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News: Anambra poll - Race heats up as candidates emerge

News: Anambra poll - Race heats up as candidates emerge

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Two months before the governorship election in Anambra State, TONY OKAFOR looks at the chances of success of the parties and their candidates

No fewer than 15 political parties will field candidates in the Anambra State governorship election scheduled for November 18.

The political parties had as at September 2 rounded off their primaries, during which they picked their candidates for the poll, as stipulated by the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Two of the political parties, the Labour Party and the Advanced Congress of Democrats, elected female candidates for the race — Ms. Oluchukwu Ajulu (a journalist) and Kate Okafor (an actress) – respectively.

Another interesting feature in the just concluded primaries was the emergence of two young candidates — Frankylin Ndife (farmer, 35) of the Independent Democrat and Yul Edochie (actor, 35) of the Democratic People’s Congress.

However, barring any surprises, the next governor of the state will emerge from any of the political parties called the “big five” — the All Progressives Congress, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Progressive Peoples Alliance and the United Progressive Party.

The candidates of these parties and their chances in the forthcoming poll are discussed as follows:

APC: Tony Nwoye

Born on September 13, 1974 as a twin, Nwoye went to the Metropolitan Secondary School, Onitsha, for his secondary school education, after which he proceeded to study medicine at the University of Nigeria, Enugu. He was later inducted as a medical doctor at the Ebonyi State University.

Nwoye started his political career as medical student, becoming the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students in December 2003. Between 2005 and 2006, he became the Assistant Secretary of the PDP, Anambra Chapter, and later the chairman of the party in the state.

In 2013, he contested in the governorship election of the state on the platform of the PDP but lost to the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano.

Nwoye is currently in the National Assembly, representing Anambra East/Anambra West constituency. He won the seat on the platform of the PDP, but later dumped the party for the APC.

Known as “a giant killer” in the Anambra State political theatre for his repeated feats of defeating seemingly political bigwigs in electoral contests in the state, Nwoye hails from Anambra North Senatorial District.

The sentiment in the state is that the district should complete its two tenures, which Obiano of APGA started as a governor in 2014. The Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State Chapter and other stakeholders in the state, including a former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, had come out to back the district to produce the next governor of the state.

With this unction, Nwoye’s chances of becoming the governor of the state are bright. Besides, he is seen as a dogged fighter, right from his school days. In the APC primary held on August 28, Nwoye defeated prime politicians like Senator Andy Uba and the National Auditor of APC, Chief George Moghalu, to pick the party’s ticket. This, many believe, is not a mean feat.

Nwoye also has the support of the youths and the masses as an erstwhile “Aluta continua” proponent of the NANS extraction. Oil magnate, Arthur Eze, is reportedly his major financier in the race. On several occasions, Eze had told stakeholders that his last wish would be for Nwoye to become the governor of the state.

Eze was once quoted to have said, “Nwoye is a good and humble boy with a humble beginning; that is why I want him to be governor. I want to show our people that a ‘poor’ person can become a governor. There is nowhere it’s written that only the rich can be governor.”

Senator Uba, one of the APC’s aspirants in the last primary, has also said he would consolidate his structure for Nwoye and campaign for him to ensure that the APC wins the November election.

However, the odds against him are that some stakeholders in the state see him as having the propensity for violence. Commenting on this, Linus Ikegwuonu said, “Anambra State has witnessed relative peace over the years and we do not want to have a ‘Rehoboam’ govern us”.

APGA: Willie Obiano

A chartered accountant, Obiano, is the incumbent governor of the state, and he is likely to contest the November 18 poll on the APGA platform despite the legal cacophony rocking the party.

Obiano emerged the candidate of the party in a primary conducted by the Victor Oye-led faction of the party, while Hygiers Igwebuike emerged in another conducted by the Chief Martin Agbaso-led faction.

By the time Agbaso conducted the primary that produced Igwebuike, he had an order of mandamus of an Enugu High Court purporting to have conferred recognition on him as the national chairman of APGA. Shortly after the primary, the Court of Appeal in Enugu sacked Agbaso from the position, describing him as a stranger in APGA. But Agbaso had appealed the judgment, which is pending before the Supreme Court. Obiano had since inaugurated his reelection campaign team, led by a former National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh.

