Nigeria News

Anambra State 2014: Every Odd Favors Willie Obiano of APGA.

Anambra CandidatesThe Anambra State governorship election scheduled for the 16th day of November 2013 is around the corner. All the parties have conducted their primaries and the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) had already released the names of the candidates for each party in the election. The names of all the twenty three (23) candidates as released by INEC include: Okeke Chika Jerry (AA) Chukwuemeka Nwankwo (ACCORD) Dr Ifeatu Ekelem (ACD) Engr Anthony Anene (ACPN) Comrade Aaron Igweze (AD) Chief Anayo Arinze (ADC) Patrick Chukwuka Ibeziako (APA) Senator Chris Ngige (APC) Chief Willie Obiano (APGA) Chief Austin Nwangwu (CPP) Chijioke Geofrey Ndubuisi (DPP) Christian Ikechukwu Otti (ID) Chief Dennis Nwaforka Oguge (KOWA) Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah (LP) Pastor Simon Okafor (MPPP) Okoknkwo Webster (NCP) Prince Leonard Uchendu (NNPP) Nicholas Ukachukwu (PDP) Godwin Ezeemo (PPA) Hon Basil Ijedinma (PPN) Onuarah Onyeachonam (SDP) Barr Okoye Godson (UDP) Prince Akaneebu Ogochukwu (UPP).
Even though the candidates are many, the candidates for the major parties and top contenders are Senator Chris Ngige (APC), Chief Willie Obiano (APGA), Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah (LP) and Nicholas Ukachukwu (PDP). The list for candidates could change between now and the 16th November based on the latest court’s decisions challenging the validity of some candidates. INEC would dutifully amend the list in line with the decisions of courts.
 
If the list stands, the fortunes of many candidates would not change as far as the Anambra election is concerned. By now, a large number of Anambrarians must have made up their minds on whom to vote for. The number of undecided voters is not really that significant. But in my considered opinion based on my months of research and my study of Anambra politics, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah would not be governor of Anambra state; and so is Nicholas Ukachukwu or Senator Chris Ngige. 
 
Willie Obiano of APGA is highly favored to win the election and convincingly too. This is because of many factors that work to his advantage. First of all, he is the candidate of the ruling party, APGA, which is highly entrenched in the state based on their grass root support, active and well-oiled political machinery. Even though APGA has its own squabbles before and after its primary that pitched Maxi Okwu’s faction with the Chief Victor Umeh’s faction; the APGA problem is not a do-or-die affair and could be easily settled over a glasses of wine as both sides of the disagreement agrees that APGA would win the forthcoming election. All the parties to APGA dispute are in agreement that victory for the party is more important than any squabble or dispute among them.
Secondly, the incumbent governor, Peter Obi, had acquitted himself well as a prudent manager of Anambra’s scarce resources who has put the state in a very sound footing. Also with the performance of the current governor and the kind of leader that he is, a case has already been made for continuity, prudence, competence, civility, humility, maturity, exposure and knowledge. Many people have unconsciously gravitated to Governor Obi’s style of leadership and wish that anyone that succeeds him possesses many of those traits. 
 
When a ruling party methodically frames an election issue to suit its own strategy, then it would be an uphill task if not a total impossibility, for a challenger to beat the ruling party. Governor Obi, by his style of leadership and his achievements has made the strong case that a person that would take over from him should possess certain similar characteristics and backgrounds. Besides, there are lots of ongoing projects which could not be finished before the next administration comes on board, and I could say that it was strategically done so that it would be difficult for towns where those projects are cited to abandon APGA, jump ship and risk the project being abandoned by a successor that may not share the philosophy of Governor Obi and APGA. The current governor has also made a case that for equity and fairness, his successor should come from Anambra North Senatorial Zone; a zone that is Anambra’s “food basket” and a zone where Anambra owes her status as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria. Besides, the zone has never produced a governor both in the old and new Anambra State. 
 
So the question now is: who among the candidates is close to the kind of leader that Gov. Obi modeled and who among the candidates would continue on the path that Gov. Obi has charted for the state and its future; and who comes from Anambra North? Is it Senator Ngige? Nicholas Ukachukwu? Ifeanyi Ubah? Willie Obiano?

Everywhere in Anambra, most people want a governor that would continue from where governor Obi stopped. Senator Ngige does not represent continuity, future, civility, prudence or competence. He represents Anambra’s past and the period in our history beset with strife, lawlessness and rancor. Also his tenure represents a period of uncertainty, endless bickering and arson. His party, APC, is not really welcomed in the state based on the fact that it represents a lot of things that most Anambrarians would shudder at including Boko Haram, deportation of and ethnic domination against Igbos. Every politics is local as they say in the political world. Many have argued that it is not about party but about the individual, however, who would finance Ngige’s campaign? Who would match his rhetoric with action on the ground? How many online analysts running their mouths like ‘micro-waving’ popcorns can put in time, money and efforts to help Ngige to achieve his political goals? Popularity does not normally translate to success at elections. Besides, who pays the piper says much about where a candidate loyalty is. Is Ngige’s campaign funded by Anambra people or Chief Bola Tinubu or Gov Fashola of Lagos State? What is their pay-back assuming they are bankrolling his campaign? Is Anambra money to be used in settling them if Ngige becomes governor? 
 
