As the people of Anambra State wait for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the timetable for the state's governorship election scheduled for this year, under ground politicking is taking place, as aspirants prepare to test their popularity.
Indeed, as the days go by, more and more aspirants are directly and indirectly joining the fray. While some personally want to contest, some are being asked by those who know their potentiality, to join the race. At the last count, there are no fewer than 42 aspirants in the People Democratic Party (PDP alone. Also, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) have many aspirants.
However, checks revealed that while some of the aspirants are serious, many others are pretenders.
In the race for the Anambra governorship seat are two former governors, who incidentally, were both removed by the court, for the current governor, Mr. Peter Obi to assume and continue office, at different times.
Below are some of the top contenders, including those who joined on their own and those being lobbied to contest.
Barr Dr. Obinna Uzoh:
This urbane, and unassuming politician hails from Ihiala, in Ihiala Local Government Area. He contested the state’s governorship election in 2003 but lost out in the PDP due to the imposition of candidate. Later, his campaign for the seat, on the ticket of the National Democratic party (NDP), was devoid of bitterness. The fact that the court eventually annulled the victory of Ngige and gave it to Governor Obi shows that the contest was not free and fair and therefore, Uzoh’s popularity cannot be rated with the outcome of the 2003 election.
Uzoh, who holds Bachelor’s degrees in Law and Business Administration, master’s degree in Marketing and PhD in Economic, from the University of Lagos and Lagos State University, has been under pressure to contest this year’s election. He has the support of Catholic Church youths, who openly endorsed him last year. Also, the South East Students Association has thrown their support behind him. He could be said to have won the hearts of youths because of his philanthropic gestures. He has offered scholarship to indigent youths in various fields, in Nigerian universities and abroad. He is completing a students hostel at the Catholic Youth Village, Awka, which will be commissioned on March 16, 2013, ahead of his 50th birthday coming up the next day.
Even when he was not talking about being Anambra governor, Uzoh has done much to help the downtrodden. Not long ago, he was among the first individuals to donate relief materials to flood victims in Anambra State. He also donated sachet and bottled water to the people of Amansea, whose source of drinking water was polluted by the dumping of corpses in the Ezu River. He also put on ground a tanker to fetch water and dispense to the villagers for one month, to solve the drinking water problem of the community. Also, he recently sponsored free rural health treatment in some communities Anambra.
Uzoh, as chairman of GOCUZ Group Limited, which is into rural electrification, oil and gas, law, properties, engineering etc, has run a successful business and has therefore, enough experience in economy. He said that his aim is to restore the glory on Anambra, through the transformation of its infrastructure, health care, education, commerce and industry, to create wealth and employment, etc.
If antecedent and what he has done to help the people of Anambra are the yardsticks to picking the governor, Uzoh stands a good chance of emerging in PDP and he has all it takes to beat other candidates in the contest proper.
Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige:
Despite the fact that the court said that the election that brought him into Government House, Awka in 2003, on the platform of the PDP, was fraudulent and therefore he must vacate office, Ngige has remained a popular politician in the state. Currently a senator on the ticket of ACN, he was governor for t three years, during which he had running battle with his political godfathers.
While in office as governor, Ngige, won the hearts of the people, with what he did as well as his resistance of political godfathers. Since he left office, he has had his eyes on the throne. In the last governorship election, in 2010, he came third. He was to contest the senatorial seat in 2011 and won with a little margin against Prof Dora Akunyili, former Minister of Information and Communication. If he contests for this year’s governorship election, he will remain as a senator, which his tenure would end in 2015. Therefore, if he loses the election, he will continue in office as senator.
Senator Andy Uba:
Senator Andy Uba, like Dr. Chris Ngige, was a governor of Anambra State. In fact, he would pass for the governor who served the shortest tenure, as he was sacked by the courts two weeks after being sworn in. He is presently the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District.
Uba had served as Personal Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and commends influence and wealth. His generosity has endeared him to a lot of people, despite the fact that he contested the Anambra guber in 2010 on the ticket of Labour Party and lost.
