Anambra State governorship aspirants have begun mobilization, ahead of their various party’s governorship primaries and election in November.
In this article, we examine the strengths and weaknesses of the contenders as well as the issues that may shape the race. There are the serious aspirants, the not-so-serious ones and the pretenders.
Campaign offices are being set up in Awka, the state capital and other major cities across the state. Structures are being fortified across the twenty-one local government areas.
Anambra state parades more political godfathers than any other state. They are high profile political jobbers who trade with political offices.
They are comfortable with any government at the centre, and proudly flaunt it. They parade long convoy of cars, including escort vehicles. When they move, sirens blare to high heavens. At every point in time, at least, a dozen heavily armed policemen are attached to each of them.
But the primaries will separate the wheat from the chaff. One major factor that will shape the Anambra 2021 governorship election is the issue of zoning, hence the large number of aspirants from the Southern senatorial zone seeking to replace Governor Willie Obiano.
The People’s Democratic party (PDP) has the highest number of contestants with sixteen aspirants, followed by the All-Progressive Congress (APC) with nine and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) with seven.
The top contenders for the governorship race include: Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Dr. Winston Udeh, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Engr. George Moghalu, Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, Sen. Dr. Ugochukwu Uba, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Hon. Chuma Nzeribe, Hon. Nonso Smart Okafor, Mr. Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankpo, Hon. Chris Azubogu, Hon. Nicholas Ukachukwu, Sen. Hon. Thankgod Kenechukwu Ibeh, Mr. Ben Etiaba, Dr. Andy Uba, Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, Engr. Johnbosco Onukwo, Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, Mr. Godwin Maduka and many others.
The major key issues that will determine the candidates of the three major political party in the state include, Power rotation to the South, Security, Economy, Biafra, Infrastructure development, Agriculture, Commerce and Industry.
Mr. Valentine Ozigbo (PDP):
Born on July 20th, 1970. Mr Valentine Ozigbo had his primary education in a village school and his secondary education in his hometown at Christ the Redeemer College Amesi, Aguata LGA. He left Anambra only when he gained admission to the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka at 19. Even with all his global fame, he has always stayed connected with his people, roots and the Igbo culture. He is an accomplished business leader and entrepreneur with over twenty-six years of experience in corporate transformation, power, hospitality, energy, and banking (commercial, retail, investment and international banking). He served as the President and Group Chief Executive of a globally celebrated business, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp).
Contrary to the obstacles his closest rival is facing in the race, all odds are clearly in his favour. He has seen it all. He has an intimidating pedigree in terms of leadership, business and corporate world. He is a grassroot politician and employer of labour. His philanthropic gestures have earned him award and honours both locally and internationally. He has been described by political pundits as a man whose presence dotted every political and economic space in Anambra state. The level of acceptance he has garnered so far is unprecedented in the political history of the state. Even his detractors find it difficult convincing prospective voters against him. He is a dynamic politician and philanthropist who commands the respect of his constituents, the Catholic Church and the Youths. According to Mr. Eze Jideofor, a political analyst based in Awka is of the opinion that Mr Ozigbo will be the flag bearer of the PDP in the main election if the party decides to zone the ticket to Anambra South Zone.
Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR (APGA):
Born 28 July, 1960 is a Nigerian Economics Professor and a former Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is also a member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group. Prof. Soludo has been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution, the University of Warwick, and the University of Oxford as well as a visiting professor at Swarthmore College (USA). He has also worked as a consultant for a number of international organisations, including The World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme. Soludo is a core professional in the business of macroeconomics. He obtained his three degrees and then professorship at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Enugu State. Soludo graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in 1984, an MSc Economics in 1987, and a PhD in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels. Chukwuma has been trained and involved in research, teaching, and auditing in such disciplines as multi-country macro-econometric modelling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modelling, survey methodology, and panel data econometrics, among others. He studied and taught these courses at many universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Warwick. Soludo has co-authored, co-edited, and authored a number of books on this subject matter. Prior to his May 2004 appointment to the bank chairmanship, he held the positions of Chief Economic Adviser to former President Obasanjo and Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission of Nigeria.
Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP)
Born on the 3 September 1971 in Otolo-Nnewi, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is a businessman, politician, entrepreneur and currently the Senator, representing Anambra South Senatorial District in the Nigerian senate. His philanthropy is what has earned him popularity among the people of the state and beyond. Senator Ubah is also a grassroot mobilizer and industrialist, his contribution to the industrial and Sport sector of the country speaks volume. He is the founder and CEO of Capital Oil, one of the major Oil Marketing company in Nigeria and the West Africa
In 2014, Ifeanyi Ubah lost at the 2014 Anambra gubernatorial election under the platform of the Labour Party, a relative unknow party in the state, he however dump the party to the PDP in the build-up of the 2015 general election were he contributed, consolidated and sustained the party. In November 2017, Ubah dumped the PDP to return to APGA he supported the incumbent Governor for a second term and was allegedly promised the APGA Anambra South Senatorial District ticket. Despite his immense contributions in APGA, the leadership announced his disqualification a situation that left him heartbroken. But the Nnewi-born Senator has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he is indeed a warrior and a master of the game. Even though he is a lone fighter, many of his enemies are never his match. He left for the YPP and became the party’s candidate for the Anambra South seat, a wrong movement to many political analysts in the state but he shocked many when he emerged victorious at the poll, thereby putting an end to the career of the two political brothers and gladiators in the state Chief Chris Uba, the senatorial candidate of PDP and Senator Andy Uba of the All-Progressives Congress at the election. While many contenders are busying with the party’s primary, Senator Ubah is focus on the main election as he is the sole aspirant under the platform of YPP. He has a strong financial war chest to prosecute the election and has the support of traditional rulers in the Southern senatorial zone, market women, youth and artisan.
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo (PDP).
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo is one of the leading governorship aspirants in the 2021 Anambra State governorship election under the platform of the PDP. Dr. Obiora F. Okonkwo is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of N-Glory Development Limited, the owners and managers of The Dome Entertainment and Event Centre in Abuja, Nigeria. Dr. Obiora is also the Chairman of Solicom Engineering, Gistme Communications, Sagemetrics, and CareerNation. He is the winner of the prestigious ‘The Sun Newspapers’ Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Award’ – an honour bestowed on him by the management of The Sun Newspapers, in March 2020, for his entrepreneurial vision and dexterity in business, through which he has created wealth and jobs. Dr. Obiora Okonkwo hails from Ogidi, in Idemili LGA, in Anambra Central zone and he is seen as a credible politician without blemish especially in his private accomplishment. He parades one of the finest credentials in the line-up for PDP ticket, and commands respect among other aspirants within his senatorial zone. He is a political economist with uncommon skills, whose work ethic is guided by his personal philosophy of ‘don’t tell me about the storm, deliver the cargo’. One major issue against his candidature is the issue of zoning, while other governorships aspirants under the platform of the party are calling for the ticket of the party to be zoned to the South, Dr, Obiora and some of his supporters are insisting on popularity at the primary to pick the party’s candidate at the election. Analysts are of the view that fielding him against any APC candidate may be counterproductive as the party should have a strong candidate whose popularity transcend his Idemili Federal Constituency and Anambra Senatorial zone.
Sen. Dr. Andy Uba (APC).
Perhaps, the man to watch out for in APC. He decamped to the APC in a controversial style on the floor of the Senate in 2017, with a considerable financial chest and unwavering support he enjoys from the National leadership of APC, Serving Governors, loyalist of the former governor, APC members in the National Assembly and National leader of the APC Bola Tinubu, Sen. Uba looks good to pick the APC ticket under the direct primary and indirect primary rule. He was born on 14 December 1958 in Enugu and attended the Boys High School in Awkunanaw. Following the conclusion of the 1999 general elections, he returned to Nigeria and was appointed Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2007, Sen. Uba contested in the PDP primaries for the Anambra State governorship election, and was elected in the 14 April 2007 elections. However, his election was challenge by the former governor Peter Obi, the courts accepted this argument and on 14 June 2007 nullified Andy Uba’s election. Prior to the 2011 general election, Senator Uba returned to the PDP and was nominated as PDP candidate for Anambra South Senatorial district in the April 2011 elections, an election which he won convincingly and in 2015, he was re-elected for another of four years. While many believe that the ticket of the APC cannot go to anyone else, considering the fact that he is a dogged fighter, others have said that there is already an agreement that Uba should fly the ticket of the APC for the election. Those who hold the later view, say the party considered many factors before settling for Uba, including looking out for a candidate that will be able to match both the PDP which has an overwhelming popularity in the state, and the APGA, which is the ruling party. For many reasons, the odds favour Uba for the ticket, including his very deep pocket, his connection in the corridors of power and his popularity among the people, most of who he is said to have touched through his philanthropy. He is the only aspirant who showed proof of having purchased the party’s forms, at a time when the party was lamenting that no aspirant was forthcoming. He is coming to the race very equipped.
