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Anambra 2013 Elections-Moving Forward without Rancor
Washington, DC November 19, 2013:
The Nigerian-American Leadership Council, NALC has carefully reviewed its independent analysis of the just concluded Anambra Governorship elections. As a non-partisan organization, we do not join issues with candidates or base our analysis on speculative innuendoes. However, here’s our impression of this important exercise.
To The People of Anambra
We hereby congratulate and commend the people of Anambra State for pulling of this feat: an “election without violence.” The singular act of going to the polls and casting their votes without violent confrontations, speaks volumes about the citizens new unspoken determination, to perform their civic duty without intimidation, as a citizen’s life is not less valuable than a politicians life. Other Nigerian States should take notice and emulate this new political maturity. Anambra has thus redeemed their moniker as the “Light of The Nation.”
The four main Candidates in this race; William Obiano, Christopher Ngige, Ifeanyi Ubah, and Anthony Nwoye, all respectively did their best, to pull out their supporters for this historic election. However, we have analyzed the official results of this race, from every possible angle; and we hereby opine without fear of favor, that APGA’s Obiano has carried the day. We do not see how any of the other candidates can overcome Mr. Obiano’s lead in this race. Our informed opinion is buttressed by our observers on the ground, as well as official results from the undisputed votes already cast. The possibility of any other candidates picking up extra votes in the coming supplementary elections is not likely to change APGA’s commanding lead in this election.
We therefore call on all the other candidates to extend a hand of fellowship to Mr. Obiano; as it is done in other climes. No one candidate is bigger than all of Anambra State, regardless of how towering they perceive their political pedigree to be. Nigeria practices a democracy, and the people have spoken; “Vox Populi, Vox Dei-The Voice of The People is The Voice of God.”
On Nigeria’s INEC
To say that we are surprised and disappointed with Nigeria’s INEC, for not pulling off this election without hitches or drama, is an understatement. As a Council peopled by professionals in public service, law, the US Military, and others; we see many different strategic variables that INEC could have deployed to create contingency plans for what went wrong, in some areas in this election. However, we expect that the culprit(s) that caused the problem(s) in the affected areas will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. A full prosecution will protect the integrity of all Nigeria’s future elections.
Signed: U.L. Eric, Media Relations, Nigerian-American Leadership Council
1701 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 300, NW Washington, DC 20006
After months of hustling, the contest to replace the two term governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi enters its final lap tomorrow with the governorship primaries of the main opposition party, PDP, while that of the ruling APGA will be on Monday. However, being Anambra State, the home of many political intrigues, tomorrow’s contest is expected to open political oddities that are bound to be exploited by Anambra’s professional politicians.
THE Anambra political
chess game enters a decisive stage tomorrow with the governorship primaries in one of the three major parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The primaries of the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. will take place in August 26. The third major party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC it emerged may also have resolved to pick the former governor of the state, Dr. Chris Ngige, setting the stage for what promises to be the most keenly contested political contest in the state.
The road to the primaries in the PDP and APGA was undoubtedly laced with intrigues, the kinds that are resplendent in Anambra State, a state fabled for its different sorts of political oddities. As at press time, the PDP was still embroiled in crisis emerging from the conduct of the ward congresses.
The congresses conducted in some 91 wards penultimate Monday were annulled following legal and other political considerations brought to the national secretariat which ordered a rerun in the affected wards. The party is still faced with the spectre of a legal action from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC which chose not to observe the congresses conducted by the Prince Ken Emeakayi faction of the party recognized by the national secretariat of the party.
INEC has rather chosen to recognize the Ejike Ogbuebego led faction of the party. INEC’s inclination nonetheless, Emeakayi asserts the loyalty of all 15 aspirants vying for the PDP governorship ticket. While the PDP leadership was conducting its congresses without the presence of INEC officials, the electoral umpire was supervising another primary conducted by Chief Oguebego and the supervision was done by INEC officials from its headquarters in Abuja.
