By Chinelo Obogo and
The atmosphere surrounding the forthcoming Anambra governorship elections has become clearer. The major parties have chosen their candidates and the stage is set for what could turn out to be the most hotly contested elections yet.
Unlike other states in the South East, Anambra has had the peculiar reputation of being politically volatile possibly because of the republican nature of the Anambra voter and the fact that the state has an abundance of very wealthy entrepreneurs, many of whom it is believed, can compete with the state government in terms of resources. This factor has played a role in the emergence of some governors of the state in the past, where a wealthy ‘investor’ bankrolls the election of a candidate and after the candidate wins, the ‘investor’ begins the process of ‘recouping’ his investments and most often, the ‘investor’ ultimately falls out with his protégé.
For the November 18 election, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the United Progressives Party (UPP) are unarguably the parties that will be frontrunners for the governorship position and their candidates have emerged.
Obaze Oseloka is the candidate of the PDP and is from Anambra North Senatorial District. He served as the ninth secretary to the Anambra State Government (SSG) from June 2012 to June 2015 during the administration of Peter Obi and the early years of the incumbent, Willie Obiano. Obaze was Obi’s senior in secondary school, and Obi continued referring to him as ‘Senior’ while he served as SSG in his government. Close aides of Obi said that it took over one year for Obi to convince Obaze to leave his job at the United Nations to join his government.
After graduating from Denis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha from 1973 to 1974, Obaze studied Political Science and International relations at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He holds a certificate in diplomacy from the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy, Lagos; a certificate in Peacekeeping and Preventive Diplomacy from the UNITAR/International Peace Academy Course, Burg Schlaining, Austria; a certificate in Early Warning and Preventive Measures from the UN System Staff College, Italy and a certificate in Facilitation of Dialogue Processes and Mediation Efforts from the Folke Bennadotte Academy, Sweden.
He served as a member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service from 1982 to 1991 and was appointed as a UN official in 1991. He served in the UN till 2012 as a political affairs officer in the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs. In 2013, he contested for the ticket of APGA but was disqualified on the grounds of a voters’ card technicality. Obaze defected to the PDP after he resigned from Obiano’s administration. He does not have the financial war chest in comparison to some of his opponents but he has the firm backing of Obi who still enjoys huge support from most voters in the state.
The incumbent governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano, seems to be the first All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) governor in the state whose quest for a second term in office faces stiff opposition. Unlike Obi who got his ticket for a second term without opposition from party members, Obiano’s quest for a second term has faced some opposition from within the party. The party has two factions, one led by Victor Oye and the other by Martins Agbaso. As it stands, Oye has the upper hand because the Court of Appeal recently affirmed his leadership. Both factions held parallel primaries and Obiano emerged the candidate in the primary organised by Oye, while Mr. Hearse Igwebike, a retired colonel emerged the party’s candidate in Agbaso’s faction.
Obiano received his bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Lagos in 1979 and a Master of Business Administration from the same university. He began his banking career in 1981 at the First Bank of Nigeria before joining Chevron Oil Nigeria Plc as accountant where he rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor.In 1991, he joined the Fidelity Bank as Deputy Manager and head of Audit unit and rose to the position of Executive Director on October 2003.
With the support of Peter Obi, he joined politics and contested and won the governorship elections on the platform of APGA but fell out with his predecessor shortly afterwards.
Obiano has the power of incumbency working for him and the sentiments Anambra voters have attached to APGA as a party for Igbo politics. Besides falling out with his predecessor, he still has to grapple with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who have accused him of neglecting their plight after some of their members were killed by security operatives. IPOB has vowed to ensure that he is not re-elected and has threatened that elections will not hold.
Chidoka is the candidate of the United Progressives Party (UPP). He defected to the party after the Appeal Court had affirmed the leadership of former acting national chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff. Chidoka was in support of the leadership of Ahmed Makarfi, the chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, and some of his aides say he had to make the choice to defect because he was unsure of what the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment would be.
He attended the Union Boys High School, Enugu and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he obtained a Bachelors degree in management in 1995. He obtained a graduate diploma in Marine and Ports Management from the National University of Singapore in 2002 and later obtained a Masters Degree in Transport Policy and Logistics from George Mason University in 2006. He also served in several capacities in the Federal Capital Development Authority while working closely with various cabinet ministers between 1997 and 2003. He was appointed Senior Advisor, Government and Business Relations to Mobil Corporation.
In 2007, he was appointed Corps Marshall and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps and in 2014, he was appointed as the Federal Minister of Aviation to replace Stella Oduah who was removed as minister following allegations of misdemeanour.
In this election, there is the tendency that the choice of who becomes governor may be driven partly by party loyalty and individual popularity and the UPP will try to exploit the leadership crisis in APGA and seek to emerge as the platform for Igbo politics.
Tony Nwoye represents Anambra East and West Constituency in House of Representatives and he recently emerged the candidate of the APC beating over 10 other contestants. In the primary, he polled 2146 out of the 4333 votes cast.
He was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013 where he emerged the first runner up behind Obiano. He rejected the result of the election and called on the electoral commission to cancel it and conduct fresh one but eventually defected to the APC.
He attended Metropolitan Secondary School, Onitsha from where he proceeded to study medicine in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and later, Ebonyi state University where he qualified as a medical doctor.
His political ambition began during his days as a medical student in the University of Nigeria where he contested and won a seat to represent medical students in the Students Union House of Representatives. In December 2003, he was elected the National President of National Association of Nigeria Student (NANS). In 2005, he was elected Assistant Secretary of Anambra State PDP and in 2006 he became the substantive Chairman of the State Executive Committee.
In 2010, he contested and won a seat to represent Anambra East/West constituency in the Federal House of Representatives. He was later substituted by the party and he challenged the illegality in court, won and his mandate restored.