Editorial: Anambra Governorship Poll: Who is Likely the Winner?
Anambra Governorship Poll: Who is Likely the Winner?
By Ebuka Onyekwelu
With less than one week to the Anambra state governorship election, ordinary, it should be clear who is likely to win the election. But politics being the game of the possible, there is no limit to which the hope of many contenders can be stretched to exhaustion. Even as the fact suggests that there can only be one winner, somehow, supporters of various candidates create all sorts of favourable narrative to make the case that they potentially stand a chance. But the hard truth remains that not everyone standing for an election has a chance of winning. Those that actually do have chances of winning, do not all have equal chances of winning. At the end, there are usually two major contenders who are likely winners in most keenly contested elections like the coming Anambra governorship. The third and fourth contestants, in fairness, are top contenders in their own right, but not likely winners. To buttress, ahead of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra state, candidates of Zenith Labour Party –ZLP, and Accord Party; Dr. Obiora Okonkwo and Dr. Godwin Maduka respectively, for instance, are serious contenders, but they are not likely to win the election as the facts would suggest. However, they may, known or unknown to them, either strengthen the chances of one of the likely winners or weaken the chances of one of the likely winners. To have a major disruptive impact, they can only align with one of the top two, who is likely going to win or with the other two who can only win other things being equal, under very dramatic or miraculous circumstances.
For the purposes of this analysis, we will clear all doubts by mentioning that in the instances as illustrated above, either the All Progressives Grand Alliance –APGA or the All Progressives Congress – APC, most likely would win the governorship election on November 6. While the People’s Democratic Party – PDP and the Young Democratic Party – YPP are in the third and fourth position respectively. Here is why it is so based on the facts on ground, days to the election.
APGA as the ruling party for sixteen years is without a doubt one party that is almost a movement in Anambra state. The party’s identity wrapped around the larger than life persona of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who is also the party’s supreme leader has played significant role in projecting and sustaining APGA as the hallmark, summation even, of the Igbo political stake and identity. A dream APGA still largely lives beneath for reasons that can only be explained by its leaders past and present, including former governor Mr. Peter Obi, former National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, Governor Willie Obiano who is the national leader of the party and the current National Chairman, Chief Victor Oye. Despite the many failings, countless rip-offs of party members in brazen contravention of the party’s brotherliness creed, failure to harmonize interests of members, among many other short comings, APGA does not appear as a paper-weight-party that will be buried the next day. The party has a special place in connecting the people of Anambra state to the struggles of Igbo people, for a formidable political stake in the Nigerian polity. That identity is everything and for that same reason, it is not a simple task to dislodge the party. But then, the party’s candidate, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo has a firm reputation as credible manager of resources that can be trusted with bringing the aspirations of the state to reality. There is hardly any serious contention against Soludo’s suitability for the job of governing Anambra state. As such, much of the problems and opposition he is faced with in this contest have nothing to do with his governance abilities, but with politics, and his credentials in political arena. If eventually he becomes governor, definitely, Prof. Soludo will not be celebrated for constructing roads or for paying salaries. He would be expected to craft a new cause for massive industrialization of Anambra state. Unsurprising, for most Anambra born professionals whose focus is on governance abilities, Soludo is the only choice. But then, it is not for professionals alone to decide. Then again, Prof. Soludo has inherited almost all Governor Obiano’s enemies as would be expected. He has added to it all enemies of the infamous “Aguleri cabal”. However, governor Obiano as a sitting governor supporting Soludo has some privileges by virtue of his position. There are so many things he can do to assist APGA’s victory that others cannot do. More so, the party has an existing election winning structure that has been tested and proven in past elections. All these are some of the facts that set APGA apart as a serious contender or in fact, a party to beat. Indeed, so many people are clear about Prof. Soludo’s leadership ability, but simply cannot be on the same page with “Aguleri cabal”. The other factor working against Soludo’s candidacy is the rage of aggrieved party members, some of whom are still in APGA, while others have left the party. There are also some who do not trust Soludo’s political competence and for them, it is doubtful that Soludo has what it takes to navigate through Anambra politics and thereby allowing a big room for the Aguleri group to continue by other means. Notwithstanding, APGA with Prof. Soludo remains a formidable contender and indeed, a likely winner of the election.
The other most likely winner of the November 6 governorship contest is APC and its candidate Sen. Andy Uba. Having served in presidency for eight years, served as a senator for eight years and as Anambra governor for two weeks, Sen. Uba is arguably one of the most experienced political players in Anambra state. For the coming governorship contest, his major challenge is his political platform, the APC and also his family name with a widely reported deviant younger brother who has a history of yesteryear’s unpleasant events tied to his neck. The story of Governor Ngige’s administration cannot be told without the story of how he was kidnapped and without Chief Chris Uba as the constant character blamed for the ugly incidence, alongside burning of state owned properties. Although his party, the APC, is reputed as a party that is not accepted by Ndi Igbo, the reality suggests that there is a shift to the extent that APC can no longer be regarded as a party that has no footprint or foothold in Anambra state or in Igbo land. In Anambra state, APC now has the highest number of federal lawmakers and with a considerable number of state lawmakers. Even the Deputy Governor of Anambra state is now an APC member. Across Anambra state, formidable stakeholders are known to work with the government at the centre and therefore very likely working for Andy Uba, provided Andy has President Buhari’s support as being speculated. Within the past two months, APC and its candidate Andy Uba has gained momentum and more political grounds than any other party in the gubernatorial contest. Whatever has made several hundreds of people identify as APC members in Anambra state is a plus for the APC and no matter how other political parties may want to wish it away, it is something that is going to work in favour of APC. With support of APC stakeholders including serving ministers from Anambra state, support of APC governors and presidency, APC looks good for a victorious outing, only that it just does not happen so predictably in a major political contest as the November outing in Anambra state. In as much as Chief George Moughalu is in court challenging the validity of Sen. Andy Uba’s candidacy, it is altogether doubtful, politically speaking, that Chief Moughalu will work against APC because of Andy, in that election. Then again, with the vote buying culture, it is predictable that APC can mobilize sufficient funds with which to buy enough votes from the three hundred and twenty six political wards in the state. Though illegal, yet, vote buying has become a critical aspect of every election in Nigeria such that it even decides the election outcome. From the evidences available, APC is working assiduously to earn a possible win. The credibility question surrounding Andy does not appear a serious dent on is chances.
