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Political amazons who may sway votes in Anambra guber election

By Lawrence Njoku, Southeast Bureau Chief
04 November 2021   |   3:10 am
As Nigerians await the emergence of a new governor for Anambra State during Saturday’s election, there are strong indications that aside from the popularity of the political parties

Former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Iyom Josephine Anenih

As Nigerians await the emergence of a new governor for Anambra State during Saturday’s election, there are strong indications that aside from the popularity of the political parties, their candidates and the role the current insecurity and killings permeating the state will play in determining the outcome of the election, another factor that could contribute significantly to the victory of the political parties is the influence of past and serving female National Assembly members in the state.

Those who have followed the electioneering process and candidates produced by the political parties, especially among All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) would readily accept that predicting the outcome of Saturday’s election has become a difficult one.

This is so when put side by side the interplay of political forces in the state such as the heavyweights behind the parties; level of their acceptance; the pedigree of the candidates; the political dominance and control of the machinery of governance as well as decampments that have greeted the exercise, among others.

However, while expectations are high towards the three major political parties, APGA, PDP and APC as likely favorites, some female National Assembly members whose imprints would count in the election in their various political parties include former Senator representing Anambra North, Chief Joy Emordi; incumbent Senator for the zone, Senator Stella Odua; the Senator representing Anambra Central, Uche Ekwunife; former Senator representing Anambra North, Margret Okadigbo and House of Reps member for Onitsha North and South, Linda Ikpeazu.

Bianca Ojukwu (Right)

Others are former Minister, Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih and former Nigerian Ambassador and wife of the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu.

Investigations show that these female politicians have tasted public offices, through appointments and elections; their individual merit, popularity and political reach have also helped them to climb in politics. They have also maintained relevance in the scheme of things in the state.

SENATOR Joy Emordi, until recently was a member of, Board of Trustees (BOT) of PDP. She jettisoned the party on August 4, 2021, for APC to swell the electoral fortunes of the party in the coming election. Emordi’s foray into politics had seen her contest and win elections as well as administer political parties. Apart from her latest love for APC, she was a one time, member of the defunct Congress for National Consensus (CNC) and All Peoples Party (APP).

She became Senator for Anambra North constituency on February 20, 2005, when through a court pronouncement she displaced Emmanuel Anosike who was occupying the seat. She was named Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the Senate Services, Communications, Federal Capital Territory, Housing, Privatization, Sports, and Women Affairs & Youth Development committees.

She was re-elected in 2007, but her second election was appealed by Alphonsus Obi Igbeke of then ANPP and her election was annulled.

During General Sani Abacha’s administration, she was elected National Deputy Chairman and later National Legal Adviser of the Congress for National Consensus (CNC) party. It was on this platform that she was coasting home to become governor and the party cleared all the House of Representative seats and the majority of the local council election seats when the transition programme was truncated by the death of Abacha.
She later ran for governorship in 1998/1999 on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP), during General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led transition to civil rule programme, but could not make it.

Emordi recently moved from PDP where she was a member of the BOT to APC. Although it was not clear why she jettisoned PDP, except for want of a better deal, many see her movement as capable of influencing the electoral fortunes of her new party in the state. This is based on her grassroots appeal and relevance in the scheme of things in her Anambra North. One factor against her is that she has been out of the political limelight for some time. Sources said she may have lost the grip of her supporters.

LIKE Emordi, the Senator representing Anambra North, Stella Oduah also left PDP to embrace APC. Although Oduah’s movement into APC is seen, especially by her opponents as a ploy to evade ongoing prosecution by the anti-graft agency over several financial misdeeds of the past, those close to the politics of the state would, however, readily offer that she has become one of the strongest voices in the area.
In moving to APC, Oduah had stated that she joined APC family “as part of the process of the changing political narrative in the Southeast”, adding that she moved along with her multitude of supporters in Anambra State.

Odua, a former Minister of Aviation until 2014, currently on her second term at the Senate was the Campaign Director of Administration and Finance for former President Goodluck for the 2015 elections.

She contested for the senatorial seat of Anambra North Senatorial District in the 2015 election and pulled a total 143, 478 to defeat her main rival, Chief Dubem Obaze of APGA who got 70, 900. Obaze, as at then, enjoyed the support of the state government.

She re-contested the position in 2019 and won. She is said to have carved a niche for herself with several projects she attracted to Anambra North. Although she has been mired in controversies, especially with ongoing prosecution by the EFCC, these have not diminished her acceptability in the state. But Oduah in the ranking of some is looking for an opportunity to capitalise on the desperation of APC to win the election and to garner some leverage for herself and save her political career.

Joining APC is seen as a morale booster to the party and it is believed that combining effort effectively with Emordi, Anambra North will be very difficult for any other political party other than APC to penetrate.
THE Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial constituency, Mrs Uche Ekwunife is another female politician whose impact in the election cannot be overlooked. Fondly called “Iyom” by her admirers, she is strong, experienced and has a way with politics.

Currently the PDP’s Campaign Coordinator for Valentine Ozigbo’s election, the banker turned politician has taken the state’s political space by storm since joining politics. She was a two-term member of the House of Representatives. In her second term in office as the representative for Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency, Anambra State, she was Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts.