Authentic state chairman
Political watchers are waiting to see what will happen tomorrow, especially as a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has ruled that Oguebego remains the authentic state chairman of PDP. APGA, which is the ruling party, has also had its own fair share of crisis. The party is entering Monday’s primary election with much controversy following last weekend’s disqualification of some of the party’s most credible aspirants.
Two of the most credible, Prof. Charles Soludo and the immediate past secretary to the state government, Osalaka Obaze were disqualified under still controversial circumstances. The disqualification of Soludo, some allege was upon pressure from top presidency officials who were disturbed that he could win and then go on to oppose the PDP in the 2015 presidential election.
Obaze’s disqualification was based on the lack of a voter’s card. His disqualification was even more shocking given the fact that he only returned from the United States less than two years ago and had been widely tipped to be the anointed successor of Governor Peter Obi. Obaze told Vanguard that he was sure to obtain the voter’s card last Monday following the commencement of the voter’s registration exercise in the state.
For the 15 aspirants in the PDP and the dozen or so in APGA, it is very unlikely that the primaries in the two parties would end their quest if they lose. According to custom, many of them are expected to jump to other parties to continue their aspiration.
Those that made it after the screening are Mr. John Nwosu from Anambra South, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife and Chief Chukwuemeka Nwogbo, both from Anambra Central, while from Anambra North are Chief Willy Obiano, Chief Patrick Obianwu and Chief Paul Odenigbo.
The Nnewi –born businessman could be said to be a new breed politician. He was one of those who indicated interest in the race very early and he has manifested himself through his foundation which focuses on the empowerment of the less privileged people in the society. The permutation in some quarters is that Nwosu might become a running mate if a candidate from Anambra North emerges as the flag bearer.
She is an experienced politician, having contested for the position of governor in 2010 on the platform of Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, and though she did not win, she had a good outing. She returned to the House of Representatives after the 2010 election and was reelected to the House in 2011 on the platform of APGA where she is currently campaigning to be come governor. She has the capacity to surprise those who underrate her.
He is a member of the House of Representatives from Awka North and South federal constituency. He was one of the last to enter the race and permutation is that he could be considered for deputy.
He was the last to enter the race, but has become the most discussed aspirant. He is now generally tagged Governor Obi’s candidate especially coming from Fidelity Bank where the governor’s family is known to have substantial interests. His chances are also boosted by the fact that he is from Anambra North, an area Governor Obi is actively supporting to produce his successor.
Chief Paul Odenigbo
He was a former SSG in the state and also from the Omambala part of the state. He has been a silent operator since he joined the race and indications are that he has established tentacles in all the 326 wards of the state. One clear fact is that all government delegates and party officials will vote for either Obiano or Odenigbo during the primaries, leaving the remaining elected delegates for grabs by the highest bidder.
He is from Onitsha, Anambra North. He is not known to be making so much noise, but there must be something in him that has kept him in the race. The disadvantage he has is that he is from Onitsha town, an area dreaded by politicians from other parts of the state because of the belief that the area already has a great advantage over other parts of Anambra State in terms of development. There is the fear that an Onitsha governor might take decisions that may adversely affect the fortunes of traders in the commercial town.
The cleared spirants in the PDP are Senator Andy Uba, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Dr. Obinna Uzor, Mr. Ugochukwu Okeke, Mr. Walter Okeke and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, who are all from Anambra South senatorial zone. From Anambra North are Senator Emma Anosike, Chief Tony Nwoye and Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, while from Anambra Central are Mrs. Josephine Anennih, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo and Chief Charles Odunukwe.
Senator Andy Uba
The former governor of Anambra State for 17 days is the Senate committee chairman of INEC and some allege that his position is influencing INEC’s handling of the present crisis in the party. With the situation of events, Uba may become the PDP candidate without much opposition.
However, if the other aspirants decide to conduct a parallel primary and produce another candidate, PDP may have two candidates as it did during the Anambra South senatorial election when Uba and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu claimed to be the party’s candidates and two of them were voted for, but one person was credited with their joint votes. If this repeats itself, PDP may win the governorship election with the connivance of INEC which will likely come out later to name one person as the candidate of the party.
Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo
The former special adviser to the president on technical matters was earlier touted to be the anointed Aso Rock candidate because of his closeness with President Goodluck Jonathan. He is from Okija in Ihiala local government area of Anambra South. It is not clear if he is still enjoying that toga of being the president’s anointed aspirant, but he is making spirited effort to win the ticket.
Dr. Obinna Uzor
The great philanthropist from Ihiala has been eyeing the governorship of the state since 2003. He is also connected in high places and there are indications that he may accept whatever will happen on Saturday, especially if Uba is declared the winner of the primary. During the senatorial contest that produced Andy Uba, he worked very hard to ensure that his area was delivered to Senator Uba.
Chief Ugochukwu Okeke
He is also from Ihiala. He is one aspirant that has remained neutral in the face of the on-going crisis because of his belief that as a youth, the future has a lot in store for him.
New face of Anambra
He has made so many inroads in all the wards in the state and other aspirants know that he is somebody to reckon with. In a recent interview, Okeke described himself as the new face of Anambra.
He is a trained accountant from Nanka in Orumba North local government area. He too has enticing programmes that could help move Anambra State forward. But the problem is that with Uba and Ukachukwu who are old warhorses in the race, he has to work very hard to upstage them in the primaries.
He is one of the most experienced in the race and one of the richest too. The Evangelist –turned politician has become synonymous with Anambra politics and that explains the large followership he has. It was gathered that he was the aspirant that was amassing the largest number of delegates in the local government congress, but whether that exercise would count on Saturday will be seen.
Senator Emma Anosike
The Umuleri –born politician from Omambala area of Anambra North was running mate to Professor Soludo in 2010. He is a quiet operator and he has often said that the race is not a do -or -die affair for him.
Leadership of the party
But one thing is clear and that is that the governorship of Anambra cannot be won without him being part of it.
Chief Tony Nwoye
The former state chairman of PDP is loved by the youths and those who have associated with him say he has a large heart. He is also one of those that made great impact in the local government congress that was conducted by the leadership of the party penultimate Tuesday.
His coming from Omambala area of the state is a plus for him but with another Omambala person in the race in the person of Anosike, chances are that their delegates might be split if one did not step down for the other.
Dr. Alex Obiogbolu
He is from Onitsha in Anambra North. He is also considered to be a bridge builder in the party as he is not involved in any of the controversies.
He has consistently been in touch with the grassroots and this may go for him during the primaries. If the delegates decide to stop the controversial aspirants, Obiogbolu may become the rallying point.
Iyom Josephine Anenih
The former minister for women affairs is from Anambra Central. The disadvantage she has is that she is married outside the state and knowing the way Anambra people view such issue, which is that a woman, once married, totally becomes the indigene of her husband’s place, Anenih may face tough challenges tomorrow.
Source: Vanguard News
Dr. Chukwuma Soludo did not appeal
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Governorship Appeal Panel on Saturday upheld the disqualification of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (NBA) Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the immediate past Secretary to the Anambra State Government Oseloka Obaze and four others who were disqualified by the Screening Panel on Friday.
The six persons who were disqualified by the party’s Governorship Screening Committee had appeared before the APGA governorship Screening Appeal Panel to contest their disqualification by the Panel.
The panel chaired Chief Tony Ojielo after entertaining their appeals told reporters that their appeals were lacking in merit and the Committee had no other option than to affirm their disqualification.
According to Ojielo “we have listened to their appeals but their appeals lack merit.
The appeal panel has Ojielo as Chairman, Bala Bako, Secretary, Dr. Mic Adams 11, High Chief Ogometu Ukpenetus and Hajia Hadiza Aliyu Gogori.
Specifically the APGA Screening Committee had on Friday disqualified Soludo and five other governorship aspirants on the party’s platform for the November 16th Governorship elections in Anambra State.
According to a statement signed by the Chairman of the Gubernatorial Screening panel, Alhaji Tayo Sowunmi, Secretary, Bar. Ifeanyi Mbaeri and a member, Chief Onwuka Ukwa, said at the conclusion of the panel’s sitting yesterday, the six aspirant’s failed to scale through the test.
