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Anambra in November : Politicians warming up for Governorship race

The Anambra State governorship election is scheduled to take place in November. Owing to the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to fix a date for the contest, many politicians are still playing the waiting game. 

Less than 10 months from now, the people of Anambra State will go to the polls to elect their governor. Governor Willie Obiano’s first term will elapse early next year.

The governor has already indicated interest to seek for second term. Interestingly, one of his aides, Dr. Elo Aforka, has also indicated that he would vie for the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Thus, the governor and his aide will complete for the APGA ticket.

Aforka’s posters have adorned the streets of Awka, including the newly- constructed flyover at Aroma roundabout; a major transit corridor in the capital. It is not yet clear why he chose to challenge his boss, but some political observers believe that he is being used by some aggrieved APGA chieftains to extort money from Obiano through settlement.

Aforka is not the only one eying the governor’s seat, which will be vacant in March 17, 2018. Legions of aspirants from various political parties have equally indicated their interest to run. Former secretary to the government under Peter Obi’s administration, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, is one of such aspirants. Obaze is running on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Obaze is not alone in (PDP). Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, is also in the race. The former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has been talking tough.

Philanthropist and industrialist, Mr Godwin Ezeemo, has also indicate interest to run once again on the platform of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA). Ezeemo was the governorship candidate of the PPA in 2013.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has the largest number of aspirants. This makes the APC the beautiful bride in Anambra politics this time around. The APC was like a political orphan during the 2013 election, because it was called unprintable names. In spite of the popularity of its candidate in 2013, Dr. Chris Ngige, who is currently the Minister of Labour and Productivity, it was derided as a ‘foreign’ party.

Those aspiring to run on the APC platform include its National Auditor, Chief George Muoghalu; the lawmaker representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Tony Nwoye; as well as business mogul, Dr. Obinna Uzor. Others eying Obiano’s seat in the APC are: Barth Nwibe; and former governorship contestant on APGA’s ticket, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.

Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, is yet to make up his mind this time around. Other aspirants are: Obinna Onunkwo, Donatus Okonkwo and Ifeanyi Ubah.

From all indications, whoever that gets the APC is likely to give Obiano a run for his money; considering the number of heavyweights that have joined the party in recent times. Though some of them have not officially declared for the APC, but their body language suggests that they already have sympathy for the party.

Only the oil magnate, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, has officially declared. Others like Senator Andy Uba still have one leg in the party with the other leg still in the PDP. Another aspirant is Donatus Okonkwo, who happens to be Senator Annie Okonkwo’s brother. He is the brain behind Tetrazzini fast foods across the country.

A good number of the aspirants are however using the governorship race to position themselves for other juicy positions in the APC. Some of them are looking for the party’s ticket for the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Other political heavyweights like former Governor Peter Obi are still holding clandestine meetings for the proposed mega party with some eggheads in the country.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been keeping mum. As a result, most politicians are still playing the waiting game. Apart from Aforka, who is a political adviser to Obiano, and Ezeemo, no other aspirant has his posters on the streets.

Like the 2013 election, which was a two-horse race between the ruling party and the APC, this year’s contest is expected to be very fierce. Governor Obiano is believed to have sacrificed the goodwill he enjoyed initially, even though he is adjudged to have done well under the current difficult economic circumstances in the country.

Obiano’s difficulty may not be unconnected with the fact that he has stepped on toes of many party chieftains who helped him to win in 2013. Many of such chieftains have vowed to make things difficult for him this time around.

Despite the state’s dwindling resources, Obiano has recorded some reasonable achievements, including building three flyovers in a swoop, putting up street lights in major roads in the capital and elsewhere and making agriculture a top priority for his administration.

In spite of his good showing, members of his party are not happy; they accused his wife of unduly interfering in his government. The opposition parties have even refused to acknowledge that he has recorded any achievement.

His open disagreement with former Governor Obi, who almost singlehandedly made him governor, in the face of a stiff opposition from other party chieftains, appears to be a big obstacle in his second term bid. Many APGA members have continued to accuse Obi of being behind the governor’s travails.

The word making the rounds in the state is that Obiano is making frantic efforts to defect to the APC and fly the party’s ticket during the election. Though the allegation has been refuted by one of the governor’s aides, the rumour has refused to go away.

This development has not gone down well with many governorship aspirants on the APC platform, who see Obiano as an opportunist.

Observers believe that it is too early to direction the pendulum would swing. The only thing certain for now is that the Anambra governorship election will be held in November this year.

Though Ngige has declined to join the race, he appears to be the one man who is in a position to influence the outcome of the APC primary. As a result, whoever curries his favour stands the chance of grabbing the ticket.

Ngige is regarded as a political oracle in Anambra. The minister must be pleased with the growing popularity of the APC in the state. He is one man who laboured to build the party in Anambra.

Appreciation goes to Mr. NWANOSIKE ONU

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