Friday, 24 March 2017

Anambra 2017: one seat, hundreds of gladiators and pretenders

By Okechukwu Onuegbu



As the race to occupy Anambra State government house thickens, not fewer than twenty gubernatorial aspirants have indicated interest to vie for the poll slated to hold on November 18th, 2017.The contestants cut across over twenty-three INEC registered political parties operating in the state such as Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), among others. 
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While some seemed to be seriously marching to snatch the mantle of leadership from the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA whose tenure would expectedly end on March 17, 2018, majority behaves like impostors or pretenders sponsored to hit-up the polity and back out before their political party’s gubernatorial primary. 
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The political posters of these gladiators and pretenders have flooded the streets of Awka, Onitsha, Ekwulobia, and other strategic locations of the state despite that the state executive hurriedly sponsored a bill for an act to prohibit pasting of political posters anywhere around the state without making payment of N9 million. The bill had been approved and passed into law by the state legislators.
Image result for pictures of Ezeemo, Obiano and other guber candidates

Also adding flavour to the state already charged political terrain are emergency of several political and other interested pressure groups, associations and organisations pitching interest with various aspirants and political parties of their choice.

Furthermore, some individuals and groups are agitating for the governorship seat to be left for those from Anambra North Senatorial Zone whose son, Obiano is struggling to retain his position for four year tenure. Their argument was that Anambra Central Zone/District has produced the likes of former Governor Peter Obi and Chris Nwabueze Ngige, who respectively served 8 and 3 years, while the people of Anambra South, whose sons, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Chinwoke Mbadinuju managed to lead the state for about 7 years are clamouring to taste the seat again.

As electorates patiently wait for these political parties to present their flag-bearers, and INEC to conduct the election in less than eight months time as they promised, News48hour.com is studying the aspirants and their chances of winning their party’s primary election.

Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano
Among the posters making wave in the state are those of the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA, and it is going under the title “No vacancy in government house.” Also, Obiano, his wife, Ebelechukwu, and their aides have almost gone through the 181 communities in Anambra canvassing for votes with mouthwatering promises and lopsided empowerments. Although available evidence shows that the incumbent administration was yet to complete 1% of the projects it inherited from its predecessor, Mr Peter Obi, the governor and his teams are even claiming to have achieved great feats on security, agriculture, oil and gas, and other economy more than the past governments. 
In what could be described as desperation to retain the hot seat, Obiano reportedly directed his aides, commissioners, and security men to restrain journalists from gathering information about their offices, functions, including government houses and lodges without getting permission letters from himself or his brother, Ogbehi Tony Ncheta, who is the state Commissioner of Information and Communication Strategy. The action according to some banned Commissioners who spoke under the condition of anonymity was to cover any loopholes Obiano’s opponents could use against him during electioneering campaign.

Dr. Elochukwu Aforka
However, while some of the governor’s loyalists are tipping him as sole candidate of APGA, another figure which appears to be a political Judas among his kitchen cabinet, Dr Elochukwu Aforka, a PhD holder of Philosophy, and SSA Political to the state Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke, resigned from office and flooded the state with his gubernatorial campaign posters.
Aforka, an alumnus of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) like ex-governor Obi and Obiano, who doubles as cousin and beneficiary of the immediate past National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, while making his intention known to the press and electorates, accused governor Obiano of wastefulness, drunk, and incompetency, boasting that he would defeat him in a free and fair APGA gubernatorial primary. Till date, the State Deputy Governor, Umeh, Obiano and APGA National and State executives are yet to comment on the matter.

Mr Godwin Chukwunenye Ezeemo of PPA
As APGA continues with his political hullabaloo, opposition political parties in the state like Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) is gradually winning the hearts of Anambrarians and those residents in the state. The major financier and sole candidate of the party is Mr Godwin C. Ezeemo, a philanthropy, industrialist and farmer. Ezeemo is the Chiarman, Orient Group of Companies comprising Orient Farms, Multipurpose computer training institute, Orient newspapers, Orient magazine, Orient Sports, Orient Energy review, Orient Mega FM, Freshlife table water, etc. The Achinagbaraoha as he is fondly called, hail from Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area, Anambra South and Old Aguata political block (which comprises of Orumba north, Orumba South and Aguata). This zone is also lamenting marginalization in the state polity and recently endorsed Ezeemo. Ezeemo and his party came fifth during the state 2013 gubernatorial election. He joined the party after losing out of APC Anambra State primary’s election to Ngige in 2013. His campaign posters were first to hit the streets of Anambra although he had been campaigning for the position ever since 2013 through his charity works and think-home investments.  