Dr. Winston Ndubueze Ude (PDP).
Dr. Winston Ndubueze Udeh, is an architect, Doctor of Law, from Ndiowu in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra state. He is a seasoned lawyer, an accomplished architect, an astute businessman, philanthropist and a leader. He is a wealthy politician and philanthropist who commands the respect of his constituents, the Catholic Church and the Youths. He has been providing the necessary financial support to the people of the state and the party. Across the state, Dr. Udeh is a strong name and currently has the backing of the influential party leaders to secure the ticket of the party in the state. Two months ago, Dr. Udeh donated 21 Toyota Sienna vehicles to the party he decided to donate the vehicles to the party to reduce the mobility challenges the party officials encounter in the course of performing their duties especially now that the governorship poll is nearby. He has continued to express confidence that he would win the election if given the ticket of the party, said that he would still strongly support the party and ensure it wins the poll even if he didn’t get the ticket.
Hon. Chris Azubogu (PDP)
Hon. Chris Azubogu is a three term Federal legislator representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo whose strides in the House of Representatives speak for itself. He is a formidable and a grassroot politician loved by his people and many PDP faithful’s across his zone. He is popular in his Constituency, zone and other parts of the state and against all odds, he became the first member of the House of Reps to win a third term seat in Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency since 1999. He has the sympathy of his people especially within the Federal constituency and Senatorial zone. Among his constituents, Hon. Azubogu is called ‘Mr. Projects’ because of the large number of projects he has attracted to the Constituency. His critics say that it takes more than being a legislator to rule a sophisticated state like Anambra state. His political resume lacks business and corporate experience which has made past leaders of the state to stand out among their peers. Chris will also have a big issue on religion because Anambra politics has been a running battle between Roman Catholic and Anglican faithful. Unfortunately, he’s from the Anglican stock which, most times, has always been taking second position. Though he has been described as a man of integrity, but the current political leadership in Nigeria has shown that it takes more than integrity to dispense leadership. The political pundits and historians in Anambra state described him as a man who stands a good chance of winning the election if he contests alone.
Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP)
Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife (IYOM) is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the 9th Assembly of the Nigerian Senate and currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology. Senator Ekwunife is a Chartered Accountant by profession. She was born on 12th December 1970 in Onitsha, Anambra State and obtained her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Education and Accounting from the University of Calabar in 1992. She also obtained both a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) and a Master’s in Business Administration from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and was conferred with a Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Public Administration by the Institute of Journalism, Management and Continuing Education, Enugu. In June 2007, she was elected into the Federal House of Representatives as Member representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency where she served for two terms upon her re-election in 2011. In June 2015, Senator Ekwunife was sworn into the Nigerian Senate as Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, a position she held until she was ultimately removed by a court judgment in November 2015. In 2019, Senator Uche Ekwunife was again re-elected into the Senate, this time with a more overwhelming electoral victory margin than 2015. Considered as a very strong politician and a grassroot mobilizer, many political analysts said she is one of the leading governorship aspirants in Anambra, however, one major factor against her aspiration by many is in the issue of zoning, though she is from Igbo-Ukwu in Aguta local government of the state in Southern senatorial zone but married to Chief Larry Ekwunife (Ochendo) from Anaocha in the central part, the zone which she currently represents at the senate. Many Chieftains within PDP are asking which zone would Senator Ekwunife lay claim to if the PDP decides to zone the ticket to Anambra South.
Dr George Moghalu (APC):
He is currently the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). A perfect gentleman, and very experienced in Anambra politics. He made previous attempts to govern the state but failed. He hails from Nnewi in the southern part of the state and his biggest advantage is his consistency in party politics. Moghalu is among founding member of APC in the South East, and has since remained in the party, after joining the party from the All-Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He is said to have a close relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, especially after working with him in his previous party, before the formation of APC, and may use his relationship with the president to secure the party’s ticket at the primary.