The six aspirants that failed the screening include, Emmanuel Nweke, Ogbuefi Tony Nnaechetta, Chinedu Francis Idigo, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Immediate past Secretary to Anambra State Government Oseloka Obaze and Prof. Soludo.
The panel however said that seven aspirants were successful. The successful aspirants are, Hon. Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Nwogbo, Paul Odenigbo, Hon. Uche Lillian Ekwunife, Chief Willie Obiano, John Nwosu, John Okechukwu Emeka and Nwachi Patrick Obianwu.
Sources at the at the panel sitting said some of the reasons given for not clearing the aspirants ranged from non-presentation voters card, lack of evidence of financial strength to execute the campaign, incomplete certificate and their insbility to submit tax clearance.
One of the affected aspirants, Idigo while reacting to his non-clearance said though he was surprised at the reason given for dropping him.
Idigo who spoke to our reporter, at the APGA headquarters, venue of the screening said he is going to make another presentation to the appeal panel today.
He said they were informed that evidence of financial status was going to be part of the screening requirements.
” The outcome of the screening came as a surprise to me but I am going to prepare my appeal immediately and submit to the Appeal Panel,” he said.
•Ekwunife, Odenigbo, others scale through * •Soludo accepts party decision…
THE screening panel set up by All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, to screen all aspirants for November 16 governorship election in Anambra State, failed to clear former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo and five other contenders.
Out of the 13 aspirants contesting under the party, only seven scaled through the hurdle at the conclusion of the screening exercise which took place between August 15 and 16, 2013 at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The successful aspirants include, Hon. Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Nwogbo, Paul Odenigbo, Hon. Uche Lillian Ekwunife, Chief Willie Obiano, Mr. John Nwosu, John Okechukwu Emeka and Nwachi Patrick Obianwu.
Those who failed the screening include Emmanuel Nweke, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta, Chinedu F. Idigo, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Mr. Oseloke Obaze and Professor Charles Chukwuemeka Soludo.
Chairman of the Gubernatorial Screening Panel, Alhaji Tayo Sowunmi said the reason (s) for the non-clearance of the unsuccessful aspirants are as contained in the provisional certificates issued to them.
Other members of the panel were Ifeanyi Mbaeri and Chief Onwuka Ukwa who served in the panel as Secretary and member, respectively.
It would be recalled that the National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh while setting up the three-man screening panel, assured that the party has laid down a transparent process that would produce a worthy and an acceptable candidate for the November 16 governorship election in Anambra state.
Professor Charles Soludo shortly after facing the screening panel Thursday in Abuja, had told journalists that he joined the APGA not because of the governorship contest but to build the party.
According to him, “I am saying my priority in joining All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, is to help to build APGA as a formidable political party. Running for governor is not why I joined APGA.
“Did that surprise you? I have joined APGA primarily to join forces with the other compatriots, other Nigerians to build APGA as a formidable political party. An APGA that will some day mainstream what APGA stands for, what APGA has to offer Nigeria.
“APGA is the only political party in Nigeria that talks about true federalism. No other political party aspire to bring true federalism to Nigeria. No other political party talks about revenue allocation, physical federalism that would allow each region or state to develop according to its own space. There is no other political party that talks about competition.
“To me, APGA should be the manifesto, national mobilisation because that is the only way Nigeria can move forward. “I have to come here to visit the national office of APGA, but principally, this is a new family for me. Like I have said, my first mission is to join others to build APGA as a formidable movement. And that is basically what it is. Governorship thing is aside.”
On whether he will still remain in APGA if he fails to pick the party’s ticket, he said, “I am APGA in the morning in the afternoon and in the night. I am in APGA today, I will be in APGA tomorrow, I will be in APGA next year, I will be in APGA for the next seven years to come.”
He also said he had to quit the PDP because it was not a political party but a mere platform to grab power. Speaking to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, Prof. Soludo said that he joined PDP by accident and now had to make a choice on where to pitch his political tent.
His words, “recently I resigned my membership from PDP and joined APGA. The basic question people kept asking is why? That is a short question to ask but with a long answer.
