Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia; Lawrence Nwimo, Awka; Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki; & Nonsochukwu Uwa, Owerri (Ikengaonline.com)
The South-East geo-political zone arguably lays claims to the presidency in 2023 as it is yet to produce the President since the beginning of the current democratic dispensation in 1999. It is also the only geo-political zone in southern Nigeria yet to produce a President.
As the agitation for power continues to generate tension and dominates national discourse, the South-East has no fewer than 16 presidential aspirants in different political platforms who have formally declared interest in the presidential race.
Ikengaonline, in this special report, takes a look at the chances of the various aspirants in their respective political platforms.
Five presidential aspirants from Abia State have indicated interest in the tickets of different political platforms for the 2023 poll.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has three of the aspirants while both the All Progressives Congress, APC; and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, have one respectively.
The PDP presidential hopefuls include: former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa; former Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chikwendu Kalu; and a former Deputy Speaker, Abia House of Assembly, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe.
In APC, former Governor and Senator representing Abia North district, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was the only contestant in the race but has since announced his withdrawal from the race.
The only female presidential aspirant of APGA, Angela Johnson, is from Arochukwu in Abia State but she could not scale through the presidential screening of the party as former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Professor Peter Umeadi, emerged as the only aspirant of the party.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa (PDP)
The pharmacist and former Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group has bright chances of clinching the presidential ticket of the PDP.
His sound economic blueprint and near-impeccable background as a man of high integrity without any ‘baggage’ are his high selling points.
He is seen by many as one of the few honest Nigerians that can navigate the country out of the woods if given the opportunity to superintendent over the affairs of the country.
Mazi Ohuabunwa also has a very strong network across the country especially among Northerners where he has a lot of political allies.
He has equally been consulting widely and commands tremendous respect among many Nigerians.
However, some say he does not seem to have the needed financial muscle to bankroll an elaborate presidential project which has become outrageously very expensive.
He is equally not seen as being willing to play the card like an average Nigerian politician, hence, professional politicians may not be willing to throw their lot with him.
But his fate will be decided by the delegates at the PDP presidential congress.
Rt. Hon. Chikwendu Kalu(PDP)
The sudden entrance of the lawyer and former Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly into the presidential race came as a surprise to many.
Some pundits believe that his decision to join the fray was not premeditated, insinuating that he might have been drafted into the race to serve someone’s interest.
Although he has the requisite qualifications to be President and in fact, can deliver if given the opportunity, many across the state rather see him as one of the pretenders and not a serious contender.
Dr Cosmos Ndukwe(PDP)
Dr. Ndukwe, former Deputy Speaker Abia State House of Assembly is not a political neophyte as he has held many political offices in the state.
He was former General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, ASEPA; former Chief of Staff to the Governor; and former Commissioner for Trade and Investment.
He recently bagged a doctorate degree in Mass Communication and enjoys appreciable popularity in Aba where he maintains his base.
His entrance into the race also took many by surprise.
Not too many people give him any chance as he is not seen to be in the race for the ticket but probably to enhance his political CV. He is also being suspected to have been sponsored by another presidential aspirant for some strategic purposes.
Angela Johnson (APGA)
Angela Johnson, a gospel preacher based abroad is a daughter of Arochukwu ancient kingdom in Abia North.
She came from the blues and announced her interest in the presidential ticket of APGA, claiming that God had anointed her to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
However, her fate seems to have been sealed as she was unable to scale through the APGA presidential screening. Ever since, not much has been heard from her again.
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC)
Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor and Senator representing Abia North, is no newcomer in the political landscape of Nigeria.
He had contested for the president in 2007 on the platform of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, but lost.
When the Senate Chief Whip announced his interest in the APC presidential ticket, not too many people took him seriously.
He vindicated his critics when he suddenly pulled out from the race only to support the presidential ambition to Senate President, Ahmed Lawan.
Some say his claims that the failure of APC to zone its presidential ticket to the South-East informed his sudden support for Lawan was a lame excuse.
In fact, some pundits who are no novice to his political shrewdness believe his support for Lawan and the North for the presidency was a smart way of positioning himself for either a vice presidential slot or compensation with the position of the office of the Senate President, assuming APC wins the 2023 poll.
His ambition though withdrawn, was largely seen as self-serving as he has been championing the Northern interest at a time other non-Igbo stakeholders including Chief Edwin Clark, and Pa Ayo Adebanjo are openly drumming support for power shift to the South-East.
Anambra State has a fair share of aspirants who are nursing interest to direct the affairs of the country from Aso Rock.