On his own part, Ngige did not acquit himself well as a senator. For over two years, there has never been any bill sponsored or co-sponsored by him in the senate. His name was recently published among the list of docile senators (that earn much more than any congress in the world and more than the United States president, Barack Obama) without anything to show for the huge salaries they smile home with every month (over seventy million naira per annum). On issues after issues that are of emotional attachment to his constituency and Anambra State/Igbos generally, it appears that he either does not have a clue on what to do or he is uninterested in doing his job as a senator. On the Ezu River scandal, the investigation was allegedly killed in the senate by Ngige and other senators. Also on the Boko Haram menace that directly affects his constituency, no action; on Unity School that demands that Anambra candidates score higher than any states (139 points), he was a ‘no-show’; on the Orient Refinery that is being claimed by Kogi and Enugu states, he did not put up a fight to defend Anambra’s interest. Then it was the controversial deportation of so-called destitute of Anambra origins by the Lagos State government which Senator Ngige supported; that broke the his political ‘carmel’s back’. 
 
To many like myself, Ngige only makes ‘waves’ when he returns to Anambra, but when stacked against his mates at the senate where outspokenness is required to influence a governmental actions to benefit his own people, he goes numb or mute. It is only at markets and among some gullible market women or ‘okada’ riders that he finds his voice. Besides, he does not have a forward looking agenda for returning to the Governor’s Mansion. No real vision about moving the state forward to meet the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). I have not seen a comprehensive manifesto that is outside the generic “I will build airport, roads, bridges”, “I will make education tuition-free.” Anambra needs and deserves an ambitious manifesto that addresses the needs of Anambra such as security/kidnapping, Agriculture/food production, unemployment/job creation, industrialization, housing, education, health-care, energy efficiency, manpower development etc. 
 
The problem with adherents of the 20th Century political philosophy is that they do not understand that different times calls for different measures. Ngige was governor by default when the state was in dire need of good roads and when teachers were owed backlog of salaries and allowances, and when schools were closed for a year due to the fact that teachers were owed. Rehabilitating roads and paying salaries at the time was counted as achievements. Now things have changed and Anambra people now discovered that there are more to government than roads and salaries of workers. Ngige’s problem now is “what have you done for us lately”? He has not understood that the ground has shifted from under his feet. 
 
Professor Okey Ndibe summarized Ngige’s situation thus: 

"Mr. Ngige benefited as much from the incompetence and greed of his predecessors as from a culture of low expectations where the payment of salaries or the provision of roads is rated an amazing achievement. But there’s no question that his image has lost much of its glitter in the last two years or so. After a bruising battle to claim his Senate seat from Dora Akunyili, Mr. Ngige, a medical doctor by training seemed to have gone to sleep. If there was any significant bill he sponsored or co-sponsored, or any legislative steps he took to boost the life of his constituents, he and his handlers must have worked hard to conceal it from the public. He has been quite, quite simply a mediocre, an underwhelming senator. Given his self-inflicted injuries as a weak senator, the question is whether he has the residual goodwill to pull off victory in a governorship election where he is almost certain to be outspent by his other opponents and their backers.”
 
It was also alleged that among the South East Senate Caucus, Senator Ngige is the only senator whose office at Abuja is always under lock and key with no support staff. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and it is alleged that when his committee toured the Psychiatric Hospital at Enugu, he was more concerned with getting three employment slots for his cronies; and that he does not care about doing anything to address the many concerns of the hospital and its staff. He has never cited any project using the Constituency Funds allocated to Anambra Central Constituency. The funds is estimated to be over three hundred and thirty three million naira (N333,000,000) annually. 
 
Ngige is also seen as a rubble-rouser, selfish, arrogant and polarizing. He has never been successful either as a physician or as a manager of people or wealth and resources which is what Anambra needs at this period of our history. People see him, rightly or wrongly, as capable of igniting old battles and strife in the state and would sour the long working relationship between Anambra government and the federal government. The prospect of peace and prosperity would be lacking in a “Governor Ngige” of 2014. He is also afflicted with the diminishing political returns and has maxed out politically as far as Anambra state is concerned.
 
Another problem is that he lacks the trust of politicians. Recently, his campaign suffered another blow when his Campaign Manager, Senator Annie Okonkwo, threw in the towel on him saying:
 "My decision was borne out of inability to keep to the agreement and flagrant distrust and abuses by our standard bearer who of course showed no appreciation for the supreme sacrifice of stepping down for him.”
 
