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More than 30 governorship candidates have been lined up for the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra State. This is a huge number by every standard but it is one of the ugly realities of Nigeria's pluralistic democracy. Among the frontrunners in the governorship contest are the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano (PGA), Chief Tonry Nwoye (APC), Chief Osita Chidoka (UPP) and Chief Oseloka Obaze (PDP).

More than 30 governorship candidates have been lined up for the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra State. This is a huge number by every standard but it is one of the ugly realities of Nigeria's pluralistic democracy. Among the frontrunners in the governorship contest are the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano (PGA), Chief Tonry Nwoye (APC), Chief Osita Chidoka (UPP) and Chief Oseloka Obaze (PDP).

The November 18 election has been described as a defining moment for the people of Anambra State as prominent Igbo leaders of the APC and the PDP who are not indigenes of the state have teamed up and constituted themselves a fortress against the incumbent. But despite the Armada ranged against Obiano's reelection by Anambra deep pockets, Orji Uzor Kanu and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, pundits say it has become clear that the impressive performance of Obiano which has endeared him to the people, the fallouts of rancorous primaries in PDP and APC, zoning policy in addition to the clamour for political unity in Igbo land, etc, kidnapping of Ngige will all play out to determine the winner.
The politics of Zoning
Former Governor Peter Obi four years ago played up the politics of zoning and Governor Willie Obiano emerged. Since his emergence the people of Anmabra State seem to have agreed that zoning is a better way to follow to achieve inclusiveness and progress. Thus, politicians in the state claim that Anambra South is the next in line after Obiano in line with the principle of zoning. It is also believed in Anambra State that the principle of zoning largely influenced the selection of the various governorship candidates of the political parties, and as such the next zone which is said to be favoured after Obiano will support the APGA whose candidate has become the surest insurance against truncating their own turn.
Interestingly, three of the major contenders to the governorship seat of the state that is, incumbent Governor Willie Obiano of APGA, Oseloka Obaze of PDP and Toney Nwoye of APC, are from same Anambra North, while Anambra South, Dr Alex Ekwueme's zone, is said to be next to produce the governor of the state after the next four years.
This informs why the former Vice President chose to back Governor Obiano instead of the PDP that picked his daughter as running mate to Oseloka Obaze. Dr Ekwueme, while throwing his support for Obiano said, "Even purely from a selfish point of view and as somebody from the Southern Senatorial District of Anambra State, it is in our interest that he (Obiano) should have a second term of four years because once he finishes that, there will be no question of anybody coming to contest with us".
Impositions in PDP and APC
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) will be approaching the Anambra State November 18 governorship election as a fractured house. This is as a result of the crisis that rocked the party after its primary election. This is as a result of allegations of imposition of the guber candidate on the party.
The Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah who was one of the aspirants in the primary election has left the party and pitched tent with APGA. During an interview with Channels Television in September, Dr Ubah warned that the PDP was digging its own grave. He said that impunity must stop in the PDP, adding that the PDP governorship primary election was "a show of shame as it was marred by obvious irregularities, leaving little to be desired and more questions than answers from the relevant authorities and party officials". He also accused former Governor Peter Obi of orchestrating the PDP crisis, even as he said that the delegates list was manipulated. He said, “To my greatest dismay and in tandem with the sinister plans of those who were saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a free and fair ad-hoc ward delegate election and consequently, primary election, the list of delegates were hoarded, starving aspirants of the most important tool needed for the campaign to commence.”
Ifeanyi Ubah has since left the PDP and declared support for incumbent Governor Willie Obiano and APGA candidate in the November 18 election. In an emotion laden letter to his supporters, he noted that his decision to support Obiano for second term “marks a turning point in my political life as I take a giant leap into that which will spur the advancement of my dream for an ideal and prosperous Anambra State. It has been a bumpy ride considering where I started from, the rough roads I have been through and challenges I have faced in search for the light at the end of the tunnel”.
The APC is not without its own headache as the circumstances which produced Dr Tony Nwoye as the candidate has already fractionalized the party. Senator Andy Uba, the second runner up has been in court challenging Nwoye's election. This is following the accusation of irregularities in the primary election, even as it was alleged that Chief Emeka Offor meddled with the primary election to favour his anointed, Nwoye.
Unsatisfied with the emergence of Nwoye as the candidate of the APC, Senator Andy Uba headed to court. In a petition he wrote against the emergence of Nwoye, he alleged irregularities in the process and wondered why the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), the Anambra State Television Authorized that covered the August 26 governorship primary election of Anambra State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), did not cover the accreditation and voting process, “but instead focused on the collation and release of results?” He also claimed that the delegates accredited at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, were not the same delegates that actually cast votes at the Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre.
