Okechukwu Onuegbu reports that come November 6, Anambra state’s electorate would file out to elect a new governor. The Anambra South is angling for the position, claiming it is their turn in the state which has 326 electoral wards, 179 communities, 21 LGAs and three Senatorial zones.
A total of 18 registered political parties in Nigeria are in fielding gubernatorial candidates. But despite increased clamour for women participation in politics, none of the 18 political parties has a female governorship candidate.
Barr Mrs Ifeoma Maduka-Arisa and Mrs Adaobi Uchenna Okpeke, who earlier emerged standard flag bearers of Action Alliance (AA) and National Redemption Movement (NRM) respectively had been successfully substituted with male candidates for reasons best known to their parties.
However, four political parties managed to field four deputy governorship candidates.
Given the caliber of the people in the election, experts believe that it would surely not be an easy ride for the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to retain the Anambra State Government House. There are also permutations in some quarters that the court (not actually the people votes) would determine who emerges winner in the end.
Here is a parade of the candidates, their political parties, running mates and their chances in the forthcoming elections.
Dr Godwin Maduka- Accord Party (AP)
Maduka, founder of Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical centre in the United States of America (USA), is the candidate of Accord party. He was among the aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants that dumped the party after losing out in the primary poll.
His running mate is Sir Kenneth Ifeatu Obi. Maduka is from Umuchukwu in Orumba South LGA, which falls under the Anambra South Senatorial zone; while Obi hails from Obosi, Idemili North LGA, within Anambra Central. He singlehandedly transformed his community to a city with basic amenities, including siting or attracting federal and state government institutions like National Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Police Division and Police Academy, High Court, Medical Research institute, etc. there. Traditional rulers in Orumba North and South LGAs, banking on his transformational projects and philanthropy, crowned him, Okeosis Orumba (the great son of Orumba). Maduka was among the brain behind changing of his community’s name from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu.
This may also count against him because some of his people felt it was unnecessary and had been challenging the act legally and otherwise. As a result, they currently have two monarchs; one (who is his younger brother) addressed as Igwe Umuchukwu, while the other is Igwe Nkerehi. He, however, has other developmental projects and humanitarian services speaking for him all over the state.
Besides, he is the only candidate from Orumba South LGA. Orumba South, Orumba North and Aguata LGAs belonged to Old Aguata Union (OAU) bloc. Other two bloc in Anambra South are Nnewi (comprising Nnewi North and Nnewi South LGA) and Ihiala bloc (made up of Ihiala and Ekwusigo LGAs).
Although OAU produced Dr Chukwuemeka Ezife as governor January 2, 1992 – 17 November 1993, they are seriously campaigning to take a second slot. Another factor that may count for him is that Idemili North is one of the most thickly populated areas in Anambra state due to many markets and industries in the area, and its nearness to Onitsha.
But would it be possible since the council area is also the stronghold of PDP, APC and ZLP candidates? Again, Accord Party is number one on the ballot paper. But would voters elect him because of the strategic location of the party? Analysts believe the party has no structure in the state but always come alive at each election year.
Also, the candidate has many juicy projects in his manifesto including making tertiary institution education and healthcare near to people by citing well equipped hospitals and university campuses across 21 council areas, bringing seaport, etc. Some analysts see these projects as hard to be realised due to economy of the country.
Maduka is contesting for the first time but believes the ‘throne’ is meant for him because of what he termed ‘evidence’ (what he has already achieved as an individual). He also stated that he had produced (sponsored) many governors in the state; so this is his time to serve. However, his personality and that of his Deputy, party strength and leadership qualities would make or mar his chances on November 6.
Chief Bennett Etiaba-Action Alliance (AA)
Etiaba, the son of a retired teacher, former Deputy governor and Acting governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy, is the candidate of Action Alliance (AA). From Nnewi, Nnewi North LGA, Etiaba is also a green horn in Anambra politics. However, he has held several organisational leadership positions in Nigeria and abroad. The Chartered Accountant was among the APC gubernatorial aspirants that left the party after the emergence of Senator Andy Uba.
He is promising to fix all the abandoned projects in the state including failed portions of road before embarking on new ones, if elected. Etiaba maintained that his administration would also uplift the state education sector, improve healthcare, agriculture and integrated infrastructure. Action Alliance, although strategically located in the ballot as well, is relatively unknown in Anambra State. One commentator on a radio programme argued that the party has no single structure across the 326 electoral wards in the state.