Dr. Godwin Maduka (PDP)
Born in 1959, Dr. Godwin Maduka is the founder of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, he completed his graduate medical training at the Harvard University School of Medicine in Anaesthesia and Critical care and Pain Management. Beyond his exceptional medical career, he has made it his mission to transform his community Umuchukwu in Orumba South LGA. Over the last three years, he has completed various philanthropic projects across his community and other parts of the state including donating over 100 motorcycles to the unemployed and underprivileged members of his community, building and renovating of a police station, schools, barracks, homes for widows, hospitals, post office, road construction, religious centres, provision of scholarship to community residents to study at various Universities both in Nigeria and International. Maduka’s pioneering role and contributions to society is very dear to him, he has demonstrated commitment to the Party in the state and at the national levels by supporting the aspirations of party members to the State House of Assembly and National Assembly on various occasions. Observers say he is being supported by mostly party chieftains who he is very close to, former governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, party elders and leaders from the zone who want power shift, youths and various interest groups in the state.
Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu (APGA)
Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Anambra born former House of Representatives member who represented AMAC/Bwari in the house of representatives between 1999 and 2003. Born in Osumenyi, Nnewi South Local government area of the state. Prince Dr. Nicholas Chukwujekwu is a politician, business mogul, and philanthropist. He recently contested for Anambra South Senatorial position in 2019 under the All-Peoples’ Grand Alliance (APGA) but loss to Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the YPP in the general election. Coming from a humble background, he is working round the clock to build a structure that will position him for the APGA ticket in state ahead of other contenders.
Sen. Dr. Ugochukwu Uba (PDP)
Born in 1949 in Umuoru, Uga Aguata LGA, Senator Dr Ugochukwu Uba is a political scientist, an administrator, a university don and politician. Dr Uba is one of the few top politicians in the country today who studied polities as an academic discipline, taught it in the university or college and now practices it as a career and profession. When in 1999, Nigeria embraced democracy again, Sen. Ugochukwu won the Anambra South senatorial seat in 2003, representing Anambra South Senatorial zone between 2003-2007. Sen Ugochukwu Uba is the eldest brother of the Uba dynasty in the politics of the state. Sen. Ugochukwu is backing on the political strength of his younger brother Chris Uba who is a king maker in the politics of the state.
Engr Johnbosco Onunkwo (APC)
Young and vibrant Anambra politician, Engr. Onunkwo is a native of Achalla Village, Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. Even though he is still in his early 40s, Onunkwo has made several attempts to govern Anambra State, and his many attempts have qualified him as a veteran contender. Once an election is around the corner, his supporters do not need to be told that he will vie as they simply begin to canvass support for him. He is a politician that cannot be underrated, but many insist that his attempt to govern the state may be a demonstration of over-ambition, especially as he is not known to have held any public office, or had experience in that area. It is for this reason that many consider him a pretender, rather than a contender.
Emeka Etiaba SAN (PDP)
Emeka Etiaba SAN, FCIArb, is the Principal Counsel and Head of Chambers, Emeka Etiaba SAN, Etiaba & Co. (Etiaba Chambers), Legal Practitioners, Notaries Public, Chartered Arbitrators and Capital Markets Consultant (Legal) of BMC Etiaba Law House. Emeka Etiaba SAN, is a good Bar man and one whose disposition has affected Lagos Bar (Premier Bar) Ikeja Bar (Tiger Bar) and Nnewi Bar (Family Bar) very positively. Mr. Emeka Etiaba SAN joined the All-Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2003 and remained a member until he resigned his membership in 2010 after he lost his governorship bid to Peter Obi at the party’s primary. He has been a member of the People’s Democratic Party since 2010 and has been its foremost lawyer handling electoral and political cases for the party both at the National and state level. He has been instrumental to the rapid growth of the Party in the State and above all, is a loyal party man, who has served in different primary election committees.
Hon Azuka Okwuosa. (APC)
Hon Okwosa hails from Oraifite, Ekwusigo LGA, he is among the few in the race who can be described as thorough grassroot politician. He advanced in politics through the ranks and was thought by some of the best politicians, including late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Okwuosa, popularly called ‘Zukky’ by his supporters has been a local government chairman, a commissioner and has worked as Director General of campaign organizations for governorship candidates. He is very experienced, and regarded by many as the man for APC. Beyond his experience in politics, his major selling points are his acceptability at the grassroot, his ability to finance his own election without waiting for fundraisers and his consistency in APC. He has received several endorsements from groups and individuals.