According to the petition addressed to the chairman and members of the appeal committee, Senator Uba declared: “It is my duty and responsibility to bring to your knowledge certain sharp practices and irregularities, which marred the just concluded primary election which includes the following:
“It is on record that during the accreditation of delegates, which took place at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, Hon. Tony Nwoye, brought in members of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), into the arena. The thugs/NANS members chased away the authentic delegates the moment their names were mentioned for accreditation and in the place of the authentic delegates, the thugs entered as delegates.”
Apart from the internal wrangling of the APC, many pundits posit that perhaps the greatest obstacle to the APC governorship candidate is the widely held view that he played a role in the kidnapping of former Governor Chris Ngige, who was kidnapped while serving his first term as Governor. This issue of his alleged involvement also reared up in the just concluded public debate on the November 18 election. Interestingly, while the PDP and the APC are neck deep in legal matters and internal wranglings as a result of their respective primary election, APGA is committedly backing their Governor and candidate for a second term.
There are testimonies that the Obiano administration has performed creditably. One of the areas the Governor has performed very well is in Agriculture. According to the Governor during a chat with journalists, "In Agriculture, the state is doing very well and has attained self a sufficiency in rice production. We consume 320,000 metric tonnes and we produce 375,000 metric tonnes per annum, from 80,000 metric tonnes when we assumed office.
"What I want to leave behind as my legacy when I leave office after eight years is to ensure that Anambra State is self sufficient in its revenue sources so that we will not have to be waiting for Abuja to run the affairs of governance".
Also, informed sources in Anambra State say that before the coming of Governor Obiano, Anambra State was still sitting in darkness, but things changed when Obiano assumed office. They say that the Governor has changed the face of the state and tightened its security through the Operation Light Up Anambra State and Operation Nkpochapu.
Obiano's achievements in Anambra State include Onitsha Shoprite, Agulu Teaching Hospital, roads and flyovers, schools and hospitals, etc. But perhaps, one of the greatest achievements of the Governor is the gas plant in Awka, which is said to have the capacity to employ 700 youths. The gas plant which is a mega plant has other facilities such as farmers market, French bakery, pharmacy store, automated car maintenance center, car wash, warehouse, supermarket, etc.
Although, Obiano's traducers including former Governor Peter Obi who left APGA for the PDP, would want the public to believe that Obiano has not performed impressively, it has become public knowledge that he has a personal grouse against the Governor. It is said that Peter Obi's grouse stems from the sacking of his appointees: Oseloka Obaze who is now the governorship candidate of the PDP in the November 18 governorship election in the state, and others.
Governor Obiano is one of the two governors that did not collect the bailout fund from the Federal government when most states were reported to have gone bankrupt. In the midst of the recession that hit the country, Governor Obiano did not only refuse to sack workers but went ahead to increase their salaries.
Also, Governor Obiano had signed a $150m Independent Power Plant deal which would boost the economic activities of the state. The power plant deal which was signed with an indigenous firm, UD Integrated Petroleum Production Company of Nigeria Ltd (UDIPPCO) is a 80-mega watt power plant, and will on completion power cottage industries, manufacturing plants, and numerous other commercial activities. The power plant project is also planned to bring total volume investment of $1.4b to the state. The power plant is planned to provide electricity for the entire state, its industrial clusters of Onitsha, Nnewi, Ozubulu and Awka Anambra people say that these performance records put Obiano in good stead over others.
Governor Obiano's second term has got serious endorsements from prominent leaders in the state, such as Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Igwe Achebe, Chukwuma Soludo, Dr Alex Ekwueme whose daughter is running mate to Obaze. Dr Ekwueme's endorsement of Obiano has been described as a monumental endorsement. While endorsing Governor Obiano, he said in an interview: "The people of Anambra South cannot wait for another 8 years; Governor Obiano deserves to be returned for the second term because of his commendable performance in office." He added: "In retirement, I consider myself an elder statesman. But at a personal level, I am close to Governor Obiano and I think he is doing well and should be given a chance to complete his second term".
Also, former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, in a press release in Awka at the weekend said that Anambra people "need to keep APGA alive", adding that "What is happening in Imo where APC and PDP are collapsing into APGA and Anambra where principal leaders of the PDP (are) moving into APGA are quite encouraging.”
Another critical endorsement of Governor Obiano for second term is the fiery Rev Father Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria. In a video that had gone viral, Rev Father Mbaka prayed for the fortification of Governor Obiano ahead of the governorship election.
Praying for Governor Obiano who knelt down at the altar, Mbaka said:
"I commit your son's health into your hands. Answer him and heal him.
"May the God of Israelites, Adoration Ministry answer you! Father, glorify your name in this your son Willie Obiano. Thank you for the good works you are using him to do in Anambra State."
