Anambra Elections: The past, present and future
By Chioma Gabriel
As the clock ticks for the exit of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state from office, the issues in the politics of Anambra state of South-East Nigeria are becoming more intriguing by the day. Since the dawn of democracy in 1999 , the case of Anambra state has remained confounding.
For one thing, it is the only state that has paraded five governors under controversial circumstances in the dispensation of 1999-2007. The chronicle of its governors ranged from Chinweoke Mbadinuju who became governor from 1999-2003. He was of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Dr Chris Ngige became the governor of the state from 2003 to 2006 on the same platform of PDP but he was removed in March 2006 when the Court of Appeal in Enugu asserted that his election victory in 2003 was rigged.
He was succeeded by Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance,APGA, who in turn was ousted by a faction of the Anambra State House of Assembly on November 2, 2006 and was replaced by Virginia Etiaba his Deputy at that time. However, the circumstances became more confounding and on February 9, 2007 Mrs. Etiaba handed power back to Obi after the Court of Appeal had nullified Obi’s removal.
The governorship election of April 14 2007 where Andy Uba, the candidate of the ruling PDP was announced the governor was declared illegal on June 14, 2007 by the Supreme Court of Nigeria which replaced him with his predecessor Peter Obi, citing illegality in Andy Uba’s election on April 14, 2007
Indeed, the political history of the state has been checkered since 2003 when Dr Chris Ngige became governor. The issue he had with his political godfather, Chris Uba held the state hostage for months and brought about a lot of carnage and destruction.
In the Ngige era, the destiny of the entire State was reduced to a personal quarrel between two individuals until the two men at the centre of the crisis were persuaded to sheathe their swords
What made the Ngige and Uba problem more bizzare was that their struggle was over the actualisation of an agreement they both swore to before the Okija shrine. But as fate would have it, Dr Chris Ngige was removed from office on March 17, 2006, barely a year to the next election.
The situation was so bad that a presidential committee was set to resolve the issue after which Dr Chris Ngige and his estranged political sponsor, Mr. Chris Uba pledged to forget their differences in the interest of the State .Dr Ngige then pledged to make more sacrifices to engender peace while Uba said that Anambra would never be turned to a war theatre again.
Peter Obi made a triumphant entry into the scheme of things after the court ruling on the issues surrounding the election that produced Ngige as governor .
He held sway in the state as Governor from March 17 2006 till November 3 2006 but the bickering between him and the PDP- dominated House of Assembly eventually saw him removed from office.
A vacuum was created as to who would become the governor between Mike Balonwu of the House of Assembly and Dame Virgy Etiaba, the then Deputy Governor.
The line eventually fell for Dame Virgy Etiaba in pleasant places as the controversy was resolved following her official recognition by the Federal Government. Many thought Etiaba would reject the offer but she made a volte face and took an oath of office as the governor of the state on November3 2006.
However, her tenure as Governor was short lived. On February 9, 2007, she was ousted from that position after a court nullified Peter Obi’s removal. But before then, her party APGA had fielded her as governorship candidate for 2007 guber elections because Peter Obi’s case was still undecided.
But Obi was to get a supreme court ruling which extended his tenure till 2010.
He contested and won a second term in office which was again plagued by petitions and court actions. But like a cat with nine lives, he scaled through. Presently, it is only days for him to conclude his second term having made history as the only governor from the state to serve a second term in office.
As the date for the next guber election in Anambra progresses, there has been a litany of problems and political bickering involving almost all the major political parties in the state especially APGA and PDP.
At present, so many of the issues are still unresolved and as the 2014 gubernatorial election approaches, the problems seem to be gathering momentum.