Strong opposition builds against Obiano’s succession plan
With the groundswell of opposition against Governor Willie Obiano’s overt plans to enthrone his preferred candidate as successor, Anambra State may end up as another case where an incumbent’s succession plot crumbled.
Recently, former Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson escaped by the whiskers from following in the steps of Ayodele Fayose, Olusegun Mimiko, Ibikunle Amosun, Abiola Ajimobi, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Rochas Okorocha, as states whose chief executives failed in recent history to impose their successors.
Like Dickson, Mimiko and Fayose, Obiano is the next on the line of governors whose states fall within the subset of offseason gubernatorial polls. And from the look of things, the storms have started gathering, indicative of a very stiff contest among the contending political interests.
What makes Governor Obiano’s case very tricky is that opposition to his designs to berth a comfortable successor could begin from his other room. The governor has as a wife, a politically savvy first lady.
While he contested the last Anambra State gubernatorial election in search of his second term in office, Obiano is on record to have introduced his wife at a rally as “the governor of Anambra State my dear wife, Mrs. Ebele Obiano.”
Whether that was a slip of the tongue or statement of fact, the general perception in the state is that just as the male Obiano is devising strategies to throw the bulk of the power of incumbency around a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the female Obiano is also lining up political forces for the emergence of Chief Stanley Uzochukwu.
From all indications, the first family is focusing on the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as its platform of choice to execute their plan. Nonplussed by the indoor frictions against his governorship aspiration, it was learnt that the former CBN governor’s allies have started reaching out to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Action Alliance (AA) in search of alternative options.
The recent shrinking of a number of political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has thrown up some mixed reactions in Anambra State. While the electorate seems to heave a sigh of relief that the incidence of unserious aspirants would be curtailed at next year’s poll, political jobbers that usually hunt for the platform have expressed dismay at the development.
However, despite the reduced numbers of eligible political platforms that could field candidates for the 2021 Anambra State gubernatorial poll, not less than 10 well-heeled politicians have indicated their intention to contest the election.
Apart from APGA, where Chief and Chief (Mrs.) Obiano is engaged in internal wit games to field their preferred candidates, the major opposition parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) are already surfeit with billionaire aspirants.
APGA is enmeshed in intra-party leadership squabble, which has divided the party to as many as three distinct factions that are laying claims to the authenticity of their leadership, including the ones led by the embattled national chairman, Sir Victor Oye, Chief Edozie Njoku and Chief (Deacon) Jerry Obasi’s APGA faction.
It could be on account of the leadership strife in the party that the member representing Dunukofia/Njikoka/Anaocha Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Chief Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo, recently shifted his political base to APC alongside his club of supporters.
Frontline businessman and Industrialist, Dr. Chidoo Nwankwo, who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Wichtec Industries Limited, has also joined the increasing number of governorship aspirants in the APC.
Nwankwo, the Wichtek MD told The Guardian that he decided to join APC out of the realization that Anambra and Southeast should be in the mainstream of Nigeria politics, stressing that remaining infringe or opposition parties does not augur well for NdIgbo based on the quantum of their contributions to national development.
He denied that he left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) due to the general perception that Dr. Obiora Okonkwo is the presumed consensus candidate of the party, contending that there is nothing like a consensus candidate when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not published the notice of election.
Director-General of Hon. Dozie Nwankwo Political Group, Ozo (Dr.) Samuel Osita Oraegbunam, explained that his principal disclosed that although Dozie Nwankwo was still engaged in consultations, “the true position of things is that I doubt if APGA still possesses the cohesion and strength to win the next governorship election due to the infighting within the party.”
Oraegbunam’s sentiments seem to be gaining grounds in the state, because another APGA chieftain, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, has finalized arrangements to cast his governorship anchor on the APC, especially given the intrigues that trailed his Anambra South Senatorial District election on the party.
In a telephone discussion with The Guardian, some of the claimants to the APGA leadership, Njoku and Obasi, said Governor Obiano should allow APGA Constitution as the basis of reconciling all interests, adding that despite the governor’s support for Oye, various court rulings have invalidated the controversial convention that brought Oye back as national chairman.
