Anambra 2021: Picture of Obiano’s successor getting clearer
• Peculiar Features Of Eight Major Contenders
A few months from now, Anambra State will welcome a new governor of the state. Aspirants for the 2021 governorship election are using the Christmas celebrations to ready their arsenal for the exercise expected to hold in November.
As the shadow political campaigns continue before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blows the whistle, the legion of aspirants are already spending mouth-watering amounts of money to pull voters to their side. But, recent experience has shown that election spending does not determine capacity or reflect the character of the candidate, which are the two crucial legs upon which the race is contested.
It is expected that the governorship poll would be keenly contested between the incumbent All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the major opposition parties in state, including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Young Progressives Party (YPP). Out of the top eight major gubernatorial aspirants that would emerge from the four political parties the one that could succeed Governor Obiano appears to be a dark horse.
The aspirants and their political parties are as follows:
Dr. Ifedi Okwenna (PDP)
Okwenna, a native of Nnewi, is a 54-year old administrator and politician. He served Special Assistant (Political) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. His administrative experience in Anambra State was earned as Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources and Commissioner for Science and Technology during Mr. Peter Obi’s administration.
Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP)
Senator Ekwunife has been a constant contestant for the position of governor and is about the only female aspirant for the 2021 edition. She is well known among voters and called Iyom and Adadioramma. She just turned 50 and currently representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the National Assembly for a second term.
Before her election to the Senate, Mrs. Ekwunife represented Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives for two terms. Contesting the Anambra State governorship in 2021 would mark her third trial. She contested previously in two different platforms including Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) and APGA.
Unarguably, the top contender for the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket, Valentine Ozigbo is a highly respected business mogul who is the immediate past President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, one of the biggest publicly-traded conglomerates in Africa.
He has a strong track record for academic excellence which culminated with the prestigious Chevening Scholarship by the British Foreign Commonwealth Office to study for a Masters in Finance at the Lancaster University, UK, where he graduated with a Distinction. Val is one of the best known, well-loved corporate executives in Nigeria, a global CEO with strings of world awards under his belt, Ozigbo comes with an intimidating professional profile that is hard to beat.
All the frontrunners in the ruling APGA (Chukwuma Soludo), APC, and even the somewhat independent candidature of Ifeanyi Ubah consider him their biggest threat to their aspirations for the reasons that are easy to lay out. The role os governor is one of a CEO, Ozigbo has the strongest CEO experience in the field. Transcorp has a shareholder base of over 300,000 and a staff strength of 30,000. It owns an interest in power, hospitality and oli and gas. Val oversaw all these investments.
Second, in the past nine months, Val has spent 90% of it building a grassroots organization. His rivals remain in “still being urged to run mode”, he has gone ahead to clinch the confidence of the kingmakers, influential political groups. Third, his media game is top-notch. Nobody living in Anambra can claim that they have not seen his billboards, heard him on the radio or seen him on television. Also, he has launched a number of powerful grassroots and youth-focused programmes like Walk4Health and the just concluded Walk4Peace in Onitsha. The photos on social media show thousands taking part in this programme showing high acceptability for this politician who comes without baggage to the game.
Another plus is that he has the ears and hearts of the billionaire business community in Nigeria, so funding for his campaign appears to be assured. The only risk I can see is bitter politicking within his party by less qualified aspirants. If Ozigbo is able to build a consensus within his party around his candidacy, he has a strong shot at winning the general election in November.
Hon. Tony Nwoye (APC)
Nwoye is a former student leader. He served as National President of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) before jumping into active partisan politics. He is aged 46 and was a first runner-up in the 2017 governorship election in the state.
After his unsuccessful bid for the governorship he went ahead to represent Anmabra East and Anambra West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives for a second term. He contested that governorship earlier on the platform of PDP in 2013.
Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP)
In 2013, Ubah, an oil magnate, contested the governorship on the platform of Labour Party (LP). In 2017, when he failed to win the governorship ticket of PDP, he defected to APGA and upon alleged betrayal by APGA leaders, Ubah defected to the little-known YPP, where defeated two powerful contenders to represent Anambra South Senatorial District in the Red Chamber. The Nnewi-born politician is 49 years of age.
Dr. George Moghalu (APC)
Moghalu, is a loyal opposition politician. At 58, he has served as party secretary, national auditor and has contested for the governorship of Anambra State on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP).
Currently, Moghalu is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). He is also from Nnewi and a prominent contestant on the APC platform. He tactically withdrew from the 2017 governorship in obedience to the power rotation arrangement that ceded the slot to Anambra South Senatorial District.
Hon. Chris Azubogu (PDP)
Azubogu is a household name in Anambra State due to his track record of achievements. At 51, Azubogu has represented Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives for a record three terms. There is no other legislator in the state with such record. It was on account of his record of excellent service delivery that he is popularly called MR. PROJECT. As an Engineer-turned politician, Azubogu equates precision with responsibility.
Chief Godwin Ezeemo (PDP)
AT 66, Ezeemo is among the perennial governorship aspirants in the state. In 2009 and 2013 he believed that APGA would help him to the governorship seat. When that did not happen, the businessman in him made him to shift base to PPA.
Perhaps, because he knows the 2021 poll could be his last dance, the Aguata-born politician was the first to announce his intention to seek the mandate of Anambra people to serve them as governor.
Dr. Chidozie Wilson Nwankwo (APC)
Nwankwo is a relatively new face as far as Anambra State governorship contest is concerned. Yet, many people say he remains unbeatable amid all the top contenders. He is 55 years and was born into the family of Chief and Mrs. Joseph Nwankwo of Ifite village, Oko, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) at at the famous Central Primary School Odoakpu Onitsha before proceeding to Comprehensive Secondary School Onitsha.
He founded Chido Business Ventures in 1986, which later became a Limited Liability Company in 1992. The company majored in distribution of glass sheets and other building materials throughout Nigeria. Nwankwo was a major customer of Oluwa Glass Industries Ltd, Ondo, between 1991-1994, and won an award as the outstanding distributor for the company, under the German administrator, Dr. Ludlow.
In 1997 he lead CHIDOO-DEHACO GROUP, which transformed Shipping business from Asian countries to the eastern part of the country between 1997 to 2007, thus becoming the biggest customer to Mearskline in eastern Nigeria for 10 years.
Building on that success story Chidozie Nwankwo founded Wichtech Industries Ltd that specialized in supplies of high quality and building materials. It is generally believed that he revolutionised the face of building in Nigeria into modern edifices of class, structural integrity and aesthetic resonance.
Towards empowering the youth and women groups in the state, Nwankwo has been using his Kindom care foundation as reachout station. For instance, during the peak of the Corona virus pandemic, the foundation fed thousands of families in the state.
Based on his abounding generosity, Nwankwo is popularly called ‘Overdose’ by his admirers. His supporters argue that if he could nurture his business from only N10, 000 to a big company that employs more than 4000 workers, he would remake Anambra State if given the chance in 2021.
Some of the gestures that brought him closer to the grassroots include his penchant of building schools and churches, to the extent that the fiery Catholic Priest, Rev father Obimma (Ebube muonso) said he would make a good governor.
Although Nwankwo on a recent occasion of handing out scholarships to indigent students boasted “I will turn Anambra State into the industrial hub of Africa,” the likelihood that former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, is being propelled by incumbent Governor Obiano, indicates that he would be in for a serious battle.
Soludo, who promised to turn Anambra State into a Dubai-Taiwan of Africa, recently indicated his intention to contest the 2021 governorship poll on the platform of APGA.
By next year it would be seen whether the next governor would be a familiar face or a new comer to the high-stake Anambra State gubernatorial contests.