Dr. Tony Okechukwu Nwoye (PDP)
A trained medical doctor turned politician; Tony Nwoye is a former member of the Nigerian House of Representatives representing the people of Anambra East/West constituency of Anambra state. Nwoye was born to the family of Chief Lawrence and Mrs. Christiana Nwoye of Offiantta Village, Nsugbe in Anambra East Local Government of Anambra State. A former Governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2013 Anambra State gubernatorial election and was also a gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the 2017 Anambra State gubernatorial election. Dr Nwoye is wholly edaphic to eastern Nigeria and is frequently hailed as a patient and balanced politician with large followers especially among the Youths. Zoning is one major factor against his aspiration, as he is from the zone and federal consistency with the incumbent Governor. It’s believed in some quarters that Dr. Nwoye is in the race for the Deputy Governorship position on the party rather than the governorship position.
Hon. Chuma Nzeribe (PDP)
Hon Chuma Nzeribe is a former two-term member of the green chamber, representing Ihiala Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2011, a former Chief Security Adviser to fomer Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and a former APGA Senatorial candidate in the 2011 general election where he lost narrowly to Senator Andy Uba of the PDP. He is a grassroot politician with huge followers within his domain and the entire Anambra south Senatorial zone and has maintained link with his people. But the cool-headed politician seems not to have the big financial chest to confront the likes of Senator Uche Ekwunife, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, and Mr. Godwin Maduka for the party’s ticket. He may also not have a good structure in the PDP spread across the three Senatorial districts. He is making his first appearance in the state governorship horizon.
Hon. Nonso Smart Okafor (APGA)
His visible impact in the areas of youth and women empowerment, leadership, good governance and humanitarian service has earned him several awards within and across the state. He is a strong advocate of social reform toward the protection of the aged, the vulnerable and under-privileged. He has also been a delegate and speaker to several conferences and summits. He was a speaker at the 2014 Young African Society Conference at World Bank Headquarters, Washington DC. Presently, he is the member representing Nnewi North Constituency at the Anambra State House of Assembly where he is making positive waves. He is the Chairman, House Committee on Social Development, Gender and Children Affairs; Deputy Chairman, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and also Deputy Chairman, Finance & Appropriation. He is seen a strong ally to the National Chairman of APGA who threw himself into the race to do more for his people and for them to have more stakes in their government. Hon Okafor is being supported by his colleagues at the state house Assembly, some members of the state working committee ahead of Prof Soludo and Hon Ukachukwu for the top job.
Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe (PDP)
Another female aspirant in PDP is Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, daughter of deceased Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria’s former Vice-President (1979 – 1983). She is not a newcomer in Anambra politics. Mrs Onyemelukwe was the running mate to the PDP’s governorship candidate, Oseloka Obaze, at the 2017 governorship election in Anambra State. Confirming her preparedness recently, she told party faithful in Nnewi: “I am prepared, I have the exposure. I have the requisite street and administrative experience to drive this broad vision of restoring Anambra to the right path to greatness. Four years ago, in 2017, I was considered suitable to co-fly the ticket of our great party, having met the requisite educational training, exposure and experience in government at the national and state levels. My sole motive is to provide selfless service of good governance to Anambra people while upholding the tenets of the founding fathers of our party, God being my helper. It remains to be seen how far the stakeholders will support her vision.
Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo (PDP)
Born in 1954, Dr. Godwin Ezeemo is a Nigerian businessman and politician, chairman of The Orient Group of companies an accomplished entrepreneur, farmer, refined industrialist, seasoned administrator and publisher, He was born to late Mazi Godwin and Charity Ezeemo of Umuojogwo-Amanasaa village in Umuchu, Aguata L.G.A of Anambra State. He obtained an OND and HND in Marketing at Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro. His philanthropy is what has earned him popularity among the people of the state, he has over the years financially contributed in building several Churches for Anambrarians in riverine areas and bought boats to encourage cross linkages with the rest of the state and this in turn has been a massive boost on trade and commerce. Dr. Ezeemo is also a grassroot mobilizer and industrialist. His contribution to the entrepreneur sector of the country speaks volume, more than his political trajectory.
With the current dismal performance of the current Governor, the People of Anambra State are currently insisting that the baton must change hand politically, compelled by equity and justice, all seems to agree that the next governor of the state should come from Anambra South senatorial zone. Interestingly, the people of Anambra South acknowledge that the three major political parties in the state should zone their governorship ticket to the South to give them a sense of belonging in the affairs of the state. It is a dark art to predict who picks the various parties’ tickets as the primary election draws closer. However, given the foregoing analysis, the primary election is likely to be in part a referendum on the issue of political zoning in the state.
Public Affair /Political Writer