Anambra guber: Zoning, consensus divide election financiers
Barely 20 days to the governorship primaries of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), the much-anticipated plan by a coalition of Anambra State billionaire business moguls to rally around a consensus candidate in the November 6, 2021 governorship poll seems to have run into a hitch.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that the issue of zoning and insistence by some of the billionaires on having the consensus choice hail from their communities threw up mutual suspicion among them.
Also, while some of the billionaires favour the governing All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as a viable platform, the majority of others said they prefer to support a candidate of either APC or PDP, based on their national spread.
At a rapprochement meeting in Lagos last week, some of the billionaires frowned at attempts to introduce sectionalism into the search for a consensus candidate, noting that the “approach could upend our original plan to be part of the selection process.”
It was gathered that matters came to a head when one of the billionaires, a big player in the oil and gas sector, decided to broker a consensus among some aspirants from his Ihiala community on the APGA platform with a view to recommending the candidate to his colleagues.
“What he (name withheld) did was improper. It came to us a surprise because we intended the entire thing to remain discreet until after the primaries of the major parties.
“When he was confronted with the intelligence, he claimed that his part of the state did not serve a second term in office and therefore deserves to be given prime consideration,” a source in the coalition, a big player in the Pharmaceutical industry, confided in The Guardian.
The source disclosed that the lack of unanimity among the ‘political investors’ was also informed by the declining popularity of zoning as a basis for selecting the consensus candidate, adding that the prevailing mood in the state is that the best candidate with workable ideas should be supported to succeed Governor Willie Obiano.
The billionaire Pharmaceutical merchant, who is also from Anambra South Senatorial zone, said the state has gone beyond the base sentiment of zoning, stressing that what the group wants to do is to stand aside and watch the processes in APGA, PDP and APC before throwing in their funds.
“We have a meeting later today, when we converge, it would be to chart the way forward and that path would not be far from waiting till after June 26 to explore further areas of collaboration to ensure that Anambra gets it right this time around,” he added.
Between Zoning, Competence
WHAT sounded as the final death knell on the issue of zoning in Anambra State came last week shortly after a group of 12 aspirants met and endorsed their stance on zoning, contending that it was the turn of the district to produce the next governor.
However, not long after the 12 pro-zoning aspirants handed out their resolution then a former governor of the state, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, perforated their arguments, remarking that it was a product of bad faith.
Ezeife, fondly called Okwadike, has been a strong advocate of merit in the leadership selection process. Despite the fact that he hails from Anambra South, Ezeife, in a statement dismissed the banding together of the aspirants, insisting that any eligible person from the state could participate in the poll not minding his or her senatorial district.
According to Okwadike, “the communiqué by 12 PDP aspirants from Anambra South Senatorial District that only those from the zone could participate in the poll is one made in bad faith.
“I am in possession of a communiqué signed by 12 PDP aspirants, who are of southern origin. They based their communiqué on the provisions of the PDP Constitution, Article 7. They made a special appeal to PDP about zoning. This is very good. I am an apostle of zoning too even though PDP in their wisdom decided not to zone the governorship seat in Anambra State.
“However, I did not see the name of my daughter, distinguished Senator Uche Ekwunife, on the list of those who signed the communiqué, or have the signatories began a discriminatory process against her? Uche Ekwunife is from Igbo-Ukwu in the Aguata Local Government Area, Anambra South Senatorial District.”
Ezeife, who is also a former Federal Permanent Secretary, contended that the position of citizens like Senator Ekwunife, who though from Aguata (Anambra South), is married to Nanka in Anambra Central; renders zoning puerile, adding that Ekwunife has the constitutional rights as any Anambrarian to vie for the position of governor, either from Central or South Senatorial District.”
Within the APC, a silent campaign against handing the party’s ticket to defectors is gaining momentum. Among the nine governorship aspirants, only Dr. George Moghalu has never left the party until the merger exercise. Riding on that consistency and demand that APC recognizes the place of party loyalty and discipline, Moghalu believes that the party’s ticket is his to lose.
Apart from Moghalu, Senator Andy Uba, Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, and Sir Azuka Okwuosa are thumbing their chest to claim the ticket come June 26.
WHILE perceived feeble aspirants are hankering after zoning and consensus, some big players and strategic contenders are devising prodigious schemes to carry the day.
Two families, Uba and Etiaba, are fielding candidates in both PDP and APC. But, while the Etiabas-Emeka and Ben- are relatively new to the power politics before their mother, Dame Virgy, deputised Mr. Peter Obi as governor, the Ubas-Andy and Ugochukwu, are electoral battle-tested players.
It could be this experience that explains the sudden front row position of Dr. Ugochukwu Bertram Uba on the platform of PDP. Sources disclosed that with the way things are playing out in both APC and PDP, the two Uba brothers would not miss out completely on the ballot come November 6.