Again, Nnewi, his home town also has another strong candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of Young Progressive Party (YPP). Besides, the popularity of his running-mate, Ms Regina Uchebo may not be beyond Instagram, where she describes herself as an activist and humanitarian. Uchebo is from Anam, a riverine community in Anambra West LGA, within the territory of Anambra North. The council area is PDP’s stronghold although APGA may also have its voice heard there too.
Dr Chidozie Nwankwo- Africa Action Congress (AAC)
Nwankwo, a native of Oko, Orumba North LGA is the candidate of Africa Action Congress (AAC). Nwankwo is the Chairman/Chief Executive of Wichtech Group of Companies. Also a green horn in Anambra politics, like Etiaba, he left APC to AAC after APC primary did not favour him. He believed that the gubernatorial poll would favour him even though his party is unknown with little or no structure.
“Today, if you check the polls in Anambra, I’m leading by over 80 percent. What people are looking for are results. In Onitsha Main Market, in Nnewi, these are areas that I own businesses, I have their support. And the fact is that the business community, which is the constituency I’m coming from, controls over 70 percent of the Anambra electorate,” he once stated in an interview.
His running mate is Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili, the second female Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, a position she attained under APGA, and also served twice as Commissioner. Nwaebili is from Ogbaru LGA, stronghold of PDP. She had contested for House Representatives for Ogbaru via APGA ticket two times and failed. If she could not make further political move under APGA after State House of Assembly, would it be possible under AAC?
Nze Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankpo -African Democratic Congress (ADC)
Nwankpo, a native of Okija in Ihiala LGA, is the gubernatorial candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC). He dumped APGA to ADC after been disqualified from participating on the primary where Prof. Charles Soludo grabbed the party ticket. This is his second attempt to govern Anambra. Having served the country in various capacities including as a Special Adviser on Technical Matters to President Goodluck Jonathan, and Secretary/Member of the Presidential Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program Committee (Sure-P), Nwankpo is optimistic for victory.
His manifesto is anchored on what he described as “Family First!” He planned to reach out to all families especially women and youth with food, healthcare and other services. Again, Nwankpo is the only contender from Ihiala political bloc. Although they produced Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju (that governed from 1999 to 2003), the bloc felt that they should be allowed to serve given that the late did one tenure.
Also, they believed that since other blocs had been producing senators since 1999, Ihiala should be given a second chance. Similarly, Nwankpo’s running-mate, Pastor Lawrence Ughamadu is from Nibo, Awka South LGA (Anambra Central). That is an added advantage because the Council Area had been struggling to position one of their own as it would an amble opportunity to beautify the neglected capital city. ADC’s National Chairman, Chief Okey Ralf Nwosu is from Awka, the capital city. So, if his town and entire Awka South, which accord him much respect decide to go by their son (s), Nwankpo would smile home.
But political pundits don’t actually believed that Nwankpo is on the race to win. Some alleged that he is on the race to prove those who might have prevented him from participating on the APGA primary wrong. Could that be why the Director General of his campaign council, Chief Harris Chuma-Odili, resigned last month, and had not been replaced to date? He’s also not issued a reaction to Odili’s resignation.
Chief Afam Ume-Ezeoke – Action Democratic Party (ADP)
Ume-Ezeoke, guber candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), is from the family of late Hon. Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, the former Speaker, Federal House of Representatives. Afam, a lawyer, served former President Goodluck Jonathan as a Youth Leader in Anambra State. From Amichi, Nnewi South LGA, the first timer in Anambra gubernatorial race, believes that electorate are with him. But political analysts do not see him as a candidate to watch. They believed he’s building his political career for appointive positions at the state or national level.
Besides, his party is not known, and may not boast of strong membership across the 326 electoral wards. But in one of his media interview, he promised to run “a government that gets people at the grassroots involved in the governance of their state.” Nevertheless, Ume-Ezeoke is deputised by Mr Maxwell Emeka Chukwujama.
Senator Emmanuel Nnamdi Andy Uba – All Progressives Congress (APC)
Uba, a flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is not a new name in the lips of Anambra voters. But the name means many things to many people. The Uga, Aguata LGA-born politician has served as a domestic aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo (for about seven years). He was the PDP governorship candidate and winner of 2007 poll. However, the then governor, Mr Peter Obi ousted him from office after Supreme Court interpreted that his tenure as governor has not finished for a new election to be conducted in the state. In 2010, Uba also emerged the governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) but was roundly defeated by APGA (Peter Obi who ran for a second term).
