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ANAMBRA GUBER ELECTION: The major contenders

The major contenders in Anambara's Election

Stories by Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Although there are several candidates in today’s election, numbering twenty five, five are more formidable than the others and the race is perceived to be between them. These include Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA;  Chris Ngige of Action Congress; Andy Uba of Labour Party; Chukwuma Soludo of  Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Uche Ekwunife of  Peoples Progressive Party, PPA. Indeed, the election is going to be a clash of the titans as most of  these formidable giants are from  the same political lineage and has the same political gene flowing in their system. Apart from Peter Obi who is the incumbent governor, the rest of these giants  are political blood brothers .

Peter Obi, APGA Candidate: Will he break the jinx?

Leading the pack of these contenders is  the incumbent governor, Peter Obi who would be seeking a second term in office. It would be historical should Governor Peter Obi make a second term in office because in the history of the state, no governor who ruled in the past got a second term in office even way back to the old Anambra State or even Eastern Region which started with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and later, Dr Michael Okpara.
In the old Anambra state, Chief Jim Nwobodo who was known to be very charismatic did not get a second term even though he desperately tried. Chief C.C. Onoh who took over from Jim Nwobodo did not either .In fact, his term was terminated by a military coup which ushered in another military intervention in politics.

After Enugu state was carved out  from the old Anambra, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife led the pack of the governors of  the new Anambra state in the third republic. He did not get a second term in office. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju who became the next civilian governor after Ezeife did not get a second term in office. Dr Chris Ngige was ushered out by the court before he completed his term.

So, would Peter Obi break this jinx?  Although his incumbency status is a plus which makes  him one of the top formidable candidates in the race , it is left to be seen whether the personality of  Biafran warlord , Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu who stood up to be counted in Obi’s campaign team will make a difference.

Born on 19 July 1961, Peter Obi attended Christ the King College, Onitsha where he completed his secondary school education. His gubernatorial ambition started in 2003 but his rival then Chris Ngige, was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Obi challenged that declaration and after nearly three years of litigation, Ngige’s victory was overturned by the Court of Appeal on 15 March 2006. Obi was sworn into  office on  17 March 2006. On 2 November 2006, he was impeached by the state House of Assembly after seven months in office and replaced the next day by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy, making her the first ever female Governor in Nigeria’s history.

Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was re-instated as the governor on 9 February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling. He once again left office on 29 May 2007 following general elections but that election was later declared illegal and declared never to have taken place. He returned to the government house after the court ruling and is today seeking a  re-election.

Dr Chris Ngige, AC Candidate: His legacy to the rescue

Chris Nwabueze Ngige  is known to be a man of the people because of the legacy he left behind during the period he governed the state.

His party, the Action Congress  is one of the formidable political  parties in the country and at  present is  controlling two governorship seats in the country, Lagos State, and Edo State. Ngige knows the terrain and its people because he was there from 2003 to 2006 and left his footprints in the sand of time  as “governor”  before the Supreme Court intervened. Today, the people will use those footprints for or against him at the polls.

Born  August 8, 1952 , Ngige is a  medical doctor by profession, having graduated from the University of  Nigeria-Nsukka in 1979. He immediately went into the civil service, serving at the National Assembly and State House clinics at different times. He retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health.

Thereafter, he ventured into politics, becoming a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). By 1999, he was Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of  PDP in the South East region of the country.

He was elected governor in 2003 under controversial circumstances and quickly broke ranks with his self-styled “political godfather” after an unsuccessful attempt on 10 July 2003 to illegally remove him from office.

A Nigerian Federal Court of Appeal affirmed the nullification of Ngige’s purported 2003 election victory on 15 March 2006 and declared  Peter Obi, candidate of  the All Progressives Grand Alliance  the bona fide winner of the election.. Ngige  accepted the court ruling because the court of appeal was the terminal court in governorship election petitions.

Now, he is back in the race hoping to return to the government house to complete what he has started.

My past achievements are still on ground — Ngige

What will you tell Anambra people just before they vote today?

