Chairman of the United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, has rejoined the Anambra State governorship race, with Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) substituting its candidate with his name.
ZLP’s substitution of candidate was completed on Friday, July 30, 2021 at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The submission of Okonkwo’s name followed his earlier resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in protest over the outcome of the primary election, wherein the party abandoned its constitution and used super delegates to pick its governorship candidate. Already, the PDP is contending with an avalanche of court cases ahead November 6 election.
Also submitted to INEC was the name of Dame (Barr.) Jessie Balonwu, a former member of the House of Representatives and also a former State Women Leader of the PDP, as running-mate to Dr. Okonkwo.
Dame Balonwu, who is from Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency of Anambra North Senatorial District, was also the first Igbo female senator-elect and Commissioner for Education in Anambra State. She also served the state meritoriously as Chairman, Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB between 2005 and 2007.
Okonkwo’s movement to ZLP followed a groundswell of pressure from political and community leaders, opinion molders, stakeholders, support groups and institutional advocates for the good governance of Anambra state.
The pressure had led to the formation of the Save Anambra Coalition, which is an amalgam of advocates of good governance from all the senatorial zones of the state and cut across all political parties and established institutions and faith-based organizations in the state.
The Save Anambra Coalition also consists of former aspirants to the governorship of the state from the different political parties who are not satisfied with the lack of internal democracy and direction of the parties and are also disturbed by the absence of purposeful leadership of the state by the ruling party.
These political leaders are unhappy with the direction Anambra’s development had taken in the past years under the supervision of Mr. Willie Obiano and feel that he must not be rewarded with the luxury of picking a successor for the state.
These political leaders and influencers are therefore united in their decision to support Dr. Okonkwo as a consensus candidate because of his level of integrity, focus, drive and blueprint for the good governance and development of Anambra state.
Further pressure on Dr. Okonkwo to re-enter the governorship race came from the Rescue Anambra Coalition, which is a coalition of market groups, trade unions, professional organisations, transport organizations and grassroots mobilisation groups across the state, which had at a recent press conference in Onitsha, urged Dr. Okonkwo to make the move.
Also, statutory delegates of the PDP, including all elected members of the executive in the 21 local government areas and 326 wards of the state, had called on Dr. Okonkwo re-enter the guber race vowing to go with him wherever he goes.
Leadership of ZLP will formally unveil Dr. Okonkwo and Dame Balonwu to the good people of Anambra state in the next few days.
Okonkwo holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science (with distinction), from the Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow; a Professional Fellowship Doctorate, from the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria; and Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and Mediators of Nigeria. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Economics, also, with distinction, from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, Moscow, and a First Class in Economics from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, also, in Moscow.
He had his early education in Onitsha, Anambra State, where he combined trading at the Main Market and managing a horde of apprentices, with schooling.
He is the winner of the prestigious The Sun Newspapers’ Entrepreneur of the Year, 2019 Award – an honour bestowed on him by management of The Sun Newspapers, in March 2020, for his entrepreneurial vision and dexterity in business, through which he has created wealth and jobs.
He also won the maiden Dr. Michael Okpara Leadership Prize in Business. The honour came from the Dr. Michael Okpara Foundation, a charity dedicated to propagating the leadership ideals of the late premier of the old Eastern Region.