The battle line is drawn among the five major contestants in the very keen contest to replace the outgoing governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. These are Chief Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party, LP, and Mr. Godwin Ezeemo of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA.
Obiano and Nwoye are from Anambra North senatorial zone, the only area that has not produced the governor since Anambra State was created in 1991, while Ubah and Ezeemo are from Anambra South.
Ngige is the only candidate from Anambra Central and the reason politicians from the zone did not seek the highest political office in the state this time around is because by the time Governor Peter Obi completes his tenure next year, Anambra Central would have occupied the seat for 11 years (eight years by Obi and three years by Ngige).
So, it is equity consideration on their part, one may say.
For the South senatorial zone, the four governors they had produced namely, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Andy Uba and Mrs. Virgy Etiaba, have jointly occupied the Government House for about six years.
Therefore, for Saturday’s election, issues that will be on the front burner include the zone of the candidates, the political godfathers behind them, their closeness with the churches, programmes in their manifestoes and their antecedents, among other considerations.
Anambra North (Obiano and Nwoye)
The emergence of the two candidates from a zone noted for delivering bloc votes during elections is a source of concern to stakeholders from the area. When Nwoye and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu from Anambra South were engaged in a legal battle for the ticket of the PDP, many people from Anambra North somehow prayed that the area should not be made to face the problem of splitting their votes between him (Nwoye) and Obiano. So, when Nwoye eventually won at the Supreme Court, the reality starred them in the face.
Tomorrow, the two, who are in fact from the same local government (Anambra East, may have to decide whether to go for one person or vote according to their political leanings in which case there will be the inevitable splitting of votes in the area. It was gathered as of press time that prominent people from the area are still putting heads together to resolve the issue before the election.
But if the two candidates split the votes in the four local government areas of Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum and Oyi which is the area popularly known as Omambala, whoever gets the upper hand in the other three local government areas that complete the zone namely, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ogbaru, will carry the day in the zone.
For the two candidates, their performance in Anambra Central will be determined by the personality of Governor Peter Obi, who is totally in charge of Anaocha and Njikoka, two local governments that can be described as no go areas for other politicians, in which case, they have become Obiano territory.
In Dunukofia, where Prince Arthur Eze, the billionaire sponsor of Nwoye comes from, other parties may try, but it is PDP that will likely carry the day. Awka North and Awka South will likely be shared among Obiano, Ngige, Nwoye and Ubah in that order. In Idemili North and Idemili South, Ngige will get the majority any day, although the influence of Senator Annie Okonkwo, who abandoned Ngige after he was initially named his campaign director general, should not be underrated. Okonkwo has already pitched tent with Nwoye and another advantage Nwoye has is the massive support from the youths, who have already stormed Anambra State ahead of the election.
In the South senatorial zone, with the position of the Uba family still unclear and with the loss of the PDP ticket by Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, the area will be for grabs for the candidates, although Nnewi North and Ekwusigo are very likely to go to Ifeanyi Ubah, Also, Obiano, Ubah and Nwoye are also going to make impact in Ihiala local government. Ihiala, it should be recalled, used to be the traditional PDP area, but it changed during the second tenure election of Governor Obi in 2010, when the people decided to vote for APGA because of what the governor did in the area. This time, many prominent people in the area are said to be supporting Obiano. For Orumba North and Orumba South, what will determine the candidates’ performance is their effort to sell their programmes.
Ezeemo is from Aguata local government, but whether he would be able to stamp his authority there and in other local government areas in the zone will be seen on Election Day.
The Running Mates
Another factor that will also influence the election will be the running mates and their ability to pull out the votes from their areas.
For instance, Obiano’s running mate is from Enugwu Ukwu, a densely populated area of Njikoka local government in Anambra Central, while his wife is from Ogbunike in Oyi local government. Ngige’s deputy is from Anambra West local government area in Anambra North and he is a known grass root politician.
Also, Nwoye’s deputy is from Orumba and he too is a known politician in the state and particularly Nnewi, where he is practices medicine.
Ubah’s deputy is a Prince from Ukpo in Dunukofia, although his uncle, Prince Arthur Eze is the person funding PDP in the election
Powers behind the candidates
APGA – Unarguably, Governor Obi is the power behind the candidate of APGA. His performance in the state in the past seven and half years in all parts of the state is the selling point for the APGA campaign.
Obi has mixed the campaigns with the commissioning of projects and the flagging off of new ones, including the equipment of educational and health institutions. With the statement by Obiano that he will continue with the projects started by Obi, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that it is the same government and if Obiano can govern the way Obi is doing if he wins, then the state is on the part of rapid development because Obi has laid a solid foundation for taking the state to the next level.
With government machinery at his disposal, Obiano is having an easy campaign and with his academic excellence which has been sold to the electorate, he is the candidate to beat.
APC – Senator Ngige, on his own, is popular among Anambra people, having been in government at a time the state was in dire need for good leadership. For this election, his backers are the governors of the APC states who want to use the Anambra election prove that the party is prepared to take over the country after the 2015 election.
PDP- Comrade Nwoye’s campaign is being backed by the oil magnet, Prince Arthur Eze. Eze has said that it is his desire to ensure that Nwoye becomes the next governor of Anambra State. The prince has consistently said that his interest is not what he would benefit from government because God has already blessed him, adding that his main concern is to ensure that a humble person like Nwoye is in charge of Anambra State.
LP- Ifeanyi Ubah is a very wealth person who said he does not need to enrich himself any longer through public office. His reason for seeking to govern the state, he said, is to help the less privileged persons and thousands of youths roaming the streets in search of jobs.
PPA- Ezeemo too has not godfather and he is enjoying the wealth he acquired abroad. He was even said to be the person funding the APC before he fell apart with the leaders of the party over the ticket of the party for the governorship election in Anambra State.
Role of church
The church is playing a major role in this election. Remarkably, the four most popular candidates, Nwoye, Obiano, Ngige and Ubah belong to the Catholic Church and they have been wooing the church for support.
The clergy also appear to be divided over who to support, but there are indications that the bishops may direct the priests on who to support among the four persons vying for the exalted office. As expected, the candidates have been making mouth watering donations to the various churches to solicit their support.