We have been campaigning vigorously and from what we have on ground and the response we got from the constituencies, and the wards we visited, we are well accepted. We know that Anambra people love us and we are confident that we will win and Anambra will be better for it. We thank everybody that has supported us all these while and we ask them once again to vote for AC, as signified by the broom.

Are you are confident INEC will conduct a free and transparent election?

Well, with that they have said to us and what we have been seeing , we have no reason to quarrel with them. The anomalies we noticed with the voters register were corrected and  shown to us .

There was a news report that residents were leaving the state and university students were asked to go . What does that portend?

Well, they know why they closed down the universities. But you must know that some of these students registered to vote in their university campuses. But we don’t know what will happen today when there will be restricted movements.

We don’t know how they will come around to vote in their university. That is a problem. But be as it may, I don’t see why people should be leaving the state.

The IGP has assured everybody that he has taken care of the situation and he has followed up on his assurance and there have been movements to show that mobile policemen are coming into town to ensure security. That is what is on ground and I don’t see any cause for alarm or any reason to fear as to leave the state.

There is this insinuation that you are a good candidate who belongs to the wrong party. Do you accept that?

I don’t know what they mean by a wrong party. Those people preaching that are preaching tribalism. Action Congress is a national party just like PDP is a national party. They based their argument on the fact that APGA is predominantly Igbos but its a cocooned party. PPA is also a cocooned party but I’m in a national party and that is it.

The party is well-structured in every ward, in every booth, in every local government and in the state as a whole. So, what is wrong about that? The structures are the people and the people have embraced the party with open hands. If you go to the wards and ask for AC, they will bring out their  brooms and show you. So, what is the wrong party in that?

The people are the structures, the people make up the party. So, nobody can call Action Congress a wrong party. People are just mouthing that to give a dog a bad name but we have overcome that. Anambra people know where their heart is. So, I fear nothing.

You have been there before, so, will what you did in the past speak for you?

The legacies I left behind are still there. They also campaign for me. The roads that we did, the classroom blocks that we rehabilitated and above all, the pensioners we brought back from death to life are there. These things are forever in the minds of the people and they can attest to the fact that Anambra State is still where I left it years ago. Nothing else has happened and the people know this. It is in their minds. The roads that I built don’t have potholes.

They are all  up to five, six years old but the few that are built recently are already collapsed, being washed away by the rain.

So, it’s a question of the people using their eyes to see, using their ears to hear and their nose to perceive, even their mouths. I’m not afraid.. I’m very happy with the response that I’m getting and what I’m seeing..

The environmental problem in the state is terrible. Onitsha is sinking, erosions are everywhere, even in villages like Adazi-Nnukwu that had no such experiences in the past. What’s going on? What will you do about that?
The total failure in environmental management by the administration in place is bad.. Onitsha is not the only place.

Even Awka is sinking to erosion menace. Onitsha is now turning back to becoming the dirtiest city in West Africa. It is the duty of every government to protect the state and its citizens from harm, especially when it comes to environmental degradation or poor weather conditions.

APGA will win again — Obi

Those who want to wrest power from us will not succeed because  the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, remains the only formidable party in the South- East.
APGA represents  the true voice of  Igbo in the South East in today’s  politics of Nigeria, just as the Action Congress and All Nigeria Peoples Party in the two states of Lagos and Kano are representing the South West and the core North respectively.

APGA will win this  February 6 election, just as it won the 2003 general election in Anambra.
The main reason why some candidates were in the governorship race was to make the Igbo in general the laughing stock of the country by planting enmity and confusion in their midst, including to siphon the resources of Anambra State.

Anambra people should come out and vote to enable APGA continue with the good work it is doing in the state which is conspicuous for everybody to see.

Chukwuma Soludo, PDP Candidate: Will his Consoludotion work?

Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo entered the Anambra guber race late last year hoping to re-enact the magic he performed with the banks consolidation but will  his consoludotion work?

Professor  Soludo has been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution, the University of Warwick and the University of Oxford and a visiting professor at Swarthmore College .