APC Aspirants
Like PPA, the All Progressives Alliance (APC) is fast fine-tuning its plans to terminate APGA/Obiano political career as it did to PDP at the centre during the 2015 Presidential and National Assembly Elections. “The APC has become the number one party that will take over the seat of power in Anam­bra State in 2017,” said the par­ty’s State Chairman, Barr. Emeka Ibe, while addressing journalists recently. According to Ibe, some of the party’s governorship contenders are Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah; Chief Obinna Uzor; Chief John­bosco Onunkwo, a philanthropy; and Hon. Dr. Tony Nwoye.
Others are Mr Donatus Okonkwo; Chief George Mu­oghalu; Senator Uche Ekwun­ife; Dr Chike Obidigbo; Prof Chukwuma Soludo; Engr Barth Nwibe; Chief Ralph Okeke; Sen Andy Uba; and Mr Obinna Okonkwo.
However, through separate press releases, Prof Chukwuma Soludo and Sen. Uche Ekwunife distanced themselves from the purported APC list of governorship aspirants. But while Soludo matched his words to action by endorsing Governor Obiano when the latter was celebrating his third year in office at Awka Governor’s ldge, Ekwunife maintained that she remains an APC stalwart. 

Hon Tony Okechukwu Nwoye
Confirming his intention to vie for the state number one position, Hon. Dr. Tony Nwoye, who hails from Nsugbe in Anambra East Local Government Area of the State said he was convinced that he would win the election if presented with APC’s ticket owing to his experiences as the former National President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); PDP’s state Assistant Secretary, and Chairman at different point in time.
Nwoye is currently representing Obiano’s constituency (Anambra East and Anambra West Federal Constituency) at National Assembly. He won the election under the platform of PDP but later dumped the party to APC. His reasons may not be unconnected to the fact that he won the lower chamber’s election in 2011 but powers that be in his party later substituted him with another person who never featured on PDP’s primary election. He equally took the party’s flag to Anambra 2013 gubernatorial poll and clinched second position although several court actions prevented him from campaigning for the election till last hour.

Dr Chike Obidigbo
Like Nwoye, Dr Chike Obidigbo, the Chairman, Hardis & Dromedas manufacturing company is from Anambra North, the zone that is insisting that it must complete second tenure either through Obiano of APGA or through APC. Anambra North comprises of Anambra East, Anambra West, Oyi, Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Onitsha North and Onitsha South. 
The Umunya Anambra East born Obidigbo was the factional candidate of APGA during the 2013 gubernatorial poll. The former university don was endorsed on that election by the stakeholders of Anam­bra North led by the Obi of Onitsha Igwe Alfred Achebe when it was clear that APGA has zoned the governorship seat to North in 2013 but he lost to last minutes political pow­er play that rocked APGA giving way for Willie Obiano to emerge as the governor of the state. Since then till date, his campaign promises had been to restructure Anambra State dead industries, massive job creation, and others which he believed that the current administration lacks capacity to address.

Sir Paul Chukwuma Chukwuka
Another APC candidate from the zone is Sir Paul Chukwuma Chukwuka, an indigene of Umueri, which shares boundary and even fought with Obiano’s country-home, Aguleri in the late 1990s. Chukwuma is also an industrialist, Southeast youth leader of APC, and a BOT member of the party. He holds Bachelor of Philosophy (first class upper division), Masters degree and about to complete his Doctorate degree from UNN. Chukwuma is also an alumni of Lagos Business School, Chairman and founder of several companies, hotels, Table water and others.
  
Barth Nwibe
On other hand, Engr Barth Nwibe is from Igboukwu, Aguata Local Government Area in Anambra South. The engineering scientist of reputable feats has sat atop ranking international engineering com­panies as chairman/chief ex­ecutive officer. He holds a bachelor’s de­gree in Civil/Structural En­gineering from University of Nigeria Nsukka, as well as underwent series of intensive training in HSE, Directional Drilling, Bit Design and Ap­plication and Well Control, Leadership, Busi­ness and Personnel Manage­ment. He has been a member and one of the financier of APC in the state. He event contested for Anambra South Senatorial poll in 2015 but lost out to PDP flag-bearer, Andy Uba, who is now a member of the party.