Andy Uba later returned to PDP, and in 2011 general election, he ran and became a Senator, Anambra South. In Anambra State 2014 Gubernatorial poll, he was an aspirant and at a point, factional PDP candidate. But one of his political sons, Hon. Tony Nwoye defeated him and held the party ticket. APGA (the incumbent governor Willie Obiano defeated them). Uba retained his Senatorial seat in 2015 (still in PDP) only to decamp to APC in 2017.
He tried again to govern Anambra during the 2017 polls through APC but was defeated at primary again by Hon. Tony Nwoye, who eventually flew the party ticket and came second. In 2019, Uba emerged as APC Senatorial candidate for Anambra South. His younger brother, Chris Uba became that of PDP. They were defeated by YPP candidate, Ifeanyi Ubah of Nnewi bloc. So, this is his fifth time on the move to govern Anambra. But his emergence as candidate of APC is being contested in the court by some aspirants.
Some aspirants and stakeholders of the party have equally dumped the party in protest to the controversy surrounding the APC primary. Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment and Chief George Moghalu, immediate past National Auditor of the party and Director, Nigerian Inland National Waterways Authority, were among the few that earlier kicked against his csndidacy, stressing that APC has no candidate. It was even rumoured that Uba’s running-mate, Barr. Chukwuemeka Okafor, was nominated by the party purposely to placate Ngige.
Okafor, a native of Nnobi, Idemili South, is cousin to the Minister. Be that as it may, Uba’s fifth guber entry is generating both positive and negative concerns. It’s witnessing mass exodus of APGA and PDP stalwarts to APC. His traducers believed that he could only win by political manipulation otherwise known as federal might. And that if he wins, Anambra may be relegated or riddled with crisis, borrowing, non prompt payment of workers salaries, among others seen in other APC states. This is why the level of APC acceptance in the South East especially Anambra is zero.
If not the recent decampees, the party has never won a single elective seat in the state. Some oppositions also have fear that he could be aware of the remote and immediate causes of the crisis in the state from 2003 to 2006. Ngige emerged as governor other than Senator he allegedly wanted to vie for; got impeached, later kidnapped, followed by burning of some Government properties, among others. Then Andy was an aide to President Obasanjo.
His younger brother, Chris Uba was then seen in some quarters as godfather of Anambra politics. Ngige earlier served as a private or family doctor to President Obasanjo on alleged recommendations of Uba. Other high profile individuals in National limelight in Anambra whose positions were allegedly influenced or recommended by Uba (s) were Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, ex CBN governor; late Prof. Dora Akunyili (NAFDAC DG and subsequently a Minister).
Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo – All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)
Soludo, erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is the ticket bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). From Isuofia, also in Aguata LGA, Soludo is a renowned economist. This election is his third attempt having tried as PDP candidate in 2010, and gubernatorial aspirant in APGA in 2013. Soludo is a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic team, headed Anambra State Vision 250 launched by Obiano, among others.
However, majority believe that what would count positively for him in the race are achievements of APGA led Government since 2006. They have being the major things Governor Obiano and others in the party anchor their campaigns on. Aside these, his Deputy, Dr Onyeka Ibezim is an asset being a distinguished medical Practitioner and younger brother to Bishop Alexander Ibezim, the Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese. Anambra State is where religion and church contributes immensely to People’s political emancipation.
Soludo is a Roman Catholic, while Dr Ibezim is an Anglican. But that is if the Church decides to forget other candidates equally their own in the race who are running on other platforms, especially, Senator Andy Uba who seemed to be the most popular among them.
Nevertheless, Anambra state residents seemed to have become tired of APGA due to several abandoned projects and failed campaign promises by the incumbent administration. Available records show that Governor Obiano is yet to complete up to 10% of the infrastructural projects inherited from the past administration.
This could be why the state is threatened by bad roads, erosion menace, and others. Like Dr Godwin Maduka, Soludo also has some communal issues to settle including alleged unsuccessful attempt to rename or create an autonomous community and abandoned infrastructure project at Isuofia.
Likewise, Soludo’s emergence as its candidate bred crisis in the party from ward to National level including establishment of three factions. It was this month Supreme Court judgement probably thrashed out those factions by recognising Victor Oye as National Chairman.
But that has not stopped the hundreds of APGA faithful from defecting and still defecting to other political parties to register their grievances over alleged maltreatment by the party leadership. However, APGA faithfuls still believe they will spring surprises based on what the governor described as signature projects which include the ongoing Anambra State International Passenger and Cargo Airport, Anambra State International Convention Centre, and Awka Township stadium.
To be continued.