By Nwachukwu Egbunike
Recently in Twittvilla, we had a discussion on the ‘prominent’ candidates for the 2013 elections and where they stand. What I present below is a summary of the conversations a la the four outstanding contestants; their good, bad and ugly; and their chances of victory.
The Government House Awka will become vacant on March 17, 2014 when the incumbent, Mr Peter Obi will end his eight year tenure as the Governor of Anambra State. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set the date for those interested in succeeding Mr Obi for November 16, 2013. Coincidentally, the date for the elections is also the birthday of Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor-General, first President and formerly the Owelle of Onitsha, the late Rt Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Naturally the contest is not only hot but is becoming intriguing. Anambra State is the home of many of Nigeria’s brightest and prominent citizens – late Chinua Achebe, late Emeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu, Alex Ekwueme, Emeka Anyaoku, etc. However, the politics of assuming the saddle of governor of Anambra State has always been a tumultuous one.
Recently in Twittvilla, we had a discussion on the ‘prominent’ candidates for the 2013 elections and where they stand. What I present below is a summary of the conversations a la the four most outstanding contestants; their good, bad and ugly; and their chances of victory.
Note: the names below have been arranged alphabetically and not according to political ranking!
Chris Nwabueze Ngige (APC)
Ngige was Governor of Anambra State from from 29 May 2003 to 17 March 2006 under the People Democratic Party (PDP). He is currently a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). His election in 2013 was controversial: “[Ngige] broke ranks with his political godfather, Chris Uba brother of Andy Uba, after an unsuccessful attempt on 10 July 2003 to have him removed from office, through a fabricated letter of resignation which the state assembly accepted”.
The altercation between Andy Uba and Chris Ngige turned Anambra into a comical theatre of war. My pen had cause to express it thus:
… We know neither Ngige nor his benefactor. We were only aware that all of a sudden the PDP had a candidate. We wanted the team of the trader and teacher… We tried our best, though we were outwitted by federal might. The same people, who said that they have lost confidence in Mbadinuju, all of a sudden endorsed Ngige. In their folly they thought they had won, only to lose… the so called profit that could have accrued to Uba’s capital was now used in carrying out the affairs of state. (Nwachukwu Egbunike, Dyed Thoughts, 2012, p 3)
Ngige is a strong contender because people have seen him perform before. His government did the impossible, for the first time Anambra people felt what governance was all about. Ngige practically turned the state into a huge construction site – the infrastructural development he propelled stand as a massive testament of his administrative potential.
However, he carries the burden of inter-party politics. Annie Okonkwo, also from the APC has been a governorship aspirant since 1998. However, Annie has been disqualified from running for governor under the APC banner. Whether Annie will accept this in good fate and throw his weight behind Ngige is quite another kettle of fish. Besides, Ngige’s APC is a ‘foreign’ party in the South East. And he did not help matters with his vocal support of the controversial ‘deportation’ of Nigerians from Lagos to Onitsha.
Tony Okechukwu Nwoye (PDP)
Tony Nwoye was formerly the President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). He was a one-time chair of the PDP in Anambra State. It is alleged that Nwoye is sponsored by Eze N’Ukpo, Chief Author Eze.
Tony is considered by some as a ‘light weight’ or a ‘dark horse’. Bearing in mind that the PDP had in the past presented relatively unknown candidates, Tony’s candidacy cannot be entirely ruled out. However, a new twist has been added to the drama, with the recent disqualification of four candidates. The Scoop reports:
The PDP has disqualified four out of the 17 governorship aspirants on its platform for the August 24 PDP primaries and the subsequent November 16 governorship election in Anambra State. This followed a screening conducted on Tuesday night by the Alhaji Aminu Wali led five-man screening panel.
With the disqualifications, the race is now open to 13 aspirants. The PDP primaries are scheduled for August 24. The disqualified aspirants are Tony Nwoye, Sylvester Okonkwo, Ugochukwu Okeke and Onwuanyi Afameduna.
The complex ecology of Anambra politics has shown that no contestant should be considered non-influential. Until the elections are over and a new governor is sworn in, no candidate can be dusted into the back seat of history.
Chukwuma Charles Soludo (APGA)
Soludo, former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank and professor of Economics, contested for the Anambra Governorship post in 2009 under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Soludo will contest this time around under the APGA (All Progressive People’s Alliance).
Soludo holds an intimidating resume as an scholar:
Soludo is a core professional in the business of macroeconomics. He obtained his three degrees and then professorship at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Enugu State. He graduated with a First Class Honors degree in 1984, an M.Sc. Economics in 1987, and a Ph.D. in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels.
