BY CHIOMA GABRIEL and VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
Come November 16, 2013, the governorship election will take place in Anambra State to elect the person that will succeed Governor Peter Obi whose tenure will terminate on March 17, 2014. The aspirants are already jostling for votes and talking of what they will do for the people of Anambra State if elected.
Those who spoke include Prince Chinedu Idigo (APGA), Mr. Oseloka Obaze (APGA), Chief Godwin Ezemo (APC), Senator Chris Ngige (APC), Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu (PDP) and Dr Ifeanyi Uba of Labour Party. Others are Chief Emeka Nwogbo (APGA) and Mrs. Uche Ekwunife (APGA).
Prince Chinedu Idigo, a lawyer from the ancient Aguleri royal family in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra North is contesting on the platform of APGA. According to him, service spurred him into the race.
“ My main consideration for seeking to govern Anambra State is service. I have over the years been considering what will happen when Governor Peter Obi completes his tenure. Actually, I started nursing the governorship ambition in 2009 but I realized that there was no vacancy in the Government House because it was obvious Governor Obi was going to win to continue his second tenure. And having performed so well in office, if a worthy successor does not take over from him, all the things he has done in eight years will lack continuity.
So I started making my plans and that is what is now being actualized. Obi has done a lot, but there still more to be done in the state. For instance, our urban centres – Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka need proper upgrading. One of our plans is industrialization, but the issue is when the investors come, they should have good return on their investments.
The environment where they are investing should also be made conducive and our cities do not boast of ideal places where they will live to carry on their businesses. We will embark on massive urban housing development suitable for such investors and such estates should have the necessary recreational facilities to make living enjoyable. We will not want a situation where they will live in neigbouring states while coming to work in our state.
Why Anambra North should produce next governor
It is an agreement reached in 2010 among all the candidates then that the next Governor should come from Anambra North. It is unfortunate that some people are saying that there was never such an agreement. Well, Governor Obi has promised to release the agreement at the appropriate time. During my consultations for this governorship race, I met a traditional ruler in this state who said there was such an agreement and that he is in possession of a copy of it. Since some respected stakeholders are saying that there was such an agreement, I expect our people to respect it.
Influence of money bags in politics
When people talk of influence, is it influence based on the money at their disposal? How many lives have they touched in the state? Throughout the years they have been in politics, what did they do for the people? That should be the question.
When we see somebody who has been in politics for years and the only tarred road in his community is the one that enters his house and the only nice building in his village is his own and whenever there is election, he spends billions of naira;, such a person cannot be trusted. Let me give you one example. There is this dispute about the oil in Anambra State and we have three senators.
The senator from Kogi State got up to say that the oil in Anambra State belongs to Kogi and none of our senators got up to challenge him. And today they want to govern the state they could not use their positions in the senate to defend. Our people know what to do with such politicians when it is time for voting.
Division in Anambra North
The reason for the North asking for a chance to produce the next governor is due to issues of marginalization. In Anambra North, there are other considerations, one of which is that Omambala area had been least favoured in the state in terms of development and appointments. It will be good if the next governor comes from Omambala area, which comprises of Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum and Oyi. But if for any reason it does not come to Omambala, I don’t think we will go against the decision. What is most important is for the next governor to come from Anambra North.
Politics of food and money
Our experience in the field has shown that our people have become more aware politically and they are now asking aspirants what they will do for their communities rather than what they will do for them as individuals. So the perception has changed, especially in the most backward areas of Anambra State. The money bags can try using their money to influence the people, but the average Anambrarian will vote for the person he believes will work for the state. Those throwing money about are only making fools of themselves.
Soludo’s governorship ambition in APGA
The constitution allows Prof. Charles Soludo to associate with any group he wants at any time, but it is left for that group to decide if he should be trusted with their mandate. I don’t know how many members of APGA in his ward that he knows.
I must say that APGA is not a party one can just wake up and join for the purpose of contesting election and after the election, you ditch the party. It happened in Imo State. So our eyes are open. If he had come to hijack the party, our members will not allow that to happen. We have APGA members who have been toiling since 2002 to make the party what it is and I don’t think they will just watch as see the party hijacked by somebody.
Anointing by Governor Obi
I cannot deny the fact that Mr. Peter Obi is my friend. But he has never said to me that he will hand over to me. I cannot say that I am the favourite candidate of the governor, but if I am, thank God. If tomorrow he decides that I am his candidate, I will accept it with both hands. For now, he has assured us that he is not supporting anybody. He wants the best candidate for the party and for Anambra people.
I am really worried about the amount of money being thrown about by some aspirants. I think we need to have a law on campaign funding and spending. I will prosecute my campaign to the best of my ability and convince the people and tell them why it has to be me. If somebody spends so much to prosecute his election and he is elected, the first thing he will do is to recoup.
The ideal thing is that people should contribute a certain amount towards funding somebody’s campaign before he even emerges as his party’s candidate. During one’s consultations for the race, people should start contributing towards his campaign and if the person does not get a certain amount through people’s contributions, he should not be given his party’s ticket. This is because when you know that it is people’s money that made it possible for him to win, he will really work for the society. So this issue should be reviewed in the electoral act.
