Hot Race For Anambra Govt House

•Anambra elections… Fight to the finish

•Anambra elections: Fight to the finish

Two coming elections, local government and governorship, make Anambra State a theatre of war of sorts

The history of elections in Anambra State which prides itself as the light of the nation, in the last 10 years, contradicts its claim to that expression. The 2003 governorship election that ushered in the incumbent governor, Peter Obi, was marred by irregularities and unprecedented rigging. Five months to the expiration of his eight years in office, Obi would be conducting elections into the local government councils on 5 October, which will be closely followed by the governorship election, fixed for 16 November, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Several political parties have indicated interest in fielding candidates in the both elections, but it suffices to say that the real players are the All Progressive Congress, APC, made up of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Labour Party, LP.

While the opposition parties are vigorously preparing and campaigning for the local government election, internal crises and bickerings are tearing the ruling APGA (before it became APC) into shreds. An Abuja high court recently adjudicated in crisis surrounding the position of national chairman, ruling in favour of Victor Umeh who was previously sacked by an Enugu federal high court.

•Anambra elections: Fight to the finish
•Anambra elections: Fight to the finish

Even at state level, APGA does not fare any better in Anambra, the only state where its presence is felt. Two factions, one loyal to Victor Umeh, led by the state chairman of the party, Chief Mike Kwentoh, and the other loyal to Governor Peter Obi, led by Egwuoyibo Okoye, a lawyer, are fighting for supremacy. When the magazine visited the state secretariat of the party located opposite Anambra State Government House in Awka, it was discovered that the faction loyal to Obi was in charge, while that loyal to Umeh operated from Jacob Becca Hotel, Aguta Road, Onitsha.

Efforts to get Okoye to comment on the crisis and its implication for the party, even when the local government elections were just around the corner, were unsuccessful. But Fidel Okafor, Special Adviser to Governor Peter Obi on Political Matters, confirmed the screening of candidates for the elections at the secretariat.

At the Onitsha hotel-turned-secretariat of Umeh’s faction, the state chairman of the party, Kwentoh, was seen taking delivery of membership revalidation forms which he said were received from Abuja headquarters of the party. The place was a beehive of activities, with hundreds of party members and supporters doing one thing or the other.

Political analysts who responded to enquiries by the magazine expressed fears that rancour among the rank and file of APGA portends danger for the party, especially with the local government elections around the corner. They argued that with the delay in the conduct of the elections for almost eight years, internal crisis might just be the last nail on the coffin of APGA which, they claim, is the only medium of political expression of the Igbo.

Kwentoh, however, expressing a divergent opinion, said the crisis in the party will have no negative effect on the party at the polls. “I tell you, crisis strengthens democracy and political parties, because at the end of the day, everybody will now know his limitations and his role. So I don’t see it disturbing us or retarding our successes in the coming elections in any way. Rather, anywhere you go, APGA is the thing of the day. People who have not known or heard of APGA now know us, they now hear more about us. So the crisis is in our favour. It puts us in the limelight of what is happening in the political sector,” he told the magazine.

Closely following the local government elections is the governorship, to be conducted by INEC on 16 November. But as at the time of putting this report together – less than four months to the date – not one of the participating parties has conducted its primaries to elect its candidate for the election. In fact, it stands the parties that make up APC in good stead. For one thing, it will enable them produce only one candidate at once, rather than doing so twice. Secondly, it may help put an end to the internal skirmishes in APGA.

Although Obi and Umeh held a reconciliation meeting last Monday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, it has somewhat run into a cul de sac. Here is why. A factional chairman of the party, Maxi Okwu, disowned the reconciliation because he was not invited to be part of it. Okwu is in Obi’s camp. In fact, following the judgment of an Enugu High Court sacking Umeh as the national chairman, Obi and members of his camp, in February, appointed  Okwu. The faction went further to appoint him as substantive chairman at a national convention of the party in Awka, despite the fact that Umeh had taken the matter to the Court of Appeal in Enugu which, two weeks ago, returned Umeh to his post.

Francis Ede, Senior Media Assistant to Mr. Okwu, said: “The leadership and members of All Progressives Grand Alliance are surprised that our Deputy National Leader, Governor Peter Obi, could unilaterally meet with our erstwhile National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and the Anambra State chapter of the party in Awka today as part of the reconciliation process. The Maxi Okwu-led APGA frowns at this turn of event and disowns the purported reconciliation as it was neither informed nor involved in this pseudo-peace meeting. We believe it is a giant step backward in our collective efforts at restoring peace in our great party.”

