As the nation waits for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the timetable for the governorship election of Anambra State, politicians are subtly mobilising. At the last count, many people have indicated interest in vying to succeed Governor Peter Obi, whose tenure will end on March 17 next year.
Political pundits see the Anambra governorship election as interesting. This is so because many of those who have indicated interest are men and women of means, who have made money and name over the years. This is not surprising. Anambra State is undoubtedly a state with the highest numbers of Igbo billionaires, given the entrepreneurial spirit of the people. also, the state can boast of intellectuals, with one of them, Prof Chinua Achebe just buried on Thursday.
Since its creation, many of these highly educated men have been governor. There was Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife. Also, there was Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju. There was also Dr. Chris Ngige, who is now a senator. At present, Mr. Peter Obi, a businessman, is holding the sway.
Ever since Obi came to power, after winning the legal battle over the 2007 governorship election, which earlier brought Ngige to power, he has tried to change the fortunes of the state. Indigenes of the state point to his transformation of road networks and infrastructures as noticeable achievements. Interestingly, in eight years, Obi known for his prudent financial management, has tried on even development across the three senatorial districts by opening up hitherto unopened communities.
Under Obi, the government worked simultaneously in all sectors. Apart from kidnapping for ransom, a crime he is confronting head on, the state is experiencing relative peace from the jungle it used to be. Also, business is expanding. The state that used to have three hotels now has over 50. Bank business has tripled. Health care and education have been turned around.
Obi’s success formula is simple and straightforward. The regime adopted the MDG goals as a vision and the Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) as a vehicle to reach it. With ANIDS, the state was able to plan properly, budget properly and executed her plans while receiving adequate feedback from the people.
The question that has been on the lips of many people is: Who will succeed Obi and continue with the giant strides in development in the state?
In the race for governor are notable men and women. They include: Senator Ngige, Hon. Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, Dr. Obinna Uzoh, Senator Andy Uba , Senator Annie Okonkwo, Prince John Okechukwu Emeka, Mr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, Mr. Tony Nwoye, Dr. Clement Mbadinuju, Chief Akachukwu Nwankpo, Chief Paul Odenigbo, Dr Alex Obiogbolu and Prof Chukwuma Soludo.
Others are Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Senator Emma Anosike, Prof Dora Akunyili, Surv. Pat Nwachi Obianwu, Mr. Dubem Obaze, Dr. Godwin Ezemmo, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Barrister Chijoke Ndubisi, Chief Mike Udah, Dr. Emma Okafor, Hon Victor Afam Ogene, Prince Chinedu Idigo. Mr. Chima Anene, Chief Udoka Charles Udoagalanya, Comrade Godwin Ibekwe and Architect Adibe Uchenna Izu and Princess Stella Oduah, minister of Aviation.
The majority of the candidates coincidentally are from Anambra North, a zone the outgoing governor has thrown his weight behind to produce the next governor. Anambra North zone has not produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1991.
On the other hand, Anambra Central had produced two governors, namely: Ngige and the incumbent, Governor Obi, while Anambra South had produced three person, in the names of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr. Andy Uba who was in office for only 17 days.
Governor Obi, during his campaign, pledged to assist Anambra North zone produce the next governor of the state, after him. His position is based on equity and justice, as zone’s agitations are not without merit. Anambra North has a legitimate demand backed with moral facts. The zone boasts of competent and qualified persons who can make successful governor. They boast of a huge cosmopolitan population, the largest and most popular market in West Africa. They boast of being the food basket of the state and recently the home of Orient Petroleum and future of economy of Anambra State.
In making a case for Anambra North, Hon Ogene, member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, had declared: “If you have three pieces of meat for three brothers to share, common sense dictates that if brother ‘A’ takes one and brother ‘B’ takes the other, it is only a question of common sense, equity and justice that the remainder is left for brother ‘C’. “
This position of the zone is getting sympathetic ears, despite the emergence of loud contenders from the other zones. However , the zone’s obstacle to the Government House may not be the challenge from the Central and South zones, but its lack of internal cohesion and unity of purpose. There is already a rivalry between the Ogbaru/Onitsha axis and the Omombala. There has been a deep seethed divide among the three axis.
Dominant among them are four local government areas that house the Omombala (River) and of course Anyamelum, Oyi, Anambra East and the Anambra West councils, where governorship elections are either won or lost due to their difficult terrains. Omombala people are of the view that they are the one to produce the governor and not the Ogbaru, Onitsha North and South axis.
On this, Dr. Tim Menakaya, former Health Minister and Prince Chinedu Emeka, former deputy governor of Anambra State and an opinion leader from the zone, had state: “Give a son of Anambra North a chance, be he from Omamballa, Ogbaru or Onitsha. We will all support him and we will get our friends and brothers from the South and Central to support because our vote alone cannot install governor.’’
However, while Anambra North wants to produce the next governor, people are also looking at those from the zone vying for the position. Such people as Prince Emeka. Hon Ogene, Princess Oduah, Dubem Obaze and Osaloke Obaze come to the fore.
Prince Emeka is from Umueze Anam, in Anambra West Local Government Area. He is a man of success and of value, trusted and liked by voters. He was the former Minister of Water Transport, who in 2011 contested and won the senatorial seat for Anambra North Senatorial zone, but his election was eventually nullified by the Supreme Court, who gave the victory to Senator Mrs. Margery Okadigbo, over the PDP senatorial primary. This set back rather than diminish his rising political profile instead endeared him to the people. He boasts of massive grassroots support and an intimidating political structure that can be activated at short notice.
Those who know Prince Emeka intimately, will attest to the fact that he is quiet, compassionate and soft spoken but with self-knowledge on issues, an attribute he acquired from his revered father, the Late Igwe Emeka. He’s a devote Christian and a man of prayer.
Prince Emeka’s commitment to issues he believes in and willingness to look up to others for support is a measure of his leadership strength. He is a politician who has built a large network of friends and known for his loyalty as a team player. He is a man open to change and always eager to go the extra mile to achieve values and touch other people’s lives.
On his part, Hon Ogene, from Ogbaru, is not a push over. Although this is his time in politics, he proved bookmakers wrong. His grassroots support ensured that he won the House of Reps ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In the election, he came tops, despite the rerun in some parts of his constituency.
Princes Oduah neither has nor really openly indicated interest in vying for the governorship, but there have been some movements in this direction, especially the role she played when flood devastated her local government areas and environs.
The Obazes are believed to be in the good books of Governor Obi, having worked with him as Secretary to the State Government and commissioner. They have not also openly declared interest in the post.