With the conclusion of governorship primaries in Anambra State, the coast is now clear for political parties and their candidates to begin massive campaign for the November 18off-season gubernatorial election.
Four major parties will slug it out in the exercise including the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which has dominated the political space in the state since 2006; All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party at the federal level; People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which governed the state from 1999 to 2006 as well as the United Progressive Party (UPP), which believes APGA is no longer relevant in Igboland.
For a state that prides itself as parading the highest number of billionaires in Nigeria, it was not immune from the excruciating pains of economic recession the country is currently experiencing. Political commentators have attributed this to the lower turnout of aspirants jostling for their parties’ tickets at the just concluded primaries.
Using the PDP as a case study, 55 aspirants purchased the party’s Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms at N11million each in the buildup to the 2013 governorship election in the South East state. But despite reducing the amount to N6million at the just-concluded primary, only seven PDP contestants obtained the party’s forms.
Although the primaries may have come and gone, they left sour taste in the mouth of some aspirants. One of them is Andy Uba, the senator representing Anambra South at the National Assembly. Like a lamb to the slaughter, some politicians lured the Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the promise of giving him the party’s governorship ticket, only to be thrashed at the primary by his boy and serving member of the House of Representatives, Tony Nwoye.
On the other hand, the emergence of Oseloka Obaze as PDP standard bearer has not also gone down well with some of the contenders, as four of the seven governorship aspirants have protested the outcome of the exercise on grounds that the ward congress was allegedly fraught with irregularities and forged results. The aggrieved aspirants included the senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Stella Oduah; a member of the House of Representatives, Lynda Ikpeazu; Chairman Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Uba as well as former Minister of State for Transportation, John Emeka.
Specifically, Oduah accused a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, of bringing back the era of godfatherism in the state by imposing his former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Oseloka Obaze, as the party’s candidate in the November 18governorship poll.
The lawmaker said the development could lead to the party’s defeat at the forthcoming polls.
While another aspirant, Ifeanyi Uba, has said he had taken the party to court over its inability to release delegates’ list on time, it was gathered that PDP governors were not happy with his clearance in the first instance. They described Uba’s clearance by the Adamu Waziri-led Anambra Screening Committee as a misnomer, pointing out that allowing a joiner like Uba to contest the exercise would send a wrong signal to loyalists who stood by the party throughout the 14-month leadership tussle.
The Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, has appealed for calm, as according to him, the party would soon convene a stakeholders’ meeting to pacify aggrieved members.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will publish the particulars of the candidates on September 25. Below are the profiles of the four major contenders in theNovember 18 poll:
Willie Obiano (APGA)
Aged 62, incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, is the candidate to beat in the November 18governorship election. A former banker, technocrat, politician and fourth democratically elected governor of Anambra State, who succeeded Peter Obi on March 17, 2014, is seeking re-election.
The governor holds a B.Sc. in Accounting from the University of Lagos and an MBA in Marketing also from same university. Obiano is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
He started his banking career in 1981 at the First Bank of Nigeria before he left to join the services of Chevron Oil Nigeria Plc as accountant and rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor. In 1989, he was one of the auditors that audited Texaco Refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 1991, he joined the Fidelity Bank as Deputy Manager and head of Audit Unit and rose to the position of Executive Director. He left the banking system for politics in 2013.
Regarded as a political neophyte, he shocked political analysts when he won the governorship election the same year on the platform of APGA.
For a state synonymous with godfatherism in politics, he endeared himself to the hearts of Anambrarians when he severed ties with his predecessor, Obi, who was reported to have imposed him on APGA, with the hope of controlling juicy appointments. This forced the former governor to defect to PDP, where he currently calls the shots in the party in the state.
With $2.6 billion investment in the agriculture sector, Anambra State under Obiano now exports vegetables even as it has attracted over 30 foreign investors in the past three years.
However, he does not enjoy the support of Biafran agitators, as proponents have criticised him for being on the side of the Federal Government on the matter.
Tony Nwoye (APC)
His emergence as APC candidate at the primary shocked many political observers. Aged 42, Nwoye was the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the last gubernatorial election and currently represents Anambra East and West in the House of Representatives.
The medical doctor-turned politician was a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
With a score of 2,146 votes, Nwoye like the biblical David thrashed political gladiators like Andy Uba, who polled 931 votes; George Moghalu, ex-national auditor of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and nine other contestants.
The one-time student union activist hails from Offianta Nsugbe in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state.
He attended Metropolitan Secondary School, Onitsha, for his secondary education from where he proceeded to study Medicine at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Born a twin, he has served in various capacities including: former Chairman, PDP Anambra State; member, Presidential Committee against Illegal Arms and Violent Crimes; member, National Political Reform Conference; member Federal Committee on 2006 Census; Leader of the Nigerian delegation to the World Youth Summit in Venezuela and a host of others.
Despite the rise in his political profile, Nwoye is reported to have the financial backing of billionaire, Arthur Eze. His critics have taken advantage of this, saying the federal lawmaker would return the state to the era of godfatherism.
They cited a document circulating online, where the APC aspirant allegedly reached an agreement with his godfather on how to share positions and allocate the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) after his victory.
Oseloka Obaze (PDP)
Oseloka Henry Obaze was Secretary to the Anambra State Government under the administration of ex-governor Peter Obi.
The 62-year-old retired diplomat defeated other PDP aspirants like Stella Oduah, Ifeanyi Uba, Alex Obiogbolu to emerge the party’s candidate at the November 18 governorship election.
Between 1991 and 2012, he served under four Secretaries General of the United Nations as Senior Political Affairs Officer/Adviser.
He was a governorship aspirant in the 2013 election in Anambra but failed to secure APGA ticket.
Obaze was said to have been single-handedly picked by Obi as the preferred candidate for the party; a development that has sparked anger among some PDP stalwarts in the state who vowed to work against him. Their grouse is that the party’s leadership rewarded a joiner, rather than consider those who stood by the party through thick and thin.
Political pundits attributed two reasons why the contender would not win the poll: They cite the power tussle among contending political actors in the party. Just like Nwoye, they say he would be a stooge to former governor Peter Obi.
Osita Chidoka (UPP)
A candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Osita Chidoka, served as Corps Marshall, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Aviation Minister under the PDP government.
He obtained his Senior School Certificate at Union Secondary School Awkunanaw, Enugu; Bachelor of Science Degree in Management, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN); Graduate Diploma in Maritime and Ports Management, National University of Singapore; Certificate in Global Strategy and Political Economy, from Mansfield College, Oxford University; and Masters Degree in Transport Policy and Logistics from the School of Public Policy, George Masons University, United States.
In June this year, the former Minister who served in the administrations of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, dumped the PDP for UPP.
He has held various positions in the public and private sectors namely: Personal Assistant to the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Personal Assistant to the Federal Minister of Transport, Special Assistant to Senior Special Adviser to the President on Legal Matters as well as Senior Advisor, Government and Business Relations, at Mobil Producing Nigeria, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation.
The odds against him is that besides lacking the financial war chest to prosecute an election, his new party, UPP, is not as entrenched as other political parties, even as the withdrawal of support by a pro-Biafra group, the Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN) could work against him.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja