By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features
THE clock is ticking for yet another gubernatorial election in Nigeria. Not too recently, it was in Edo and then Ondo and come November 18, 2017, it will be the turn of Anambra. Already political gladiators are deploying an array of political weaponry in their bid to outsmart each other.
Just recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that open campaigns by political parties and candidates for the governorship election in Anambra State would commence August 18 this year.
INEC stated that “publication of final list of governorship candidates will be on October 19 and subsequently the election proper will take place on Saturday, November 18 and deadline for the conduct of governorship primaries, including the resolution of disputes will be between July 22 and September 2nd.”
Before this announcement, political parties have commenced strategising on how to clinch the seat of power from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. But that would be tough as Governor Obiano is leaving no stone unturned in passing a message to his opponents that there is no vacancy in the seat of power in Anambra, at least, in the next five years.
The governor who had an elaborate third anniversary celebration in office used the opportunity to pass the message to his opponents that he will continue to be in charge as the chief executive officer of the state in the next five years. He also used the opportunity to showcase his achievements in the past three years and many prominent indigenes of the state who graced the occasion agreed that indeed, APGA is in charge and would continue to be after the November 18 guber election in the state.
APC moves: A couple of weeks back, despite attempts by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to hinder the All Progressives Congress, APC, about 25,000 youths under the aegis of All Progressives Congress, APC, stormed the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square,Awka, Anambra State capital , to solidarise with the Buhari administration.
The rally with the hashtag #we stand for Buhari# drew youths from all the local government areas of the state.
Before then, the party in the state had commenced its strategy to clinch the seat of power in Anambra with the registration of new members of the party in the state with a target of over one million people. Many prominent members of the peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state decamped to the APC. Prominent among the decampees were Tony Nwoye, a former PDP guber candidate in Anambra and Senator Andy Uba.
APC said the party was prepared for the November governorship election in the state, adding that the more people they have, the more their chances of winning the election. Some political gladiators in the state included Senator Chris Ngige, Chief George Moghalu, Dr. Obinna Uzor, Sir Barth Nwibe, Tony Nwoye, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, former commissioners, former council chairmen in the state, among others.
Meantime, no fewer than 13 aspirants have indicated interest to contest the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
The state chairman of the party, Mr. Emeka Ibe, recently told newsmen that there would not be any automatic ticket for any of the aspirants, stressing that they would all participate in the primaries for selection.
He said: “We will give all the aspirants equal playing ground. There is no special interest for any of the aspirants. We will hold transparent primaries for them. They are all qualified to unseat Governor Willie Obiano, Any of them who emerges as our candidate is capable of removing Obiano from office.”
The incumbent governor, Willie Obiano is perceived in many quarters to be under pressure by the national leadership of the APC to dump his party for the ruling party at the centre. The APC leaders are dangling the carrot of the automatic ticket of the party to Obiano. But the media aides of the governor have since dismissed the story, saying the governor would return for a second term on the platform of APGA.
Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha the only APC governor in the South East had declared that APC is determined to take over Anambra State in the coming governorship election in the state. Okorocha, who said the South-East cannot afford to be in opposition, averred: “I want to let you know that by 2017, APC will take over Anambra State in a free and fair election, and Anambra State will become the second APC state in the South- East. He said: “With the entry of prominent Igbo sons into APC, like Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Senator Ken Nnamani and others, APC will not leave any stone unturned in the South-East.”
PDP losing touch: Although the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also has its agenda in Anambra State, some of the major stake-holders have dumped the party of the APC. Hence, in the forthcoming election, the PDP is not perceived as the main opposition party in Anambra State and its chieftains in the state felt the ego of the party has been deflated by its persistent electoral failure to capture the number one seat.
Also former Secretary to Anambra State Government, Oseloka Obaze has indicated interest in contesting the 2017 governorship election, saying he is extremely uncomfortable with the quality of governance in the State. Obaze, who hails from Anambra North Senatorial District as Gov. Willie Obiano was quoted as saying that he is interested in the 2017 governorship race in Anambra.
Ezeemo enters the game
Also interested in the number one seat is Chairman of Orient Group and leader of Progressives Peoples’ Alliance, PPA, Godwin Ezeemo who has tactfully flagged off his governorship campaign. With a rally last year.
The mega rally and commissioning of the PPA secretariat at Aguata saw over 3,000 of his loyalists in attendance sportting a crested vest with the inscription, ‘Ezeemo for Governor’
At the rally, Ezeeemo charged party members to go back in their various villages and communities to disseminate the good news of PPA as a party to beat in the 2017 gubernatorial election in Anambra State and urged Anambrarians to banish any form of sentimental reasoning and take a wise decision on who will deliver the state from the bondage of maladministration and underdevelopment, which according to him, has crippled many rural communities in the state.
There’s no vacancy—Obiano
But for anyone who cares to listen, there is no vacancy for the seat of power in Anambra state in the next five years. That was the buzzword at Governor Obiano’s third anniversary at Awka recently to which many prominent indigenes of the state concurred.