“I joined PDP by accident . I did not belong to any political party before I was appointed as the president’s chief Economic Adviser and CEO of National Planning Commission which is more like a minister of National planning Commission.
“It was a political appointment and has some kind of requirement, if you like. Though it is not explicitly demanded of you so I joined the PDP without even knowing what the party stood for.. “Having stayed there for a while, I have now had a chance to review the political parties in Nigeria and have reviewed their constitutions and manifestos and also review the operations of the various political parties and I think this is now the time to make the decision of the political party that I should belong to out of choice, out of volition. It is now time to make a choice based on one’s conviction rather than convenience.
“PDP started off as an amalgamation of diverse groups and individuals who really had nothing in common- probably to ease off the military but since then it has been grappling to find a bearing as political party.
“As it is today, in my considered view, it is not a political party in the true sense of a political party. Why did I say that the PDP is not a political party?. I just describe it as a platform to grab power.
Asked if the change of party was not to actualize his dream of governing Anambra through an arrangement with incumbent Gov Peter Obi, the economist- turned politician said that even though he was aspiring to contest on the platform of APGA, he would remain in the party if he fails to secure the ticked at the primaries.
“My decision to join APGA is not just limited to my aspiration to govern Anambra State. In as much as I would like to fly the APGA flag, even if I am not given the ticket, I will still remain in APGA and support whoever emerges. This is the party in which ideology, the constitution, manisfesto, aims and objectives are in line with my views and what I believe in.
“My decision to join APGA was a decision I made made more than a year ago. I would have joined more than a year ago and the reason that I didn’t join was that when I decided to as I was about to join, the crisis in the party erupted and so I didn’t want to join when the party was in crisis and then you would have to join one faction A faction B.”
In the letter Governor Obi wrote:
“I wish to respectfully bring to your due attention a very disturbing development that has vast national security and political implications. Last September and again on 24 July 2013, the Lagos State Government contrived inexplicable reasons to round up Nigerians, whom they alleged were Anambra indigenes (most of whom the SSS report shows clearly are not from Anambra State) and forcefully deported them to Anambra State, dumping them, as it were, in the commercial city of Onitsha (see attached SSS report).
“This latest callous act, in which Lagos State did not even bother to consult with Anambra State authorities, before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra State, is illegal, unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian Constitution.
“Your Excellency, no amount of offence committed by these people, even if deemed extremely criminal, would justify or warrant such cruel action by a state authority and in a democracy. Even refugees are protected by the law. Furthermore, the extant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution states: ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part, thereof, and no citizen shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.’
“Sir, forced deportation such as this, which Lagos State seems to be making a norm in addressing its domestic challenges are egregious, and calls into question the validity of Nigeria and its federating components. Such acts violate human decency, the rule of law and constitutionally-ordered liberties.
Naturally, I have the obligation to protect the interest and welfare of all Nigerians resident in Anambra State, irrespective of their states of origin and I would be left no option other than reciprocity or reprisal. I will, however, put any such reaction in abeyance until Your Excellency has had the opportunity to address our concerns," he concluded.
With the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, setting the date for the Anambra gubernatorial election, the political landscape is being reshaped for battle.
WITH the release of the guidelines for the governorship election in Anambra State by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, political parties and their flag bearers are, at long last, set to do battle for one of them to succeed Governor Peter Obi whose eight –year tenure will terminate on March 17, 2014.
What makes the governorship contest unique is that it will take place on November 16, 2013, which happens to be the birthday of Nigeria’s first president and the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who hailed from the state.
Though INEC may not have deliberately fixed the election to coincide with Zik’s birthday, the date has some significance to Anambra politicians as the man whose birthday will be marked on that date, was associated with peaceful conduct throughout his many years in politics, both during the colonial and post-colonial era.
So far, none of those eyeing the Government House in Awka could be said to be strikingly ahead of others in terms of possession of political structure, due significantly to the crises rocking most of the major political parties expected to present candidates for the election and the decision of others to merge into a mega political party.
This is unlike the situation in 2010 when, six months before the election, the front runners among the contestants were already known.
