By Vincent Kalu
If the wordsmith, Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe were alive, he would have said, ‘the come has come to become’ for the Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as 16 governorship aspirants engage in an epic battle on who becomes the standard bearer of the party in the November 6, 2021 governorship election.
For about 14 years, the party has been hungry to take back the governorship seat it lost in June, 2007, but to no avail.
In 1999, Anambra was a PDP state, with Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, and thereafter, Dr Chris Ngige and finally, Andy Uba. Since them, APGA has been in charge.
In this vein, the party is also launching a grand political onslaught to recover its ‘ trophy’, and the outcome of today’s primaries will to a very large extent determine its fate at the election proper.
One characteristics of PDP in Anambra governorship election is that it is always crowded and costly, and this one is not an exception. More so, all the aspirants are fully equipped with heavy financial war chest and otherwise, to wage a successful battle to clinch the ticket.
Take for instance, the party generated N356 million from the sale of forms. It had earlier pegged the expression of interest form at N1 million, compliance form at N5 million, and nomination form at N20 million.
In line with its affirmative action to encourage women to seek elective office, the party waved nomination fees for all female aspirants meaning that the three ladies paid a total sum of N18 million only, being payment for obtaining expression of interest and compliance forms.
So far, the party’s supporters are looking forward to a free, fair and successful screening and primaries scheduled for June. Emerging feelers indicate that the leadership of PDP may settle for a consensus candidate at the end of the entire exercise to prevent the constant crises that have bedeviled the party over the years following the outcome of its selection process.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) insisted on zoning arrangement that has been in place, which means Anambra South district should produce the governor. This was the reason among others that Prof Charles Soludo emerged its candidate.
However, the PDP may not likely consider zoning, as some of the aspirants are not from Anambra South. The argument of some of the aspirants is that since the rotation has run its full circle, it can start from any zone. They insisted that competence and capacity should override any other consideration.
As expected, each of them has since launched discreet strategies to scale through today’s primaries.
For the party, a crucial question borders on the issue of who among the aspirants is better equipped and positioned to emerge victorious at the end of the entire exercise, and who has the capacity to beat Soludo, who has the emerged candidate of the ruling party, and that of the APC candidate that would emerge at the end of today.
The aspirants who have reportedly undergone the screening exercise and ready for today’s primaries are: Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, a billionaire, who recently floated an airline. Like other aspirants, he has promised to fix Anambra State if given the ticket.
This is the second time Okonkwo is positioning himself to take part in a governorship election in the state.
There is Senator (Iyom) Uche Ekwunife, who has also contested governorship election on the platform of Progressives People Alliance (PPA).
Dr. Tony Nwoye, one-time chairman of the PDP in the state, in 2014 contested on the platform of PDP. He defected to APC and was its candidate four years ago. She returned to PDP and is one of the aspirants.
Dr. Godwin Maduka, is a former APGA chieftain who joined the PDP sometime ago. This is the first time he is taking part in competitive politics on the platform of PDP. He is a medical doctor based in the United States of America.
Val Ozigbo is the former Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp. He is also rich and well connected. This is the first time Ozigbo is making a bid for the PDP governorship ticket.
Chris Azubogu, a two-time serving member of the House of Representatives. He is young, energetic and would likely count on his experience as a long-serving member of the House of Representatives.
Chief Godwin Ezeemo, an industrialist and the former governorship candidate of the PPA, has since joined the PDP, where he is jostling for the ticket of the party.
Chief Emeka Etiaba, SAN, is the son of Mrs, Virginia Etiaba, deputy governor of the state, and later the governor for few months.
Dr. Ifedi Okwenna is a former Special Assistant (Political) in the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources; Commissioner for Science and Technology, under the Peter Obi-led administration, and Secretary, Honorary Advisory Committee, to President Jonathan between 2012 and 2014.
Dr. Ugochukwu Uba is a former senator and businessman. He is the eldest of the Uba brothers. His younger brother, Chief Andy Uba is jostling to pick the APC ticket for the same governorship election.
Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, is the daughter of the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme. She was the running mate to Henry Oseloka Obaze, the PDP candidate during the last governorship election.
Dr. Winston Udeh, a lawyer, architect, teacher and an investor with multinational corporations is also in the race.
Hon Chuma Nzeribe is a two-time member of the House of Representatives, is also aspiring to govern the state.
Mrs. Genevieve Ekwochi is a former Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state. She is one the female aspirants in the race.
Johnny Maduafokwa, a technocrat and oil engineer is also running for the governorship.
Walter Okeke, a businessman is also in the race.
The stage is set. Brady Nwosu, a political analyst is of the opinion that the likelihood of candidates stepping down in Anambra, where big ego and wealth are major considerations to aspirants rather than the reality of political calculations, is slim.
Said he: “In this direction, whoever emerged will find it an uphill task to placate the others to accept defeat in good faith and work for the general good of the party, if the process wasn’t transparent enough to convince them.
“Even, the 10 aspirants from Anambra South, the zone that is favoured to present the candidate, bearing in mind the rotation principle in the state, may feel they have been given the short end of the stick if one of them doesn’t clinch the ticket, and the corollary will be their disloyalty and uncooperative posture for the election proper.”