By PETER OKUTU
THE battle to succeed Governor Martin Elechi come 2015 has started with likely contenders especially from the Ebonyi South senatorial district.
Possible contenders include a former deputy governor, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, the current deputy governor, Mr Dave Umahi, a former Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Paul Okorie, Rector, Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, Afikpo, Prof Francis Otunta, the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, a former Minister of Education, Chief Aja Nwachukwu, a former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Obinna Ogba, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and Director, Bank of Industry, Chief Dave Nwachukwu.
Elechi recently said he would hand over to someone from the southern part of the state, the only zone in Ebonyi that has not produced the governor since the state was created in 1986.
In terms of population, Ebonyi South senatorial district, with five local government areas, is bigger than Ebonyi North and Ebonyi Central zones. However, if the North and Central join forces in the forthcoming election, it is obvious they would defeat a south senatorial zone candidate.
Meanwhile, in view of the tradition in the state whereby stakeholders follow the direction of the incumbent governor, analysts believe Elechi would do everything possible to ensure that power shifts to Ebonyi South.
Going by the calibre of politicians from the south senatorial district, observers say the race to the Government House would be keenly contested.
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim
The profile of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim, is solid considering the positions he has occupied in the country over the years.
Many political observers believe that if the SGF decides to run for governorship election in the state, no contender would be able to match his credentials. But, so far, no feeler has revealed his interest to run for governorship come 2015.
However, there are calls from different quarters especially in him home Ebonyi South senatorial district urging the former Senate President to run in the governorship election come 2015. If he runs, it is believed he will do well considering his wealth of experience in administration, politics and humanitarians services.
Okorie is an engineer. He is said to be prepared to serve his people come 2015 in order to take Ebonyi to the next level from the foundation laid by successive administrations. He, in fact, served under some of the administrations, namely, the government of the first military administrator of the state, Navy Captain Walter Feghabo, and that of the late Commissioner of Police Simeon Oduoye as General, Ebonyi State Environmental Protection Agency, EBSEPA.
He also served under Governor Sam Egwu as General Manager of Ebonyi State Water Corporation as well as Commissioner for Works and Transport. He was a Commissioner for Environment under the Elechi regime even as he retired voluntarily as Director of Engineering in Ebonyi State Civil Service.
During his short stay as Commissioner for Environment, the state capital, Abakaliki, was adjudged the cleanest state capital in the South-east with sustained cleaning programme and prompt solid waste evacuation.
Deputy Nweze Dave Umahi
Umahi is the current deputy governor of Ebonyi. Since he took over as deputy governor after the 2011 general elections in the state, there hasn’t been any report of insubordination or disloyalty to his boss.
Going by this precedent, many have tipped him as suitable to succeed Elechi come 2015.
Umahi, appointed the acting State Chairman of the PDP from 2007 to 2009, became the substantive Chairman during the 2009 state congress of the party, a position he held till 2011. A philanthropist, he has given out scholarship to over 750 undergraduates from year one to final year since 2009.
Even though he is yet to make his gubernatorial ambition public, it is believed that if the deputy governor is elected governor, he would revamp the state’s economy considering his appeal for distinction, quality, and resoluteness to cause positive change especially in infrastructural development.
Nwachukwu has had over 30 years experience in financial services industry before venturing into the consulting industry. He is an expert in banking and finance, as well as multi-disciplinary
Having a strong background and experiences in financial matters, many people are of the view that Nwachukwu has the requisite qualifications on his side to handle the economy of the state if elected governor of Ebonyi come 2015. The clamour for him to run is on as many have tipped him for the position of governor.
He was deputy governor of Ebonyi under Governor Sam Egwu between 2003 and 2007 and the first tenure of the present administration of Elechi between 2007 and 2011.
Ogbu is known for his loyalty, commitment to social justice and profound knowledge of the state. He is said to have begun consultations with stakeholders in the state to ensure a successful campaign for his governorship ambition. Ogbu, notable for his contributions to the health sector among other areas, is believed will perform well if he succeeds Elechi.