As the incumbent governor, some pundits believe Obiano has some measure of advantage over his opponents. His administration has been commended for its efforts and achievements in the agriculture sector, security, commerce and industry.

Unarguably, Awka, the state capital, has witnessed some form of positive transformation under Obiano, with the construction of three ultra-modern flyover bridges and installation of streetlights.

Obiano’s highest arsenal in the poll is the organised labour, whose salaries were not only increased under him, but also paid regularly.

Speaking on this feat, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Jerry Nnubia, described the governor as an “alert and most labour-friendly governor” the state had ever produced since 1991, when it was created.

Obiano is from the Anambra North Senatorial District, favoured to produce the next governor of the state.

However, some people have accused him of being elitist. They said that over 60 per cent of his appointments went to his Aguleri clan and Ogbunike clan, where his wife hails from.

Obiano’s re-election bid will have the greatest opposition from the man who allegedly bankrolled his election in 2013, Mr. Peter Obi. Obi, who dumped APGA shortly after he handed over to Obiano in 2014 for the PDP, it was gathered, had sworn that over his dead body would Obiano be re-elected. Besides, some pro-Biafra groups in the state have vowed to work against the return of Obiano as the governor of the state, citing his alleged role in the killing of their members in 2015 as the reason to stop him from being the governor for another term.

PDP: Oseloka Obaze

A native of Ochuche Umuodu, Ogbaru Local Government Area in the Anambra North Senatorial District, Obaze was born in 1955 in Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area. He perhaps has the most impressive profile in the race.

Obaze attended Christ the King College and Dennis Memorial Grammar School, both in Onitsha. He thereafter attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, United States, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Political Science and International Relations. He also studied Political Science at the Nebraska Wesleyan University.

He attended certificate courses in Italy, Austria and Sweden. He is said to have visited 100 countries of the world in the course of his service in the United Nations.

He served as the Secretary to the Anambra State Government under Peter Obi and some months under Obiano.

However, how he would navigate the murky waters in his party, the PDP, which has had crisis in the state since 2003, particularly as a greenhorn in Anambra politics, will perhaps be a major headache for him in the forthcoming poll.

PPA: Godwin Ezeemo

Ezeemo was the first person to pick the ticket of his party. He had contested in the governorship election of the state in 2013 but was unsuccessful. He has, however, garnered experience that is expected to be useful for him during the November election.

A Higher National Diploma holder, Ezeemo was a London-based business mogul prior to his joining politics and relocating to Nigeria in 2012. He has since relocated his businesses from London to Anambra State.

Over the years, he has been consistent with his philanthropic efforts which cover scholarship, health care and so on. For him, “if you have nothing to lose in Anambra State, you have no reason to aspire to lead the state. All my investments are here, if you vote for me and I fail to perform, come and burn down my investments”.

While many politicians are jumping from one party to the other, Ezeemo has continued to nurture PPA. There are those who say whatever the party is today in the state is because of Ezeemo’s efforts.

The Anambra Consensus Project, led by Dr. Emeka Eze, after conducting debates for all the governorship aspirants, adjudged Ezeemo as the best candidate for the job. However, some say the PPA is unpopular as a party to earn him the victory.

Besides, he is from Anambra South Senatorial District that had produced Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Senator Andy Uba and Dame Virgy Etiaba as governors of the state.

In the thinking of some people, equity will not be on the side of the zone to get another governor that soon.

UPP: Osita Chidoka

A former Minister of Aviation and Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Chidoka obtained his Senior Secondary School Certificate from the Union Secondary School, Awkunanaw, Enugu, in 1988.

He got his Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1995; Graduate Diploma in Maritime and Ports Management, National University of Singapore in 2002; Certificate in Global Strategy and Political Economy from Mansfield College, Oxford University in 2004; and Master’s Degree in Transport Policy and Logistics from the School of Public Policy, George Masons University, USA in 2006.

It is said that some pro-Biafra groups had adopted the UPP and Chidoka as their favourite party and candidate respectively for the November poll.

However, it appears he no longer enjoys the full support of his party members shortly after his emergence as the candidate as a result of a crisis-ridden primary election that resulted in the death of a stalwart of the party.

Apart from that, Chidoka is from Anambra Central Senatorial District, which had ruled the state for 11 years through Senator Chris Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi. This is a great odd against his aspiration.

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