BY Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and VINCENT UJUMADU
The Anambra gubernatorial election that is expected to be the first major political fixture in 2014 surprisingly does not seem to be generating enthusiasm. Or really?
Two years before the 2010 governorship election in Anambra State, the tension had practically overwhelmed all concerned political stakeholders.
Where the aspirants did not go, their foot soldiers ably represented them putting the state inevitably, in a state of political war.
But with just about a year to the 2014 gubernatorial election, the kind of tension that gripped the state is clearly absent putting political gladiators in the state on edge.
Indeed, the gates of many political party offices in the state remain under lock for most of the day indicative of the lack of political activity.
However, beneath the veneer of inactivity, a few men and women in the politically volatile state are preparing for the contest to find a successor to the incumbent, Peter Obi who is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.
Even if Obi has not openly endorsed a successor, he has, however, not left anyone guessing on where he wants his successor to come from.
Ahead of his own re-election in 2010 Obi had promised the people of Anambra North that he would ensure that his successor would come from that zone. Anambra North is the only zone in the state that is yet to produce a governor of the state.
The zone’s nearest opportunity was when the then very young and agile Mrs. Joy Emodi led a sensational campaign for governorship only being stopped by the truncation of the transition programme arising from the death of Gen. Sanni Abacha.
Emodi, now the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters and who before now served as a senator representing Anambra North zone has been mute on a gubernatorial run despite a large amount of goodwill from across the state.
Whatever the temptation or push, it would be difficult for her to leave her present duties where she has proved useful in facilitating cordiality between the presidency and the National Assembly as evidenced in the historic passage of the 2013 budget before the commencement of the financial year.
In her absence, a number of other eligible contenders from within the Anambra North Senatorial zone are positioning themselves or being penciled down for the contest.
Others being speculated to be interested in the contest include Senator Emma Anosike, the incumbent Secretary to the Anambra State Government, SSG, Mr. Oseloka Obaze from Ogbaru, Chief Paul Odenigbo from Ayamelum, who was the immediate past SSG, the member representing Anambra State at the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Ezennia Nnamdi Ekweogwu from Onitsha, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu also from Onitsha and former chairman of the local government service commission during the regime of former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, former chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Godwin Ibekwe, and an industrialist, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.
Others are Mr. Patrick Obianwu from Onitsha, Dr. Emmanuel Okafor, Mr. Chima Anene, Prince Chinedu Idigo and former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters, Mr. Dubem Obaze. The aspirants belong to various political parties.
From outside Anambra North some other notable political heavyweights are also being speculated to be readying themselves for what could turn out to be a memorable contest.
Senator Andy Uba who had the opportunity of governing the state for 14 days between May and June 2007 before he was sacked by the courts has continued to increase the frequency of his visits home apparently preparing for another run. In 2010 he ran on the platform of Labour Party, a party he had groomed in the state since his days as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Man Friday.
Others also being speculated to have an eye in the emerging contest include Senator Annie Okonkwo, Hon. Nicholas Ukachukwu, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, Prof. Charles Soludo among several others.
Senator Chris Ngige, who governed the state and made a positive impression for three years is also being speculated to be preparing for the race. Ngige’s aspiration could be boosted if the plans by the opposition parties in the country to merge succeeds as it would unite the major opposition political parties against the PDP which as ever, remains disunited with leading stakeholders perpetually at war with one another.
Remarkably, APGA which ordinarily should by now have had several aspirants angling to succeed Obi is in a lethargic position. The party is in dire straits as a result of the battle of intrigues between the governor and the party’s national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh.
Umeh is alleged by some to be supportive of business mogul, Ifeanyi Ubah to succeed Obi an issue the incumbent doesn’t seem to be interested in.
With the party now deeply factionalised, the APGA story is one of the first becoming the last in the consideration of political stakeholders on the issue of the succession.