Many Anambra people are however, critical of Senator Uba’s ambition for the governorship of the state. This not withstanding, his grip of the structure of PDP in Anambra gives him an edge in the party. However, some people believe that if he succeeds in picking PDP’s ticket he may not win the election. This is so because people remember the battle between his brother, Chris Uba and Ngige, especially the role they played in the flawed election that gave Ngige victory before the court sacked him.
Senator Annie Okonkwo
Senator Annie Okonkwo has represented Anambra Central Senatorial District in the past. He lost his reelection bid, when he could not pick the PDP ticket and also when he could not muster enough popularity as the candidate of Accord Party.
Now, Okonkwo is aiming at contesting the election. This is why he has been romancing APGA and of late the opposition coalition, Action Progressives Congress (APC). He has tried to be governor a number of times in the past and failed at various stages, either at nomination or actual election level.
Some people say he lacks the gift of the garb or the eloquence, which is essential for any politics. The presence of Senator Chris Ngige, from his local government area and senatorial zone, in the same APC makes Okonkwo’s ambition a mirage.
Prof. Chukwuma Soludo
Former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Soludo hails from Aniocha Local Government Area of Anambra State. He lost the guber election in 2010, to Governor Obi, after his controversial emergence as PDP candidate. In the last election, PDP stakeholders felt that he failed to go through the normal process and therefore have not forgiven him. Nothing at the moment suggests that these people have forgiven him. If they have not, it would be an uphill task for him to get the party’s ticket again.
However, Soludo’s recent encounter with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over his tenure as CBN governor may adversely affect his ambition.
Hon. Uche Ekwunife:
She’s a flamboyant member of House of Representatives. She tried her hands in the governorship race in Anambra State in 2010 as a candidate of the Progressive people Alliance (PPA) and lost. She has, at one time or another been a member of PDP, PPA and APGA.
Although Ekwunife is popular, which explains why she has been winning elections to the House of Reps, political analyst believe that the fact that she’s a woman will always count on her in a contest for Anambra guber seat. This is so because nothing has shown that Anambra people want a female governor.
Dr. Chike Obidigbo
Dr. Chike Obidigbo from Umunya, in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State is one of the highly rated governorship aspirants from Anambra North, which is saying that it’s their turn to produce the governor. Basking in Governor Obi’s promise to zone the seat to the senatorial zone, many aspirants have joined the race.
Obidigbo is reputed as one of the leading industrialist in Nigeria, with a record of more than 50 products. Although he has not contested any elective position, he is believed to have enough resources to fund his campaign, which is a factor most other aspirants cannot boast of. However, the fact that Anambra North is looking for a consensus candidate may be a minus for him, as Governor Obi appears interested in another aspirant.
Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo:
Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo, who hails from Okija, in Ihiala Local Government of Anambra State is the Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters. He’s a classmate of President Goodluck Jonathan and has worked with him right from Bayalsa State and up till now.
At present, there’s nothing on ground to show that Nwamkpo is serious about being governor, except his belief that Jonathan will give him PDP ticket.
Prince John Emeka
Prince John Emeka from Mmiata Anam, in Anambra West Local Government Area, was the former Minister of Water Transport. He had earlier contested and won the senatorial seat for Anambra North Senatorial Zone, but the election was eventually mollified by the Supreme Court, which gave victory to Senator Mrs. Okadigbo, over the PDP senatorial primaries.
Emeka is, among other things, banking on the decision of Governor Obi to allow Anambra North produce the next governor of the state. Recently, he summoned a meeting of political stakeholders in the area, to intimate than of his desire to seek their mandate.
Hon. Victor Afam Ogene:
A member of the House of Representatives, he appears to be the only aspirant who has mustered the courage to post his posters around the state. He is from Ogbaru Local Government, in Anambra North Senatorial Zone. He is one of those who believe that the governorship of the state should be reserved for his senatorial zone, which has not produced the Governor of the state before now.
Ogene is a fine journalist and has done well in the House of Representatives, where he is representing Ogbaru Local Government. Political analysts said that if he is good at the House of Representatives, it is an indication that he could be good as a state Governor. The fact that he made it to the National Assembly in his first attempt shows his popularity and acceptance.