…As Obiano, Nwoye, Obaze, Chidoka, others lock horns
Periodic, free and fair election is a major feature or characteristics of democracy. This is to allow the citizens the opportunity to assess the leadership in place and express their mandate to either retain or withdraw to remove the existing leadership.
This is exactly what will happen in Anambra State tomorrow as the over two million registered voters file out to cast their votes for their preferred candidate in the governorship election.
Anambra State started scattered election in Nigeria at the resumption of this democratic dispensation, when the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement decided that Governor Peter Obi, then the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the 2003 governorship election should have his mandate restored after about three years of legal battle after the election which was rigged for Dr Chris Ngige, then the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was put in place.
Since then, Anambra governorship election has been held at a date different from others which hold during the general elections. And tomorrow, Saturday, November 18, 2017, the people of Anambra State will again be going to the poll to exercise their most potent weapon in a democracy, to cast their votes to either renew the mandate of the incumbent or reject him and elect a fresh person to hold sway for the next four years. That is the beauty of democracy, but that is again if it is devoid of any electoral fraud.
Election is a process, not an event and therefore the electoral management body in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since it announced the time-table for this election has been working in concert with the political parties to ensure that this day come to pass without any hitch.
There are 37 political parties fielding candidates in this election, but there are not more than five candidates considered serious by the book makers and electorates. And they are the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA, Mr Oseloka Obaze of PDP, Dr. Tony Nwoye of All Progressives Congress (APC), seen as the top three contenders to the throne. These are closely followed by Chief Osita Chidoka of United Progressive Party (UPP), Lolo Oby Kate Okafor of Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and Mr Godwin Ezeemo of Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA).
Each of these candidates have campaigned vigorously to clinch victory in tomorrow’s poll, others apart from these top six candidates, are in this election for reasons best known to them, but not to win.
However, among these candidates mentioned above are those who posses the capacities and of course draw –backs that will put them in a better stead to win this election or lose it, since after the count of votes one person will emerge victorious.
But the Daily Times in collaboration with SBM Intelligence, conducted an opinion poll on the candidates’ chances during the election and came up with the following ratings.
Governor Willie Obiano – Rating: 63 %
Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano the, APGA flag-bearer and the incumbent governor of Anambra State has enormous advantages to win this election. Obiano’s strongest point in this election is what many call the incumbency factor. This in effect means that Obiano in the last three and half years or thereabout has dispensed a lot of political patronages that will attract support for him. He also has more access to fund either through government agencies, political associates and businessmen who have in one way or the other benefitted from his government and he has demonstrated this in large measure in this election.
Obiano as an incumbent has executed projects that have directly impacted on the various segments of people of the state which will earn him their support or sympathy.
His performance in the area of security of lives and property which has led to the drastic reduction of violent crimes and kidnapping in the state will no doubt attract sympathy for the governor as the people cast their votes tomorrow.
There are other achievements in agriculture, construction of roads and bridges, regular payments of salaries and pensions and other infrastructures that will earn him votes.
APGA, no matter the very serious attempts by some Igbo political class to diminish it, it still remains the Igbo man’s identity in Nigeria political system. And in a country bedeviled by primordial sentiments, people will always want to identity with the party that to a large extent reflects their ideals and ideology.
But in politics, nothing is cast in stone, politics is fluid and one’s attempt to please the people can be one’s undoing just as Obiano’s attempt to improve Awka, the state capital by building three bridges has now attracted strident criticisms for him by his critics who contend that he would have used the money to build roads. In fact, one of the accusations against Obiano is that he did not build roads like his predecessors. These critics erroneously compare his three and half years in office with his predecessor’s eight years in office.
However, Obiano’s major headache is his estranged political god father, and former Governor Peter Obi, who has taken some elements in APGA to the PDP and have continuously launched campaign of calumny against him both in social media and main stream media. This to a large extent has sunk into the people especially Obi’s arch sympathisers. Unfortunately, Obiano’s media aides are less as aggressive and do not counter them.
The menacing threat of Tony Nwoye is one of Obiano’s draw back in this election. It is not as if there will be any cause for concern if the electoral umpire conducts a free and fair poll and provide a level playing ground for all the candidates.
However, the naked and reckless display of Federal might and arrogant boast of rigging the election no doubt calls for serious concern.
The action of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who unilaterally withdrew security details of the sitting governor, apart from removing all the Police Unit Commanders, Divisional Police Officers (DPO’S) and the Commissioner of Police, are actions APGA has described as acts of intimidation which is unconstitutional.
Now that the die is cast, many believe that Obiano still has the best chance among the lot and they believe that he will win the poll at first ballot with about 63% without any need for a run-off.
Dr. Tony Nwoye – Rating : 20 %
For Nwoye, the candidate of the APC, his background as a Students’ Union activist and grassroots politician who has been on the ground since at least 2003 are his major strength. Nwoye as a former national president of National Association of Nigerian students (NANS), has the organisational skill and experience that will help him harness his supporters for this election. This is seen in his campaign flag-off and grand finale which attracted mammoth crowd. Nwoye, former acting Chairman of PDP in Anambra State and a member of House of Representatives, representing Oyi/ Anambra West Federal Constituency virtually knows every politician in Anambra State on first name basis and this has endeared him to local politicians who will work for him.
But his greatest strength is the Federal might allegedly working assiduously for his victory. Sources alleged that APC has vowed to take over Anambra State at all cost and they have been mobilising resources from governors to ensure this becomes a reality.