In 2010, she contested in the Anambra State gubernatorial election on the platform of Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) but lost. She again sought the seat in 2014 on the platform of APGA and lost. In 2015 however, under PDP she contested for and won a seat in the senatorial election to represent Anambra Central senatorial zone. But her election was later declared null and void. Chief Victor Umeh of APGA took her place.

In 2019, she ran again to represent Anambra Central under the PDP and won. In the build-up to the 2021 governorship election in the state, Iyom was among several aspirants that campaigned for the PDP ticket but lost. While many of those who ran the primary left to pick the governorship tickets of other political parties, Iyom stayed behind and accepted to help Ozigbo to reclaim the state for PDP.
Sources said that her acts of philanthropy remain unparalleled as her charity cuts across youths, widows and the underprivileged.  She is a mobiliser and has succeeded in dwarfing the ambition of several male politicians, especially in her Anambra Central Constituency. She is seen as a hard nut to crack in her zone.
It was gathered that since many of her female counterparts started defecting from one political party to another, Ekwunife has remained strong in PDP and in fact, sees their defection as a challenge she must overcome by winning the election for PDP.
A source told The Guardian that she is one woman that “believes that it is time to restore PDP back to the state and that Ozigbo has the right pedigree to be elected governor”.

LYNDA Ikpeazu, a member representing Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency, in Anambra State until recently was in PDP but she has crossed over to APC. Sources said she was attracted to APC by the governorship candidate of the party.
The daughter of a judge and the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) chairman Chuba Ikpeazu, Lynda is a consummate politician who has served in various capacities especially, a member of the House of Representatives for Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency. From 1999 to 2003, she contested and won the election to represent Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP), which later transformed into the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).

In her first stint in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003, she was no less an Amazon and a vibrant voice both on the floor of the Green Chamber and outside the House, contributing positively to the development of the nation’s democracy. She is an advocate of a private sector-driven economy; hence she was visible in the debate for the privatisation of some public agencies of the federal government, which was hitherto moribund.

In 2004, Chuba-Ikpeazu became the winner of the National Assembly election, representing Onitsha North-South Federal Constituency as a candidate of PDP.
Sources said her greatest strength lies in the fact that she is at home with her people. She has attracted several projects and empowered her people. It is said that her experience in politics will be brought to bear to help APC win the election, especially in her Onitsha North and South.

ANOTHER woman of note is the wife of former Senate President, late Chuba Okadigbo, Mrs Margrey Okaidgbo. She shot into the political limelight in 2011, when Supreme Court declared her the candidate of PDP for the Anambra North senatorial election.

The senatorial district had not had any form of representation at the upper legislative arm of the National Assembly as at then, owing to a series of controversies that trailed the conduct of primary election for selection of the party’s candidate by various factions of the party in the state.

In 2014, she returned to re-contest the senatorial seat under PDP for the 2015 general elections. She lost at the primary of the party and left PDP for APC. Her effort could not give her a place in the Senate for Anambra North as she lost to Stella Odua, then of PDP.

She was appointed to the Board of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, the appointment many said would help rekindle her political structure, especially within the APC government in the state.

Coming from the North alongside Emordi and Odua, she is seen, as an added advantage to APC in the zone should the three women work together.

CHIEF Mrs Josephine Anenih is of PDP. The former Minister of Women Affairs under President Olusegun Obasanjo is an experienced politician, married to an Edo politician and former Minister of Works, the late Chief Anthony Anenih. She has played almost all her politics in her home state, Anambra.

She was the National Women Leader of PDP, her role and involvement in politics have ensured and maintained sanity, uprightness, decorum and fair play.  She is outspoken and reportedly a woman of integrity and has been highly recognised in Christian circles.

She has participated in several efforts to restructure PDP both nationally and in Anambra State. Before the last governorship election in the state, she was the Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the party that midwife the election. Although the party was defeated in the election, Mrs Anenih worked to ensure that Anambra PDP got ward, local and state government executives before her committee was handed over in the state.

She is one of the women the party will rely on to give it victory in the coming election. Sources said her style of politics had always placed her head and shoulders above others. If she combines well with Ekwunife, then it will be of great advantage to PDP.

CHIEF (Mrs) Bianca Ojukwu is arguably the only woman that has tasted public power by way of appointments. She is a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). She was a Presidential adviser, former Ambassador to Ghana and later Spain.

She had attempted to be Senator under the APGA, but never got the ticket of the party, where she serves on the Board of Trustees (BOT). Recently, it was reported that she was not enjoying the best of relationship with APGA leadership, a development that made her decline to work in the governorship campaign committee of the party.

She has also criticised the party for some actions, which she felt were not in the best interest of members as well as the spirit of her late husband who worked assiduously to give the party a name in Nigeria.

Despite her ill feelings with the party, however, she has remained its member. Her relationship with the party is seen as a strong factor that APGA will rely on to win the election. It is said that her inability to jettison the party, despite all odds, is an indication that the soul of her late husband is tied with the party. Sources said the mere mention of Ojukwu has a way of working for APGA in every election in the state.