The elder Uba, Ugochukwu, was elected to the Senate in 2003 and served for just one very productive term. Dr. Ugo Uba, apart from serving as Secretary of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka prior to his election to represent Anambra South Senatorial District in the Red Chamber, sponsored eight successful bills before his term ended in 2007.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, First Class, in Political Science from Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science, with specialization in Public Administration and Comparative Government from the same institution, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), specializing in Public Administration and Local Government Administration from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
The PDP governorship hopeful was appointed Secretary to the Asset Sharing Committee, which midwifed the sharing of assets between Anambra and Enugu States after the old Anambra was split into two in 1991. Dr. Ugochukwu Uba’s academic achievements and experience came to the fore following new emphasis on the intellectual accomplishments of aspirants.
Prior to the waves being made by Senator, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo (Dikeora) was seen as the most academically accomplished PDP aspirant.
PERHAPS to accentuate the intellectual rigour being sought in the next governor of Anambra State, two contenders, Okonkwo and Val Ozigbo mounted the podia within the week to sell their candidacy and demonstrate the capacity to lead the state.
While Ozigbo was at the Emmaus House, Awka to address a town hall meeting attended by PDP delegates, Okonkwo delivered a lead paper at the maiden Dr. Michael I. Okpara Leadership Lecture at Sheraton Hotels, Abuja.
In the paper titled, ‘Quest for A New Nigeria: The Michael Okpara Leadership Model,’ Okonkwo, who is also the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, described Okpara as “a rare patriot, visionary and political leader who, decades after his death, remains a benchmark for transformative governance not just in the south-east region but Nigeria at large.”
He said, “Dr. Okpara has always been my leadership hero, whose ideas I have espoused in the numerous pubic lectures I have delivered.” Okonkwo told his audience, which included the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnia Onu, that he was in the Anambra governorship race to win and transform leadership through Ilu Olu Oma (rendering good service).
His words: “While I cannot be Dr. Okpara, I, however, am inspired by his leadership credentials just like he was inspired by the charisma of the Great Zik of Africa.
“Okpara had no godfather and did not need any to excel. He had God leading him. Being new in politics, people often ask who my Godfather is and my simple and honest answer is that I have no godfather, but only have father God, the Almighty who brings to fruition every good intention of man.
“I, therefore, commit the June 26 primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holding in Awka, Anambra state, into His hands. May God lead us to the expected victory for the good of Anambra, Igboland, Nigeria and humanity at large.
“It is about a new leadership that makes a difference. Despite the pervading gloom, a new dawn will emerge and the Southeast and Nigeria will fulfil their promise. Hope springs eternal.”
He reiterated his determination to “make a positive impact on Anambra lives and lift our state from the poor level of governance, where it has been brought to and offer a new meaning to leadership.”
Okonkwo said part of his plan is to bring about a situation where the people are at the center of every government decision and policy, adding: “I intend to rebuild our ethical infrastructure and tap into the abundant human capacity of our state to recreate the Okpara magic.
“In pursuing this vision, I have outlined a carefully thought-out and thoroughly debated 10-Point Agenda for the good of our people and the edification of the human person.
“These include, rapid rural development, Economic Growths with Jobs, Revitalization of Education/Human Capital Development, Youth Manpower Development and Employment, Planned Urbanization and Urban Renewal, Peace and Security as well as Improved Access to basic (preventive and curative) health services among others.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am fired by the zeal to change the narrative on Anambra State and the southeast. Our people seem entrapped. They seek a new leadership; one that will inspire them to do more for themselves and their various communities.”
At Emmaus House, Awka, Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, described the forthcoming gubernatorial election as “an opportunity to decide their destinies.”
He declared that Anambra’s election is highly crucial and demands a different approach from previous elections, stressing: “This is not an election to be treated with laxity. The futures of our children and the reality they pass on to the next generation hangs on the decisions we make at the polls.
“We are dealing with insecurity of alarming proportions. Freedom to live without looking over your shoulder is now a luxury. We are having conversations about our survival, which is the barest minimum for any civilisation.
“To bridge the gap between ourselves and advanced countries, we must put our house in order and start changing our priorities.
“Our current situation is the repercussion of bad leadership at all levels. This election presents an opportunity to begin a rebuilding process for the people of Anambra, and we must grab it with both hands.”
Ozigbo charged the delegates to use their votes at the primaries to ensure that the PDP is ready for the election, reminding them, “You, as delegates, play a demanding role of showing the people that the PDP is ready for the ballot. We must show readiness by putting our best foot forward, and it starts at the primaries.
“What Ndi Anambra deserve is a credible leader who has the right combination of character, competence, capacity, and compassion for the people. Sentiments should not guide our decision at the primaries. The people are looking up to us, so we must not disappoint them because we stuck to outdated tactics.”
It would be recalled that in March 2021, Ozigbo held similar events with prominent indigenes of Anambra descent in Lagos, Abuja and Enugu, where he officially launched his Ka Anambra Chawapu manifesto.
In May 2021, he further deepened the conversation by engaging PDP key stakeholders in the state’s three senatorial zones in similar town hall meetings.
Dignitaries at the event included PDP State Executive Committee members, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, who was represented by Chief C.C. Okeke, the Vice-Chairman for Anambra South.
Others are Mrs. Justina Nwafor, the State Woman Leader of the PDP; Hon Barr Emeka Anyaenetu, a former Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly; Rt Hon Barr Kelue Molokwu, former Deputy Speaker, Anambra House of Assembly and Hon. RCK Ezeilo, former Majority Leader of the Assembly.
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