By Michael Jegede, Abuja.
The November 18, 2017 date for the Anambra State governorship election is gradually drawing closer. Political parties are getting set to conduct primaries to pick their candidates for the election as Anambrarians are warming up to participate actively in the exercise.
The question on the lips of watchers of political events in Anambra State, as preparations for the guber poll gather momentum, is whether the Anambrarians would give the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, the mandate to continue in office beyond March 17, 2018, when his first term would expire.
With the increasing support and gale of endorsements for Obiano from several influential groups within the state, on account of his outstanding record of achievements in the past three years, many are of the view that victory is sure for the seasoned banker cum chartered accountant turned politician, in the forthcoming governorship election. In the thinking of his admirers, it would be unwise to change a winning team that is living up to expectations and delivering the true dividends of democracy to the good people of Anambra State.
Impressed with the excellent performance of Obiano, Anambra workers had, for instance, unanimously endorsed him for second term through the Organised Labour, comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other workforce in the state. Anchoring their adoption of Obiano for another term on his sterling feats in office, which have had significant impact on the lives of the workers, the Anambra NLC Chairman, Comrade Jerry Nnubia, said: “Anambra is currently the safest state in Nigeria. We are equally witnessing infrastructure revolution in the state, excellent records in the education sector, diversification of the state economy through mechanized agriculture, attraction of direct and indirect foreign investments with billions of dollars to the state among other achievements… Our labour-friendly governor has also shown a lot of goodwill and favourable disposition towards the welfare of workers. Since the inception of his administration, salaries, pensions and leave allowances are regularly paid as at when due. This has earned him the nickname, ‘the Alert Governor’ because workers receive the alert for their salaries on or before the end of every month.”
The position of the Anambra workers on Obiano’s second term ambition is not different from that of the students, youths, women, farmers, traders and traditional rulers in the state. Majority of them seem to agree that the governor truly deserves to be given another chance to continue his good works in the running of the affairs of the state for the benefit of the Anambrarians.
A political heavyweight in the state and erstwhile National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, believes Obiano’s performance will speak for him in the coming election. Umeh, one of the strong pillars of APGA and a force to reckon with in Anambra politics, is standing firmly behind the governor, the same way he did in 2013, after Peter Obi reconciled with him to ensure the party’s victory then.
According to the APGA chieftain, Obiano has the overwhelming and unflinching support of Anambrarians, except for those who are eyeing his seat, and as such, employing propaganda to discredit his laudable accomplishments, so as to give the wrong impression that he has failed the people.
His words: “I am from the state and I know what he (Obiano) has done. It is therefore not surprising to me that he has cleared all the awards in Nigeria since 2015 December. He has a galaxy of awards and something you would take away from this is that it is not for nothing that he is winning all these. He has done very well in the area of security; Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria today. Before he mounted the saddle, Anambra was known for violent kidnappings and all kinds of crime. That is the way to size somebody who is stepping into governance. Then in the areas of infrastructural development, agricultural revolution, industrialization, youth empowerment, he has done so much. The state capital has been transformed. If you pass through Awka now you’ll be happy. The major highway running through Awka is a delight to move through with three flyovers that were all built within a record time. He is very ambitious too. Just on 11th of April, he flagged off the international cargo airport city at Umueri in the state in partnership with multi- national groups, financial group, Chinese and other investors.”
Umeh further remarked: “There are so many innovations he has brought into governance. He introduced choose your community scheme where every community no matter how small you are; you choose a project that would cost N20 million by yourselves, then we will make available the money; then you build the project. He has done the first phase. Some chose town halls, some chose water, some chose schools and so many things, markets and all kinds of things were chosen by various communities according to their needs. Government made available N20 million each to these communities and they were able to execute these projects. Now he has launched the second phase.”
Former Deputy Majority Leader of Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, likewise expressed confidence that Obiano would emerge triumphant in the November 18 governorship election.
Nwabunwanne, an ex-Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on political matters to Obiano, appointed as the Transition Committee Chairman (TCC) of Anambra West Local Government Area, said the people of Anambra State have continued to remain resolute in their support for the governor, owing to his stupendous accomplishments in office over the last three years.
The one-time lawmaker stated that all those who had so far declared their intention to contest for the governorship seat have the right to do so. He, however, maintained that “There is clearly no vacancy in Anambra State Government House. The entire people of Anambra State are pleased with the performance of His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, and they have continued to demonstrate this in the manner and way they have remained steadfast in their show of support and solidarity for the governor.”
Speaking on the leadership crisis in APGA which some believe may likely prevent Obiano from securing the guber ticket and affect the chances of the party in the coming election, Nwabunwanne said: “APGA is not new to leadership crisis. So, those who are beating the drums and dancing to celebrate the leadership crisis in APGA thinking that it will hamper the chances of our great party in the forthcoming governorship election will be disappointed. They don’t seem to understand the fact that as far as Anambra State politics is concerned, APGA has come to stay as the only party truly accepted by the people. Go and check it, APGA has always had leadership crisis before every governorship election, but that has never stopped it from emerging victorious at the end of the day. I can assure you that the internal crisis in APGA would be amicably resolved and Obiano will get the party’s ticket without qualms. And our great party will as usual win the Anambra gubernatorial election come November 18, 2017 with ease.”
Nwabunwanne’s thought is in agreement with the observation of Dr. Luke Onyekakeyah, an astute writer & columnist. In a piece captioned: “Anambra 2017: No odds against Obiano”, Onyekakeyah said: “I would like to observe that APGA’s internal wrangling has not cost it electoral victories in the past. APGA has gone through this path before. No other party in Nigeria has gone through the quantum of legal tussle that APGA has gone through and still survived… The fact remains that the friction is nothing to affect APGA’s success in the election. Anyone who thinks that the friction between Victor Oye and Chief Martin Agbaso over the party’s chairmanship position is going to affect the election is mistaken. Both men want APGA to succeed. They know that it is in their interest for the party to win the election. It doesn’t pay any of them to be chairman of a losing party.”
Other eminently qualified illustrious sons of Anambra State, who have reportedly showed interest to contest on different platforms for the guber race include: Senator Andy Uba, Ifeanyi Ubah, Chike Obidigbo, Godwin Ezeemo, Oseloka Obaze, Osita Chidoka, Tony Nwoye and George Muoghalu. Also on the line-up are Alex Obiogbolu, Obinna Uzor, Barth Nwibe and Dr. Elo Aforka, the only man that wants to slug it out with Obiano for the APGA ticket for now.
Will Obiano be able to navigate through the APGA leadership crisis to emerge the party’s flag bearer and have an easy win at the poll come November 18 as argued by his supporters? Time will tell!
***Mr. Jegede, a media expert, sent this through email@example.com, and writes from Abuja.