The PDP and its candidate, Valentine Ozigbo can be said to be at a distant third place based on clearly defined realities that characterize support that typify possible chances of winning. In the league of who is likely to win the November election in Anambra state, the PDP has a chance only when APGA and APC are not in the picture or somehow schemed out of the process, unfortunately, both scenarios of which amount to mere daydream. The fact of the matter is that Valentine Ozigbo, although largely a most suitable candidate for the job, based on sound background in business and management, rather than in politics, his humane disposition and remarkable ability to connect with people, amount to an advantage. Yet, the political failure on the part of leaders of PDP has left the party struggling for relevance and acceptance ahead of the gubernatorial poll. The PDP it would appear, is the biggest loser so far having lost a sitting Senator, at least three House of Assembly members, and also no fewer than three sitting members of Federal House of Representatives, which were rather too many a political loss considering that the PDP is not in control of Presidency and also not in control of Anambra state Government House. However, the major thing the party has going is the support of the former governor Mr. Peter Obi whose influence on Anambra politics has since depreciated, though not anywhere near the disappeared influence of Dr. Chris Ngige. Ordinarily, the PDP would have taken advantage of the political sins of APGA but it would appear the party was not strategically prepared to take advantage of the political vacuum, instead, to the shock of many observers, the party has also been taken due advantage of, when some of its members and leaders were lost to other parties, notably APC. Notwithstanding, that by far is not PDP’s biggest nightmare. The party’s biggest challenge is loss of its elite support base in Anambra state to either APGA or APC. Politically speaking, the PDP is at a very difficult position such that it is not conceivable that it will be able to dismantle APGA and APC, to win the election, or displace one of them to become a likely winner in a matter of days. There is simply no magic around this. In the field, the PDP does not appear to have more purchasing power than other parties, except perhaps YPP, when it gets to buying votes which has become a critical part of Nigerian elections.
Following closely after the PDP is the YPP whose candidate is Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah, a sitting senator of the 9th Senate and representing Anambra South. Although Ubah defied all odds to win the 2019 senatorial contest which was a major boost to his mettle as a politician; governorship election remains incompatible for comparison with a senatorial election. Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah is many things to different people; transforming from an apprentice who did not complete his senior school certificate, to a businessman, then an oil mogul, now a successful politician, and a lawyer. He is also heavy on many controversial fronts among other issues of debt that have become a dent on the brand he works so hard to build. Undeterred, he has moved on with his un-put-down-able attitude, not showing a lot of care. His recent graduation from Baze University Abuja with a law degree is simply a testament to his utmost fate in his creed, “eyes on the ball”. But looking at the numbers and reality, there is no magic left for the YPP, just days to the election. Some errors Sen.Ubah made in his days building his political brand mixed in his business has simply refused to be wished away. Admittedly, some people simply do not like his guts. But for this election, YPP simply has no chance at winning. However, the chance that it will end up at the top four cadre is most likely. Ifeanyi Ubah’s governorship campaign has gained reputation as an Nnewi affair. His major support base is in Nnewi which can hardly be faulted. Most of the people that work with him are from Nnewi or lives in Nnewi. At best, what that has done is to constrain his gubernatorial aspiration to Nnewi which rather sadly, cannot take him to Anambra State Government House. With a party like YPP, there is no major distribution of Ubah’s support base to extend and become entrenched in other places like it is in Nnewi. Ifeanyi Ubah, no doubt has gained name recognition, but not many people outside Nnewi consider him a viable candidate to govern Anambra state and there are many reasons for that, fact or not, they still play decisive role in why despite the huge chance Ubah had in which his party was the most stable political party at a stage in the governorship election process, it hardly translated into any tangible political advantage for him and his YPP. But then, even more damaging to his ambition is the fact that the YPP does not appear to politicians as a serious option that can successfully convey them through their voyage in pursuit of political power. For many, YPP is nothing short of personal political vehicle belonging to Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah. Good or bad, Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah has made his point and indeed his mark, but winning the November governorship election is not within what he and his party can do, given the current position of things.
In the final analysis, aside Valentine Ozigbo of PDP, all other three top contenders have switched parties multiple times. Although the same Valentine is the only politically inexperienced among the top four contenders. While Ifeanyi Ubah, Charles Soludo and Andy Uba all have long standing name recognition, Valentine Ozigbo recently gained name recognition by reason of his joining the gubernatorial race. Then also, none of the four top candidates is the darling of the masses. In other words, none of the candidates enjoy outstanding support from the masses. By implication, the winner of the election will win purely on political grounds. Factors like, political party support base, elite support, propensity and capacity to dispense large amount of money to woe voters at the polling units and interest of the presidency which shapes INEC and security agents’ behavior towards a credible poll, will determine the election outcome. Already, it is clear who may likely have all the enabling conditions for winning. In all, the election is squarely without a doubt between APC and APGA. The chances of PDP and YPP can only happen by some incredible magic or celestial interjection on the outcome of November 6 gubernatorial contest in Anambra state.
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