After months of hustling, the contest to replace the two term governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi enters its final lap tomorrow with the governorship primaries of the main opposition party, PDP, while that of the ruling APGA will be on Monday. However, being Anambra State, the home of many political intrigues, tomorrow’s contest is expected to open political oddities that are bound to be exploited by Anambra’s professional politicians.
By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR & VINCENT UJUMADU
THE Anambra political
chess game enters a decisive stage tomorrow with the governorship primaries in one of the three major parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The primaries of the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. will take place in August 26. The third major party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC it emerged may also have resolved to pick the former governor of the state, Dr. Chris Ngige, setting the stage for what promises to be the most keenly contested political contest in the state.
The road to the primaries in the PDP and APGA was undoubtedly laced with intrigues, the kinds that are resplendent in Anambra State, a state fabled for its different sorts of political oddities. As at press time, the PDP was still embroiled in crisis emerging from the conduct of the ward congresses.
The congresses conducted in some 91 wards penultimate Monday were annulled following legal and other political considerations brought to the national secretariat which ordered a rerun in the affected wards. The party is still faced with the spectre of a legal action from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which chose not to observe the congresses conducted by the Prince Ken Emeakayi faction of the party recognized by the national secretariat of the party.
INEC has rather chosen to recognize the Ejike Ogbuebego led faction of the party. INEC’s inclination nonetheless, Emeakayi asserts the loyalty of all 15 aspirants vying for the PDP governorship ticket. While the PDP leadership was conducting its congresses without the presence of INEC officials, the electoral umpire was supervising another primary conducted by Chief Oguebego and the supervision was done by INEC officials from its headquarters in Abuja.
Authentic state chairman
Political watchers are waiting to see what will happen tomorrow, especially as a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has ruled that Oguebego remains the authentic state chairman of PDP. APGA, which is the ruling party, has also had its own fair share of crisis. The party is entering Monday’s primary election with much controversy following last weekend’s disqualification of some of the party’s most credible aspirants.
Two of the most credible, Prof. Charles Soludo and the immediate past secretary to the state government, Osalaka Obaze were disqualified under still controversial circumstances. The disqualification of Soludo, some allege was upon pressure from top presidency officials who were disturbed that he could win and then go on to oppose the PDP in the 2015 presidential election.
Obaze’s disqualification was based on the lack of a voter’s card. His disqualification was even more shocking given the fact that he only returned from the United States less than two years ago and had been widely tipped to be the anointed successor of Governor Peter Obi. Obaze told Vanguard that he was sure to obtain the voter’s card last Monday following the commencement of the voter’s registration exercise in the state.
For the 15 aspirants in the PDP and the dozen or so in APGA, it is very unlikely that the primaries in the two parties would end their quest if they lose. According to custom, many of them are expected to jump to other parties to continue their aspiration.
Those that made it after the screening are Mr. John Nwosu from Anambra South, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife and Chief Chukwuemeka Nwogbo, both from Anambra Central, while from Anambra North are Chief Willy Obiano, Chief Patrick Obianwu and Chief Paul Odenigbo.
The Nnewi –born businessman could be said to be a new breed politician. He was one of those who indicated interest in the race very early and he has manifested himself through his foundation which focuses on the empowerment of the less privileged people in the society. The permutation in some quarters is that Nwosu might become a running mate if a candidate from Anambra North emerges as the flag bearer.
She is an experienced politician, having contested for the position of governor in 2010 on the platform of Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, and though she did not win, she had a good outing. She returned to the House of Representatives after the 2010 election and was reelected to the House in 2011 on the platform of APGA where she is currently campaigning to be come governor. She has the capacity to surprise those who underrate her.
He is a member of the House of Representatives from Awka North and South federal constituency. He was one of the last to enter the race and permutation is that he could be considered for deputy.
He was the last to enter the race, but has become the most discussed aspirant. He is now generally tagged Governor Obi’s candidate especially coming from Fidelity Bank where the governor’s family is known to have substantial interests. His chances are also boosted by the fact that he is from Anambra North, an area Governor Obi is actively supporting to produce his successor.
Chief Paul Odenigbo
He was a former SSG in the state and also from the Omambala part of the state. He has been a silent operator since he joined the race and indications are that he has established tentacles in all the 326 wards of the state. One clear fact is that all government delegates and party officials will vote for either Obiano or Odenigbo during the primaries, leaving the remaining elected delegates for grabs by the highest bidder.
