Election Matters

By Jude Atupulazi

By the time you read this, the long awaited Anambra State governorship election will be only a few days away. What initially looked like a time that would never come is finally here. But this election is proving to be one like no other. The usual euphoria associated with elections has been nowhere to be seen.

Looking at the mood of the people and actions of the gladiators, one would be forgiven to think that the election is still a year away. All this is no thanks to the activities of our brothers agitating for freedom from oppression by the ruling class at the centre.

Even now, as I write this, no one is sure the election will even hold as the Biafra agitators have threatened a lockdown beginning from the eve of the election (November 5) to 10. Should they go ahead with their threat, it will seriously affect the election, at least if past events and experiences are anything to go by.

In the recent past, this group, also called separatists, has succeeded in instilling fear in the populace, causing them to stay indoors on Mondays, even when those who declared Mondays as sit-at-home days have since suspended it. But relying on the use of force, what looks like a splinter group has been able to keep people indoors.

The reluctance of many people to come out on Mondays, despite assurances by the Anambra State Government is anchored on the belief that the government cannot guarantee their security. Thus, for many, it is safety first.

Now, both the state government and INEC, including the federal government, are assuring voters of their safety on election day but it seems those assurances are falling on deaf ears. It is not that the people do not want to go out there and exercise their franchise.

But as I already pointed out, they are concerned with their safety. This is why I believe the authorities concerned should have postponed the election in order for security to be sorted out first. It is after all, the living that vote; not the dead.

When Misplaced Aggression Looks Stupid

There are people who have been actively campaigning for no election in Anambra State. They really have no tangible reason for opposing the election, except, perhaps, what those brainwashing them have told them.

Despite their no election stance, though, INEC says the election must hold. The federal government has also insisted on going ahead with it. So what happens if only a few people turn up? Whatever they decide will form the result, whether the majority likes it or not.

This is where the stupidity of the election naysayers comes in. they have sometimes also accused a certain party of trying to impose themselves on the people of the state. They refer to that party as an agent of their oppressors.

But what has continued to baffle me is why they have failed to recognize the fact that if by their action that party they detest comes on board, Anambra will become another launch pad by the federal government to deal with them mercilessly.

Thus, rather than rallying to stop the ‘agent” of their oppressors from gaining a foothold in their heartland, they are busy pursuing shadows; fighting the wrong targets and digging their own graves. Ka ana ejegodi.

A Time to Choose Right

After all the politicking and all, the people of Anambra State are finally set to choose the person that will replace Gov Willie Obiano in the saddle of governance. From the look of things, and in a free and fair setting, the battle should majorly be between the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

While Prof Chukwuma Soludo flies the APGA flag, the PDP flag is being flown by Mr Valentine Ozigbo. Both men are good enough to govern Anambra State in my estimation. They are decent gentlemen, intelligent and brilliant. Where Soludo is a brilliant scholar, Ozigbo is a consummate business man with vast experience in man management.

Again, they have been chosen as favourites on the strength of their parties. If not, a candidate like Dr Obiora Okonkwo also fits the bill as not only educated, but a renowned and accomplished business man. (He is the CEO of United Nigeria Airlines). He is of Zenith Labour Party, ZLP and formerly of PDP.

There is also Dr Godwin Maduka; a renowned medical practitioner in the United States of America who is of Accord Party. Then is Senator Andy Uba of All Progressives Congress, APC. The other is Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of Young Progressive Party, YPP.

Thus, one can say the election is among these six. The rest, to me, are just making up the numbers.

We now look at them one by one.

Prof Chukwuma Soludo

He needs no introduction among educated Nigerians, having served as Governor of Central Bank, CBN, where he supervised the stabilization of the nation’s banking sector. A former university don, he once contested for this same position in 2010 against former Gov Peter Obi on the platform of PDP but lost to Obi who was in APGA. Soludo is back this time and is running on the platform of the ruling party in the state, APGA.

He was the best graduating student in his set at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.

Some people who see his platform as a plus to his chances, being the incumbent party and coupled with his reputation at CBN, believe he has very bright chances of winning.

But there are some who see him as too elitist to carry everyone along. Among this school is the old political class who fear he will not look their way.

But Soludo has always been quick to remind anyone who cares to listen that he was once a thoroughbred home boy who did all the things home boys of his time did, including going to the stream and getting fodder form his father’s goats. Today, he likes to describe himself as Charlie, the son of Mgbafor, as a way of reminding people of his humble roots. It will soon be seen whether the people have bought into his story.

Valentine Ozigbo of PDP

This man cuts a picture of humility and accessibility. Just 50 years of age, he has already conquered the business sector as a former president and group chief executive officer of Transcorp, a humongous multinational group. His managerial skills transformed Transcorp into a global champion.

Like Soludo, he was brilliant in school and was the best graduating student in his faculty at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Highly exposed as Transcorp chief, he had met and interacted with more than forty heads of state and is known to virtually all the who-is-who in Nigeria.

New in politics, his emergence as the PDP candidate has sent a warning that he can only be ignored to one’s peril. He is also contesting on a strong platform.

Dr Obiora Okonkwo

He as cruising to victory at the PDP primary when suddenly the tide changed and Ozigbo overtook him, beating him eventually with four votes. That shows how strong Okonkwo is and was perhaps only lost the ticket because he comes from the central at a time the governorship slot has been virtually given to the south.

An astute business man and chairman and chief executive officer of United Nigeria Airlines, this Russian trained High Chief from Ogidi is more than a match for anybody in fair contest. But his party may prove to be his albatross.

Senator Andy Uba (APC)

This will make it the third time he will be contesting for this seat. The first time in 2007, he made it only to be sent packing in in just 17 days after his election was deemed null and void as it shouldn’t have been held since Obi’s tenure was technically not over.

His party is his greatest cross as anti-Buhari sentiments are too strong here. His connection to some unsavoury incidents in the past history of the state is also not helping his cause. Although his party has been receiving many politicians from other parties, including the deputy governor of the state, many believe those people were bought and have no electoral value in the state.

Uba, a former senator of the Federal Republic, is soft spoken and appears shy. He is seen by many as the anointed candidate of those who plan to hijack the state. It is however not proven yet and what happens on November 6 may give the people of the state a fair idea of the veracity or otherwise of such allegations.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP)

Could pass as a perennial contester. From Nnewi, he is also a senator of the Federal Republic and just bagged a Law degree recently from Baze University, Abuja. He contested and rather surprisingly won the senate seat for Anambra South on the platform of the hitherto unknown Young Progressive Party, YPP. He is still contesting on that party’s platform but many believe his influence is restricted largely to his Nnewi area as the governorship is far above the scope of his party.

Dr Godwin Maduka

The American based medical practitioner attained limelight following the wonderful things he did in his community, Umuchukwu, where he built uniform houses for widows; built churches for Catholics and Anglicans; built a police station; built a hospital; market, as well as schools. He also built the tallest building in the state there.

Formerly of PDP, he is now in Accord Party after losing out in the PDP primary. He believes that anyone who wants to govern the state should show evidence of their achievements as he has done.

He believes he is the most qualified to govern the state on the basis of his track record of achievements.

It will however be interesting to see how his new party weathers the storm of Anambra politics ahead of the election.

These above candidates constitute my major contenders; some with a realistic chance of winning and others, with an outside chance of winning.