ANAMBRA 2017: Recession, Caution & Uncertainty Trail Candidates’ Desire To Openly Declare Their Intention To Contest The Governorship Election [ASPIRANTS IN PHOTOS]
Politicians and registered political parties in Anambra State are currently behaving as if the 2017 governorship election in the state will not hold going by their body language.
A year to the state’s governorship election, there seems to be functions of variables which has made interested aspirants in parties who want to occupy Chief Willie Obiano’s seat to soft-pedal, albeit momentarily.
Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, some three months to the election year in Anambra state are usually replete with activities.
It is the time political parties open their doors to aspirants who want to fly the flag of their parties as candidates in the election proper.
Besides, it is a period meetings are held from one location to the other in politicians’ houses and hotel halls. In these meetings, aspirants moot their ambitions in a bid to consult with their constituents.
You needed not be told that something was about to happen as posters of aspirants from different political parties adorn the nooks and crannies of the state.
But barely a year to the conduct of a governorship election in Anambra State, every aspirant seems to be in mum state.
The incumbent Governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano was sworn-in on March 17, 2014. By March 17, 2017, he would have spent three years in office, and given the constitutionally allowed 90 days to the termination of his first term in office, it is expected that elections into the office of Governor of Anambra State would be conducted between the last quarter of November and second quarter of December 2017, to ensure that he is either sworn-in for a second term in office if he wins re-election or hands over to a successor on March 17, 2018.
But as it is now, Obiano who was elected on the Platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) appears to be the only aspirant of the 2017 governorship election in the state who is sure of his candidature.
This is because even as he has not officially kicked off campaigns for a second term in office, his body language and activities in government since he clocked two years in March suggest that he had already coveted the APGA ticket to run for a second term in office.
These days, his foot soldiers mobilize all manner of associations including but not limited to the Transport Unions, Traditional Rulers, opinion and church leaders from different communities in the three senatorial zones of the state.
Just recently, the Governor in his response to the national economic recession abolished the payment of taxes and levies for certain categories of low income earners who push barrows, vegetable sellers, Okada riders and the like who hitherto were weighed down by the burden of heavy and multiple taxation.
The state commissioner for Information and Communication strategy, Mr. Tony Nnaecheta who gave a post analytical breakdown of the governor’s radio broadcast to the people of the state said that though the state government would be losing a whooping sum of N200m annually by taking this policy initiative aimed at cushioning the effects of recession, but that it didn’t bother.
The state government was quick to point out that the measure was temporary and though didn’t say when the grace period would elapse; its implication a few months to the election year was not lost on analysts who quickly said it was to woo the support of this social category prior to his ambition to be re-election.
About fortnight ago, traditional rulers from the Old Aguata Union (OAU) comprising Aguata, Orumba North and South Local government areas gathered at the Ekwulobia Township Stadium in Aguata to bestow Chief Willie Obaino with the Chieftaincy title of “Aqunechemba” Aguata even as the Governor could not point at any project he had initiated and executed in the zone in the last 30 months.
All the same, the Traditional Rulers had during the ceremony allegedly packaged by an APGA Chieftain and Hotel proprietor in Ekwulobia, Aguata Council area of the state managed to tell him before an assemblage of opinion leaders from the area which included the second Republic vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, a onetime Governor of the state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, town union presidents and the youths that all the roads in the old Aguata Union were impassable.
The Governor pledged to look into the matter after the rains. That in itself was not a promise.
Outside this however, there are many politicians aspiring to occupy Obiano’s seat in 2018 from the different political parties.
In the Labourt Party, the name of Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, the publisher of Authority Newspaper and a Business mogul has been ringing bell in everyone’s ears.
Although Ubah himself has repeatedly said that he was not interested in contesting against Obiano next year but would like to be his campaign manager for his re-election, yet his political associates say he was only flying a kite and would most likely contest the governorship on the platform of Labour Party.
As at now, no new name has come up as a likely contender for the party ticket except Ubah. The chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Luke Ezeanokwasa though evasive on the issue simply said that his party does not believe in zoning its governorship ticket and would likely throw it open for contest by interested aspirants during the party’s primaries in line with the democratic process of selecting a popular candidate to fly its flag.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State appears to be the party with the highest number of aspirants jostling to fly the party’s ticket in next year’s governorship election.
In the fold of aspirants whose names re-occur like a decimal include the present Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, a National Officer of the Party, Chief George Moghalu, former candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2013 governorship election in the state, Comrade Tony Nwoye, the candidate of Chief Maxi Okwu faction of APGA in the same election, Dr. Chike Obidigbo and a stalwart of the party from Igboukwu in Aguata council area of the state, Chief Barth Nwibe, an Engineer.