Apart from money coming from the APC, Nwoye is believed to also being bankrolled by Anambra born oil magnate, Prince Arthur Eze, who has sworn to install Nwoye as Anambra State governor at all cost. Eze funded Nwoye’s campaign in 2013, when he ran for the same position on the platform of the PDP. It is alleged in political circles that security outfits and even INEC are all working hard for the emergence of Nwoye inspite of their promise to be neutral.
But Nwoye’s major albatross will be, Prince Eze’s support for him. The alliance between Eze and Nwoye is believed by many Anambrarians to be unholy, which will not do the state any good. Many express fears that the commonwealth of Anambra State might be the target of Eze in bankrolling Nwoye.
They are angry that Eze allegedly kept Premier Breweries that he acquired from the military moribund for more than three decades now and would do the same to the commonwealth of Anambra State if Nwoye wins.
Already there are speculations that the duo had allegedly signed a pact that the political godfather would control the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state and nominate a substantial number of political appointees.
The Anambra people casting their mind back to the struggle between Senator Chris Ngige and his Uba godfathers, may decide not to make the same mistake.
Nwoye himself was alleged to have taken part in the burning and destruction of public property of the state during the problem between him and the then godfather Uba, as he was then said to be working for them. It is also important to note that the APC as a party inspite of the razzmatazz is not accepted in the South East, Anambra State inclusive, as the party is seen as a Northern and Yoruba party.
The attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari towards Ndigbo since he assumed office has also not been inspiring for Ndigbo to have a change of mind towards the APC. There have been complaints of shortchanging Ndigbo in critical appointments and infrastructure, which have not been addressed till date.
However, despite the perceived shortcomings, Nwoye is still expected to do well in the election when compared to other aspirants besides Obiano, as analysts score his chances as 20%.
Oseloka Obaze – Rating : 11 %
Oseloka Henry Obaze, former Secretary to the Anambra State Government under Peter Obi and for some time with Obiano and a former diplomat, is another strong contender for the Agu Awka Government House. Obaze’s major strength is his support from Obi. In fact it was Obi who drafted Oseloka, who he recalled from Houston, United States of America, into this governorship race after he fell apart with Obiano.
Obi still has a lot of followers in the state who believe that he worked hard to provide good governance for the state in his eight- year reign. Obi who left APGA to join the PDP has his followers who even joined him to cross over to PDP, coupled with the PDP supporters in the state. It is expected that Obaze will climb through the back of Obi’s tremendous goodwill in the state.
But that also maybe the undoing of Obaze, because a lot of Anambra people are not happy with Obi for trying to impose Obaze on the people after he had imposed Obiano on them in 2013. That will amount to stretching his luck too far. It is an irony that Obi who hated godfatherism like a plague during his era is today foisting politics of godfatherism on Anambra State, so that he would continue to control the resources of the state. On account of this, many who ordinarily would have voted for Obaze will decline to do that.
Because of this and many other factors, analysts say he may only be able to garner about 11% of the votes cast.
Chief Osita Chidoka- Rating: 4 %
Chief Osita Chidoka, former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), and ex-Minister of Aviation is another strong contender for the race. Chidoka is banking on the UPP and he is said to have some sympathy from among the young elements, especially among members of the banned Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who are said to have tacit support for him for his role when their leader Nnamdi Kanu was released. Chidoka is also seen as cerebral and an eloquent speaker, which he displayed in good measure during the last governorship debate. He has embarked on calculated and strategic campaign, trying to reach targeted audience.
His major weakness is that he is coming from the Central Senatorial zone, where Ngige and Obi who had just ruled Anambra State are from. And it is difficult for the people of Anambra State to vote a candidate from the central again, although Chidoka would argue that the zoning today is an APGA zoning, not binding on other parties.
Analysts believe he could manage to garner about 4% of the votes tomorrow.
Lolo Oby Kate Okafor – Rating: 2 %
Lolo Oby Kate Okafor is the candidate of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), for tomorrow’s governorship election in Anambra State.
Okafor, who is also a Nollywood actress, was until her election in the primary of the ACD, the State Chairman of the party.
By her emergence, Lolo Okafor became the first female governorship candidate from any of the political parties for the Anambra governorship election.
Okafor, who said that the males have failed the people hence it was time for a woman to rule the state, has assured that she would not disappoint if given the mandate by the people of the state.
But like they say, words are cheap, but victory for her in this election will be farfetched, as opinion poll gives her only a 2 % chance.
Godwin Ezeemo – Rating: 0 %
Ezeemo of the PPA is another candidate in this election. This is the second time Ezeemo is contesting for the governorship of the state. Many people in the state see Ezeemo as a gentle man and philanthropist, who should be given opportunity to rule the state.
But there is no sentiment in politics, rather reality prevails. And the reality is that Ezeemo’s campaign structure as is composed today cannot win the governorship election even though himself and Chidoka are Anglicans as against the other three contenders who are Catholics. Since after Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, no other protestants have ruled Anambra State. Who knows Ezeemo and Chidoka can break the jinx because in politics nothing actually is static, but left for analysts he has no chance as he is not likely to score enough votes that qualify a percentage rating.
Though he will not score zero votes in the election, his percentage score may not be more than that.
But in all, power belongs to God. He demotes one and promotes another. Ultimately he can orchestrate events that will trigger his Will to come to pass. However, if the key stakeholders in this election should follow due process, rule of law and democratic tenets to redeem democracy in the country for the interest of all, it will take divine intervention to have a drastic deviation from these projections.