Anambra state is currently the cynosure of all eyes as the race towards the November 18th 2017 gubernatorial elections in the state heats up. There are pretenders and contenders to the throne in a state which has produced several illustrious sons and daughters both locally and internationally. There are four main contenders to the throne and this piece aims to examine their strengths, weaknesses and chances. The are Governor Willie Obiano, Dr Tony Nwoye, Mr Oseloka Obaze and Chief Osita Chidoka.
Incumbent Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance who is seeking reelection claims he is the man to beat in this election. His greatest achievement is the prompt payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities to government workers, retirees and pensioners as at when due specifically on the 25th of every month. He claims that he took over a state ridden with criminals and violent crimes which discouraged investments and modern development. That he has attracted investments both locally and internationally to the state to the tune of several millions of dollars. He promised to build an airport and further increase the salaries of civil servants in the state if he is reelected for a second term. However, the opposition dispute most of his claims. They say that the days when Anambra was riddled with criminals and violent crimes was during the turbulent years of the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state which ended in 2006 upon the assumption of office by former governor Peter Obi. Ironically, Peter Obi who came to power on the platform of APGA is now campaigning for the return of PDP to the Anambra State Government House. They further claim that Anambra under Obiano had generated a lot of resources even in a time of national economic recession. They ask him what he has done with N445 billion naira which is a combination of federal allocations plus the Internally Generated Revenue of the state (N1 billion naira every month), N75 billion naira in savings which he inherited from Obi’s government,N20 billion naira local government funds, N13 billion naira Paris Club Refund and N60 billion naira in foreign and domestic loans as there is no commensurate infrastructure on ground to justify the expenditure of such gargantuan resources in the state. Also, the decline in education in the state which is reflected in the drop in rankings by WAEC and NECO from number one to number six and seven respectively is a chink in Obiano’s armour as he battles other political gladiators in the gubernatorial contest.
Dr Tony Nwoye, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress is the current member representing Anambra East/West Federal constituency in the House of Representatives which incidentally also happens to be Governor Obiano’s constituency. His antecedents as the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students and as a member of the Federal House of Representatives not only speak volumes but also stand him in good stead to be the next governor of the state. It is to his credit that we have the inclusion of the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Onitsha highway which had fallen into a huge state of disrepair in recent times in the 2017 national budget. Also, when the work was abandoned mid-way by contractors, he boldly requested the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to order the contractors back to site which the acting President promptly obliged him. His main weakness is the platform he intends to use to actualize his mandate. The APC is viewed unfavourably by many Igbos due to alleged marginalization by the Buhari government.
Henry Oseloka Obaze is a retired diplomat who worked with both the Nigerian government and the United Nations. He previously served as the Secretary to the State government under former governor Peter Obi and the current Governor Willie Obiano before resigning his appointment in 2016. He is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party. He has promised to invest the state’s huge resources in the areas of infrastructure, education and healthcare. While he stands a good chance of emerging as governor due to his integrity, high level of education and international exposure, the factionalization of his party at the state level might work against him as no General goes into battle with a divided army.
Chief Osita Chidoka is the candidate of the United Progressive Party. The UPP manifesto supports the right to self-determination of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. This explains the party’s ideological support for the Biafran struggle. The party also enjoys widespread support in the hinterland of the state. Chief Chidoka, a former Corp Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corp and a former Minister of Aviation is a man of unblemished integrity who is unencumbered by corruption cases despite his occupation of two high political offices. He has promised to invest in infrastructure, ICT, ensure better financial management of the state’s resources, bring a breathe of fresh air to governance and statecraft, and to restore the voice of the Igbos in Nigeria, if he is elected as governor. His main weakness is that he is an ideological politician in a society where it is almost anathema to be one. He also lacks a deep pocket to enable him match the spending of his rivals on the hustings.
As Anambrarians go to the poll on the 18th of this month, one of this men will emerge as Governor. Their personal strengths and weaknesses will not only determine the direction the state will go in the next four years but ultimately the destiny of the state.