Oseloka Obaze, former SSG and aspirant in APGA: Why Anambra North should produce next governor
There should be a moral question for aspirants from Anambra Central and South senatorial zones still angling to become the next governor of the state because their zones have been occupying the seat since the creation of the state. It should be known that the people from Anambra North senatorial zone are not groveling for sympathy and attention, but seeking what should come to them rightfully, if there is justice and a sense of equity. Thankfully, there are many well-meaning people from the South and Central senatorial zones that support our cause, our dear Governor Peter Obi, being a leading example.
In the fullness of time, everyone will have to account for their political stand, since the issue at hand is both moral and constitutional. Such rotational issues are topical in Delta, Enugu, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states.
It remains a paradox, therefore, that those who say the governorship slot cannot be ceded to Anambra North in 2014 since there is no zoning, are the first to advocate that Presidency should be ceded to the Igbo nation in 2015. As I see it, the quest to bring the governorship to Anambra North is now a sacred mission for the people of the North.
Godwin Ezemo, APC aspirant: Anambra at cross road
“ Anambra State is at the cross road and therefore needs somebody who can fight what he called injustices in the land.
It is unfortunate that the days of innocence are gone and we must try to bring them back. Gone are the days when wealthy people could pull over their cars and enjoy the liberty of eating corn on the road side. No longer can men sit around under the shades of trees drinking fresh palm wine with friends. It is either they will be afraid that they can be kidnapped, or that a battery of policemen guarding them will regularly be intruding into their privacy.
“Frankly speaking, our values have been totally eroded and we must brace up and pick up issues that hinge on the survival of the society.Good parenting, quality education, the need for graduates to learn extra trade, credible political party primaries where imposition of candidates must be seen for what it is, which is capital sin against democracy. What we need is free and fair elections where votes must count.”
Senator Chris Ngige, APC : There is no zoning arrangement in Anambra
“Since the advent of the present democracy, we have had four governorship elections in Anambra State and these were in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2010. In all of them, the people of Anambra North participated and contested for the governor of the state.
In 1999, the major contenders were Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Professor A.B.C. Nwosu, Chief Ajulu Uzodike, among others who were from Anambra South, as well as Senator Joy Emodi, Chief Frank Oramulu, Dr. Mike Areh and Chief Ozodinobi who were from the North zone. There were also contestants from the Central and we had Sam Okechukwu, Agunwa Anaekwe, Aneze Chinwuba, among others.
“In 2003, I came from Anambra Central. The incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi is also from the Central, while Uzodike and Okechukwu Odunze came from the South and North respectively. These people from the North are not weaklings. They contested and lost gallantly. I emerged as governor and when I was removed by the court, Obi from central was returned.
“In 2007, politicians from the three senatorial zones also contested for the office of governor, which was won by Dr. Andy Uba, but was stopped by the court. In 2010, we were all there, including Dr. Alex Obiogbolu and Senator Emma Anosike who are from the North. In all the elections, people from the North never said let us leave it for the people of Central or South so that we can have our turn later.
“We are not saying that our brothers from the North should not be governors because they have the right to the office. But people struggle for power as our brothers from the North have been struggling for it since 1999.
“If we want to say that we should start zoning the office of governor, we shall sit down and discuss it and decide which zone should start it, otherwise it will be undemocratic and will run foul of the Constitution of Nigeria if it is decreed that one part of the state should be allowed to produce the next governor.
“It must be made known here that we have been living in peace in Anambra and nobody had considered any part of the state as being superior to the other. In 1952, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who is from the present Anambra North senatorial zone, came back from Lagos and contested for premiership and ruled Eastern Nigeria for eight years before going to become the senate president and later governor –general and subsequently the president of Nigeria and other parts of Eastern Nigeria never complained.
“There was also a man named Ukpabi Asika from Onitsha in the present Anambra North ruled the old East Central State unfettered and we never complained. Similarly when the late Senator Chuba Okadigbo from Anambra North became the Senate president and number three citizen in the country, other senators from Anambra supported him as they did not argue whether he was from a particular zone. We therefore do not want this dichotomy to be introduced now in the state.”
Hon Uche Ekwunife:APGA Anambra State is a unique state.
“Our people are highly politically aware and cannot be misled. What the people of Anambra State want is good governance irrespective of where the person comes from. I wish to make it known that zoning is not the issue in Anambra State.
There has never been a time Anambra State agreed on zoning or a zoning formula. It is only when Anambra people come together through any manner and say this is what we want and which of the senatorial districts would start, then we address that issue and it takes off from there. Even those who are saying that it is their turn had contested with other zones in the past.
“Though I share the same view with a cross section of Anambra State people, but this is democracy and people are entitled to their own views and opinions. However, Anambra State people want good governance, selfless service and carrying them along and they do not care where the governor comes from.
It is even better that we have good governance than trying to respect zoning and get a governor who only became one because they said that it is the turn of his or her area and he could not deliver.
“Even in the constitution of Nigeria as amended, it does not recognize zoning of any political or elective office. The only area you may look at what you are talking about is in the area of federal character and not zoning.”