In his lecture at the third anniversary celebration of the governor, former CBN Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo after an appraisal of Governor Obiano’s performance endorsed him for another term in office.
According to him: “Let me say that Governor Obiano, as the chief servant of Anambra, is not perfect. No one can be! Some have issues with aspects of his style; some have personal/political issues with him; some criticize his appointments or location of some of the projects; while for some, he is ‘not reaching out’ appropriately, etc. I am sure he hears many of these and obviously makes amends where necessary. Since 1999, Anambra has not done badly on governance. Gov Mbadinuju rescued Anambra from anarchy and restored security; Gov Ngige showed Anambra that a government can tar some roads; Gov Obi took it further especially in his second term with roads, education, health and fiscal frugality. We have carefully gone through Governor Obiano’s Plans and performance vis-à-vis the resources at his disposal and context of Nigeria’s current economic and political situation, as well as in comparison with other states and even previous Governors in the first three years of their tenure.
“Governor Obiano is certainly holding the torch higher! I drove through Awka at night from Enugu, and I couldn’t resist joking to a friend of mine from Awka sitting with me that “Oyibo abata Awka”!
At the business level, we must commend new forms of partnerships emerging among our businessmen. The Igboman’s unique business model is cooperative competition and networks play pivotal roles. We need to reinvent the People’s Club philosophy, except that this time, it is no longer just a social insurance scheme, but now as a Business Council—with members from both the homeland and the DiasporaThe list is long, ranging from exemplary security of life and property, agricultural and industrial transformation with thousands of jobs, continuation of roads/bridge construction when most states cannot pay salaries, institutionalization/ modernization of governance, taking Anambra towards fiscal sustainability by raising IGR 188%; extending health and education reforms, etc., etc. And the rest of the country is taking note as well: what with the various recognitions and awards! No governor of Anambra has been so widely recognized in his first three years since 1999! This is what Anambra expects and deserves: that every governor should build upon and probably surpass his/her predecessor.
“So, why mend it if it is not broken? This is a time of crisis and you don’t change the General in the middle of a war, especially the General that has led you through successes in battles. We have learnt useful lessons from the past and must now forge new elite cohesion and consensus. Let Anambra export a rare form of statesmanship politics. Can we then employ most of the contestants to rather deploy the billions of Naira they would soon waste on the campaign trail into building medium scale industries in the state? That way, even the politicians would be adding to the burgeoning start-up companies, and creating high value-adding jobs!
There will be vacancy at Government House after the next four years, and anyone can contest. In the meantime, the Working Willie as our chief servant can continue to serve and lead Anambra as a truly emerging start-up state, while we, the people, collectively support and drive the investment boom! I therefore strongly endorse Governor Obiano for a second term in office.”
Besides Soludo, many indigenes at the 3rd anniversary lecture scored Obiano high. Amongst them were a member of House of Representatives representing Orumba North/Orumba South Federal Constituency of Anambra state, Hon. Sopuluchukwu Ezeonwuka; Chief Chris Oranu Chidume, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Krisoral Group of Companies; Hon. Tony Omeligwe-Elee, Anambra state Deputy Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and Hon. Obiora Ezechukwu, Chairman of Aguata Local government chapter of APGA.
Their common stance was that Obiano is still the man for the job.
“Obiano is a God-sent. In the next five years, Anambra state will become a state to be proud of because he is really working and the people are happy”.
Speaking on the governor at an award given him by a media organisation, the deputy governor, Nkem Okeke, said Willie Obiano is building on the legacy of infrastructural development and security he inherited from his predecessor .
Nkem Okeke opined that Obiano’s leadership quality has manifested in his ability to attract investors from all corners of the world to Anambra State. During a media tour of the state last week, the clear observation is the state government’s public-private partnership. Governor Obiano allowed investors to partner with the state in setting up industries in the agro-allied and manufacturing sectors which led to the attraction of over five billion dollars worth of investments into the State. Noted during the tour of the state is the Coscharis Farms, Lynden Poultry and several other investments that have established multi-billion naira agricultural and poultry farms at Igbariam.
Media men were also taken on a tour of the the long abandoned Ufuma Rice Mill which has been renovated by Joseph Agro Industries Limited as a mark of confidence in the state’s economy.
From the projects on ground, Governor Willie Obiano has demonstrated that his government can work for the people, and his programmes and policies have been designed to remain people-friendly and result-oriented.
His approach to governance has precluded Anambra state from the recession- afflicted states. From the testimony of the workers, salaries, wages and pensions are being paid as at when due, while new road projects are being executed in the three senatorial zones of the state. The governor has reconstructed many federal roads and this run into billions of Naira that the Federal Government is yet to re refund.
For these achievements, Ndi Anambra and other Nigerians joined their governor Willie Obiano on the various awards given him by the media.
For more who know him, Governor Willie Obiano has not shirked in his responsibility to deliver good governance and restore the glory of the enterprising people of the state since his assumption of office.
The people believe he will do more if given the opportunity at the forthcoming November 18 gubernatorial election in the state.
The clock is ticking.
And only time will tell.