Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, and the member representing Anambra South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, were reportedly best of friends before the 2019 general election that brought the latter to power.
In fact, this ‘special relationship’ dated back to 2017 before the governorship election that returned Obiano for his second tenure. The duo, at that time, reportedly saw themselves as sharing a common ‘enemy’ in the former governor of the state, Mr Peter Obi.
Obi, who was the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, fell apart with his successor, Obiano, after he had laboured against all odds to bring him to power in 2013.Obiano
In fact, Obiano was said to have drawn a battle line with his former boss before his first swearing-in as governor. Although it was not clear what led to the bad blood which has lasted for so long as there are varying stories around it, the duo has maintained their battle lanes.
Those close to Obi had said that the former governor regretted bringing Obiano to power. They said that his grounds of regret were largely because of Gov. Obiano’s alleged bad governance style and poor performance in office.
Determined to right what he considered to be his wrong action, the ex-governor reportedly secured the PDP’s ticket for his godson, Mr Oseloka Obaze, who served during the twilight of his administration as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
Obaze, who had intimidating credentials, Obi reportedly believed, would clear the administrative and governance mess allegedly piled up in the state by Governor Obiano if he won the election.
Obi was also said to have believed that Obaze would restore good governance, and possibly continue with his Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS); an instrument through which he reportedly performed well while he reigned.
Without doubts, former Governor Obi performed very well as governor. And even after he handed over the reins of power, media reports show that he still goes about supporting schools and hospitals in some states across the country including Anambra State with his personal funds.
However, the ex-governor did not succeed in his bid to unseat Obiano with his godson, Obaze. In fact, Obiano swept votes in all the 21 Local Government Areas of the state. That perhaps, informed why many of his supporters gave him the appellation, 21/21 governor.
But that victory did not come easy. A number of factors played out, and as such, contributed maximally to Obiano’s second term triumph. One of those many factors was Ifeanyi Ubah’s point of entry.
Ubah and Obi are not seen to be best of friends. Although the two cannot be said to be enemies, available records show that they have disagreed more than they ever agreed on political issues.
Again, while Obi reigned as governor, Ubah never hid his interest to take over from him whenever the opportunity called even if against the latter’s wish. While Obi worked hard to produce Obiano as his successor in 2013, Ubah pulled all political strings available to him to thwart that.
Although it is Ubah’s constitutional right to vote and be voted for, Obi was believed to have seen Ubah’s audacious entrance into the governorship race as a test of his capacity. And to him, Ubah’s victory would be a big blow to his political future.
In fact, prelude to that 2013 governorship election, Ubah scored one point against Obi when some traditional rulers and other influential figures in the state abandoned Obi to attend Ifeanyi Ubah’s junior sister’s wedding in faraway Lagos.
Obi was said to have fixed an event, tree planting exercise, upon learning of Ubah’s invitation to the monarchs, political groups and influential figures in the state. He was said to have taken the move to ensure that they wouldn’t attend it.
Knowing that Ubah is very generous and hospitable unlike himself who is said to be tight fisted, Obi was said to be worried that the monarchs might transfer their support to Ubah and work against his plan to produce a successor.
Ubah, who contested the election on the platform of the Labour Party (LP), however, lost the election to Peter Obi’s anointed candidate, Chief Willie Obiano.
When preparations for the 2017 governorship election began, Ubah who had switched camp to the PDP made attempts to grab the party’s ticket. Interestingly, his political ‘foe’, Obi, was already in the party.
Obi left the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the party which gave him ride to Anambra Government House where he reigned for eight years, to the PDP. His exit, according to reports, was allegedly orchestrated by his successor, Obiano, who had by then started fighting him more openly.
So, while Ubah deployed various strategies to secure the PDP’s gubernatorial ticket, Obi who was by then seen as the arrow figure in the party considering his status in the state, reportedly gave conditions to throw his weight behind the party in the governorship race.
One of the conditions, according to sources, was to grant him leave to nominate a candidate. His request was said to have been granted and he nominated Obaze to square it up with his ‘foe’, Obiano.
Feeling unfairly treated, used and dumped after the PDP’s primary election, the oil tycoon, Ubah, jumped ship and moved on with APGA. He laid bare his feelings in a press statement to announce his defection to his new party.
Ubah said: “The political backstabbing has left a sour taste in my mouth and I have come to the conclusion that my service to the PDP is the price I have to pay if I am to succeed in my quest to serve my people. At this juncture, I have left the battle to the Lord.”
Obiano, who was at the time reportedly rattled and uncertain of what the future held for him in his bid to return for second term especially knowing Obi’s capacity, was quick to receive Ifeanyi Ubah with open arms.
The glass clinking and celebrations did not last long as the duo quickly returned to trenches to fight their newfound common ‘enemy’, Obi. But as a businessman who had suffered political bruises, Ubah gave conditions to campaign for Obiano which he reportedly agreed to.
Part of the conditions was to give him APGA’s senatorial ticket for Anambra South Senatorial District during the 2019 general election which would come about two years after Obiano’s election.
