…Umeadi, Okolo begin grass root mobilization
By Vincent Ujumadu
NOVEMBER 2021 has tentatively been fixed for the governorship election that would produce Governor Willie Obiano’s successor and several names have been thrown up as possible contestants. In the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Charles Soludo has become a household name, although party officials say they are not yet aware that he intends to contest the election on the platform of APGA.
In fact, the Anambra State chairman of APGA, Sir Norbert Obi told Saturday Vanguard that none of those said to be interested in the APGA ticket has informed the party leadership of their aspiration.
”People of substance are joining APGA in large numbers and it is a welcome development. We have heard of so many of them wanting to contest for governor in 2021, but they have not told us formally that they contesting for anything. As far as APGA is concerned, they are on their own for now. Until such people come to the party secretariat to inform us of their aspiration, we do not know who is going to contest what.”
But two members of the party that have begun early grass root mobilization in preparation for their political aspirations are the immediate past chief judge of Anambra State, Justice Peter Umeadi and an Onitsha –based Estate Surveyor and Lawyer, Sir Damian Okolo. While other aspirants are apparently still waiting for the right time to start their consultations, Umeadi and Okolo last week received the royal blessings from Nri, the acclaimed custodian of Igbo customs and tradition.
The regent, Prince Ikenna Onyesoh, while receiving Umeadi and Okolo at the Nri Palace, said they were the first set of politicians to visit the palace, assuring them that God will grant their wishes. “I pray that God will be behind you in this race. Your ambition will be a success and we will anoint you later in this palace as the race progresses,” Prince Onyesoh told his visitors.
Before their visit to the Nri Palace, Justice Umeadi had hosted about 800 women from all the 21 local government areas of the state as part of his mobilization and erection of his political structure in readiness for an elective office. The well attended meeting saw the who- is -who in women politics in Anambra State, including those that had held big political positions in the state.
Umeadi, while addressing the women said: “One year ago, I joined APGA. After one year, I began to build my political structure because when I joined, I did not have any structure. That is why I invited the women from all the 179 autonomous communities in the state to come to my house and to tell them that I will be vying for a political office. Since I want to run a public office, we need to build a formidable political structure.” He also introduced Okolo to the women and told them that the Nnewi-born politician will be vying for governor in 2021.
President General of Nri Women’s wing of Anambra State Association of Town Unions, ASATU, Mrs. Anthonia Ike said it was the first time any politician invited Anambra women to inform them of his political aspiration. “He told us he wants to be a politician and that he wants to take the first step by starting from the grassroots. He wants all women leaders in Anambra State to know that he is no longer a public servant and that he is now in APGA. His main objective is to know people and introduce himself to them, Ike said.
President of the women wing of Anambra State Association of Town Union, Mrs. Franca Nwogbo said although Justice Umeadi did not tell them the political office he intends to vie for, “we pray that God will grant him his heart’s desires.”
Okolo, the governorship aspirant, had also met with APGA officials in the state, including the state chairman, Chief Norbert Obi, the state secretary, Mr. Tony Ifeanya and the three zonal chairmen of the party. He had also hosted the local government APGA chairmen at Onitsha (for Anambra North) and Nnewi for Anambra South and Central.
Okolo informed the Nri regent, the Anambra women and the APGA local government chairmen that he decided to contest the governorship on the platform of APGA after consultations with a cross section of stakeholders in Anambra State and promised not to disappoint the people if elected.
He said: “I come from Anambra South, which is the zone majority opinion in the state has decided that the next governor should come from and I practice my profession in Onitsha in Anambra North where I grew up, while I have many friends in Anambra Central who, on their own, have promised to ensure that I win.
“If I secure the APGA ticket and eventually become governor, I will have no choice than to perform, realizing that so many people in Anambra State will be watching from the sideline.”