By Mathew Okechukwu
In the next few months, voters in Anambra State will file out to elect the person to pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years. Political parties have started strategising on how best to outwit each other. Prominent political parties in the state are the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the ruling party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA).
In the 2013 governorship election, Chief Willie Obiano, flew the APGA flag to clinch the plum position. He defeated Tony Nwoye, Chris Ngige, Godwin Ezeemo and Ifeanyi Uba who ran on the platform of PDP, APC and PPA and LP respectively.
Obiano’s victory was aided by the combined forces of the governor, Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh, former national chairman of APGA among others.
In that era, the PDP candidate was sponsored by the Anambra-born business magnate, Chief Arthur Eze backed by the federal might led by then former president Goodluck Jonathan, while Ngige who emerged second in the election rode on the back of his own popularity.
Today, the old horses are back in the trenches for yet another political power play. In the speculated line up are incumbent governor, Obiano, Ezeemo, Uba, Uba, Oseloka Obazee, George Muoghalu, Alex Obiogbolu, Nwoye, Chike Obidigbo, Obinna Uzor and Osita Chidoka.
While Obiano, Obidigbo, Obazee, Nwoye, Obiogbolu hail from the North Senatorial zone, Uba, Uzor, Ezeemo, Muoghalu and Uba are from the South senotorial zone. Chidoka is from Central Senatorial zone.
In the 2013 political arrangement, all the major stakeholders agreed that the governorship position should be zoned to the North hence the emergence of Obiano, who hails from Aguleri.
Political watchers are of the view that with the take over of the government at the national level by the APC and the crossover of Obi who is still revered in Anambra state to PDP, it would be extremely difficult for APGA to maintain the lead.
They are of the opinion that the recent political events concerning the national chairman (Chief Victor Umeh) would yet be another setback for APGA.
Meanwhile, there have been rumours that the APC government is determined to take over Anambra state and has been wooing the incumbent governor to join the party if he hoped to return to the Government House, Awka.
If Obiano accepts the offer, he would obviously incur the wrath of Ndigbo who believe that the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari since assumption of office in 2015 and the killing of Ndigbo by suspected Fulani herdsmen are an eloquent testimony that the present administration is an enemy of Ndigbo and her survival.
Another issue is the economic situation in the country and the alleged continuous marginalization of Ndigbo, particularly those in the organized private sector where about 70 percent of Ndigbo derive their livelihood.
Meanwhile, other stakeholders in the politics of the state from Anambra North have defected to the APC in search of greener pasture. Among those who have defected are Chike Obidigbo, Nwoye, the Uba brothers and Muoghalu. Political analysts believe also that if Anambra resolves to zone the governorship to the North, then the battle would be between the PDP and APGA. But if not, politics to some extent, is based on first come first served therefore the position of George Muoghalu would be incredibly relevant in the contest. Osita Chidoka, a new entrant to the game of politics in the state may find it extremely difficult with the Central zone having had 11 years (Ngige and Obi).
Ifeanyi Uba who ran the 2013 election on the ticket of LP may not be taken serious as experience has shown over the years that he is on a voyage of discovery. Political watchers believe that the oil magnet who pulled an unprecedented crowd but performed woefully at the polls would have done better if he had remained consistent in the pursuit of his political ambition.
However, the major issues that would determine who wears the cap this time around revolve predominantly around the political party, zoning and religious denomination. First is that experience over the years has shown that for a political party to win election, it must be on the ground. This, political watchers say, was responsible for APC’s victory over PDP in Edo State, PDP over APC in Rivers and others.
Therefore, if this hypothetical analysis is anything to go by, the game may turn out to be between PDP and APGA.
Secondly, if the zoning system holds, Anambra Central is completely out of the race since it had taken its shot in the past 11 years. And for the Anambra South to take a shot in the next dispensation, it has to back the zoning arrangement. In this case, coming of the Obosi-born politician and that of Muoghalu from Nnewi and Uzor from Ihiala, may be suicidal.
The PDP may also have the advantage of re-engineering and re-organizing its structures following the exit of some power brokers who some political analyst believed are themselves the problem of the party in Anambra State, and the entry of Obi, popularly called Okwute.
Another serious issue apart from political party formation and calculation is religious denomination. Whichever of the three parties that does not produce a candidate of the popular religious denomination would be considered an outsider in this 2017 race. It cannot be dismissed by a wave of hand.
•Mathew Okechukwu resides in Awka, Anambra.