Six aspirants from Anambra State are jostling for the presidency after they obtained the nomination and expression of interest forms of their various political parties.
The aspirants are: Mr. Peter Obi from Agulu community in Anambra Central; Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze from Abagana community, Njikoka Area; and Madam Nonye Josephine Ezeanyaeche from Aguata, respectively. They are all of the PDP.
Elsewhere in APC, only the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, has shown interest in the position.
Rtd. Justice Peter Umeadi of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, also declared his intention to rule the country while Professor Kingsley Moghalu chose to run on the platform of Action Democratic Congress, ADC.
The aspirants from Anambra have shown great confidence in picking the ticket of their respective political parties.
Peter Obi (PDP)
Among the three PDP aspirants for the presidential race from Anambra, Peter Obi is widely seen as the beautiful bride not only in the state but for the entire South-Eastern region following his antecedents and achievements as Governor of Anambra State.
Peter Obi was Governor of Anambra State for eight years and 2019 Vice presidential candidate of the PDP.
He was among the 15 aspirants that scaled the April 29 screening test of the PDP.
Obi’s experience in politics, ranging from state to national politics, is a plus to his ambition and advantage over other presidential aspirants in the State.
He will be battling it out with the likes of Nyesom Wike from Rivers State; Sen. Bukola Saraki; Chief Pius Anyim of Ebonyi; Atiku Abubakar; Aminu Tambuwal; Bala Mohammed and many others.
Opinions are that if PDP decides to favour a president of the South-East extraction, Obi stands a better chance of emerging the flagbearer of the party for the presidential poll.
Dr. Anakwenze (PDP)
Another aspirant from PDP, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze is 70 years old and from Abagana community in Njikoka LGA.
He is a past leader of different Igbo and Nigerian organisations in the diaspora and President of the Diaspora Igbo group, the Igbo World Assembly, IWA.
Among many others, he has held different titles and also the traditional Prime Minister of Abagana Town Union in Anambra state.
Dr. Anakwenze’s desire to eliminate corruption and develop reliable security that guarantees lives and property of all Nigerians remains his top selling point.
There is no doubt he will make them a priority if elected to preside over the affairs of the country in 2023.
Just as his vision could be endearing to Nigerians, he is new to politics. But politics in Nigeria is a different ball game compared to being leader of an ethnic group.
Again, he has not held any elective position in Anambra State and the country at large before and is relatively unknown in the politics of the country.
This may be an impediment in his aspiration to fly the PDP flag.
Similar case goes for 102-year-old Madam Nonye Josephine Ezeanyaeche, also known as ‘living legend’ or “Mama Africa.’
Ezeanyaeche is from Aguata, Anambra State, and is the founder of the ‘Voice for Senior Citizens of Nigeria.’
She is relatively unknown and could be denied the ticket to contest the presidential poll due to her age and low popularity.
Dr. Ngige (APC)
Chris Nwabueze Ngige was contesting on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The current Minister of Labour and Productivity would have been challenging other aspirants in APC in the moulds of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Party leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Rochas Okorocha, Dave Umahi, Moses Ayom, among other strong contenders.
Opinions are that Ngige, though being a strong voice in Anambra politics, is way behind other southern counterparts jostling for the party ticket.
Although Ngige at the dying minutes, smartly withdrew from the presidential race, pundits believed he had very slim chances considering the calibre of other contestants from the South.
Two men are jostling for the ADC presidential ticket. They are former CBN Deputy Governor and 2019 presidential candidate, Professor Kingsley Moghalu; and Management Expert, Chukwuka Monye who hails from South-South region.
Prof. Umeadi (APGA)
So far in All Progressives Grand Alliance, Former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Prof. Nnanna Umeadi has purchased the N25 million-naira nomination and expression of interest form of APGA and has declared optimism of emerging the next president of the country.
Prof. Umeadi may likely emerge as the sole candidate of the party for the presidential poll.
The popularity of political parties has often played a dominant role in elections in Anambra State. The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has been in leadership of the State since 2007 and has not shown any signs of readiness to relinquish power to any of the opposition parties in the state.
The party’s success story is not far from the strong acceptance of the party as Igbo voice and a true representation of Igbo, hence, the ‘Nkea bu Nke anyi’ slogan among the people.
APGA has failed to replicate its successes in gubernatorial and other state level elections in presidential elections as it has successively failed to muster any serious challenge to APC and PDP in national elections.
Though the party has shown its readiness of fielding a presidential candidate of their own, unlike in the past, analysts have predicted that the people may opt for PDP for the presidential poll as statistics have shown people’s dislike for APC in the past elections in the state.
