Saturday, 9th December 2023

Anambra, Ozigbo and battle of the titans

By Luke Onyekakeyah
02 November 2021   |   4:20 am
As the clock ticks for the scheduled governorship election in Anambra State on November 6, 2021, there is mounting apprehension over how to conduct a free and fair election and who will succeed Governor Willie Obiano.

Valentine Ozigbo as the Anambra State gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

As the clock ticks for the scheduled governorship election in Anambra State on November 6, 2021, there is mounting apprehension over how to conduct a free and fair election and who will succeed Governor Willie Obiano. This is against the backdrop of the threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the general insecurity in the country. The suggestion by CSOs to INEC to shift the election to December 6 (one month) to douse tension, if IPOB did not rescind its threat, makes sense and should be considered.
Otherwise, the election will hold despite all odds. IPOB, Ohaneze Ndigbo, the South-East governors and other stakeholders should rally and strike a deal that will allow the election to hold. President Muhammadu Buhari and his attorney general Abubakar Malami have a role to play to douse the tension. Not holding the election would snowball into unpleasant consequences. Anambra, even in peace time, is not like any other state in the country when it comes to party politics. The state is always a flash point and the prevailing circumstances are exacerbating it.

In Anambra, contenders for political office are never lacking. There is always a horde of well-qualified and capable men and women, who would like to govern the state at any point in time. People invest everything within their power to outwit their opponents. Election in Anambra is usually a do-or-die affair that characterises Nigerian politics. One must be ready to stake anything to feature in Anambra political contest.

It is not surprising that so far, no less than 18 aspirants are slugging it out in the forth-coming governorship election. Mind you, each of the contestants means business. They are not joking. Each has what it takes to fight the battle. It is a battle of the titans. With the conclusion of party primaries and barring any last minute hiccup, the die is cast for the long awaited poll.

The list includes Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ifeanyi Uba of Young Progressives Party (YPP), and Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

Others are Obiora Agbasimalo (Labour Party), Dr. Godwin Maduka (Accord Party), Bennet Etiaba (AA), Chidozie Nwankwo (AAC), Akachukwu Nwankpo (ADC), Afam Ume-ezeoke (ADP), Geoffrey Onyejegbu (APM), Philip Echetebu (APP), Okeke Chika Jerry (BOOT Party). Leonard Ohajinkpo will contest on the platform of NNPP, Afam Ezenwafor for NRM, Nnamdi Nwawuo for PRP and Obinna Uzoh for SDP. There is no mean person in this group.

A peep into the background of some of the aspirants shows that some are professional politicians, some are technocrats or top notch business tycoons, while some were thrown up by the political exigencies in the state.

Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, a business tycoon that has the potential to make the Forbes list of global billionaires if he concentrates in his business made his first appearance in the 2014 governorship election. He is not relenting on the campaign trail.

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo made his debut appearance in 2009, when he slugged it out with Peter Obi as the consensus candidate of the PDP. He is presently the flag bearer of APGA, the traditional and native political party in Anambra State. A renowned economist with international acclaim, Soludo made his mark when he served as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Another veteran, Dr. Andy Uba debuted in 2007 when he contested in the PDP primaries for the Anambra State governorship election, and was elected in the 14 April 2007 elections. However, the former governor Peter Obi challenged the election in court and it was nullified and awarded to Peter Obi. But Andy Uba returned to the PDP and was nominated as PDP candidate for Anambra South Senatorial district in the April 2011 elections which he won. He is the APC flag bearer in the current election.

While these and the other candidates are making frantic efforts in their campaign trail, one should not overlook the tremendous impactful campaigns being made by Valentine Ozigbo, the PDP flag bearer. An accomplished business mogul and technocrat who has left a mark in the corporate world is debuting in this election and making waves. He is the candidate to beat in the election going by his systematic, peaceful and refined approach to the electioneering campaign.

There are two issues that are giving Anambra people concern in the election. While the first is the apprehension engendered by IPOB threats and insecurity, the more worrisome fear is who will succeed the incumbent Governor Obiano and how he is going to emerge.

As the business powerhouse of Nigeria, outside Lagos, Anambra State occupies a critical position in Nigeria and the world being the native homeland of some of the most important historical and contemporary figures Nigeria has produced. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, among a host of others are some of the eggheads.

As a leader, therefore, the state cannot afford to fall into the hands of a mediocre, for that will spell doom for the people and the state. It is on that strength that the people must “shine their eyes” to ensure that a competent man who has integrity, trustworthy, pro-people, transparent and accountable if elected as governor. Failure to do that would plunge the state into unimaginable drawback for the next four years, and this is unacceptable.

From the way he has been carrying himself by identifying with the grassroots and getting endorsements, it is obvious that Ozigbo is on the right track. Former Governor Peter Obi, Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, among others, have endorsed him. The fact that Ozigbo is new on the turf with untainted track record in the corporate world, and has proven acumen in managing people and resources with positive outcome sets him apart as the right individual Anambra people needs at this stage.

Ellen G. White, American author and co-founder of the Seventh Day Adventists Church said, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men – men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their innermost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

Such men are not many. Mr. Valentine Ozigbo fits into Ellen Whites kind of man – a man with untainted integrity, youthful but giant achiever with no track record of corruption, well educated, not lacking wisdom to act at any point in time, humble with down to earth mien, not looking down on anybody, a team player who could galvanize the best hands to tackle the mounting and teething social and economic problems and above all a man with vision for the state.

It is not easy to defeat a champion, a super star of which Valentine Ozigbo has demonstrated capability in no small measure and the masses of the people have apparently endorsed him based, not on sentiments, but concrete, verifiable and stellar track record in corporate management.

The people have the final say to decide through their votes. But one thing is certain, Anambra will be in good hands if the mandate is entrusted to Mr. Ozigbo.