now has over the politics of Anambra State and currently both the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church are determined to enthrone one of their own as governor of the state.

A section of Anambra political watchers have described the meddlesomeness of the church in politics as “Satanic Christianity,” contending that had it been that was the case before now Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife of the Salvation Army wouldn’t have emerged as governor of the state in view of the numerical strength of his Christian denomination.

They alleged that the governorship seat has been reduced to a mere church representative position where a denomination in power plays the winner takes it all, reserving choice political appointments to knights and parochial church committee leaders and leaders of the Deanery.

Even priest and pastors are appointed into special positions to the detriment of merit and proficiency, hence propagating mediocrity.

Apparently, all gubernatorial aspirants have converted all the church Dioceses to pilgrimage centres where Bishops and Vicars are consulted with the assistance of Grand Knights of the churches to obtain the Episcopal blessings of their denominations.

Hence it is almost certainly that the church would make substantial inputs into who becomes the next governor of the state, as old boys of Christ the King College (CKC) are pitched against the Old Boys of Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Anglican Mission School and Catholic Mission School. The duo of Peter Obi and incumbent Willie Obiano are old boys of (CKC) and the DMGS old boys are angling for a shot at the top.

APC /PDP silence

These two political parties have chosen to remain silent about the zoning arrangement and none of the parties may likely throw the ticket open for grabs. They see zoning as an APGA arrangement, insisting that they would go for the best irrespective of zones.

According to the Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Ndubisi Nwobu, every aspirant is credible and the party shall conduct the freest primary election to produce the most credible candidate.

“All that we need is a good and populist governor for Anambra State and not because it is the turn of his zone. But if the party leadership chooses to do the zoning arrangement we shall also go for the most credible from the zone in question because the party is supreme at all times”

Chief Basil Ejidike of the APC noted that much as his party believes in equity, it “is interested in good governance, but it is too early in the day to begin to talk about the election and the zoning project, but I can assure you that we shall produce the best. Zoning is an APGA arrangement and with time our party the APC would come up with our position on zoning.”

Apparently the gubernatorial aspirants are not unmindful of these scattered pictures of confusion, hence they have continued to trudge on. At the moment Anambra South has a total of 15 aspirants which include the contenders and the pretenders.

Johnbosco Onunkwo, APC

The young man contested the gubernatorial primaries of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the last election and his foundation has been making some statements. He has the financial strength to execute the project and has been able to cut across political parties and the political blocks across the three senatorial districts.

Onunkwo, however, has the challenge of overcoming the conspiracy of the elite who sees him as a younger person capable of retiring the old and never-say-die politicians from active service and that was the challenge that Comrade Tony Nwoye had in the last election.

He still has to battle with his kinsmen in Umuchu community in Aguata Council like Engr. Godwin Ezeemo the political structures of Sen Andy Uba and his younger brother Chris Uba of the APC and PDP. His Catholic background is an advantage.

Godwin Maduka, PDP

The Umuchukwu-born doctor and pharmacist had his first baptism of fire in politics when he surreptitiously backed the unsuccessful senatorial ambition of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu in APGA which crashed like a pack of cards.

His venture into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seen by political watchers as an experiment that would only give him relevance, because the murky waters of Anambra PDP is one that has the propensity of sinking strange vessels in a voyage meant for Vikings.

It would certainly be the eighth wonder of the world should Maduka emerge as the candidate of the PDP, though has the capacity and the muscle to take on any candidate from any political party.

Godwin Ezeemo, PDP

He is making his third attempt at the governorship position of Anambra State and what he has going for him is his consistency in the political tarmac. Also he is an Anglican which gives him an edge over and above other aspirants from the PDP.

This Orient Daily Newspaper publisher is at home with politics and has a way of starting with a bang, leaving his supporters with the belief that the heat would be sustained only to end up with an anti Climax when the tide is high. Should Ezeemo plays the church politics as it is played and stamp his feet on the ground mother luck may smile at him.