He added that the peace process was a fire brigade exercise because of the coming elections and as such, “cannot address the perennial problems in the party”. Notwithstanding APGA’s merger with APC, it (the former) still has a long way to go with regards to reconciliation.

For the Labour Party, Ifeanyi Ubah, an indigene of Nnewi in Anambra South senatorial district, appears to be the sole candidate. He defected from APGA as Obi was said not to have been well disposed to his governorship ambition.

So far, Senator Chris Ngige and Chief Godwin Ezeemo are the known aspirants to flying the flag of ACN. For many, ACN is Ngigie’s personal property. So, they wonder if he would ever allow any other person to aspire to be governor of the state on the ACN platform. For that school of thought, Ngige might as well pull a surprise in a fair and free election because, according to them, the strength of ACN lies in the popularity of Ngigie among the people of Anambra. But the chemistry has changed with the emergence of APC, as other APGA aspirants will slug it out with him.

For now, Igbebuike Hygers is the only known CPC member who has indicated his intention to run for the governorshi. Others are yet to make public their interest in the race. He may have to contend with others within APC.

Chief Andy Uba, Nicholas Ukachukwu, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Barrister Mike Okoye, Ugochukwu Okorie, Akachukwu Nwakpo and Dr. Obinna Uzor are among PDP members who have their eyes on the Governor’s seat.

Former CBN governor, Professor Charles Soludo, is also contesting. Initially he wanted to do so on the platform of PDP but he has moved to APC.

Analysts say that all aspirants on the platform of the major opposition, PDP, are in position to give APGA a tough challenge in the elections because of their strong financial disposition, except the national leadership of PDP decides to abandon the use of federal might against Obi in view of his cordial relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan. “If they pool their resources, they will shake the ruling party and could constitute a threat to them, especially with their money,” a source told the magazine. But if all the parties within APC work in concert, they will provide a formidable force against PDP.

Investigations by the magazine indicated that Oseloka Obaze, Secretary to the State Government; Paul Odenigbo, his immediate past predecessor; Dr. Chile Obidigbo, an industrialist; Chinedu Idigo, Pat Obianu, Emma Nwike, a business mogul and House of Representatives member; and Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, are among top contenders to vie for the APGA ticket. But they now have to re-order their strategies since, with the coming of APC, the number of aspirants will be higher.

If Obi were to have the final say on who becomes governor after him on 17 March 2014, the candidate would be from the Northern Senatorial District of the state. But for now, he keeps his choice close to his chest.

Among the long list of aspirants of APGA (now APC), two names, House Committee on Environment chairman, Mrs. Ekwunife and Emma Nwike are out of Obi’s list for two reasons: both are not from Anambra North Senatorial District which Obi insists must produce his successor; and they have never been loyal to the governor’s camp.

While it might be very difficult to point to any of the aspirants as the anointed of the governor, two persons are however touted as likely candidates of the party. Those close to the corridors of power said the SSG, Obaze, might have gotten the governor’s nod to run. They hinged their arguement on the fact that he still continues in office even while making public declaration of his ambition.

Others, though, are of the opinion that Chinedu Idigo may be Obi’s choice of governor, for the reason that he has been a loyal party member who had stuck to him through thick and thin. For now, only time will tell who will fly the APGA (now APC) flag at the governorship election. The magazine gathered that Obi does not want a flamboyant successor – a money bag who does not mean well for the party. Now that Ngige has come into the picture by virtue of his membership of APC, analysts posit that Obi may find it difficult to have his way.

Commenting on the possibility of APGA producing a credible, consensus candidate for the election, Chief Kwentor, the state chairman, expressing anxiety over the prolonged crisis, said: “The most important thing is that the party must be firmly united for us to make serious impact in any of these elections. I tell you, there won’t be any problem. There will be a congress of the party, and the result of that congress stands. And it’s only the state congress that will now produce the candidate of the party for governorship election. Whoever wins the primary becomes the unanimous candidate of the party. This is democracy. It is a battle of the titans, we fight it out, and when he wins, he becomes the governor and we go behind him.” It is doubtful whether the consensus idea will ever work with the birth of APC.

Speaking in the same vein, Okafor said, “There is no doubt that nobody derives advantage from crisis situation. Yes, we are preparing for local government election and soon after, the governorship election, but I am very optimistic. Though we are having some internal problems in our party, when election comes, it is going to be APGA facing other parties, not APGA facing APGA. So we will make sure that whoever is going to be candidate of APGA wins because that is our own candidate. We are in a partisan system in this country, so we will make sure our own party wins.” But this calculation is bound to change with emergence of APC.