Some of their meetings and discussions were said to have been held at the residence of Ubah’s kinsman, Chief Cletus Ibeto, a business mogul.
An audio clip of that meeting held about 19 days to the governorship poll was later leaked to the public when Obiano allegedly breached their agreement while preparations to the 2019 general election were on.
It was not clear if Obiano was aware that their meeting was recorded, and by who exactly. But the audio file was believed to have been made public to spite Obiano and cause his party, some electoral misfortunes at the 2019 general election as part of retaliatory actions.
In that audio file, the duo had told Chief Ibeto that they had reached some agreements at a meeting with a popular Catholic priest known as Father Ebube Muonso.
Part of that agreement was that Ifeanyi Ubah would be given APGA’s ticket to contest for Anambra South Senatorial zone if he supports Obiano’s second term bid.
With that agreement reached and sealed, Ubah went to work. It was reported that he deployed his resources to ensure that ex-Governor Obi and his godson, Obaze, were humiliated at the poll. The combined efforts of the incumbent governor, Obiano, Ifeanyi Ubah and some others paid off.
However, when it was time to fulfill his own side of the bargain, Chief Obiano allegedly reneged on his promise. Summarily, the APGA’s ticket was not given to Ubah.
It was not lucid why Obiano allegedly breached the agreement he endorsed. But it appeared that the governor found himself in a situation that could be likened to being in-between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Wife of Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, was also interested in the same APGA’s ticket. Interestingly, the duo of Ifeanyi Ubah and Iyom Bianca are of the same Nnewi town.
Given the place of her husband in Igbo land and his stake in APGA, it would have been very difficult for APGA’s leadership to deny Mrs Ojukwu the ticket. Unfortunately, both Ubah and Iyom Ojukwu did not get the ticket.
Determined to show the governor that he has indeed got capacity, Ubah dumped APGA for Young Progressive Party (YPP) and ran for the same senatorial election. He came out victorious.
But ever since then, both Governor Obiano and Senator Ubah parted ways and they seem to use every opportunity to remind each other that a battle line has been drawn.
Findings show that their aides understood the situation on ground, and as such, act accordingly in defence of their masters when the need arises.
When the deadly coronavirus disease codenamed COVID-19 landed in Nigeria and subsequently started spreading to some parts of the country, federal and state governments immediately commenced efforts to contain the virus from spreading further.
Some of those in the private sector, and private individuals with means also started making contributions to the governments as supports in the fight against the spread of the dreaded disease.
In Anambra, the state government opened an account with a commercial bank to enable those who wish to make financial donations do so.
On the other hand, Senator Ubah commenced mobilisation of funds from friends, associates and well-meaning individuals reportedly for the purpose of setting up three centres where COVID-19 patients can be treated in the event the virus gets to the state.
The money, according to Ubah, was also to assist the poor and the vulnerable in the society to cope with the many challenges the virus outbreak in the state would bring.
Out of the N200 million targeted by Ubah, he has reportedly generated over N75 million for that purpose and was said to be making efforts to hit his target.
On the other hand, the state government, in a recent broadcast by the Governor, Chief Obiano, listed a number of individuals and corporate organizations that donated different amounts of money which gave about N54 million. He also listed those that pledged to support the state.
Perhaps not pleased with the mileage covered by Ubah in his COVID-19 funds mobilisation drive above the state government, the Commissioner for Information in the state, C. Don Adinuba, released a statement which seemed to be aimed at scratching Ifeanyi Ubah’s wounds.
Adinuba, while trying to tell the public that Ubah’s funds mobilisation and that of the state government are not the same, reminded Ubah that he was indebted to the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
“The state government is not part of Senator Ubah’s funds drive. Our people should, therefore, not confuse the two. Ubah did not consult us before he started his solo enterprise, nor has he, to this moment, sought to work with the state government. The state government does not sanction his activities.
“Successful entrepreneurs like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Chief and Mrs Alakija, Dr Mike Adenuga and Mr Tony Elumelu, who are not indebted to the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), have contributed significantly to the campaign against the coronavirus, and they have at every point worked in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Government and the Lagos State government. They are not executing hidden agendas”, the statement partly read.
Government further accused Ubah of executing hidden agenda with his funds mobilization drive.
“Here in Anambra State, such eminently patriotic individuals as Dr Ernest Obiejesi, Chief Allen Onyema and Dr Clement Nwogbo have contributed handsomely to the Anambra State government’s effort to check the spread of the highly infectious scourge in our state.
“They recognise that it is immoral to play politics with the lives of millions of our people. It is, in fact, unconscionable and a mortal sin to politicise the current fight against COVID-19.
“Those recognised by the state government as genuinely contributing to the campaign against the viral outbreak are the Federal Government, individuals and organisations working with the state to prevent the plague from our place and mitigate it if it should eventually find its way into our state. Our people need to be guided accordingly”, the statement added.
While thanking those who have contributed to the fight against COVID-19, Adinuba said that the state government was working hard to ensure that the dreaded disease is promptly contained if it finds its way into the state.