With the conclusion of the various party primaries for the forthcoming November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, it is obvious that the coast is now clear for the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, given that the line-up has made the battle easy for him. That Obiano is already cruising to victory is noticeable from the fact that there is no strong challenger in the ring. It is not easy to defeat a champion, a superstar who, in this case, is the incumbent governor, whom the masses of the people have endorsed based, not on sentiments, but concrete, verifiable and stellar achievements in different sectors of the state’s economy.
The flood of overwhelming endorsements points to Obiano’s victory. Among others, the endorsement has come from the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, who since April acknowledged that Obiano has done well in attracting investors to the state. Soludo advised his brother politicians not to waste their time and money in challenging Obiano but instead use the money to set up industries to give employment to the youths.
The endorsements have seen grassroots support for Obiano. The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Some well-heeled stakeholders from Ogbaru Local Government and some community leaders in Okpoko, a densely populated area in Ogbaru have all thrown their weight behind Obiano. This is in addition to the endorsement by the influential Onitsha Head Bridge market and different sections of the trading sector in Anambra State.
Also, the Anambra State workers under the joint associations of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the state chapter of the Nigerian Civil Service Union (NCU), have endorsed Obiano for a second term based on his giant strides and achievements. The endorsement has also come from the Old Aguata Union. The Catholic Church is behind the governor based on my personal observations in the state.
Very important personalities in Anambra have endorsed Obiano for the second term. These include Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, who described Obiano as an “incidental politician and technocrat.” Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, described Obiano as The Sun Governor of the Year, after contesting with him in 2014. He said Obiano is not greedy but a contented man. That, exactly, is what Anambra people need, not a greedy looter or political jobber whose sole ambition is to take control of Anambra’s funds.
I had said earlier that no one should think that Obiano and his political party, APGA, should not be challenged. As a matter of fact, the excitement lies in the challenge and eventual victory for Obiano. Given the vibrant political culture in Anambra State, victory at the poll captures huge euphoria than perhaps elsewhere in Nigeria. The reason is that there are always men and women of calibre who are ready to slug it out in the political ring.
But despite all that, the people of Anambra State have come to embrace Obiano and APGA as theirs, which gives the Igbo voice politically. Without APGA, what else do the Igbo have? It is therefore, not surprising that Obiano, in 2014, defeated veterans like Senator Andy Uba, Senator Annie Okonkwo, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife and Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.
This time around, the lineup has been reduced to a defeatable number. Obiano is still on top. The main challenges are three and include Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Tony Nwoye, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr. Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Senator Andy Uba, who would have been dramatic, was edged out by Nwoye at the APC primary. Uba’s contention of the result of the primary has more or less split the party. He and his supporters feel cheated with the outcome. A gnawing gap has been created.
The PDP is also facing the internal crisis. Other than the division at the national level between the two factions under Ahmed Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee and his opponent, Ali Modu Sheriff, there is a brewing controversy over the choice of the running mate to Oseloka, who a group of the party claims is not a card-carrying member. The UPP is showing up as a greenhorn with no experience. That would require extraordinary clout to make an impact.
Consequently, APGA is currently the only party without recriminations. The friction between Victor Oye and Chief Martin Agbaso over the party’s chairmanship has been resolved as both men have thrown their weight behind Obiano. Chief Agbaso declared, recently, that APGA is already looking beyond the November 18 governorship poll in Anambra State. He stressed that nothing will stop APGA from retaining the seat.
Obiano’s achievements cut across infrastructural development, improved education standards, agricultural revolution, youth empowerment and employment, foreign investments, power supply and above all internal security of lives and properties. These landmark achievements are seen across the state. I have personally visited different parts of Anambra State to see things for myself.
The secret of success in Anambra State is continuity. After taking off with a lacklustre PDP government in 1999 under the erstwhile Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, the state was more of a pariah state and a total disappointment. Mbadinuju was succeeded by Chris Ngige, who confronted the monster of corruption that held the state by the jugular. The battle earned him abduction, the first of its kind in Nigeria. Those were the dark days of Anambra State under the PDP.
The emergence of Governor Peter Obi on March 17, 2006, under APGA marked a sharp departure from chaos. The forces that held Anambra State down confronted Peter Obi and attempted to dethrone him through a frivolous impeachment that was later nullified by the Appeal Court. Peter Obi won the final battle after the Supreme Court removed Senator Andy Ubah, who was governor for 14 days.
Having cleared the hurdles, Peter Obi went on a transformation spree. He left indelible marks. He was wise enough to entrench continuity in governance. That was why he baptized Obiano as his successor. Obiano has certainly kept the pace. Anambra people have not been disappointed. Anything that would derail the spate of development would be seen as an anathema. Hence, the popular feeling is that there should be no interruption of Obiano.
With the overwhelming support and endorsements for Obiano from across the state on account of an outstanding record of achievements, there is no doubt, whatsoever, that victory is certain for the seasoned banker and technocrat, who has maintained the tempo in Anambra State.