BY VINCENT UJUMADU
TO some of the candidates that contested yesterday’s governorship election in Anambra State, the dream began shortly after Governor Willie Obiano was sworn-in on March 7, 2014 for his first tenure.
Indeed, many who started the journey in the major political parties fell by the way side, leaving only the strong -willed to grab the tickets of their parties to contest the election.
Recall that Anambra made history when the Supreme Court ruled that the tenure of former Governor Peter Obi began the day he was inaugurated, a decision that led to the staggering of governorship elections in about seven states of the country.
The build-up to Anambra election is usually tension –soaked, only to become anti-climax at the end. For instance, the contest between former Governor Obi, who was then the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Dr. Chris Ngige, the present Minister of Labour and Employment, who was then of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2003 attracted so much attention because of the involvement of the self-acclaimed political godfather, Chief Chris Uba, who brought out Ngige.
Before Ngige was given the PDP ticket, godfathers in the party had fallen out with the then governor, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, and the party thereafter denied him its ticket and gave it to Ngige on condition that he would be subservient to the godfathers. When the agreement could not be sustained, those who put Ngige to office looked the other way, leading to the nullification of his election by the Supreme Court. Ngige eventually left the PDP and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which later became one of the parties that metamorphosed into APC.
For yesterday’s election, 12 persons indicated interest in the primary of the APC, which was eventually won by Dr. Tony Nwoye.
Nwoye, as a medical student, was President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and later the Chairman of PDP in the state. Before the APC primary, most people thought Senator Andy Uba would carry the day, but Nwoye surprised all of them. He did the same in 2013 when he outran Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu to pick the ticket of the PDP , but couldn’t campaign much because the case lingered in court to just few weeks before the election. Angered by the treatment meted to him by the party, Nwoye began early to make the move to join the APC.
In the PDP, Senator Stella Oduah, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Chief John Emeka, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, among others, vied for the ticket of the party, but Mr. Oseloka Obaze eventually won. Obaze had aspired to be governor after Peter Obi’s second tenure, but, somehow, it didn’t work out. Because of the rift between Obi and the man he made governor, Chief Willie Obiano, Obaze was brought into the picture again and once he secured the party’s ticket, Obi never looked back in campaigning for him to unseat Obiano. Surprisingly, the trio, Obi, Obiano and Obaze, attended the famous Christ the King College, CKC, Onitsha.
While the crisis arising from the emergence of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP lingered, many chieftains of the party in Anambra toyed with the idea of moving into the fledging APGA. Indeed, Osita Chidoka who was one of the strong men of the party in the state, eventually drifted to the United Progressives Party, UPP, on whose platform he contested the election.
In APGA, the internal crisis that brought Chief Martin Agbaso into the picture almost balkanized the party. Agbaso was to nominate a retired soldier, Hygers Igwebuike, as the candidate of the party at a primary in a village in Orumba South local government area. INEC did not recognize Igwebuike and so his name was not in the ballot for the election.
Mr. Godwin Ezeemo was in the ACN where he was to face the party’s primary with Ngige in the election of 2013. However, as the date for the primary approached, he read the handwriting on the wall which was that the leadership of the ACN preferred Ngige to be the flag bearer. He left and joined the PPA. Since then, he has been nurturing the party with his personal resources until he emerged the sole aspirant and eventually the candidate.
UPP had two major aspirants, Osita Chidoka and Chudi Offodile. Crisis erupted on the day of the party’s primary, leading to the death of one of the delegates who happened to be a supporter of Offodile. Offodle was to resign leaving Chidoka as the sole aspirant.