Senator Andy Uba
Sen. Andy Uba is currently representing Anambra South at the red chamber. Although he was elected under PDP, a party he remains loyal to before political power play from his brother, Chris Uba, self-acclaimed landlord of Anambra politics, and other political crises forced him to cross carpet to APC. He made history as the shortest serving governor of the state when he won the 2010 gubernatorial poll and was sworn-in but was later quashed from office by Supreme Court after spending 11 days. Like all the governorship aspirants, Uba has foundations and other structures through which he is penetrating the hearts of voters in the name of charity works.

Obinna Uzor
Obinna Uzor is from Ihiala, Ihiala local government area of Anambra South, Anambra State. The Chairman, Gocuz Group of companies was the candidate of National Democratic Party (NDP) in 2003, and also contested for the seat in 2013 under PDP but lost out in the primaries to Tony Nwoye. He is a businessman, lawyer by training, and sometimes viewed as a moneybag due to his philanthropic works and ways of ravishing money at election time. He decamped to APC less than three months ago.

Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah
The Nnewi born Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, is a philanthropist and Chairman of so many companies and associations including the famous Ifeanyi Ubah (Anambra Warriors) FC, State Chairman of Anambra FA, founder and Chairman of Authority newspapers, Authority radio station, Capital Oil and Gas LTD, etc. He was a founding member and major financier of the APGA from where he decamped to Labour Party (LP) during the 2013 governorship election. Ubah did not only make the party popular but also used the flag to clinch fourth position on the poll although his fans believed that he actually won the election if not due to what termed political manipulation. 
In fact, due to his presence in LP, APGA lost out at Nnewi North Local Government Election thrice even though it is the country-home of his founder, late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. APGA also lost the National and State House of Assembly election in the council area to Ubah’s LP and PDP. That was before he started building the magnificent Ifeanyi Games village which has turned the industrial hub of Africa into international tourist attraction centre.

PDP Aspirants
Relatively, PDP governorship contenders are not relenting. Their presence are still felt in the state despite that it has two factions at the national level, and three at the Anambra state level. Ejike Oguebego is leading a faction created by Chris Uba; Ken Emeakayi is in charge of those under Peter Obi and Chief Osita Chidoka, an erstwhile Minister of Aviation; even as Hon. Emeka Small Nzekwe takes care of PDP faction loyal to Tony Nwoye before he decamped to APC.
Although court recently ruled that Oguebego’s faction is the authentic PDP Anambra State led executive, the governorship aspirants of the party such as Osita Chidoka, Zeribe Ezeanuna, Oseloka Obaze, and others are yet to state where they belong in the leadership tussle.

Chief Osita Chidoka
Osita Chidoka is the elder brother of Hon. Obinna Chidoka, a member of Federal House of Representative for Idemili north and Idemili South federal constituency, and Chairman, National Assembly Committee on Environment. He was also the erstwhile Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). The Obosi indigene and UNN graduate of Management, was a former Personal Assistant to the Minister of State, Ministry of Works and Housing; Personal Assistant to the Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe; Senior Advisor, Government and Business Relations in Mobil Producing Nigeria, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation, National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Award winner – Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 1996, Secretary, National Committee for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Nigeria in 1998, etc.
He holds Graduate Diploma in Maritime & Ports Management, National University of Singapore – 2002, Certificate in Global Strategy and Political Economy, Mansfield College, Oxford University – 2004, and Masters Degree in Transport Policy & Logistics, School of Public Policy, George Masons University, USA – 2006.

PRP Aspirant
On the platform of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) is an Awka born industrialist, Chief Dr Stephen Obiorah Mbah. He holds Doctorate Degree on Pharmacy and Masters on Business Administration from University of Texas in Houston, and National Certificate on Education (NCE) from Anambra State College of Education (now Nwafor Orizu College of Education). Likewise, the contestant is member, PRP Board of Trustees (BoT), an estate manager, Chairman/founder, Simpo-tec Pharmaceutical, Awka; Spring-tec Table Water, Awka; Nodu Pharmacy and Supermarket; Chukwuka Concrete Industries and Developers (an estate firm); Eatwell Agro Industeries Ltd; and others. This is his first time of taking a short on the Anambra State government politics.  He is insisting that his party has nothing to do with zoning of governorship poll, even as he maintains that Awka are the right people to be so considered if zoning is to be adhered to because the capital city of Anambra State was yet to produce governor of the state.

Apart from these notable figures, there are countless other politicians contending for the Anambra 2017 gubernatorial poll who we cannot be able to state here.


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