Apart from prominent leaders in the state, prominent political groups have also endorsed the Governor for a second term in office. One of the groups known as Akpokuodike Action Group for Continuity said that their decision to support the Governor for a second term is due to his sterling and unprecedented performance in office which has made the state a reference point.
Also, the widows in Anambra State whose economic life has improved since the Obiano administration has endorsed the Governor for second term. Speaking in Awka, the National President of the National
Association of Nigerian Widows (NANIWO), Mrs. Cecelia Cobham, said that it is important to reelect the Governor in order to guarantee and sustain the flow of good governance, security and freedom for people of Anambra State.
Other groups include: communities, civil war veterans, over 2000 Caring Family Enhancement Initiative, otherwise called CAFÉ Ambassadors, farmers, pensioners and civil servants.
Political unity and marginalization:
It is believed that politics in Anambra State is a very delicate game, but political observers opine that the emergence of Governor Obiano from Anambra North four years ago was a deliberate move to resolve the nagging issue of marginalization of Anambra North Senatorial District.
This is as a result of the fact that all former governors of the state had come from Anambra South and Central districts. Informed sources in the state however say that to really come off the problem of marginalization of Anambra North lies the wisdom in allowing Obiao complete his second term. They warn that the people of the state should not make the mistake of voting another candidate from even
Anambra North because it would confer 12 years of governorship on Anambra North which will also disorganize the political harmony in the state.
According to the former state chairman of the PDP, Prince Kenneth Emeakayi: "Going by the way political parties nominated their candidates for the November election, it means that zoning has come to stay in Anambra State, and if zoning has been entrenched in Anambra, we have to follow it.
"Before now, most people in the state were crying of marginalization of Anambra North and so the North Zone is entitled to eight years governorship. If they bring any other candidate apart from Obiano, then Anambra North will do another eight years from next year…The promise by the PDP candidate, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, that he will do only four years even makes it worse because at the national level, PDP had failed to keep such a promise.
"In 2011, PDP said Jonathan would do only one tenure but went on to contest for second term. Some PDP members even denied that there was such agreement. The question is: why should we take the risk of relying on a promise from the PDP candidate? The state cannot place such a trust because he can come up towards the end of his four years to say he wants to complete certain projects.
"If Anambra people go with Obiano, they do not need his trust because he must leave after four years as provided by the Nigerian constitution. So there is no need to subject Anambra South to wait for another eight years when there is a shorter way of starting their turn after four years.
"Again, why should Anambra Central risk waiting for another 16 years to have governorship slot? The best option is for Anambra North to finish its four years under Willie Obiano. They should go and rally round. If he completes the four years, th argument about zoning will not raise its head again in this state because it would have been normalized. Except we return Willie Obiano, in the next four years, there will still he argument about zoning."
On the other hands, it is very imperative for Ndi Anambra to continue to hold on to APGA. This is more important as the Igbo need a strong voice for national/regional unity, so that the Igbo will have a strong political platform that negotiate for them. The South West did so with AD until they went into a merger to produce APC. If the Igbo do not have a strong platform, they will continue to play as beggars in the political scene.
 Underscoring the imperative of political unity for Ndigbo through APGA, Dr. Ifeanyi Uba noted that   “Being an indigene of Nnewi, home to notable Nigerians like General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi), HRH Prince Nwafor Orizu, Dr. Chuchu Okongwu, Chief Cletus Ibeto, Dr. Ikem Okeke, HRH Igwe Kenneth Orizu amongst a host of others and one of the biggest industrial cities in Nigeria, I have taken a position to champion the cause of the Igbo race by striving to ensure the growth and sustenance of the only party bequeathed to us by the Great Ikemba Nnewi, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). I have decided to join the struggle to ensure that our legacy lives on as we must uphold the identity of the Igbos as handed down to us by Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu.
“While APGA might be seen as a regional party, there is no doubt in my mind that we can make it a force to reckon with nationally in the mould of Alliance for Democracy (AD) that metamorphosed into Action Congress (AC), then later transformed to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now the All Progressives Congress (APC) which currently leads at the centre.
“Based on this and my conscience, in truth, before God and man, I have made up my mind and resolved to join and support the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). My political journey which started from APGA has taken me to two other political parties, Labour Party and then PDP. I am extremely glad to be back to where I belong. Nke a bu nke anyi! I want to assure party faithfuls that I have returned to add immense value to the party and grow the party with the experience I have gathered over the years in politics.”
The Kidnap of Chris Ngige:
In his recent open letter of Wednesday, November 8, 2017, APC Chieftain in Anambra State, Mr. Echezona Okechi, told President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the APC governorship candidate, Toney Nwoye, is a product they cannot market, even as he feared the APC might lose the November 18 guber election. “We today have a gubernatorial candidate a person none of us can market to ourselves, let alone the people of Anambra state who are now used to good governance”, he wrote.