He is from Onitsha, Anambra North. He is not known to be making so much noise, but there must be something in him that has kept him in the race. The disadvantage he has is that he is from Onitsha town, an area dreaded by politicians from other parts of the state because of the belief that the area already has a great advantage over other parts of Anambra State in terms of development. There is the fear that an Onitsha governor might take decisions that may adversely affect the fortunes of traders in the commercial town.
The cleared spirants in the PDP are Senator Andy Uba, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Dr. Obinna Uzor, Mr. Ugochukwu Okeke, Mr. Walter Okeke and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, who are all from Anambra South senatorial zone. From Anambra North are Senator Emma Anosike, Chief Tony Nwoye and Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, while from Anambra Central are Mrs. Josephine Anennih, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo and Chief Charles Odunukwe.
Senator Andy Uba
The former governor of Anambra State for 17 days is the Senate committee chairman of INEC and some allege that his position is influencing INEC’s handling of the present crisis in the party. With the situation of events, Uba may become the PDP candidate without much opposition.
However, if the other aspirants decide to conduct a parallel primary and produce another candidate, PDP may have two candidates as it did during the Anambra South senatorial election when Uba and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu claimed to be the party’s candidates and two of them were voted for, but one person was credited with their joint votes. If this repeats itself, PDP may win the governorship election with the connivance of INEC which will likely come out later to name one person as the candidate of the party.
Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo
The former special adviser to the president on technical matters was earlier touted to be the anointed Aso Rock candidate because of his closeness with President Goodluck Jonathan. He is from Okija in Ihiala local government area of Anambra South. It is not clear if he is still enjoying that toga of being the president’s anointed aspirant, but he is making spirited effort to win the ticket.
Dr. Obinna Uzor
The great philanthropist from Ihiala has been eyeing the governorship of the state since 2003. He is also connected in high places and there are indications that he may accept whatever will happen on Saturday, especially if Uba is declared the winner of the primary. During the senatorial contest that produced Andy Uba, he worked very hard to ensure that his area was delivered to Senator Uba.
Chief Ugochukwu Okeke
He is also from Ihiala. He is one aspirant that has remained neutral in the face of the on-going crisis because of his belief that as a youth, the future has a lot in store for him.
New face of Anambra
He has made so many inroads in all the wards in the state and other aspirants know that he is somebody to reckon with. In a recent interview, Okeke described himself as the new face of Anambra.
He is a trained accountant from Nanka in Orumba North local government area. He too has enticing programmes that could help move Anambra State forward. But the problem is that with Uba and Ukachukwu who are old warhorses in the race, he has to work very hard to upstage them in the primaries.
He is one of the most experienced in the race and one of the richest too. The Evangelist –turned politician has become synonymous with Anambra politics and that explains the large followership he has. It was gathered that he was the aspirant that was amassing the largest number of delegates in the local government congress, but whether that exercise would count on Saturday will be seen.
Senator Emma Anosike
The Umuleri –born politician from Omambala area of Anambra North was running mate to Professor Soludo in 2010. He is a quiet operator and he has often said that the race is not a do -or -die affair for him.
Leadership of the party
But one thing is clear and that is that the governorship of Anambra cannot be won without him being part of it.
Chief Tony Nwoye
The former state chairman of PDP is loved by the youths and those who have associated with him say he has a large heart. He is also one of those that made great impact in the local government congress that was conducted by the leadership of the party penultimate Tuesday.
His coming from Omambala area of the state is a plus for him but with another Omambala person in the race in the person of Anosike, chances are that their delegates might be split if one did not step down for the other.
Dr. Alex Obiogbolu
He is from Onitsha in Anambra North. He is also considered to be a bridge builder in the party as he is not involved in any of the controversies.
He has consistently been in touch with the grassroots and this may go for him during the primaries. If the delegates decide to stop the controversial aspirants, Obiogbolu may become the rallying point.
Iyom Josephine Anenih
The former minister for women affairs is from Anambra Central. The disadvantage she has is that she is married outside the state and knowing the way Anambra people view such issue, which is that a woman, once married, totally becomes the indigene of her husband’s place, Anenih may face tough challenges tomorrow.