The game rallies for Anambra. Politicians, of all types, are milling out and lining the streets in wait to secure the peoples mandate to take the baton from the incumbent, Willie Obiano, whose outing has left the people praying for a messiah. However, the question now is, from where will the messiah come?
As it is, the majority of Anambra people no longer feel attached to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as they were in the days of Peter Obi. They have also followed him to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which they see as a better platform to address the leadership vacuum created by the exit of Obi from APGA. As it is, PDP now houses majority of aspirants seeking to swing the political pendulum of the state. This is because of the understanding that APGA had long foreclosed its options in seeking to get a candidate that is widely acceptable to the generality of the people.
For this reason, PDP has such persons as Amb. Ike Oligbo, High Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, Godwin Maduka, Osita Chidoka, Valentine Ozigbo, Chris Azubogu and a few others who are yet to make public their interest, though they are expected to do so.
Amb. Ike Oligbo: Not popular among the people, Ike Oligbo is best known as a United Kingdom-based lawyer and businessman. His entering the fray is seen just as an attempt to announce and establish himself within Anambra political circles for future opportunities. He is not seen to be on the ground, though he has unveiled a campaign office in Awka. Declaring his intention to contest for the prime state office, Oligbo promised to do more to lift the state and return it to the path of growth. However, pundits in the state believe that he cannot move the rocks for PDP and as such is not deeply in the race.
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo: This Russia-trained political economist and doctor of philosophy has established himself as a formidable force in the race towards 2021. He is easily the biggest name in the mix and has his name on almost every tongue in the state. He is liked by the people and has large followership. His name, Dikeora, resonates around the state as an intellectual, philanthropist, humanist, culture enthusiast and deeply Catholic.
Political pundits in the state argue that the PDP ticket is easily his, given his wide acceptability in the state arising from widely celebrated recognition by traditional rulers from the three senatorial zones of the state for his continued promotion of culture and traditions of the people as well as his youth empowerment programmes.
Okonkwo, who has lived in Nigeria since he returned to the country from Russia where he studied for his first, second and doctoral degrees, and has very extensive development allies in Europe and America, is a lover of God and the people. His annual Iri Ji, celebrated at his country home in Ogidi, has become a signature festival for the celebration of the life and customs of the people and attracts the who is who in the state. His impact on youth development is not restricted to lectures, but extends to financial support for skills acquisition and start-ups, the reason he was voted Rotary International Youth Leadership Icon 2019. The youths prefer him.
His intellectual prowess is also not in doubt. He always leaves his audience begging for more each time he mounts the podium to dissect contemporary issues on diverse topics. He has delivered several of such lectures in universities, town halls and special occasions. For instance, last December 28, while others where revelling in the Christmas mood, Dr. Okonkwo was on the podium at the Umunri Colloquium at Enugu-Ukwu Civic Centre dissecting topical issues on “Ndigbo in Contemporary Nigeria: A Social, Cultural, Political and Economic Reflection.”
He also instituted a study on the main Market, Onitsha, which he said is a reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo. A deeply Igboman at heart, Okonkwo believes that the apprenticeship system in Igboland ought to be revitalised as it is the biggest venture capital system in the world.
He is an astute businessman who is looking to storm the aviation sector of the Nigerian economy with another of his signature projects, which will expand his employee base. At the moment, he has about 600 persons, Nigerians and expatriates, on his payroll.
Sen. Uche Ekwunife: There have been serious doubts about Sen. Ekwunife’s availability for the governorship race. She has shied away from publicly declaring her intentions and allowing her social media team to keep propping her name. Pundits believe that she is measuring her steps so as to avoid a mistake that may become fatal to her politics. Though she is seen as the darling of Anambra women, she is confused as to which section of the state she stands with. At present, she represents Anambra Central in the Senate but is being propped to contest for the governorship for Anambra South. This is attracting for her the ire of serious-minded people in both zones.
Ekwunife has no record of philanthropy, something that the Anambra elite count as giving back to society and lifting the poor. She has, however, attempted to make up for this by struggling to attract projects to her zone from the Senate. Though there are attempts by her followers to pass same off as her work of philanthropy, pundits argue that constituency projects cannot be passed off as works of philanthropy. Ekwunife’s support base in the Old Aguata Union has also been depleted by the entrance of Valentine Ozigbo in the race. There are also insinuations that her actual intention is to use the off-season 2021 election to bargain for a spot in the Senate of 2023. She, however, has Victor Umeh to contend with then.
Finally, Ekwunife represents the butterfly of Anambra politics. This is something people of the state do not like. They dislike fair-weather politicians. She has oscillated like a fan between parties. Like a butterfly, she has perched on almost every political party in Anambra in her desperation to remain relevant.
Valentine Ozigbo: Val, as he is popularly called, is not known to have any weight in Anambra politics. He is also not known to the grassroots. Pundits see his aspiration much in the same way the see that of Ike Oligbo, as an effort to begin a journey that would make them much more appreciable in the politics of the future. Certainly, not in 2021.
Ozigbo’s landmark post on his biodata was being president of Transnational Corporation, otherwise, Transcorp. As president, he is an employee of the corporation and does not even have controlling shares in the business, implying that he has made no significant impact, either in job creation or philanthropy, in the life of the people of the state.
Godwin Ezeemo: He has become one of the perennial aspirants to the governorship of Anambra State such that he now sounds like a broken record. Pundits don’t give him a chance to succeed in this quest. It is believed that he has overstayed his welcome on the scene, something that works contrary to the expectation of the people of the state. Many in Anambra believe that being perpetually in the governorship contest is a sign of idleness. Therefore, many argue that Ezeemo ought to have moved on to other things or, at best, look towards the Senate.
Chris Azubogu: For many, Azubogu, who is a member of the House of Representatives, comes across as serious-minded. However, he is seen as greedy and unbending. According to those who think this way, Azubogu, who represents Nnewi North/South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, is in his third tenure at the House and as such had usurped the chance of other sections of the constituency to also take a shot at the office. They argue that he ought to have given way, after his second tenure, for other sections of the constituency, in the spirit of equity. Many in his constituency are also disappointed that despite being a third-term member of the House, Azubogu was not considered fit to chair any of the over 80 committees of the House, a development that pundits argue is a statement on his capacity and competence.
Dr. Godwin Maduka: This United States of America-based medical doctor has been an influence in his village. He has built police station, court house and judges’ residence, the tallest building in his village and lots more. Beyond that, he has had very little or no impact on youth development and promotion of the culture of the people. He is deeply disconnected with Anambra, save for his occasional holiday in his village. He is also not known to have publicly disclosed his intention despite media push. Pundits believe that he is not interested in the governorship of Anambra as he is in his job in the US and in completing a hospital project he is said to have initial several years ago.