The APC chieftain is not the only person in doubt of the credibility and marketability of the APC candidate. During the governorship debate in the state on Sunday, 12 November, 2017, the APC candidate was embarrassed as questions on his alleged involvement in cult activities while in the university reared up. He could not also defend questions on the allegation that he is not a Medical Doctor, when he was said to have dropped from school. Senator Andy Uba had also accused him of bringing thugs into the venue of the Primary election. Moreover, he has been accused of being a mastermind in the kidnap of former Governor Chris Ngige. This too record up on Sunday during the governorship debate.
Fear of rigging
The fear that APC is planning on rigging the November 18 governorship election is rife. This is also the gamut of Mr. Okechi's open letter. According to him, “it is alarming to hear (APC Chieftains) boast regularly in the open: “We must conquer Anambra state buy fair or foul means. Anambra people would want to see a situation where the will of the voters are not subverted by rigging. This is why the Presidency should heed the call by Mr. Okechi not to “allow a bunch of desperate people to take their well earned personal reputations to the dogs by turning a blind eye to sacrilege by fellow party members”.
The APC should practice the change they preached by ensuring that the November 18 governorship election is not rigged.
Anambra political tradition of Pro-Igbo party
The people of Anambra State should not think of truncating the age long political tradition of playing pro-Igbo politics. Right from the days of the NCNC, NPP and the formation of APGA, Anambra state has played the pro-Igbo politics. Since 2003, APGA has been the wining party in the state and this has helped in no small measure in protecting the political interest of the Igbo. Retaining APGA means continued strong voice for Ndigbo in the politics of Nigeria.
The judgment of the Civil Society
The civil society organizations in Anambra have risen to the occasion to play very important roles in the governorship election, with the sad verdict that the 36 contenders to Obiano's throne in Awka are not serious. One of the civil societies, the Int'l Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has said that most of the non-incumbent candidates in the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State as pretenders who lack the requisite capacity to vie for the number one public office in the state.
In a statement issued Saturday in Onitsha by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Democracy & Good Governance Programme, Chinwe Umeche; and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Intersociety observed that the contenders are only pretentiously seek to govern, but with clear intents of gaining materially by contracts or cash; or earn board or other appointments. “Going by our open letter of 25th October 2017 addressed to 36 non-incumbent governorship candidates in Anambra State, none of them is found to have a clear-cut plan or a comprehensive blueprint for better development of Anambra State. Except verifiable statistics of former Governor Peter Obi and those independently investigated by the state's leading rights CSOs, none of the non-incumbent candidates can explain how and where the incumbent Governor of Anambra State failed in governance.”
Intersociety took particular interests in the frontrunners, saying that the PDP candidate, Chief Oseloka Obaze has no comprehensive blueprint yet for the development of Anambra State including health, education and safe water if he is elected as Anambra Governor.
“Absence of a comprehensive blueprint from Candidate Obaze has also kept Anambra people in the dark as to what his cabinet size will be, amount to be collected as monthly security votes, number of political appointees, what his governance overheads will look like, debts policy and mobilisation of non-loan resources; status of the state's Local Government system and its care-taker administrative policy; his policy direction on industrialisation, environment, roads and their maintenance; justice reform and human rights; control of violent crime and concept of human security, etc”, it said.
On the UPP candidate, Chief Osita Chidoka, Intersociety said that though he trails “Oseloka Obaze as a candidate with some promising governance packages, but again, they are amorphous and unwritten. That is to say they are not comprehensively documented into a written and understandable governance blueprint.
And for the candidate of the APC, the groupn said, “For Anthony Nwoye, we cannot rightly place or link him with any identifiable and understandable governance blueprint or package for governance of the state, if elected the next Governor. Apart from banking heavily on federal might and machinery, Candidate Nwoye appears not to have any blueprint to present to Anambra electorate. He may most likely be waiting to emerge 'by chance' as Anambra Governor with likelihood of 'government of anything goes.”
 “The cardinal question as to how each of the 36 non-incumbent candidates intends to develop Anambra State in commensuration with that of former Governor Peter Obi and in prohibition of Obiano's governance style is yet to be empirically answered by most of the candidates. They are largely busy beating about the bush. They also kept mute till date concerning what their respective policy towards the Local Government system and its undemocratic structure will be, if any of them is elected next Governor of the state. This strongly suggests that if any of them is elected, it is going to be business as usual.”
In the presence of obvious lack of credible alternative to the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano, Anambra people are most likely to vote overwhelming for him for a better deal. Whether the federal authorities will allow votes to count or otherwise is a different ball game, in which case Obiano should be prepared for a big legal batter after the election.

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