A close associate of his told NEWSFLASHNGR.COM on condition of anonymity that the APC strong man who contested the 2007 governorship election in the state on the platform of All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) has not made his ambition public yet because he is consulting and reaching out to many people within the party and outside, as well as critical stakeholders across the political divide.
He described Moghalu as one of the most experienced among the aspirants outside Ngige and had remained steady fast and consistent without having to move from one party to the other.
“He has been very consistent from All People’s Party (APP) to ANPP to APC today”, he said.
Similarly, Dr. Chike Obidigbo who joined the APC from APGA after his botched 2013 governorship ambition because it is the political mainstream of the moment and will better serve the interest of the Igbos within the context of Nigeria have always confirm to NEWSFLASHNGR that he will again contest the 2017 governorship primaries on APC Platform.
He however said that the final decision to run does not rest with him, but with the party. At the moment he said he was still consulting with critical stakeholders within and outside the party.
“That being the case, the decision to run for the governorship of Anambra State on the platform of APC does not rest with me. The decision is for the party to take and if I am found worthy, I will be very grateful to carry the flag.
“I know that with God on my side and the people of Anambra State giving me their support I will win and I will deliver something very tangible and beneficial to the state”, he said.
Even in his absence, his associates and APC women in the state have been meeting in his country home and elsewhere in the state on his behalf strategizing on how to best sell the man whose first stint as Governor of Anambra state for 34months brought a lot of glory to the state and opened the eyes of the state’s citizenry to good governance.
To many, Ngige is generally regarded as the harbinger and path finder to Anambra’s infrastructural development especially in the area of roads constructions across the state.
However there is a school of thought which holds that though he is eminently qualified to lead the state once again but should make a detour and stand behind upcoming promising but experienced associate within the APC who would tow his footsteps and recue the state from manifest mal-administration.
Though comrade Tony Nwoye may be seen as a new entrant into APC to pick its ticket for the 2017 governorship election in the state; but political analysts contend that he is one politician who can reach out to northern power brokers in the party and pull the strings in the state chapter even from outside.
To this school of thought, it is argued that to an extent that the APC will conduct a free and fair primaries in the state, without giving any of the aspirants undue advantage, and considering that he had as it were a wealthy sponsor and financier in the Person of Prince Arthur Eze, a business mogul from Ukpo in Dunukofia local government area of the state and given that about 4000 delegates would be attending the APC state primaries, then he would be taken seriously.
The story of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra state is like one told on a perky weather. The party is stuck in leadership crisis at the moment, factionalized as it were. One part is led by Chief Ejike Oguebego, while the other is led by Prince Ken Emeakayi.
It is believed that with the reconciliation between the Ahmed Markrafi committee and the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction at the centre, the effect may trickle down the state to usher some sanity.
Political experts who spoke to NEWSFLASHNGR CREW in Awka contend that the mantle of leadership of the chapter may fall on the former Governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi who prior to the 2015 presidential election defected to the party.
It is believed that given Obi’s massive structure and good will, he may be able to pull the party together again in the state and give it a lease of life.
Even at that, names like senator Andy Uba, Senator Stella Oduah, Mr. Henry Obaze and Senator Uche Ekwunife keep propping up as notable contenders for the party’s ticket for the 2017 governorship election in the state.
A source also said that Obi is though in good political working relationship with both Uba, Oduah and Ekwunife may Prefer Obaze from the state’s North zone, an international diplomat who served as secretary to his administration; and would want him to pair Ekwunife from the central zone as his deputy.
All these however will depend on which side the leadership pendulum of the party will swing in the long run.
The people’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) has Chief Godwin Ezeemo, the publisher of Orient Daily and international businessman as its sole contender. He contested the 2013 governorship election on the same party platform.
Now, even with these people known to be warming up to do battle with the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA next year consulting and strategizing, the political environment in the state appears dull with a lull in vibrant political activities unlike in the past when a year to the election witnessed some boisterous activities with the atmosphere charged and aspirants discussed publicly.
The lull has variously been attributed to uncertainty in the political space, and the economic recession leading to lack of direction.
Again, it is reasoned in political circles in the state that many of the aspirants don’t want to get kicking and be praised by sycophants who will come to tell you how good and suitable you are only to shift base to another aspirant the moment they discover that you had exhausted yourself financially buying booze, cooking and providing transport money after meetings even before the primaries proper.
“Many of them have gone through the terrain before and are now experienced. I think with the recession in place and minimal cash to throw about, cooking and drinking and transporting people, no sane politician would like to embark on an uncertain journey without being judicious”, a political analyst in Awka who didn’t want his name mention in the media said.