The first term of Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano will expire in Nobember, next year. The goernor is recontesting on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The All Preogressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are warming up for the contest. Correspondent NWANOSIKE ONU examines the preparation for the election.
Ahead of next year’s governorship election in Anambra State, the All Preogressive Grand Allicance (APGA), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have returned to the drawing board.
According to APGA sources, Governor Willy Obiano, whose first term will expire in November, next year, is re-contesting. In the PDP, eyes are on Senator Andy Uba, aveteran governorship contender. In the APC, no fewer than six aspirants are struggling for the ticket.
The aspirants are the House of Representatives member from Anambra East and West Constituency, Hon. Tony Nwoye, former governorship candidate of APGA Dr. Chike Obidigbo and the APC National Auditor, Chief George Muoghalu.
Others are former National Democratic Party (NDP) governorship candidate Dr. Obinna Uzor and Sir Barth Nwibe, who is perceived as one of the APC leading lights in the Southeast.
The APC leader, Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Employment and Labour, is not contesting. He told reporters in Awka, the state capital, that he preferred to face his ministerial job and lend support to President Muhammadu Buhari in the arduous task of repositioning the country. Ngige sees the governorship election as a distraction. But, he has the pedigree and charisma to lead the APC candidate to victory.
The former Central Bank Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, is still playing a hide and seek game, unlike Senator Uba, who is working assiduously to get the PDP ticket.
The ambition of these gladiators has sent jitters down the spines of the ruling party. The APGA is facing many challenges. It is swimming in serious crisis at the state and national levels. Its leaders are at war and there is no end in sight.
The APC chieftains are studying the situation in the APGA. They are aggressive. None of the contestants is resting on his oars in a bid to get the ticket for the November 2017 election.
Although Ngige is still the towering figure in the APC, the contenders are not push overs. Unlike before, when Ngige could swing the votes, there is an emerging class of APC stalwarts who can add value to the chapter. Since last year, the chapter had enlarged its coast, following the gale of defections from the PDP.
However, many factors will shape the poll. Apart from the strength of the parties, religion is a factor in Anambra politics. The Anglican, Catholic and Pentecostal dichotomy will play an important role in the emergence of the candidate and the election.
The APGA and PDP had always relied on the Catholic majority to triumph in major elections from the days of former Governor Peter Obi. This has aroused the consciousness of other denominations.
What calibre of men are the six aspirants gunning for the APC ticket?
He was a former President of the National Association of Nigeria students (NANS). He has also served as the Chairman of the PDP in Anambra.
Nwoye contested for the position in 2014 in the PDP after a protracted court case. He was elected into the National Assembly. But, he later defected to the APC. Initially, he was denied the ticket by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The ticket was restored to him by the court. He left the PDP, following the protracted crisis in the party.
Nwoye, a catholic, is seen as a great mobiliser and a grassroots politician by the people, not only in Anambra East Council, but throughout the state.
Besides, he is loved by the youths. His kind gestures has endeared him to top politicians, women and other stakeholders. The lawmaker has a large heart. It is alleged that he is being backed for the governorship by some political juggernauts, including the oil magnate, Prince Arthur Eze.
If he gets the APC ticket, Obiano will have a big challenger, because they are from the same Anambra East council area.
Muoghalu is popularly called Ohamadike; meaning a well-known warrior.
He is the APC National Auditor. He was also a governorship candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He has goodwill among the people. He is versed in public relations. These were his assets in 2003 when he vied for the governor. Muoghalu produced the best jingle that the state spell bound.
According to observers, the APC seems to recognise the long term services of its members, when it comes to allotting positions. Thus, the track record of service stands Muoghalu out of the long list of aspirants for the ticket. He is popular and he has a formidable structure.
He may not have the financial muscle to battle the other heavy weights, but loyalty, dedication to service and his humility are likely to be his selling points in the race. Besides, he is a Catholic.
He s the Chief Executive of GOCUZ Group of Companies. He has degrees in law, public relations and business administration.
Uzor contested for the governorship in 2003 on the platform of the National Democratic Party (NDP). He came fourth in the poll.
Since then, he has very visible on the political stage. Many believed that he added value to the PDP during elections.
Last year, the lawyer defected to the APC from the PDP. His defection was applauded by his admirers, who believed that he had suffered in politics like Senator Annie Okonkwo.
Uzor is an ardent Catholic like Ngige and he may curry the minister’s favour for the plum position during the primary. It is believed that his goodwill and benevolence would assist him during the contest. But, the party may deny him the opportunity because of its tradition of recognising long term service. Uzor is a new comer to the party.
Other aspirants, including Nwoye and Obidigbo, are likely to suffer the same fate. But, party leaders are still assuring that they will give a level-playing ground to the contenders.
Many politicians hold Nwibe in high esteem. He is a close asociate of Ngige. He is also a veteran of many political battles.
But, despite his closeness to the senator, he is perceived as a politician who has not contested any election, although he has assisted some politicians during campaigns. He has been relevant to the extent that he has teamed up with others during elections.
Nwibe has financial muscle and he is respected for his philanthropy in his Igboukwu, Aguata Local Government Area. He is a humble party man, but he lacks the temperament and charisma of a governor. He is a Catholic.
He is the only Anglican member, who defected to the APC from the APGA with his foot soldiers after it was announced that he had reconciled with Obiano.
The people still see him as a political neophyte like Nwibe, despite contesting the APGA ticket, which he finally lost in court.
Obidigbo is the Chairman of Hardis and Bromedis Company. He is largely perceived as a businessman rather than a politician.
He is highly respected in the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN). If he joins hands with whoever that will emerge as the APC candidate, it will be a good leap for the party.
He was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 2010 PDP governorship candidate.
The election was won by Ngige of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). But, Ngige was allegedly denied the opportunity to bounce back because some entrenched interests did not want the opposition party to steer the affairs of ther state. The victory was given to the APGA.
Soludo is as solid as a rock; academically sound, full of native intelligence and he is financially buoyant.
Soludo is regarded as the best governor Anambra never had. Although he has not declared for the APC, it was an open secret that he had sympathy for the party, even before the presidential election.
However, critics have pointed out that Soludo does not have any structure on ground to win the election. He is a first class theorist.
For now, he has been playing a hide and seek game over the 2017 election. But, one of his allies told The Nation that he is interested in the race. But, he is yet to decide on the platform. With the speculation of a mega party in the horizon, who knows where his interest will go?
So far, the aspirants are men of solid reputation. They are household names in Anambra.
There are puzzles: Will the APC impose a candidate? Will aspirants be given a level-playing ground? Will the party conduct a credible primary? Will it learn from the mistakes of the past?
From Anambra 2017: Six in race for APC’s ticket by The Nation (Politics)