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Anambra 2017: The strengths and weaknesses of the major guber contenders

By Emma Elekwa, Awka on 02/09/2017

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 •Anambra State Government House, Awka
•Anambra State Government House, Awka

After strenuous campaigns and intense politicking ahead of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, some political parties have finally conducted their primaries, a development that narrowed the long list of aspirants. We look at the “chosen ones” in this report and their chances for the coveted seat.

Willie Obiano (APGA)

Chief Willie Obiano, no doubt, is the man to beat as far as the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State is concerned. Apart from the power of incumbency, the state’s security machinery and other relevant bodies which are all at his beck and call is strong point for his second term bid.

This is amidst the lingering crisis rocking the party following the face-off between Chief Victor Oye and Chief Martin Agbaso who are all claiming chairmanship of the party.

That notwithstanding, Obiano appears not to be deterred, as he has doggedly and aggressively embarked on last minutes programmes to ensure victory.

His giant strides in security, agriculture, education and health, as well as creating an enabling environment for trade and industry to thrive, are all to his credit, analysts said.

His prompt and steady payment of salaries and pensions has attracted support for the “Alert Governor” as he is fondly called and this no doubt would booster his second term bid.

Pundits are of the view that the electorate in Anambra North may prefer to support Obiano who is already in the saddle to finish two terms than giving chance to any other fellow.

Similarly, Anambra South and Central senatorial zones may equally prefer to vote for Obiano to ensure that the Northern Senatorial Zone serves out the two tenures of eight years.

If this is done, the Southern zone might likely have its turn in the next four years.

Many residents of the state have vowed that it would be better to entrust their destiny in the hands of a tried and tested hand than in some other relatively unknown opponents with little or no experience in governance.

Weakness: The current crisis in APGA which led to the emergence of two gubernatorial flag bearers appears to be the major headache of the incumbent governor.

Few days after Victor Oye’s faction elected Obiano as its candidate, the Martin Agbaso faction elected Dr. Igwebuike Ifeanyichukwu Hygers as its flag bearer.

This means APGA now has two gubernatorial ‘candidates’ in Anambra, the only state it controls.

The two factions claimed their primary election was monitored by INEC, heightening confusion for the ruling party in Anambra.

However, even if Obiano surmounts Hygers, another minus is his sour relationship with his immediate predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. Despite efforts to mend the fences, there seems not to be respite to the fracas as the latter is bent on producing another governor.

Dr. Tony Nwoye (APC)

There was actually an upset in APC when a relatively young but promising politician, Tony Nwoye, defeated heavy weight politicians like Andy Uba. Others in the race included Chief George Moghalu, Engineer Bart Nwibe, Chukwuma Paul, Barrister Nonso Madu, Patrick Nwike, Obidigbo Chike, Dr. Obinna Uzoh, Okonwko D., Onunkwo Johnbosco and Uchegbu Adoabi

Born on September 13, 1974, Nwoye attended Metropolitan Secondary School, Onitsha, for secondary education, from where he proceeded to study medicine at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, and the Ebonyi State University where he qualified as a medical doctor.

Nwoye started his political career as a medical student where he functioned in different capacities as a leader. He reportedly championed the development of students’ unionism. He later became the first medical student to become the speaker of the student’s parliament at the University of Nigeria. He received an award from the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefo, for the role he played in fighting cultism.

He became the National President of the National Association Nigerian Students (NANS) in December, 2003.

He became Assistant Secretary of the Executive Committee of Anambra State PDP in 2005, and by 2006, at the age of 33, became the Chairman of the State Executive Committee of Anambra State PDP.

In 2013, he contested for the governorship of the state on the platform of PDP where he came second to the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, of APGA.

Nwoye is currently in the National Assembly, representing Anambra East/Anambra West Constituency.

Strength: Going by his antecedents, Nwoye’s experience and grassroots contacts no doubt, would be a great booster to his victory at the poll.

His political history is enough to unsettle any of his co-contestants in view of his track record and mileage in politics.

His mastery of delegate and rural politics, which none of his rivals can boast of, has always been his trump card.

He is from the same Anambra East with Obiano and somehow appears more popular before the average Anambrian than the governor himself.

Nwoye has great acceptability and followership in the zone, and had in the past, as PDP chairman, midwifed the political victory and success of most grassroots and middle class politicians.

Another strong factor that can hardly be swept under the carpet is his connectivity with Prince Arthur Eze, who is widely believed to have given his blessings to his candidacy.

The beneficiaries of Eze’s bounty are the foot soldiers of Anambra politics and they indeed determine the fate of gubernatorial candidates.

Weakness: Nwoye’s choice of APC as a platform to contest the election may pose a big challenge because an average Anambrian is yet to come to terms with the party. Ability to convince the electorate who perceive APC as a northern party is a major battle he would contend with.

His alleged linkage to the mayhem of 2004, which he did not take part in, may be another blackmail weapon of war against him by his opponents, even though the Justice Keazor Panel of Enquiry exonerated him.

Dr. Osseloka Obaze (PDP)

Obaze was the Secretary to the State Government under Mr. Peter Obi and was to succeed him before the Governor Willie Obiano came into the picture.

It was equally an upset in PDP because Obaze defeated other more prominent politicians such as Capital Oil boss, Ifeanyi Uba, and Mr. Alex Obi-Ogbolu. Three other contenders, Stella Oduah, John Emeka and Linda Ikpeazu ‘withdrew’ from the race at the climax of the exercise when Obaze was about to be declared winner.

Obaze, a seasoned bureaucrat from Anambra North Senatorial Zone, has a track record of making a career out of foreign service as a diplomat. He appears not to have been soiled by the murky waters of politics; especially when compared with any average Nigerian politician.

Obaze’s widely travelled disposition to not less than 64 countries, coupled with the administrative acumen he garnered having worked under various governments, is also a strong merit to his candidature at the forthcoming election.

The PDP platform he is standing on is a major advantage to him, contrary to that of Nwoye. PDP, which is arguably the most popular political party in Anambra State, has risen from the ashes of different factions.

The calibre of leadership of the party in the state is indeed intimidating. Personalities like Prof. ABC Nwosu, Mrs. Josphine Anninie and Linus Ukachukwu would be an added advantage for him.

The return of the first set of councillors, local government chairmen of 1999 and legislators of both state and national assemblies, has restored life to the PDP.

Also, the shadowy presence of Peter Obi on the diplomat’s campaign train will also be to the advantage of the PDP candidate. Obi’s antecedents as a perfect and calculative schemer, who understudies the political terrain, cannot be under-estimated.

Weaknesses: Obaze’s disconnection from the grassroots, occasioned by his past assignments, which had always taken him out of the state and the country, has been a big minus which his opponents could easily cash on.

Luckily for him, those outings are gradually fizzling out going by his performance as an SSG, a position he occupied for six years, which has conversely fine-turned his acceptability among the electorate.

The Peter Obi connection can as well be a minus to Obaze’s candidature as many no longer seem to be comfortable with god-fatherism. For them, his success in imposing Obiano on them may not work out this time around.

•Excerpted from a Daily Trust report.


Source News Express

Posted 02/09/2017 1:01:59 PM


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