Another concern for some members of APGA is what they termed as undue romance of Obi with the PDP federal government. His political adviser, Okafor, dismissed such reasoning with a wave of hand.

In his words: “We have been privileged to hear efforts made by the PDP to have him declare for them which he turned down. As a matter of fact, anybody who is a good political analyst will agree that his relationship with the federal government, it would benefit him if he crosses to PDP, but he refused to. It is not a minus for a governor of a state to support the federal government, irrespective of his party affiliation. I think it’s a plus. It shows that person is able to differentiate between the period for politicking and the period for real governance. Now that we are preparing for election, everybody is trying to win. But after winning, you enter into real governance. You are now governing everybody.”

He added that Obi realises that the president of this country is the president of everybody, not only president of the PDP. He believes that being friendly with the federal government will benefit his state, and that is what he is doing. He is romancing with the government of the country, not PDP, because he is a governor of a part of the country.”

Governor Obi is also accused by some critics in the state of being high-handed, wasteful and extravagant, and that he runs a one-man show. They alleged that he runs his government in connivance with a clique loyal to him. They point to the appointment of Professor Stella Okunnu, whocombines the portfolios of Commissioner in charge of Budget and Economic Planning, Chief of Staff to the Governor and Coordinator of all the Millennium Development Goals projects.

Special Adviser on Political Matters, Fidel Okafor, however argued otherwise. According to him: “Whoever complains to you that Governor Obi is running a one-man show, mark that person bad, because the person is coming to share the money and to take us back to square one. Some people would look at that as a minus, but me, I look at it as a plus. It means that we are on course. We really needed to chase some people out of here. A lot of people that were in control here were mad people, so there is great need that we chase them out, if we have not succeeded in chasing them out. And the only people who are complaining are those who have some negative impact on the state.”

He added that in the state, people were holding government to ransom, to the point that when allocation [from the federation account] came, something went to them from source. “That is the kind of people we are talking about. We are not praying for them to come back. The real stakeholders of Anambra State are enjoying it. As it is now, this state is stable. This is a time Anambra is seen doing something. Whatever you get from the government, you get it not because you’re the Governor’s cousin or whatever. You get it because you are qualified to get it. We don’t want anybody to take us back. It is a plus for us that we have succeeded in making them understand that we are not for them,” said he.

The crisis now rocking the state is not new. It happened in the past, giving the state a kind of notoriety for lack of peace. When Dr. Chris Ngigie, who then contested on the platform of the PDP, was declared winner of the election by INEC, a fierce legal battle ensued. The APGA flag bearer in the election, Dr. Peter Obi, challenged the election and the Supreme Court, through its judgment of 17 March 2006, two years and 10 months after the election, sacked Ngige and declared Obi as the duly elected governor.

Except for his re-election as governor in 2010, till date, Obi has barely known peace, no thanks to several court cases. Because he came in through court judgment, he inherited a House of Assembly that was 100 per cent PDP, while he was APGA. He did not stay for four months before he was impeached. He went to court again, and the matter went as far as the Supreme Court. Just a few months after he came back from the Supreme Court, INEC fixed an election to remove him from office. He had to go back to court to say that his tenure was not yet over.

When in 2009 he attempted to conduct elections into the 23 local government councils, some political parties went to court and obtained injunction stopping it. Their grouse was that he wanted to conduct the election for pecuniary interest, namely, to enable him gain ground for his second coming in 2010.

When he made another attempt to conduct the local government council elections after his re-election in 2010, opposition political parties complained that the voters’ register available then was faulty and could not be used. They went to court and obtained an order stopping the election.

The third attempt to conduct the elections came when the register was eventually updated by INEC, but his effort once again failed, as INEC officiallydemurred, saying that they had to test-run the register before giving it out, which they did in the 2011 general election.

With the coming elections, will Anambra know peace or will it be deja vu?

The Aspirants 

Chris Ngige

•Ngige Chris
•Ngige Chris

The former governor of Anambra State whose administration was brought to an abrupt end by a court judgment, but now a senator of the on the platform of All Progressive Congress, APC, is making an attempt at returning to the state house.

According to political analysts, Ngigie’s strength lies in his popularity across the three senatorial districts of the state which, during his first spell as governor, he opened up through road construction and rehabilitation, and ensured payment of salaries of civil servants. That was a pipe dream before he mounted the saddle.