He has also worked as a consultant for a number of international organizations, including the World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme. He obtained  his three degrees and  professorship at the University of Nigeria Nsukka . He graduated with a First Class Honours  in 1984, an M.Sc. Economics in 1987, and a Ph.D. in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels.

He joined the federal government in 2003 and in  May 2004, was  appointed  CBN governor. He held the positions of Chief Economic Adviser to former President Obasanjo and Chief Executive of  the National Planning Commission.

In September 2009, Soludo announced his aspiration for the seat of the Governor of Anambra State. It was not an easy road to victory for the candidate of the ruling  People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which chose him as their consensus candidate for the Anambra State Governorship election of 2010.

Uche Ekwunife, PPA Candidate: Gender or capability?

Uche Ekwunife of the Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA,  is the only female candidate amongst the male dominated  contenders.

Her greatest strength in today’s election lies with the  women who  account for at least 50% of the electorate in Anambra and she is perceived to have been formidable in organizing the women for today’s  election.

Her party , the PPA is  controlling  one governorship seat , Abia State, and  its national leader, Orji Uzor Kalu, wants the party to control more seats in  the East as a bargaining hand for President or Vice President at some point in the future.

Uche Ekwunife  promises to make a difference after decades of going it with the male . She is seen to be competent and capable.

How I will transform Anambra — Soludo

Why would Anambra people vote for you today?

I will do for Anambra State, what I did in the Obasanjo regime, starting with economic empowerment and development strategy. We did  what people said were impossible during the Obasanjo administration. When I came up with consolidation plan for the banks, people said it was not going to be possible.

I said we are going to put Nigeria’s bank on the world map, people said it was not going to be possible. When I said I was going to transform Nigeria’s Security and Minting Company, people said impossible. But we did all that and more. We transformed Security and Mints from a bankrupt company. We are taking all that back now to Anambra state.

Anambra  has all that it takes to be Africa’s Dubai/Taiwan.  Anambra today is decaying but we have mapped out strategies to change that. And that is why the issue of security of  lives and property is our number one priority. We have plans to  make kidnaping and insecurity history in Anambra.

Once you secure  lives and property, then the issue of urban renewal commences. We want to declare a state of emergency in four urban centres: Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia urban areas. It is a renewal programme that gets into massive urban road rehabilitation, building of  public parks and recreational grounds, building of  water sewage systems, urban mass transit and then getting the markets and sanitation programme right to rescue the urban centres.

Then, we have a new programme for the new urban city and getting into the issues of education and youth empowerment. In this regard, one key factor is creating jobs and that is one way to combat crime. We have a programme, a clear plan to create an estimate of 500,000 new jobs because no jobs have been created in the past few years. Actually, we have been losing jobs in Anambra because factories are closing down.

People are running away from the state but beyond that, we are going to create a brand new city that will be designed, probably the best planned city in Nigeria after Abuja. It will have an international airport, a worthwhile private sector that will take Anambra to the world and bring the world to Anambra and then, there is an industrial village of about 3,000  small and medium enterprises and so on.

But the key issue to set us apart from other candidates is not just having the big idea, the big vision, the big dream to put Anambra on the global map but the fact that we have the contact and the reach, nationally and internationally and we are working out ways of actualising these dreams.

We are going to use the private sector to actualise these because the Dubais of  this world, the Taiwans of this world came to be through the private sector and I don’t think there is any candidate that is close to where we are in  terms of motivating, organising and sensitizing.

I live in this state, and I will secure it, Uche Ekwunife

Finally, what are you telling Anambra people?

This is the time for Anambra people to make a choice . I’m a daughter of Anambra. I live here. I know the problems and I know I stand a better chance to find the solutions. So, I want the people to vote for me because I’ll work for them.

What would be your areas of concentration?

I will tackle the issues of security; employment, education, health and of course infra structural development.

One of the biggest problems according to Soludo is the bush factor. People are not investing. The biggest business is Okada business. The educated ones are not coming home. What are your plans regarding investment?

The atmosphere must be conducive for people to invest. We have to first of all, be able to ensure security of lives and property. There must be an enabling environment that can attract investment. The environment must be able to protect investors and their investment and once we are able to safeguard our environment, people would come on their own to invest.