He has been trained and involved in research, teaching and auditing in such disciplines as the multi-country macro econometric modeling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modeling, survey methodology and panel data econometrics, among others. Soludo studied and taught these courses at many Universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick. He has co-authored, co-edited and authored about ten books on this subject matter.
In 1998, Soludo was appointed to the position of professor of economics at the University of Nigeria; the next year he became a visiting professor at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US.
Soludo lived out his calling as economist when he became Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. However, the extent of his work in CBN is still a matter of debate with folks pitched on varying sides – for and against.
APGA has held sway in Anambra politics due to the clout of its founder, the late Dim Emeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu. This election will however, test the material immortality of the late Eze Igbo. Soludo is perceived as the only APGA candidate who can withstand the mortar from PDP in Anambra State. It is also claimed that he has the backing of the incumbent, Mr Peter Obi. However this backing is also a demerit as he was not formerly in APGA. There is already dissatisfaction within APGA faithful who have vowed to resist Soludo’s imposition on the party.
Andy Uba (PDP)
Emmanuel Nnamdi [Andy] Uba is currently a Senator representing Anambra South Constituency in the Nigerian Senate. He was once an aide to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Andy Uba’s political history is smeared with controversies and allegation of corruption.
In November 2006 Uba defended himself against allegations of money laundering related to the September 2003 trip, when he brought $170,000 in cash into the United States via a presidential plane, and did not declare it to Customs. Uba and his co-defendant later paid $26,000 in settlement of a claim by the United States government…
Uba ran for the governorship of Anambra State in 2007 under the PDP banner and won. However, Peter Obi challenged the elections stating that since his tenure was yet to expire, there was no vacancy in Akwa Government House. Nonetheless Andy was sworn in but was later disposed by the courts which upheld Obi’s plea. Andy Uba’s greatest challenge in this election will be upturning the toga of being Obasanjo’s stooge.
Uba was one of the most influential figures in the Obasanjo administration. For most of his tenure, Obasanjo did not appoint an oil minister but instead kept the portfolio to himself, and industry insiders said they had to go through Uba to reach Obasanjo and clinch sensitive deals. The governorship of his native Anambra was widely seen as a reward for Uba’s loyalty, and after he was sworn in on May 29 dozens of businesses took out full-page adverts in the newspapers to congratulate him.
Bearing in mind the sordid history of Obasanjo’s meddling in Anambra politics, Uba has a tedious task ahead of him. Nonetheless, being the flag bearer of PDP is not only valuable but almost impervious to defeat. The PDP has shown over time of having the magic wand that turns the most abject case into political victory.
Ifeanyi Ubah (LP)
Ifeanyi Ubah, the chief executive of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited is running for governor under the banner of the Labour Party. His posters have already flooded many parts of the state, especially in Onitsha.
Ifeanyi was described by Elombah.com as “a quintessential first class entrepreneur”:
His business acumen is manifest in the many gigantic investments and milestone achievements he has made within a short period of five years. His company Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited with its subsidiaries is a wholly Nigerian Company and a leading giant in the downstream sector of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry. It is a major player in the importation, storage, distribution, trading and retailing of petroleum products. The company was founded in 2001 by Mr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and opened its depot in Lagos for business in March 2007. It covers about 30% of the total area used for oil storage in Ibafon Lagos, comprising over 18 private oil depots. This forward thinking company currently has a staff strength of over 3000.
However, Ifeanyi’s record in the court of public opinion is not without blemish. In November 2012, Cosmas Maduka claimed that Ifeanyi Ubah swindled him of N21bn. Although that were not enough, Ifeanyi Ubah’s Capital Oil was once more in the news in 2013 “over their alleged complicity in petroleum subsidy fraud”.
Nonetheless, since politics is an expensive business, Mr Ubah has all it takes to fund this type of race. This report is instructive:
Perhaps the only governorship aspirant whose campaign activity is being felt in all parts of the state is Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the chairman of Capital Oil. …Since his entry into the race, politicians of all shades have been inclining towards him and many of them are reaping the benefits of that association in the form of cash, cars and clothes.
But how far the cash would go a long way to making him realize his governorship ambition is something to be seen. Even in LP where he has pitched his tent, there are indications that the leadership of the party is like APGA’s, also becoming unsettled with the Ubah phenomenon.
But for now, Ubah’s Nnewi country home remains a Mecca of sorts for old and new politicians who understand that politics is business.