Hon Chukwuemeka Nwogbo, APGA aspirant and member, House of Reps: I am inspired to move Anambra forward
”It is my conviction that government is a God -given tool for moving any community or nation forward, a tool for the common good, a tool for bringing succour to the very least man on the street. Ultimately, government is one of the cradles of life. An inspired individual or group of individuals holding the reigns of government can be a life changer at any moment in time for any nation.
This is the motivation behind my gubernatorial aspiration.
I do not arrogate excellence to myself in anyway, but I realize that to move Anambra State forward, we need someone with a clear vision and understanding of the challenges and enormous talents that Anambra people possess.
All that is needed is for this person to possess a high level of humility and persuasive power to harness these limitless talents and direct them towards the achievement of set goals.”
Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu – PDP: Anambra South yet to complete two tenures
The people of Anambra North have the right to demand to be governor. We in Anambra South Senatorial zone also have the right to demand that we should be allowed to complete our two tenures of eight years as Anambra Central has done.
Between Governor Peter Obi and Senator Chris Ngige, Anambra Central has occupied the Government House for 11 years, while Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, both from Anambra South, have jointly occupied the Government House for five years.
“I, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, an Evangelist from Anambra South, am therefore presenting myself to the people of Anambra State to serve them as governor and if it is the will of God, I promise to serve them well. Before now, our party, PDP, never believed in providing a level- playing field for the selection of its candidates, but thanks to President Goodluck Jonathan and our national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who believe in equity and fair play, our primaries will be transparent.
Ifeanyi Uba: A fresh face in Anambra politics
Ifeanyi Ubah is about the only aspirant in the race with a new face and he believes he is the only remedy to transform the old face of Anambra politics and take care of the interest of women and the youths. In his manifesto, he promises his government can afford to give the women and youths the necessary sense of belonging in the State.
“ I am the right person to liberate Anambra people, to reposition Anambra State and to wipe tears from the eyes of the good people of Anambra State, the less privileged in Anambra, especially the women and their youths. I will bring down the dividend of democracy to the grassroot and transform the old face of Anambra State politically and otherwise.
Anambrarians don’t need to search further, the political messiah they are waiting for is here with us. So let all Anambrarians both home and abroad, especially the women and the youths come out enmasse and demonstrate their love and support for my aspiration by massively voting me and Labour Party so that they will get what they are bargaining for.
Among all the other ones , I am the only one with a new face that can transform and change the old face of the State politically and other wise. I am the only one who is being burdened about the welfare of our women and the youths. I am the only one who is having sleepless night concerning the neglect of the women and the youths. My priority will be on the women , youth empowerment and development if elected.
“ My Labour Party government will initiate so many programmes that will positively touch the lives of the youth and women of Anambra State. My administration will create over ten thousand jobs for the youth. Sports will also be a priority.
I will sponsor many youths to watch the Fifa World Cup Football Competition taking place in Brazil next year for the first time in the history of Anambra State. I will also sponsor the establishment of viewing centers for the world cup in all tertiary inistutions in the state. My administration will organise the first Ifeanyi Ubah Unity Football Competition against anti-social vices among the tertiary institutions in the state regularly.
This will be done through the office of the Bureau for Youths Affair which we will create. Through the Football Cup Competition for tertiary institutions, Anambra State will be able to mitigate not only cultism but other forms of anti social vices which students often indulge in. By engaging the students in such competitive football activities over a long spell, I will channel their minds and energies towards more productive ventures.
“Again entrepreneurship has become the buzz word in today’s global corporate milieu and is apparently the solution to the rising incidence of youth’s unemployment. In realization of this, Labour Party government under my leadership in the state will graciously approve the organization of a two day Youths Business Entrepreneurship seminar which the office in charge of Youths Affairs will do regularly from the youths drawn from the 24 LGAs on how to start and grow their own business and generally acquire entrepreneurship education to sustain their business ideas.
Through this Bureau of Youths Affairs, my government will equally undertake collaborative initiative with several youth-based organizations to draw the attention of the youths and students to the fact that they need to become more responsible and useful members of the society.
Precisely, I will partner with an NGO, the Alliance of Youths Against Crime in Nigeria Communities (AYACNC) to organize a one- day Law Enforcement Agents and Youths round-table to look at issues concerning the relationship between youths and the law enforcement agencies. I will always package a two day Agric – Entrepreneurship for over ten thousand youths in the 24 LGAs which dealt on teaching youths practical skills in fish farming, snail farming, grass cutters, soap making and confectionaries.
At both events, top level resource persons from both public and private sectors will be on hand to impact quality knowledge to the participants.
“This programme will make Anambra youths to grow their own business thus becoming financially independent and even employers of labour. If I become the Governor come 2014, I will disburse over N20bn on youths empowerment. Anambra youths should come out enmasse and support me so that I can fully implement my programmes for our youths who are the leaders of tomorrow.
“Under my administration in Anambra State, many women will emerge as Local Government Chairpersons and Deputy Local Government Chairpersons. I will will touch the lives of Anambra women positively more than any other governor in Anambra State.I am equally telling Anambra women to come out enmasse and throw their weight solidly behind me.”