Ngige is pretty much a ‘one-man show’, and thrives on out-dated “ambush” campaign strategy of criticism only with no positive message in his own favor. As a veteran journalist from Anambra, Uche Ezechukwu, put it“…if you are on ground in Anambra state and not merely a social media political analyst, you will see that Ngige is weighed down by even a greater predicament.” Ngige’s political problems are legion, for they are many, and it would only take a miracle for him to win any election outside his usual Idemili axis who benefitted mostly from his road construction during his illegal tenure as governor. 
 
Nicholas Ukachukwu has been in politics for a better part of the decade. He is a strong political force and a philanthropist known by many especially in the Anambra South Constituency. He had suffered lots of disappointments politically, mostly in the hands of the Uba Brothers, who was alleged to have consistently rigged him out in any election that he participates in from 2003 and now. Ukachukwu has a sizeable following in the PDP and commands lots of respect among the rank and file of the party. He is a well-known grass root politician. However, his greatest challenge is the fact that his party is highly divided between various factions. The election is less than two months from now, but PDP is still battling in the court to determine who the authentic flag-bearer of the party is. 
 
Last Monday, 30th September, 2013, the PDP Anointed Candidate, Nwoye Withdrew lawsuit against the Party and INEC and the Federal High Court at Abuja granted the application to withdraw the suit. Even without rancor in his party, Ukachukwu does not have a followership that could easily cut across all sections of the electorate; he does not appear to have the financial muscle to prosecute a contentious campaign season and the rigging season in Anambra by PDP is long over. Besides that, he is seen as part of the ‘old guard’ and does not have the intellectual background that Anambra people are looking for. He does not have any listed educational qualification beside his name. This is troubling since in a state like Anambra that has a high number of education achievers, appearance of “money-miss-road” is never a virtue for any candidate in Anambra.
 
As for Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, first of all, he is spending much of his campaign resources and time trying to convince Anambra people that he is not related to the Uba Brothers from Uga. Many mistake him to be another Uba of the “Ngige-gate” infamy. The young man is very ambitious, stupendously rich and successful in oil business. As a philanthropist, he is building a 3,000 seat Catholic Cathedral for the Nnewi Diocese. He was a lead donor in refurbishing St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Umuanuka Otolo, Nnewi, his home church, and has generously donated N60 million for the acquisition of the Bishop’s Court for the Anglican Diocese of Awka. He has also materially supported bishops and other clergymen of various religious denominations across Anambra State. He did some good things in creating jobs for a sizeable number of youths. He also distributed kerosene to teeming number of people to alleviate their sufferings during scarcity. 
 
One cannot but admire his courage, fearlessness, energy, youth, fresh ideas and ambition. At a young age and from a humble beginning, he was a successful businessman making his first million at the age of 19. He sits at the board of about ten companies. However, his first mistake was dabbling into APGA crisis without first doing his homework. A candidate cannot win an election by antagonizing an incumbent in his own party. In Igbo we say: “nwata kwuo okwu, a malu afo one o di”-a child reveals his age when he talks. Inexperience and youthful exuberance killed his momentum. Also by taking side in the controversy, he showed his poor leadership skills and made people to accuse him of trying to “buy” the APGA ticket via Chief Victor Umeh, who at the time was seen as a merchant going for the highest bidder. 
 
But Ifeanyi Ubah’s greatest undoing is the fact that only a few weeks ago, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) announced its seizure of Mr. Uba’s firm, Capital Oil. AMCON plans to run the company for a period of two years. Even upon that, the way and manner the young man spends money traversing from Onitsha-Awka-Nnewi and all major cities in a long convey of exotic cars reflects an extravagance that the state could ill-afford. Besides, the common thinking around Anambra is that the man is desperate to be governor so that he would plunder the state’s resources to meet up with his immense debt and to use the executive immunity that becoming a governor brings, to ward off Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from his trail. Also, he got caught up by the quest to appear well-educated by attaching an honorary doctorate degree to his name just like “Dr.” Andy Uba did when back in 2007 election. 
On the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation website, he was listed as having a Bachelors’ Degree (B.Sc) in International Relations, but curiously the university he attended was not listed but that of his wife was listed. Besides, on the INEC list of candidates, NECO was listed as his qualification. Actually, possession of WASC or equivalent is the basic qualification for governor, so on that score, he is qualified. Now the question is: when exactly did he sit for the NECO? NECO was established in 1999 and conducted its first exams by mid-2000. This is a legitimate issue that played to the notion that he is an illiterate who can buy any degree or certificate that he wants to look “educated”.  But to be a governor of a state like Anambra, a mere impression as an ‘illiterate trader’ or ‘money-miss-road’ is a tough impression to overcome.
 