Anambra Elders’ Input
RECENTLY Anambra State Elders Council decided to jump into the ongoing schemes on how to help the governor prosecute his succession plan. Working ostensibly to support Governor Obiano’s agenda of fielding Soludo, the elders declared that the next governor of the state should come from Anambra South Senatorial District.
But, no sooner had the so-called elders made their pronouncement in a statement than a socio-political group, Anambrakunie, took them to task “for going out of their way to praise-sing a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Soludo into contesting the 2021 governorship poll.”
AnambraKunie, noted that given the respect, which goes with their age bracket, members of Anambra Elders Councils ought to focus more on how best the state could get qualitative and result-oriented leadership in 2021 rather than tying themselves to the apron strings of Governor Obiano and his political interests in APGA.
Reacting to a communiqué after “a so-called meeting between the Anambra Elders Council and Governor Obiano,” which was signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwudebelu, wherein they agreed to support a candidate from Anambra South Senatorial District for governor in 2021, AnambraKunie, said the communiqué left much to the imagination.
President of AnambraKunie, Dr. Ifeanyi Anachusi, in a statement made available to The Guardian, stated: “The recent meeting of the Council with Obiano in Awka, left much to be desired. How much inducement did members of the council receive to make pronouncements that would further throw Anambra State into a socio-economic straitjacket?”
Anachusi disclosed that his group, which membership spans the different political zones of the state, plans to mobilize against members of the Elders Council, to impress it upon them that they are not in a position to determine which zone produces the next governor of the state.
He said: “We will also mobilize against the so-called elders if they insist on imposing any particular aspirant to succeed Obiano rather than allow the Anambra electorate, especially the women and youths, to work out a better future for the state.
“We have read the communiqué from their so-called meeting and it is very clear to us that the meeting was called to endorse a particular aspirant from Anambra South as the successor to Obiano who is a resounding failure.
“We are not folding our arms. Anambra State also belongs to members of Anambra Ekunie, not just to the elders who have had a maddening run on the state since its creation. We have been hearing their names since time immemorial. Therefore, they cannot continue to determine the fate of our people even when they are on the departure lounge.”
While reiterating that Anambra State belongs to all citizens of the state, Anachusi declared that the people have resolved to rescue Anambra from the clutches of APGA and its failed policies, remarking that it was shameful that the so-called elders were invited to watch Obiano’s achievements on video clips.
“Anambra people cannot see their achievements; they are only on video. Those elders should come publicly to point to achievements on the ground. Obiano works in 3D video. We have had enough.
“Those elders must be made to know that zoning gave Anambra an Obiano who has reversed every development he inherited from Peter Obi. It is amusing that Obiano is thinking of Anambra of 2070, when he has not been able to develop any part of the state, even his Anambra north zone since 2014 that he assumed office,” Anachusi stated.
Lawmakers’ Nay Signal
In what seemed as further signs of tough choice for Governor Obiano, members of the state House of Assembly did not honour a symposium his administration planned to showcase its achievements in the past six years.
The legislators of the state’s Seventh plenary were said to have displayed their misgivings towards the governor’s style recently when they rebuffed overtures to endorse the governor’s achievements in his second year into the second term in office.
Matters were said to have come to a head when Deputy Speaker, Hon. Paschal Agbodike, who was standing in for the Speaker, read a purported letter of commendation in praise of Obiano’s scorecard after two years into his second term.
To the chagrin of the Deputy Speaker, virtually all his colleagues did not find their voice in praise of the governor’s governance efforts, to the extent that even when the presiding deputy speaker pointedly asked if any of the representatives have a goodwill message from their constituencies, he was greeted with pin-drop silence.
If his midterm scorecard could not win the endorsement of his party faithful, especially statutory delegates like lawmakers, it is left to anybody’s conjecture how far the governor could fare in pushing his preferred candidate.
For now with PDP doing all in its power to reclaim the state with star-studded aspirants like Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Hon. Chris Azubogu and Godwin Ezeemo, as well as APC’s veteran heavyweights, including Dr. Andy Ubah, Dr. Chidoo Nwankwo, Chief George Moghalu, Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo, Hon. Dozie Nwankwo, Prince Ukachukwu, it is becoming apparent that Anambra2021 would be a hard nut to crack.