From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
As the Nigeria political searchlight beams on Anambra State following the forthcoming governorship election in the state later this year, the fight will definitely be between the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano and the others.
But surprisingly, during the yuletide, there was the absence of political gatherings and the usual appearances of aspirants for the governorship election.
Except for the former Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) for Anambra/Enugu/Ebonyi States and Chairman, Osisioma Foundation, Dr. Chike Obidigbo and the National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress, Chief George Muoghalu, all of APC, many people in the state would not have known that Anambra will hold governorship election this year.
Many questions are on the lips of Anambrarians with some speculating that the development may not be unconnected with the economic recession or the feeling that the fear of Governor Obiano is the beginning of wisdom. While the people wait for the politicians and those eying Awka Government House, to answer the question, there is no gainsaying that this year’s guber election in Anambra State will not be an easy one.
Many believe that since its victory in the 2015 general elections, there is an obvious determination by the APC to capture the whole states in Nigeria.
However, the thinking in many quarters is that, with the peculiar nature of Anambra politics, it may not be easy considering that it has been a traditional state of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) when it comes to the governorship seat of the state.
Obiano and the storm
Governor Obiano on assumption of duty commenced infrastructural development of the state, putting in place monuments that will speak for him when the time of reckoning which is definitely this year comes. He started with one of the most important things in development which is security and gave it his best to the extent that the state is now a reference point in terms of security of lives and property. He tackled the issue of agriculture and today Anambra rice is becoming a household name, just as the state has started exportation of vegetables and is presently working on giving cassava the same treatment as it gave rice.
The governor also went into the beautification of the state capital, Awka to remove the “glorified village” status it has and built three flyovers along the Awka/Onitsha expressway. Aware also that the civil servants play major roles in elections, he decided to do things that made him acceptable to the workers. Obiano is one of the very few governors in the country that are paying workers’ salary as and when due.
Considering the economic situation in the country and the lean resources of governments in this present dispensation, Obiano in the eyes of many has done well to give him a bold face to stand for another election. Recently, he initiated what he called community project whereby every community is given N20 million to execute any project of their choice. This programme is seen by political watchers as a means of settling the President Generals of Town Unions and monarchs and currying the favours of the communities for his second term bid.
However, while Obiano can be commended for a job well done, many feel he has not excelled in the distribution of offices as he has been accused of running an “Aguleri government,” whereby over 70 per cent of political appointees are from his area with all his siblings being government appointees. He is also accused of not improving the fortunes of his party, APGA, which he is also the National leader. He is also being accused of not rewarding those that suffered for the party and for his victory, a situation that has continued to factionalize APGA and led members to even join other political parties by some members.
He is also seen as an inexperienced politician, hence may not be able to absorb the heat that may come from the opposition when the chips are down, especially with the love lost with his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. Obiano’s only backbone is said to be the ‘brainbox’ of APGA and former National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh. But again, his greatest undoing will be to confirm the rumour making the rounds that his people want him to change his deputy and pick another person to run for the second term. Obiano is also likely to have some problems, media wise as his media team is said to be aloof from the realities of their job and has distanced themselves from newsmen in the state.
Though it seems people are not interested in the contest for now, the situation is going to change in the next one or two months. Already, the APC has severally through its stakeholders and chieftains vowed to sweep out Obiano from Awka Government House. Two persons, Dr. Obidigbo and Chief Muoghalu of the APC have declared interest to contest in the election and have expressed optimism to overcome Obiano.
Before the duo’s expression of interest, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who confirmed that he is not going to contest in the election, stated categorically that APC will take over the state when the election is conducted this year. Ngige who spoke to newsmen last year had said, “The next election is about 11 months away which is a long period in politics and also short. We APC will contest that election fully, effectively, with all the resources at our disposal. And I can tell you without any fear of contradiction, that Anambra will be an APC state.
“…APC is working quietly. We first want to get our acts together. We will start registering new members next week by going to our wards to get our members and new members registered. The good thing is that many people are showing enthusiasm to become members of APC.
“The door is also open for the incumbent governor. There are four factions in APGA now and out of these, he belongs to one faction and that faction cannot deliver the governorship for him. I have told him that and I did not mince words. Though he has not requested to join APC, but we are telling him that he is welcome to our fold because that will be his only saviour.
“So, we are still rebuilding our structures that were damaged by the rigging of 2015 that allocated votes here to PDP during the National Assembly and Presidential elections. So it is not by making noise. We are making our party more formidable.”
Chief Muoghalu on his part said he will beat the incumbent governor even in his (Governor) village stressing that “the jinx about incumbency has been broken. Elections are about the people and the candidate and how they resonate.”
On zoning arrangement of producing governors of the state, he said, “Equity is about fairness. Anambra South zone did one tenure of four years under Mbadinuju and the position moved to Anambra central which occupied the position under Peter Obi and our leader, Senator Chris Ngige for 11 years. After 11 years, it moved to Anambra North zone, which governor Obiano would soon complete their four year tenure.
“Equity and fairness require that the slot will come back to the South district for them to do another four years before it becomes the turn of any other zone. That’s equity, that’s fairness, that’s good conscience.”
Another headache of Obiano will be his brother of the same Anambra East and a member of the House of Representatives, Comrade Tony Nwoye, who is now with the APC and has the capacity to pull surprises any day. He might be used by APC as replacement for Anambra North to complete eight years. Also, the APC controlling power at the centre is also another force that may change the equation in the election and if it works in Anambra, then Obiano may have to sing the Nunc Dimitis.
The biggest opposition to the incumbent may be the crisis in his party because some of them who are there are still loyal to Peter Obi who is now in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP itself is a formidable party any day in Anambra State and with people like Peter Obi who is alleged to have vowed to ensure the downfall of Obiano even if it meant to work with Ngige and APC to achieve it, the fight to retain the seat will be tough for Obiano. Also, the grassroots mobilization power of Senator Uche Ekwunife whose political party is not certain for now, is something you cannot wish away and if her closeness with Peter Obi is anything to go by, then Obiano will have more enemies to contend with.
However, it is early in the day to conclude what will happen until all interested parties show up, align and realign. But definitely, Anambra 2017 governorship election will be tough for all.