So, I am appealing to Ndi Anambra to open their eyes and make the right choice. We should not accept a foreigner as our governor. They should vote for someone who knows the people and who understands  their circumstances, who understands  the system.

They should vote for some one who have a stake in the state, someone who lives here; not a visiting governor or foreigner. The people should vote for someone who can cure the diseases of  the people. That is the only way that person can govern well. You cannot cure a disease if you don’t know about it.

What will you do for the people which the present government is not doing?

Having gone round the communities in the state, I realised that there is a total decay in the system. There is decay in the school system, in the area of infrastructure, decay in the health system.  There is no sector in Anambra State that is doing well.

All they are doing is just talk, tutorials. The infrastructures you see are just make-shift. In the villages, nothing is working.

Are the people ready for a woman as their governor?

They are ready for a woman because, all these while, the men have been there and yet, nothing works. There is need for a change from a man to a woman to see that things will be better in the state. It’s been man, man, man. There is need for a complete change in the system from a man to a woman, we need a total departure from the past. And of course, the issue is not about being a woman. What we are talking about is governance, not gender. Gender has no  role to play anymore. We’re talking about competence and capacity.

Women tend to be emotional and the state is too hard and too rough, and the people, too difficult.

I won’t say the people are difficult. Anambra people are waiting for someone who would bring them an all-inclusive government, a government that will give them opportunity to contribute to the development of the state which they have never had in the past. You can see the magnitude of my campaign. My campaign is vast. It is rich and people are accessible to me.

So, it has nothing to do with being a woman. Being a woman even makes it easier because a woman will enthrone peace and show more empathy.

Andy Uba, LP Candidate: Seeking legality

Dr. Andy Uba of the Labour Party was unceremoniously edged out of the government house  16 days after he was sworn in as governor on the ground that no vacancy existed at the time he contested,  won and was sworn in .

There are indeed  some significant things  about  Andy Uba and his candidacy: His current party, the Labour Party is  already controlling  the governorship seat in Ondo state of western Nigeria. He and  his brother, Chris Uba, know the PDP and the electorate in Anambra better than the current flag bearer of the PDP , Professor Chukwuma Soludo and he is believed  to have the financial muscle to clinch the position  if it is something to be put up for sale.

That is besides  delivering  once as the “governor” in 2007 and that magic could be re-ignited again.

Andy Uba was born 14 December 1958 .Before the tragedy that befell his first election, he  was a special assistant on domestic matters to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2006. He is the elder brother to one of the PDP chieftains and moneybag, Chris Uba and also of  Ugochukwu Uba, a one-time  senator in the upper legislative house of Nigeria.

I will bring investors and develop infrastructure — Andy Uba, LP candidate

The gubernatorial candidate of  Labour Party, Andy Uba has expressed his commitment to a free and fair election today in Anambra State.

Speaking through the chairman of his campaign organisation, Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina, Uba expresses hope that he will win in a free and fair election.

“I have articulated ideas that will enhance infra structural development in the state and plans to make it possible for investors to come to Anambra State to invest in the enormous natural and human resources we have in Anambra State because federal revenue in the state is one of  the least and so, I will depend a lot on foreign investment which in turn will depend on security as well as infra structural plans already provided here to make investments in  industries as well as agriculture accessible.

“The northern part of Anambra State is the food basket of the state and it is expected that a lot of investments in different directions, in different aspects of our economy will come from there. The investment opportunities will create the jobs because we have a lot of youths who should be gainfully employed but they are not.

When these young people are involved in the development of the state, you will find that their youthful energy will be directed towards producing goods and services that will occupy their time and when the youths are kept busy, insecurity will  give way and security will become a guarantee.

“We hear of kidnaping and that has to do with youth unemployment. We have other avenues of stopping kidnaping but the basic problem is lack of employment for the youths and a chunk of  the population.

“If you are here, you will see for yourself and hear for yourself what the Labour Party is doing. Labour Party has made a right choice of  their candidate and this is the party to belong to. You will hear our jingle and you will hear the people speak. LP is the party in the state”.


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