Chris Azubuogu, PDP

He is on his third term as the member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and age is on his side. His achievements as a federal lawmaker are his great assets and his projects have also forayed into Anambra Central and Anambra North Senatorial Districts respectively.

Though his traducers contend that he is not as popular as his fellow aspirants in the party, Azubuogu believes that he has the magic wand and has chosen to maintain a low profile while building strong political structures across the state.

He is also seen as a lamb without blemish since he has no baggage on his shoulders. Being a Roman Catholic, he remains a top contender from Nnewi political block.

Sen. Andy Uba, APC

He was there for 17 days as governor of Anambra State and a two term senator of Anambra South District. His failure to win the last National Assembly election is a minus for him unless he does something very magical. He is one of the top contenders in the APC and his structure in the party has remained intact ever since.

But observers believe that Nnamdi Uba would need to resolve his differences between him and his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba if he must pull through. This is, however, dependant on if his brother has no ambition to contest for the post on the platform of the PDP. This was one of the reasons why he lost the last election. Interestingly he is an Anglican.

Prof. Charles Soludo, APGA.

A number of propagators of a President of South-East extraction are of the belief that he is a presidential material and not for governorship. But he is the anointed candidate of APGA. Against this backdrop of the fact that no aspirant in the party has indicated interest in the position Soludo almost became governor in 2010 but for the death of late President Umaru Yaradua who was solidly behind him.

The former Central Bank governor is a strong Roman Catholic from Aguata Local Government area and APGA may have fundamental problem should he be denied ticket of the party.

Sen. Uche Ekwunife , PDP

This Amazon of Anambra politics is no stranger to the political terrain and she is determined to break the jinx of a woman winning the governorship election of the state. She has been a two- term member of the Federal House of Representatives and Senator for the second term. Though Sen. Victor Umeh scuttled her first term through the courts but the proprietor of Ogene FM Radio has refused to be cowed.

In recognition of her guts, politicians in the state describe her more as a man and than a woman in view of her exploits in Anambra politics with the major stakeholders of PDP behind him especially former Governor Peter Obi.

Ekwunife bestrides the two political templates of Anambra politics. She is from Igbo Ukwu town in Aguata Council Area of Anambra South and married to Agu Ukwu Nri town in Anambra Central District which she represents at the moment.

She was an Anglican before getting married to a Roman Catholic and she is one of the patrons of the Christian Women Organization (CWO) of the Catholic Church and also one of the major sponsors of the Christian Pentecostal Mission.

She is indeed an aspirant to watch in the PDP and party members are aware of this glaring fact. But for last minute moves of the then Governor Obi during the APGA gubernatorial primaries of 2013, Ekwunife was coasting to victory against Gov Willie Obiano.

Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah ,YPP
The CEO of Capital Oil and Gas, publisher of Authority Newspaper and Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club has to his credit the defeat of the Ubas and termination of their political dynasty in the last general election to become senator.

For a man who midwife the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria (TAN), the official campaign platform of former President Goodluck Jonathan the gubernatorial contest is more of a mere dress rehearsal.

Uba’s victory in the last election made a strong statement about what is expected in the next gubernatorial election because with the seven local government areas in his kitty, he only needs to win at least four council areas each from Anambra Central and Anambra North to obtain the constitutional spread to win the governorship election.

Similarly, Ubah enjoys so much sympathy from APGA due to the political crisis of candidacy between him and Obiano, while borating of very cordial romance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) as observation from his relationship with Senate President and the APC government at the centre.

However, Ubah has not declared his ambition to contest but his body language speaks volume of his interest in the race. Going for him is the fact that he remains in the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and he has no plans to join another party.

In the light of the above, his party primary election would certainly be a work over and while other aspirants are deep in intra party crisis of who becomes the candidate, he has all the time in world to start early campaigning without the attendant bruises that trail party primaries. Currently he is building the Nnewi Catholic Cathedral for the Diocese.

From all indications, Anambra South Senatorial District is the hot bed of politics of attrition and the zone is the heart beat of all activities. Most aspirants would certainly search for running

mates from Anambra Central all things being equal. The outcome will unfold in no time.