By Tony Amadi.
Southeast’s flagship state of Anambra is ready to elect its next governor this November despite the new secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu’s wishes that the election is boycotted to enable his Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s threat to stop the election unless the federal government allows a referendum in the Southeast that will lead to the creation of a new Republic of Biafra.
Although he has rescinded the threat even before his organisation was proscribed by President Buhari’s government and a court of competent jurisdiction, I had wondered how he intended to achieve that ambition of stopping elections. Much as he has achieved some positives so far which has led to bringing the issue of restructuring to the front burner nationally, Mr Kanu must realize that his policies and plans could lead to killing more of his people just like the Ojukwu-led war resulted in the loss of millions of lives at the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war some forty seven years ago.
This is not to say that the Igbo proverb that says that you will not stop going to war because people will die does not hold water. The way the Igbo has been treated in Nigeria for generations is worth going to war for, but having fought one war and lost, even Ojukwu himself was against a second one as the current government controlled NTA has been re-quoting the words of the ex-war lord to counter the governments’ anti new-Biafra war propaganda machine.
So IPOB or no IPOB, the people of Anambra are set to vote their next leader on Saturday, 18th November 2017. And virtually all the political parties that will contest the election have had their primary elections concluded and elected their candidates in the inevitable primaries that come before the gubernatorial race. The governing party in the state, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has incumbent governor Willie Obiano set to carry the mantle for a second term in office while in hot pursuit is the APC, All Progressive Congress with the dynamic and young parliamentarian, Dr. Tony Nwoye, a member of the House of Representatives who will carry the mantle of the national ruling party in the elections.
As for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the umbrella party and still largest party in Nigeria, its flag bearer will be the former Secretary to the Anambra State Government under former Governor Peter Obi, Chief Oseloka Henry Obaze, a suave and decent technocrat and diplomatic mastermind bred in the United Nations line of diplomacy and now trying his hands in the muddy politics of Anambra state where brother fights brother, father against son and godfather against godson and goddaughter etc.
The purpose of this article is to state in clear terms why the incumbent governor Chief Willie Obiano is probably streets ahead of the rest of the contestants despite the frightening arsenal ranged against him. His image maker, Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta accepts that it will not be a walkover for his boss whom he met decades ago as his senior at Christ the Kings College, Onitsha, once and still the Eton of the former Eastern region. ‘’We have our work caught out in this election”, he told me in a telephone interview, “and that is to point out what Obiano have done since he took over the mantle four years ago and the massive difference he has made since his inauguration”.
Ogbuefi Nnachetta believes that Obiano’s record will stand him in good stead when the votes are cast in November as virtually every community in the state has given the dapper governor a vote of confidence. “There is virtually no community in the state that the governor has not touched this past four years”, says Nnachetta, “either in the provision of infrastructure or in the farming revolution that has led to the empowerment of the rural population in rice production”. A traditional chieftain in Nnokwa and former Airforce Wing Commander of the Nigerian Airforce, Chief Joe Anyika agreed with Willie Obiano’s image maker. He said that “Obiano in his bid to fast track development in Anambra state approached each community and asked each to name the project dearest to them and gave each of them N20,000,000 (twenty million naira) to go ahead with it. Some like my own community of Nnokwa chose to build a civic centre which includes a town hall, library and offices for entrepreneurial training and vigilantes to checkmate criminals before the police get involved”.
Chief Anyika added that following the handover of the Nnokwa Civic Centre commissioned by Governor Obiano recently, the community is waiting for another round of development money to construct a Copper’s Lodge in two secondary schools in Nnokwa as the second phase of the development programme. It was revealed that communities that completed their first project under the Obiano Community largesse, will get a second tranche to continue the development blitz across the state. For instance, Nnobi, a neighbouring town chose to build a town hall while Ndikerionwu has built a doctors quarters to ensure that health care delivery is unhindered in their community.
On the economic front, Obiano has made huge impact, and have generally touched the people greatly but it is in the area of political intrigue that he may have problems. He has been having a running battle with former Governor Peter Obi who is reportedly behind the candidacy of PDP’s Oseloka Obaze. Obi was very angry the way he was treated by Obiano when he guided him through the political labyrinth of the state politics. The former governor is working to show that he still have enormours influence in Anambra. But the governor’s supporters dismiss any impact that the quarrel with Peter Obi will have on the electoral outcome. As for the damage that the APC candidate Dr. Tony Nwoye may cause the electoral chances of Obiano, political pundits in the state characteristically dismissed Nwoye’s chances as not very strong enough to cancel the incumbency and high performance levels that Obiano has achieved.
In the last the election that brought Obiano to power APGA polled 180,178 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, then Nwoye with 97, 700 votes while the third place was 95, 963 votes for the APC, the ruling party at the centre. Nwoye came close to beating Obiano, however the equation has since changed. Nwoye is now APC with Federal power clearly behind him but commentators have also said that it is going to be difficult for the All Progressive Congress to take Anambra government given the perception that APC is behind the marginalisation of the Southeast under the Buhari administration.
For the Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha to boldly castigate the Igbo as the worst political players in Nigeria because as he claimed, the Hausa-Fulani of the North and Yoruba of the West don’t need the Igbo of the Southeast to win elections in Nigeria, he must have something up his sleeves. It is not unlikely that the APC is counting on the federal might to win Anambra, but as one leading chieftain of the PDP involved in the election postulated last week, it is virtually impossible for the ruling party at the centre to win elections in the Southeast given the 5% banding of the area in distribution of federal projects as well as the ongoing python-dancing military onslaught in the area.
As for Governor Okorocha who has already clashed with Governor Obiano in the build up for the November polls, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, must do all in its power to checkmate the antics of their former member who used them to win Imo State gubernatorial election before dumping the party to join the All Progressive Congress. While the Igbo must not dismiss entirely the Okorocha thesis that the “Hausa used to think they could not win elections without Igbo, now they believe with the combined massive populations of Lagos and Kano, they no longer need Igbo to win, hence the latest alliance between Hausa and Yoruba. So, where is Igbo today in Nigerian politics?”
Okorocha’s task is to spearhead the defeat of APGA and install the APC to control the Anambra State government, and he will be given all the needed arsenal to do the business, the army, the police and huge funds to accomplish the goals along with Igbo turncoats who have flooded the ranks of the national ruling party. Despite all these calculations, it seems that Obiano is solid on the ground and as his spokesman Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta believes it may not be a walkover, but the re-election of Willie Obiano is virtually a forgone conclusion given the political indices at play in the politically volatile state.
**Amadi, a political and news analyst at Arise News, lives in Abuja firstname.lastname@example.org