By Ifeanyi Maduako
Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu (popularly known as Samdaddy) is a popular politician in Nigerian, particularly in Imo State. He should be among the 10 most popular politicians in Imo State. He is effervescent. He is jovial. He is down to earth. And most importantly, he is one of the most benevolent politicians in Imo State. He doesn’t know this writer in person but I can proclaim and attest to the fact that I am one of his multitudes of beneficiaries. His kindness and large-heartedness are second to none. His peculiar trait or character of helping the needy or distributing the dividends of democracy to all and sundry can explain why he’s not a wealthy politician with property and investments all over the world. He does not have the predilection or proclivity to eat alone. Self aggrandizement, which is the let motif of most politicians, is alien to him. Samdaddy bu omere umu ogbenye. This is one of the reasons why a politician like Samdaddy shouldn’t be out of the loop or rung of politics at any point in time. He shouldn’t be out of political office for even one day.
Samdaddy came into relative prominence as a politician in 2003 when he contested for chairmanship position of Ikeduru local government area. He won. He was also reelected as the chairman of the L.G.A. In 2007, he contested for the House of Assembly seat for the same Ikeduru State Constituency. He won as usual, and was reelected in 2011 for an unprecedented second term. He served as the State House of Assembly for eight years which remains an unbeaten record in that state constituency.
In 2015, Samdaddy made history as the first Imo State politician, and perhaps one of the very few in Nigeria to be elected a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria straight from a floor member of the State House of Assembly. Most State House of Assembly members usually aspire to move up to the House of Representatives as that is normally seen as a promotion from representing one LGA or constituency to two or more LGAs which make up a federal constituency. But in the case of Samdaddy, he moved from representing Ikeduru State constituency to represent nine (9) LGAs or state constituencies which make up Imo East (Owerri Zone) senatorial district. It was not a mean feat.
At the senate, he shone like a star. He was one of the very few who were made committee chairmen before the proper constitution or designation of the standing committees of the Senate. He was made the Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. This committee screened the ministerial nominees under the chairmanship of Samdaddy first before the committee of the whole senate as the Constitution of Nigeria demanded. He was among the very few first time senators who were given the chairmanship of standing committees of the Senate. From the testimonies of the people of Owerri Zone, he did well as a Senator.
Samdaddy showed his political strength when he narrowly lost the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP by a slim margin of 10 votes to Chief Emeka Ihedioha who was then Oga Kpatakpata (the supreme commander) of Imo PDP. Many had thought that Ihedioha would defeat Samdaddy with a very wide margin of over 100 votes being that the former was controlling the structure of Imo PDP. Ihedioha was actually the force behind the emergence of all the candidates on the platform of PDP in the 2015 and 2019 general elections. House of Assembly candidates, House of Representatives candidates and Senatorial candidates were all his men, warts and all. He put them there. So, many had expected that he would have given Samdaddy a shellacking at the gubernatorial primaries, but he narrowly escaped by a paltry 10 votes through a legerdemain. By the time the gubernatorial primary election was concluded, time had elapsed for Samdaddy to return to the Senate, and that’s why he been out of office since 2019.
In Imo State of today, Governor Hope Uzodinma controls the structure of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the leader of the party in the state. As normal with every human being, he will definitely like to contest for second term in 2023. So, the gate appears closed for Samdaddy for APC gubernatorial ticket. In PDP, Ihedioha still controls the structure there. Let nobody make no mistakes about it. In fact, Ihedioha appears more formidable and more loved in Imo PDP more than ever before taking into cognizance the manner he was removed from office. If Samdaddy couldn’t defeat him in 2019 PDP primaries, I doubt the possibility of Samdaddy defeating him for the party’s ticket in 2023. Don’t forget that Samdaddy was a sitting Senator in 2019 primaries while Ihedioha had been out of political office since 2015 at the time of 2019 primaries. Yet, he (Ihedioha) was a hard nut for Samdaddy to crack during the primaries. Today, both men are out of political offices, but Ihedioha may have acquired more goodwill and wealth during his seven months stint as the governor of Imo State. Least I forget, we shouldn’t forget that he was able to plant his men in all the 27 LGAs and the state executive council during the last PDP congresses. In all sincerity Ihedioha is more popular today than he was before he became governor and that’s why my-in-law (the governor) should buckle up for 2023 general election. I shall treat that subsequently.
Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, the current senator representing Owerri zone, is not a push-over in politics. He won elections into the House of Representatives on two different platforms (APGA and PDP). From all indications, he will contest for a second term in 2023. He is Ihedioha’s man by all ramifications. The only man who frightens Ihedioha in Imo PDP is Samdaddy. So, Ihedioha will definitely prefer Senator Onyewuchi returning to the Senate than Samdaddy taking the position. As a former senator, can Samdaddy stoop lower and manage the position of Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency at least to remain politically relevant? Samdaddy is a humble man and he may accept that if his people weep and persuade him to take up the offer.
However, the incumbent Representative Henry Nwawuba is seriously angling for a third term ambition. He is also Ihedioha’s man. Moreover, Hon. Uche Ogbuagu, who represents Ikeduru State Constituency where Samdaddy hails from, wants to upgrade to the House of Representatives in 2023 on the platform of APC.
Against this backcloth and political permutation adumbrated here, Samdaddy appears to be in a political quagmire of a sort. What does the future or 2023 hold for Samdaddy so that his doesn’t make another political mistake or faux pas in 2023? If Samdaddy fails to reconnect back to political office in 2023, he will be out of power for a longer time and his political influence may begin to wane. This problem is what Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is suffering today.
What should he do in view of 2023 political ambition? Should Samdaddy move to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and contest the gubernatorial position on its platform? Should Samdaddy move to APC and confronts Senator Onyewuchi (who is likely to be the Senatorial candidate of PDP) as the Senatorial candidate of APC? Samdaddy knows real politics far more than I do, but he should never place his hope on either getting the PDP gubernatorial ticket or Senatorial ticket.
All things be equal, Ihedioha will fly the ticket of PDP in 2023. As for the Owerri zone PDP Senatorial candidate, Senator Onyewuchi will beat Samdaddy because Ihedioha will give Ezenwa the whole delegates from the four LGAs of Mbaise and Ngor Okpala. Senator Onyewuchi coming from Owerri zone, will lick-up the delegates of the three LGAs in Owerri Federal Constituency, and that leaves Samdaddy with the remaining two LGAs of Mbaike.
The next general election year (2023) may appear too far but it is very near.
Samdaddy is one politician I love so much and I wouldn’t want him to continue to remain in political Siberia after 2023. So my suggestion to him is to move to APC and get the ticket of the party for 2023 senatorial election for Owerri zone. With him as the candidate of APC, the party will have a formidable candidate to win the senatorial district.
*Maduako writes from Owerri