APGA appears to be friendlier to the PDP in Anambra than the APC, SDP, ADC and other parties and this friendly atmosphere may play active role for the chances of the parties at the 2023 election in the state.
Senator Pius Anyim
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was born on 19 February 1961 in his hometown of Ishiagu in Ivo local government area of present day Ebonyi state.
He once served as the President of the Nigerian Senate and was Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during the Goodluck Jonathan presidency.
He was elected a Senator on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 for the Ebonyi South constituency and was elected Senate President in August 2000.
He announced his ambition to run for the 2023 presidential elections on the eve of the PDP’s national convention.
It is difficult to predict the chance of most of the presidential aspirants for the forthcoming election in the PDP due to the deep-rooted division that the party finds itself leading up to the 2023 election as governors and other stakeholders battle to outwit each other.
Anyim, is from the South-East region of the country, which has never produced a president for the country.
With rotation of power between the North and South of the country and with power expected to shift to the South as current President, Muhammadu Buhari (a Northerner) enters the last lap of his second term, it is expected that power will shift to the south.
With the South-South zone and South-West having produced the president in recent past, the South-East is clamouring for power to be zoned to the region for the sake of equity.
But the appeals do not seem to have gained the much-needed momentum as aspirants from other regions have joined the presidential race.
Be that as it may, Senator Anyim, who is noted for truth and uprightness is seen as a very capable and experienced politician with a very wide acceptability across the regions.
However, he is said not to have the much-needed structure across the geo-political zones to help him mount an effective challenge.
David Umahi (APC)
Governor David Umahi is the incumbent governor of Ebonyi State. He is contesting under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party.
He defected to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in November 2020. He had won two terms as Governor of Ebonyi State under the PDP before jumping ship to the APC.
He was previously the State Chairman of the PDP and later the Deputy Governor of the state before winning the governorship election.
The Governor has promised to transform the country much like he did Ebonyi State even with the meagre resources accruing to the state.
However, his chances of clinching the APC presidential ticket are slim.
One of his impediments is that he has a lot of strong politicians and Leaders of the party who are also aspiring to contend with.
Secondly, he is seen as an outsider in the party by founding members of the party who believe that the next president should be from the old members of the party.
Signs of this was evident in the just concluded convention of the party where Umahi’s candidate for the National Deputy Chairman, Senator Nnamani was jettisoned for Emma Eniukwu, who was the candidate of Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Ọnụ.
Ọnụ, who was one of the Leaders of All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), one of the founding parties that merged to form the APC, was given the slot ahead of Umahi. It is believed that same thing will play out again in the presidential primaries.
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (APC)
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was the first Executive Governor of Abia State when his part of Ebonyi State was still in Abia.
He had also contested the Presidency under the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in 1999 but did not succeed. Although he won the ANPP presidential ticket, he was to surrender it to Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) because of an alliance between the two parties in 1999.
Onu who is the immediate past Minister for Science and Technology is not a desperate politician but perceived as a core gentleman.
He commands respect across the country and can actually win the APC ticket if integrity and gentility are the only criteria for picking the presidential ticket.
He, however, does not seem to pull the needed weight to win the APC ticket.
In Imo state, the ruling APC has two presidential aspirants running to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2023, but the opposition PDP does not have any aspirants in the state.
Ikengaonline gathered in Owerri, that the two presidential aspirants include a former Governor of Imo state and a Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Rochas Okorocha; and the former Minister of State for Education, Emeka Uwajiuba.
Both aspirants have purchased the APC presidential form for a N100 million.
While Okorocha hails from Ideato South Local Government Area, Nwajiuba is from the Ehime Mbano Council area.
Okorocha and Nwajiuba have made strong arguments in favour of the Igbo presidency.
Their supporters have been at the frontline of projecting this agenda of Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction.
However, starting from Imo State, ahead of the APC, presidential primaries, Okorocha’s frosty relationship with the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, may likely result in his (Okorocha) not getting the support of the Imo APC delegates and leaders of the party since the structure of the party as it is now, is controlled by the Governor.
But Nwajiuba, who enjoys a better political understanding with Uzodimma, could be having loyalists and supporters within the party and relates well with the state leadership of the APC in selling his manifesto.
As of press time, even as the presidential primaries draw closer, the duo of Okorocha and Nwajiuba, are yet to visit the state APC leadership of their party to inform them of their presidential ambition unlike other presidential aspirants who have paid homage according to the political tradition.
▪︎ By Ikenga Online