This leaves only Chief Willie Obiano. The man stands out as mild mannered, gregarious and confident. As a case has been made for Gov. Obi’s successor to be in the mold of Gov. Obi, Obiano is well suited in this type of contest. People are looking for somebody who can sustain the lofty achievements of the out-going Governor. Anambra needs somebody who possesses the requisite education, experience and exposure. So looking at the career profile of Chief Obiano, it is difficult not to notice his outstanding qualities. This is a man who had a distinction in secondary school: Christ the King College, Onitsha; and was John F. Kennedy Essay Winner 1974 at CKC and holds a national Merit Certificate for outstanding service during his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) in Benue State, Nigeria in the 1979/80 Nigerian Prisons Service? Year; had a second class upper from an ‘Ivy League’ school, the University of Lagos in 1979, had an MBA in Marketing in the same school; he also had an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Wisconsin. Besides that, he attended many international senior management courses at Harvard University, Stanford University and other top-rated universities around the world. Obiano is also a patron of the Lagos Business School. He is a fellow with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
 
Apart from his educational achievements, the man backed it up in the private sector. How bad can a man be, when he worked in First Bank for a long period of time, served as an Executive in a Bank for nine years; served as a Chief Internal Auditor for Texaco World Wide for six years, and a Chartered Accountant; was promoted four times in his eight-and-half-year-service at Texaco to become Chief Internal Auditor? He is a specialist in Bunkering, Lube-blending and Refinery Audits. Chief Willie Obiano was part of the team that audited Texaco Refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1989. He was part of the great team that saw Fidelity Bank through the Bank’s Consolidation process. With his leadership, the bank raised over N16 Billions and acquired two other banks and today boasts of shareholders fund in excess of N100 Billion within six years! The most interesting aspect of his long banking career is that there has never been any allegation of fraud or malpractice unlike what we see every day in the banking sector which led to many failed banks. He served with distinction and integrity. A case is already been made that he is the kind of person the state can entrust its finances on based on this profile of prudence and experience.
 
The main negative thing that people could say against him is that he is Gov. Obi’s stooge and that he was planted to cover Obi’s ugly rear and bad deeds. But the funny thing is that the same people calling him a stooge are the same people that idolize Gov. Fashola of Lagos state and don’t call Fashola, a Bola Tinubu’s stooge. They wouldn’t refer to Ngige as Tinubu and Fashola’s stooge. They would rather have people across the River Niger as political sponsors of Anambra governor, but would develop diarrhea when a fellow Anambra man recommends a capable and highly competent hand to manage Anambra resources. 
 
Another criticism against him is that does not have political experience. It is true that the man has not spent a lot of time learning the evil ways of politicians, but his long term in the business sector and the intrigues there has prepared him for the big task of managing Anambra resources. It is a good thing to learn that he has not been tainted by politicians and their ways. After all, how many people in Anambra knew who Peter Obi was back in 2003? Ten years later, Gov. Obi is now a household name not only in Anambra but in the whole federation as a silent revolutionary. 
People that have worked closely with Chief Obiano testify to his exceptional social skills. He is well known in the banking and business circle as a bridge builder, a team player, a motivator and an astute and shrewd executive who always sets goals and reaches them with seamless precision. Anambra needs bridge builders and men of peace who would galvanize and tap into the human and material resources abound in Anambra for the state to continue on her way to prosperity. His manifesto is not just about continuity but about breaking new grounds of his own in revolutionizing the agricultural sector, healthcare, education, power sector, water resources, youth and manpower development.
 
Some criticize him for being at home with ceremoniousness and love for the traditional institutions and talked about him going the “Okwadike Igbo-ukwu” way of flooding the government House with “okwa ojas” and “ogbu opis” (flute blower and traditional trumpeters), but if that is a negative to someone’s political standing, I can’t see it. Our people should prefer a candidate that is comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to project the rich cultural heritage of Igbos. One doesn’t expect less from high chief from the ancient Aguleri who value traditions as their Nri kinsmen.
 
It would be very interesting to see how the incumbency and other enumerated factors in favor of APGA and her candidate, Willie Obiano, could be upset by the other mushroom and ragtag parties and candidates full of also-rans. Unless the unexpected happens, November 16th is only a matter of weeks and Anambra cannot wait to usher in a new round of peace, prosperity, civility, continuity, competence and industrialization epitomized by a Governor Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, Akpokuodike Aguleri. Come March 16th 2014, the government of Anambra would move from Obi to Obiano (three Obis) and from a native of Agulu to a native of Aguleri! As the saying goes “you don’t change a winning team” “do not fix it unless it is not broken”; Anambra is on a threshold of history, it’s too late to reverse course.
 
(c) Chukwudi Nwokoye

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
https://www.codewit.com

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