He would also be remembered for demystifying godfathers, who were accused of high-level corruption and fleecing of the state of its monthly allocation through deduction from source, thereby inhibiting the delivery of dividends of democracy.





Annie Okonkwo 

Another strong contender for the ticket of APC, is Senator Annie Okonkwo who hails from the same local government area as Ngige.

The immediate past senator who represented Anambra Central and member of the political group, C21, led the faction of APGA that merged into APC.

When he was denied ticket for re-election into the Senate by the PDP, he defected to Accord Party and got the ticket but lost, and later to APGA, from where he led a faction into APC.

Battling for the APC ticket would however be a clash between Ngigie and Okonkwo, who is one politician capable of giving Ngigie a good fight for the ticket.

Paul Odenigbo

Chief Paul Odenigbo is the immediate past Secretary to the Anambra State Government, SSG. He joined the governorship race with the hope that he has strong connection with the traditional rulers from his senatorial zone, and pressure groups. He stands the chance to have an impressive outing in the governorship election.

Political pundits are however not sure who between Odenigbo and Obaze would win the support of Governor Obi to run for APGA, or, given the merger development, APC.

Mrs. Uche Ekwunife

For now, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, Chairman, House Committee on Environment, is the only woman known for sure to be in the race.

This amiable federal lawmaker who has shown her might over the years, apparently is not in the good books of Governor Obi. She has always been in the camp loyal to the National Chairman of the party, Victor Umeh.

The forthcoming election would be her second stint in the governorship race, having contested in 2010 on the platform of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA.

Some political stakeholders are however of the opinion that Anambra is not yet ripe for a woman to be voted as governor of the state.

John Emeka 

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A former Minister of Water Transport and an indigene of Mmiata Anam, in Anambra West Local Government Area, Prince John Emeka hails from Mmita Anam, Anambra North Senatorial District. His previous election to represent the district was nullified by the Supreme Court, giving the victory to Senator Margerie Okadigbo.

Emeka declared his desire to participate in the governorship race at a meeting of political stakeholders in Anambra North.

Victor Afam Ogene 

Afam Ogene is another member of the House of Representatives who wants to contest under the banner of APGA.

Ogene is banking on Governor Obi’s insistence that the position be ceded to the Northern Senatorial District which has not yet produced governor. With the birth of APC, the contest is now wider.

Oseloka Obaze 

Foremost among contenders for the governorship race on the platform of the ruling party, APGA, is the current Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Oseloka Obaze.

Obaze who hails from Ogbaru, Anambra North Senatorial District, which Governor Obi insists must produce his successor, is a technocrat and one of the most trusted men in the cabinet.

Many believe he might have been anointed for the job by Obi. He is among the few who still remain in government even after proclaiming their intention to run in the governorship race.

Dubem Obaze

The former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs shares the same ties with Osolake Obaze. Dubem is seen by many as one of the top aspirants who have the confidence and support of the governor. Convincing the electorate to give him their support against the SSG, however, is a task many believe would be difficult for him to achieve.

Like his people from Anambra North, who are loyal to the governor, another hurdle he would first have to clear is getting the support of the other faction, led by Chief Kwentoh, under whose firm grip lies the Onitsha axis and the entire senatorial district, from where a sizable chunk of the votes would come.

Ifeanyi Ubah 

•Ifeanyi Ubah
•Ifeanyi Ubah

Ifeanyi Ubah, of Capital Oil and Gas, is among the strong contenders for Obi’s job who is not moved by the call for power-shift to the Northern Senatorial District.

He hails from the Anambra South, which has produced governors in the past.

When in 2011 his company began distributing kerosene and rice for free to people of the state, it was seen by many as an expression of his desire to be governor of Anambra. He believes he has all it takes to bring development to the state. Ubah, who is not a relation of the Uba tripod, is said to be gunning for the the governorship seat.

He hopes to get the ticket of APGA with the support of Umeh. But with the advent of APC, which has many aspirants from APGA and other constituent ones, Ubah has a bigger task ahead.



Chike Obidigbo 

An industrialist of repute with strong financial muscle to finance his governorship aspiration, Chike Obidigbo is contesting on the platform of PDP.

The Umunya, Oyi Local Government Area-born politician is one of the notable aspirants from Anambra North  to slug it out for the ticket.

He is considered by many as a heavyweight with a deep pocket to fund his political ambition. Though contesting for the very first time, Obidigbo is considered a grassroots politician.

It is yet to be seen whether his experience in business will be good enough to win him the confidence and votes of Anambra people.

