By Vincent Ujumadu
WITH the judgment in the suit instituted by Dr. Andy Uba, now delivered, the coast is clear forÂ 25 governorship candidates of different political parties vying for the February 6, 2010 election to move into the field.
By the guidelines released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), proper campaigns started on November 8, 2009. But while Anambra people are keenly waiting for rallies in their various school fields and other public places, most of the candidates appear to be shying away from this type of campaign even with 74 days to the election.
Indeed, the only public gatherings so far witnessed were the ones organized by the candidates during their formal presentation by their political parties. In fact, what is happening presently in the state is what could best be described as mere scratching of the substance. For instance, the candidates have been visiting leaders of thought, church leaders and traditional rulers and soliciting their support.
They have also been putting party structures in place at the various wards where there were none. But most importantly, they now attend social functions more than they were doing and it goes to show that they want to be seen as often as possible. Groups have also been exploiting the situation as these candidates are usually made guests of honour at various social functions.
Take the former governor, Dr. Chris Ngige,Â for instance. His schedules include attending social gatherings such as weddings and burial ceremonies and the response of the people to his presence at such occasions was usually what his campaign managers require to measure the popularity of their principal. Apart from his formal presentation as the governorship candidate of AC and the partyâ€™s primaries that took place later, he has not organized any formal rally since the official take-off of the campaigns.
For the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi, his style of campaign appears to be totally different. For instance, when the issue of project tour by various groups started, many people thought it would just end with few groups such as journalists, newspaper columnists, features writers, Anambra journalists in Lagos and others.
But as days went by, more and more groups began to traverse the nooks and crannies of the State inspecting the infrastructure he has put in place since mounting the saddle. To date, more that 50 groups have toured the state, including presidents-general of town unions, leaders of thought, the clergy, the political party officials and even Anambrarians in the Diaspora.
His aides say they were proud to take people round the state because there is so much to show the people, adding that it is not a matter of one saying the government has done something, but that the things claimed are there to be seen. As one government official put it, there is no rally that would be more than what the people have seen which would enable them take appropriate decision on who to vote for during the election.
However, Vanguard gathered that Obiâ€™s campaign team may soon begin to go round the completed projects for the purpose of commissioning them which would actually form part of the governorâ€™s finalÂ campaign before the election. And with the large number of projects already completed, the commissioning would just be ending at the time the election would be very close.
In the case of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof Chukwuma Soludo, the battle he went through in the hands of his fellow party men over the partyâ€™s ticket was enough reason for him to keep off the political limelight for some time. But knowing that time is of essence, he cannot afford to delay any further. Since introducing members of the Dr. Osita Ogbu- led caretaker committee of the party in the state recently, he has only been seen in the state once.
His campaign team, which is being expanded, has been meeting the aggrieved members of the party, some of who even went to court following his emergence as the PDP flag bearer. During his last outing in the state, he promised to embark on a kind of campaign never witnessed in the state before. And the people are waiting to see this materialize.
The governorship flag bearer of the Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA), Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, recently took her message of hope for Anambra people to her birth place, Igboukwu in Aguata local government area with her campaign team and was received by the traditional ruler, Igwe Martin Eze.
According to her the much desired break from the past for the state would start once the PPA takes over the reins of power, adding that her heart bleeds whenever she sees what she called the disdain and disrespect that monarchs, elders and other leaders suffer in their bid to preserve and protect the peopleâ€™s heritage, culture, tradition and values in Igboland .
The reason for the promises at the palace of the traditional ruler perhaps was that since the traditional rulers are well respected in their domains, any candidate they have sympathy for would definitely make a great impact during the election. Expectedly, she made promises which included her intention to elevate and accord the traditional rulers in the state enviable and distinguished positions like their contemporaries in other parts of the country.
There are also other candidates that have shown that they actually want to contest the election by distributing their manifestoes and hand bills at every given opportunity.
One example is the candidate of the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN), Arc Mike Nwafor. Recently he organized a meet the people forum in which he gave details of what he intends to do if elected governor next year. His bill boards have also been mounted at strategic positions in the state. He has a well articulated programme for the state and what remains is for him to sell the programme to the people publicly.
Some of the candidates, including Chief George Okoye of NMPP, have been making use of the electronic media to tell the people his plans for the state. But apart from candidates of PDP, APGA, AC, PPA, ANPP and ADC, most of the other candidates seem not to be doing anything towards winning the election. Whether they would align with the more popular candidates in the near future will be known as the election drawsÂ near.