As the race to take over from the incumbent governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, whose two terms of eight years will expire on March 17, 2022 gathers momentum, many contenders and pretenders have sprang up and still counting.
At the last count, over 24 persons from four political parties have indicated interest to contest for the governorship position scheduled for November 6.
The four major political parties that have shown interest in fielding candidates include: the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Young progressive Party (YPP).
The PDP has two senators at the Senate; seven members at the House Representatives and six members at the state assembly.
APGA which is the ruling party in the state has four members at the House of Representatives but none at the senate. The YPP has a senator at the senate while the APC has none at the both chambers
Some of the aspirants seeking to occupy the number one seat in the state include:
Prof Charles Soludo (APGA)
Prof Charles Soludo, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who is of APGA, is believed to be one of the major contenders in the forthcoming election.
Since the party has zoned its ticket to the South Senatorial District, there are strong indications he could emerge as the party’s candidate.
He is said to be commanding over 70 percent of the party’s structure having supported and campaigned for the second term bid of Governor Willie Obiano.
Soludo appears to be the only aspirant that can return APGA back to the government house according to pundits.
His affiliation with the Roman Catholic church which is a factor that determines the fate of every aspirant is said to be an added advantage for him.
However, he has to contend with the incumbent governor’s wife who is said not to be in support of his governorship bid.
He also has to contend with the likes of Chief Akachukwu Nwamkpo, a former boss of SURE-P under former President Goodluck Jonathan as well as Bar Emeka Etiaba (SAN), who are believed to be grassroots politicians.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo (PDP)
Dr Obiora Okonkwo is the Chairman of The Dome Entertainment and Hospitality Limited, a multi hospitality company.
His entrance into the race seems to have shattered all political equations, including the clamour for power to return to the south.
Okonkwo is believed to have the financial muscle not only to win the primaries, but also match whoever the state governor might presents in the election proper.
He has supporters across the three senatorial district in the state and has empowered many youths through his foundation.Being a Catholic is also an added advantage for him.
However, one major obstacle to his candidacy is the clamour for power to return to the south because he is from Anambra North Senatorial District.
Sen. Uche Ekwunife (PDP)
Ekwunife is a senator representing Anambra Central Zone and she is one of the top five aspirants in the party.
Since her advent into the Federal House of Representatives where she served for eight years before going to the Senate, she has maintained a vibrant and homogenous party structure which is a great plus for her.
Ekwunife bestrides the religious divide as she was born an Anglican and married to a Roman Catholic.
She is from Igbo-Ukwu town in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra South and married to Agu Ukwu Nri in Anambra Central Zone, a position that qualifies her to contest from the Anambra South if the party finally zones its ticket to South and would also qualify to contest for the ticket if it is thrown open since as a woman, she has a dual citizenship.
Some of her opponents are however kicking that since she represents Anambra Central, she has no moral justification to contest the election.
Pundits also said that her gender could also be a great disadvantage for her.
Sen Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP)
The last National Assembly’s election showed that the victory of a candidate is determined more by the popularity of the candidate rather than the political party he or she contests under.
Ubah’s party, the Young Democratic Party (YPP), though not as popular as the likes of APGA, APC and PDP but sprang great surprises during the last election.
The senator appears to have the seven LGAs of the South Senatorial district intact and only needed at least, nine LGAs from the Central and North to become governor.
Ubah has a very formidable political structure as his support base known as Anambra Progressives Development Union made up of captains of industries, political standard bearers who decide the fate of candidates in every election.
This body can comfortably challenge any political structure and force at every election with capacity to turn the table in favor of who they prefer.
Ubah, however has to contend with his brothers from Anambra South Senatorial District and even in Nnewi North Local Government Area where two term House of Representatives member, Mr Chris Azubogu is also a top contender in the PDP.
Chris Azubogu (PDP)
Azubogu is from Nnewi, Anambra South senatorial district; a situation that confers on him, the chances of likely picking the ticket if he plays his game well.
He is a two term member of House of Representatives and has attracted many projects to his constituency and even beyond.
He is also a grassroots politician with coordinated structure capable of clinching the party’s ticket.
Azubogu has been interfacing with both the Anambra electorates and the political class across the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
However, some of his opponents see him as one that may not dance to the dictates of the perceived godfathers in Anambra State and thus, may not be supported by the powers that be.
He also has to contend with many billionaires aspirants in the PDP to be able to get the tickets.
George Moghalu (APC)
George Moghalu is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Board of Trustee (BOT) and currently, Managing Director/CEO of the National Inland Water Ways (NIWA).
He is one of the top contenders in the APC and has the chances of clinching the ticket according to pundits.
Moghalu understands the politics of his party and the workings of the party’s structure having worked at the national secretariat of his party before now.
His consistency in politics is believed to be one of his advantages.
Mughalu had contested under the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 and later contested the last APC primary election but lost to Dr Tony Nwoye during the primary.
Tony Nwoye (APC)
Tony Nwoye won the primary election of the APC to contest the last governorship election in the state.
Nwoye is known to have the ‘magic wand’ of winning primary elections and sending top contenders of the party to the cleaners.
Being a youth and a grassroots politician, he appreciates the politics of not only the APC and PDP but even APGA; a quality that he has going for him.
Nwoye is from Anambra North Senatorial Zone which is presently on the saddle of governance and that could limit his chances of emerging as the party’s flag bearer according to pundits.
He also accused of not respecting the zoning agreement in the party.
Other contenders eyeing Obiano’s seat include: Azuka Okwuosa (APC), Johnbosco Onunkwo (APC), Dr Chidozie Nwankwo (APC), Dr Godwin Maduka (PDP), Dr Ifedi Okwenna (PDP),Valentine Ozigbo (PDP), Bar Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Engr Godwin Ezeemo (PDP), Akachukwu Nwamkpo (APGA) and Ugochukwu Okeke (PDP). More contenders are expected to join the race in the weeks ahead.
How the parties stand
APGA is the ruling party in the state with large followership cutting across the 21 LGAs of the state.
The party is tied to Late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu who most Anambra people respect a lot. The party would be 16 years in power by time Obiano would be leaving office.
One challenge however is that some of the best candidates that will deliver the party are not being supported by the wife of the governor. The party in the last few years has been having divided support from the Ojukwu’s family. The wife of Late Chief Ojukwu has publicly attacked the governor for ascending office and neglecting the man whose name he used to clinch to power.
The party has strong followership across the state and has all it takes to battle and take over power in the state.
One of the greatest challenges of the party is its ability to conduct credible primary that would be accepted by the majority.
The party’s major strength lies in the ‘federal might’ according to pundits.
APC’s presence in Anambra is very visible as it currently has no single member at both the national and state assemblies.
The party is like a one man riot squad in the state and the chances of producing the governor remains a tall dream. Sen Ifeanyi Ubah seems to be the face of the party in the state.