Andy Uba 

•Andy Uba
•Andy Uba

Andy Uba, senator representing Anambra South, is one of the topmost contenders for the governorship ticket of PDP.

His greatest strength is his financial muscle, but the ignoble role his brother, Chris, played in the kidnap saga of Chris Ngigie in 2003 might just be his greatest undoing in getting the ticket and winning the race.

Andy Uba won the governorship election in 2007 on the platform of PDP with more than one million votes and was sworn-in, but lost the seat 17 days after, following a declaration by the Supreme Court that Governor Obi’s tenure was yet to end.

A veteran of Anambra gubernatorial elections, who vieed for the post in 2010 on the platform of Labour Party and lost, Andy Uba is aiming to get the PDP concede the ticket to him as compensation for his loss in 2007.




Chukwuma Soludo 


A former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and PDP candidate in the 2010 election, Professor Chukwuma Soludo declared for the APC last week.

Soludo, who hails from Aniocha Local Government Area in Anambra Central, is believed to have the financial muscle needed for the challenge. While some believe  his interest in running again is borne out of his desire to actualise his quest to fast-track development in the state, others think he does not deserve to rule the state.

They accused him of staying away from the state all through his time as governor of Central Bank, but surrounded himself with thieves and depended on corrupt Abuja politicians to deliver the state to him on a platter of gold.

Emma Anosike 

Emma Anosike was deputy governorship candidate of Soludo in the 2010 governorship election and former House of Representatives member who has been a regular feature in elections in Anambra.

He later contested and won a seat at the Senate, but his tenure was truncated shortly thereafter by a court judgment which sacked him and handed the mandate to Joy Emodi.

Chinwoke Mbadinuju 

He was elected governor of Anambra in 1999, on the plank of PDP, but failed to secure the ticket for a second term.

•Mbadinuju: Can he make it
•Mbadinuju: Can he make it

It is widely believed that his ambition to get a second stint at the Government House in Awka could be marred by his entanglement with godfathers who ensured he executed little or no projects during his 1999 to 2003 tenure.

An indigene of Ihiala in Anambra South, Mbadinuju is lobbying the national leadership of PDP to allow him to have a second tenure as governor.

Obinna Uzoh 

Like Mbadinuju, Obinna Uzoh hails from Ihiala. He sought the governorship ticket in 2003 on the platform of PDP, but lost out to Chris Ngige, allegedly because of imposition of candidate.

Uzoh defected to the National Democratic Party, NDP, in 2003 to enable him get the governorship ticket but lost the election to Chris Ngigie. He hopes his philanthropy will get him get the PDP ticket.

Alex Obiogbolu 

A medical doctor by training, Alex Obiogbolu hails from Onitsha, the commercial hub of the state.

Obiogbolu’s name might not ring a bell outside Anambra State, but it is generally believed that he has had his eyes on Obi’s job for a long time now. This man enjoys the support of youths across the three senatorial districts of the state, and has been mobilising wealthy individuals in the state to support his candidature.

Prof. Dora Akunyili 

Prof. Dora Akunyili
Prof. Dora Akunyili

If there is anyone whose aspiration is yet to be clear, it is the former Information Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili.

In view of her pedigree as director of the National Food and Drugs Administration and Control, many Anambrarians believe that the state would be better off for it if she was given the opportunity to rule as governor. For this reason, they are clamouring for her to join the race.

Presently, though, it is still unclear whether she would yield to such pressure.

However, one reason adduced by some as reason she appeared to have lost interest in the race is the animosity between her and her in-law, Professor Soludo, which escalated to near-violence when she accused the former CBN governor of sending thugs after her during the burial of Gloria, Soludo’s mother in-law and elder sister of Dora.

Akunyili had in a press statement she issued, accused Soludo of blaming her for his failure in the 2010 governorship election. “Since he lost the last gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Prof. Soludo has singled me out as the source of his failure to win the election,” she said.

Akunyili, who is perceived as above engaging in squabbles, is said to be doing everything possible to avoid further hostilities with Soludo.

Chijioke Ndubuisi 

A lawyer by training, Chijioke Ndubuisi who hails from Obosi, Anambra North, is not new to governorship races. He contested the 2010 elections on the banner of the National Democratic Party, NDP.

This time, he has chosen the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, to run for the Government House.

“My contention remains that the best candidate would emerge as governor irrespective of the zone he comes from,” he said. He added that the important thing is whether or not the person chosen can deliver and meet the aspiration of the people of Anambra State.

—Jethro Ibileke/Awka

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