Anambra 2017: Parties in limbo, aspirants in muffled voices
The economic realities in the country seem to have sparked recession in political activities in Anambra State. Of all the famed political investors, otherwise known as financiers, that made things happen in the heydays of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), only the Chairman of Oranto Petroleum, Prince Arthur Eze, still receives hordes of governorship aspirants.
The defection of Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial district, Andy Uba, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), helped to dampen the tempo of politicking in PDP as regards the impending governorship poll.
Apart from giant billboards being mounted by the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and local government tours being undertaken by leaders of Hope Democratic Party (HDP), there is not much by way of serious politicking that usually define governorship election year in Anambra State.
But for the early release of timelines for the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a lot of people would not have believed that a governorship election is billed to hold this year.
Political Parties And Subdued Agitation
Inside the traditional front row political platforms in the state, instead of hyper activities around notable aspirants, what is visible is the search for direction. Surprisingly, within PDP that used to be the pace setter and big spender, only the voice of the state chairman; Prince Ken Emeakayi is being heard.
Apart from sustaining the party by own means, Emeakayi, a veteran of many governorship polls since the administration of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, has in preparation for the November 18 governorship election, stepped up his game as leader of the main opposition party.
The PDP chairman has been taking on the incumbent administration through press conferences and letters. In the latest of such letters, Emeakayi called on the government to account for N97b being total receipts on behalf of the 21 local government councils, stressing that the N20m given out to 177 communities as infrastructure project support under operation choose your project, does not tally with the accruals to the local government councils in the past three years.
Although PDP held a state congress prior to the botched national convention, the camp loyal to Chris Uba protested, a development that made the national chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to contemplate splitting the party structure between the two Ubas, Chris and his elder brother in the senate, Andy.
Ordinarily, with Senator Andy Uba’s defection to APC, the party would have been dominated by Chris, but former Anambra governor, Peter Obi, and his supporters are lining up behind Emeakayi, the known state chairman. However, Sheriff had expressed intention to hold another state congress in some states, including Anambra.
It was perhaps on account of that pending repeat that former Governor Obi, alongside the only Senator from the state, Princess Adaeze Stella Oduah, boycotted the reconciliatory meeting convened by the Sheriff Camp in Anambra.
The presence of Deputy Governors of Enugu and Ebonyi States, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo and Mr. Kelechi Igwe, respectively; gave the impression that the two states have recognised Sheriff as national chairman, despite the reservations by the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction.
But against Sheriff’s promise of setting up a reconciliation committee to unite PDP factions, The Guardian learnt that the state chairman, Emeakayi, supported by Obi and others may challenge the action in court.
Despite the factional national chairman’s assurances that his administration will not change anybody elected at the grassroots and that “everything would be normal,” speculations are rife in the state that the governorship ticket has been reserved for the Chris Uba faction that have been backing Sheriff in the battle for the soul of PDP.
On its part, the incumbent APGA Governor has been patching up internal bickering with the flavour of incumbency. Governor Obiano and his wife, Ebele have been touring the various communities in the state, recalling the many achievements recorded, as well as, promising more people-oriented projects.
But perhaps on account of the challenge coming from Anambra South based on zonal agitations, the governor’s wife’s tours nearly produced a chance occurrence at Ukpor, Nnewi South local council regarding dispute on who actually constructed the village market.
Governor Obiano has also scaled up his project conception as part of his serious chase for a second term mandate. The governor recently signed a memorandum of association for the construction of Anambra Airport at the cost of $2b in his Anambra north senatorial district.
As it turned out, the Airport project became a point of disputation between the APGA government and its under-dog rival, United Progressive Party (UPP). In a statement signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Uche Amaku, UPP picked holes in the airport project describing it as cheap popularity scheme intended to pull wool over the eyes of Anambra people.
UPP stated: “Truth be said, the construction of an airport, whether cargo or not, requires rigorous planning, painstaking surveys, environment impact assessment of location, soil testing, terrestrial and aerial mapping and a lot of technical and professional appraisal.
“One thing is clear, you cannot build an airport with $2m and a MoU is not an agreement, because MoU is a preliminary step to signing an agreement. Most importantly, it is not possible for a state government to build an airport in Nigeria without approval from the Federal Government since construction of airport falls within the exclusive legislative list in the nation’s constitution.”
Aspirants In Chest Thumping
The handful of aspirants that have interest to contest the November 18 governorship poll and their supporters have been engaging in chest thumping, with most claiming electoral superiority over others.
In the APC fold, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Barth Nwibe and Chief George Muoghalu, see themselves as front runners, even as they vow that the national ruling party would repeat the feat it achieved at the national level by defeating the incumbent in the state.
Muoghalu told The Guardian in an interview that despite the fact of his long political association with President Muhammadu Buhari, the fact that he has no political baggage places him at a vantage position.
Stressing that there must be reward for loyalty; Muoghalu recalled that not being a fresher, he is well prepared for the governorship seat, adding that he contested for the seat in 1999. “So this time, I am running to win,” he declared.
On his part, Nwibe disclosed that although he is seen more as a technocrat than a politician, the fact that he has been supporting an opposition party even when it was more lucrative to join the bandwagon in the ruling party, he is well favoured now to become the next governor of Anambra State.
But Obidigbo, who was shortchanged by godfathers in APGA in 2013, said he is about the only aspirant that understands that Anambra should be talking about revamping the economy after the infrastructure marvels of former Governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi.
Obidigbo contended that if APC is looking for a candidate to win the governorship he fits the bill squarely, adding that the fact that the incumbent is from Anambra north senatorial zone, it makes for good political strategy to have a credible candidate from the zone to challenge the incumbent.
Another aspirant from Anambra north, Chief Zeribe Chukwuma Ezeanuna, argued that not minding the challenges in PDP, the November 18 governorship was for the party. Like Obidigbo, Ezeanuna said it was time for old Onitsha region to produce the governor.
The dark shadow of 2015 appears to linger in Anambra politics, what with the subdued preparations trailing the governorship poll. So much has changed in the state, yet it is left to be seen whether the change would reflect on the nomination, electioneering and electoral processes.