The calculations among key players in the impending race for the Awka seat of power in Anambra state, has commenced ahead of the November 6 governorship election.
Political parties have opened the gates long shut after the last elections at the national and state secretariats.
Already, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has unveiled its aspirants from among which its standard bearer would emerge. The other two traditional contenders alongside the PDP in the previous elections in the state, the ruling All Grand Progressives Alliance (APGA) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are also in the process of selecting their aspirants for the race.
Amid the moves and countermoves in the impending political chess game however, there are factors that will likely alter the calculations such as zoning, alliance, Willie Obiano’s disposition as a sitting governor, and the standing of the respective aspirants.
Zoning is one thorny issue that will determine who becomes the next governor after Obiano leaves office. Zoning would be determined on two levels – within the parties and in the state as a whole.
Investigation by 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE shows that since 1999 to date, five governors – Chimwoke Mbadinuju, Peter Obi, Chris Ngige, Virginia Etiaba and incumbent Obiano have ruled Anambra State with the APGA and PDP inter-changing. The APGA had it three times with Peter Obi, Etiaba and Obiano while the PDP has produced two governors so far in Mbadinuju and Ngige. The APC is yet to produce a governor in Anambra State.
By senatorial zones, the North and the South have produced two governors each; Obiano and Ngige from the North while Mbadinuju and Etiaba from the South. The Central Zone has produced only one governor in Obi. For the upcoming election, APGA has zoned it to the south. The other parties were yet to make their position on the matter public.
Already, the debate on which zone should produce the next governor of the state has since taken the centre stage. Even before the PDP officially declares which zone will produce its governorship candidate, the aspirants from the southern zone are claiming it is their turn. Three aspirants from the zone -Valentine Ozigbo, Ifenna Okwenna and Uche Ekwunife made the case for the south senatorial zone.
Speaking on zoning, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, who confirmed that 16 aspirants – three women and 13 men seeking to fly the party’s flag have been screened and are to go for primaries at a date to be announced later, said such decision is that of the state chapter to make.
He also said producing a consensus candidate depends largely on the disposition of the aspirants in the state. “If they agree among themselves to produce a consensus candidate for our party, it is welcome, but such a candidate should be able to win.”
A member of the APGA Central Working Committee Alhaji Ibrahim Garba said the governorship seat was zoned to the south senatorial zone in respect of democracy.
Both the south and northern zones had both produced two governors each in two zones, while the central zone produced just once.
“The party did not consider the central zone because the zone already has its people in high political positions in the state,” he explained.
The Katsina State-born Alhaji Ibrahim who is APGA’s National Financial Secretary told 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE that the party is not going into any alliance any longer. “We are spreading as we have presence in Abuja, Benue, Taraba and Niger states. In the 2023 general elections, we are even going to field a presidential candidate,” he noted.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APGA Tex Okechukwu told the 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE that his party zoned the governorship seat to the south based on understanding. He said “Peter Obi who was APGA governor is from Central while the incumbent Obiano is from North, that is why this time around it was zoned to the south.”
Obiano’s body language
Ever since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on January 19, announced the date for the governorship election in the state, Governor Obiano has not made any public statement on the matter.
21st CENTURY CHRONICLE reports that APC had stood by the governor and supported him to pick his second term ticket. Although his body language is not easy to decipher, analysts said the development could influence his decision on which candidate to support.
Ologbondiyan said “any alliance will fail, because the people are tired of both the APGA in the state and the APC. So it is going to be a win-win for the PDP.”
The APGA is the sitting governor’s party. It has the APC and PDP to contend with in the November 6 governorship election. Over a month ago, it was the trio of a former Central Bank Governor Charles Soludo, Stanley Uzochukwu and Nicholas Ukachukwu aspiring to succeed Obiano.
Three others, Chukwuma Umeoji, Chukwudi Ezenwanko and Damian Okolo, had since joined the fray.
With the party zoning the governorship to the South Senatorial zone, and all six hailing from there, it has been an uneasy calm following the reported preference being given to Soludo. Five of these aspirants without Soludo, met in Awka more than a month ago to select a consensus candidate but could not.
Beyond zoning, the feeling of marginalisation and the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are very appealing to the average Anambra man, how an aspirant is disposed to these twin issues will make or mar his or her chances irrespective of political party.
The Ngige factor
There is rather a curious development in the APC as its aspirants are reluctant to pick forms to contest in the party’s primary. An insider in the APC National secretariat in Abuja told 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE that “only two of the APC aspirants – George Moghalu and Chris Uba – have bought the forms so far. And they bought it secretly.”
The insider who craved anonymity said the aspirants are hesitant because of what happened in 2018 governorship elections, adding that “many APC aspirants bought forms only to discover that the party supported only one, even with that the party went into alliance with APGA which won, just to keep the PDP at bay.
However, the APC is bent on making inroads to the south east before 2023 general elections, so winning Anambra in the words of Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state is a must.
Ngige said “we have started. We are laying the blocks. We did the foundation. We are putting the blocks on. By November, you’ll see the house, the roofing and everything that a complete house has been built.
Ngige’s Special Adviser on Media, Nwachukwu Mbidiwe said his principal has contributed more than anyone to the APC in the state, adding that “the minister has stated his willingness and is not reneging on his promise, he has given his commitment and the APC will win the November 6 governorship election in Anambra,
Mbidiwe dismissed as tissues of lies allegations that Ngige is working against the aspiration of many candidates in the party in some quarters.
Observers wondered why only two aspirants out of the six that initially expressed interest in becoming governor would purchase nomination forms, while questioning the sincerity of the national secretariat on the matter.
Several calls and text messages to the Secretary of the APC National caretaker committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, and the Assistant National Publicity Secretary Edegbe to obtain their comments for the story proved abortive.
Our reporter was at Akpanudoedehe ‘s office only to be informed that he has travelled out of Abuja. Edegbe twice promised to call back, but he never did.