In the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, for instance, the performance of the outgoing governor, Mr. Peter Obi ought to have been enough boost for any candidate selected by the party to be its flag bearer, but the over one year leadership battle waged between the national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and Governor Obi has left the over 20 governorship aspirants in the party more confused.
Though the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu has resolved the issue of the leadership of the party in favour of Chief Umeh by declaring that he remains the national chairman, his group and that of Chief Maxi Okwu, which is supported by Obi, are yet to harmonize issues concerning the party’s guidelines for the election.
While Umeh said shortly after the Court of Appeal judgment that party restructuring would begin in earnest to place APGA in a proper position for the November 16 governorship polls, the Okwu camp is said to be weighing the option of taking the matter to the Supreme Court, although many people in his camp acknowledge the fact that time is not on his side. Umeh has, however, promised a level –playing field for all aspirants at the primaries, insisting that he has no personal interest in any aspirant.
For now, notable aspirants in APGA, including the incumbent secretary to the state government, SSG, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, the former SSG, Chief Chidi Odenigbo, former president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, Prince Chinedu Idigo, Mr. Nnamdi Ekweozor, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife and others, are busy oiling their structures and waiting for events to unfold in the party.
For the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the big names expected to make the difference include Senator Andy Uba, who was governor for 17 days in 2007 before the Supreme Court stopped him, Prof. Charles Soludo who was the party’s candidate in 2010, Senator Emma Anosike who was running mate to Soludo in the 2010 contest, Chief Nicholas Ukachukwu, who had vied for the position in the last three exercises, special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on technical matters, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, Dr. Obinna Uzor who had also been in the race in the past, Chief Ugochukwu Okeke, Chief Tony Nwoye who was former state chairman of the party and Dr. Alex Obiogbolu.
As is typical with the PDP, most of the aspirants are still pressing their buttons in Abuja, apparently hoping that the national leadership of the party would push decisions that would personally favour them.
That is despite the insistence of the state chairman of the party, Prince Ken Emeakayi that any governorship aspirant who hopes to come through the back door is bound to fail as it is the people on ground that would cast the votes and not outsiders.
The emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, is not faring better. The fusing political parties namely, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and an APGA faction led by Senator Annie Okonkwo are yet to properly harmonize as a political party.
Most popular aspirant
Before now, it had been thought that APC would easily cede the governorship ticket of the party to Senator Chris Ngige, unarguably the most popular aspirant in the party, but developments in the fledgling party showed that some people in the party are bent on stopping him.
Senator Okonkwo for one is very much interested in participating in the primaries for the selection of the governorship candidate of APC, despite his present position as deputy national chairman. Also, Chief Godwin Ezemo believed to be financially loaded, is insisting that he would not step down for anybody.
Besides, officials of the political parties coming together to form APC appear not to be trusting each other as they are busy positioning their individual political parties for the juicy party positions, at a time the emphasis would have been on the November 16 governorship election.
For instance, one of the leaders of APC is believed to be favourably disposed to appointing the state chairman of the party from outside the fold of the merging political parties, an issue that is not going down well with other leaders from other legacy parties in the merger.
The situation in APC would have been clearer if Ngige had publicly declared his intention to return to the Government House where he held sway for three years before the court removed him, but he said at a recent event in the state that he is still consulting. The question some of his supporters are asking is, when will the consultation end?
Perhaps the only governorship aspirant whose campaign activity is being felt in all parts of the state is Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the chairman of Capital Oil. Ubah had been hobnobbing with Umeh’s APGA but just last month, he moved over to the Labour Party, LP. Since his entry into the race, politicians of all shades have been inclining towards him and many of them are reaping the benefits of that association in the form of cash, cars and clothes.
But how far the cash would go a long way to making him realize his governorship ambition is something to be seen. Even in LP where he has pitched his tent, there are indications that the leadership of the party is like APGA’s, also becoming unsettled with the Ubah phenomenon.
But for now, Ubah’s Nnewi country home remains a Mecca of sorts for old and new politicians who understand that politics is business.
As was the case in the last governorship election, some political parties that could not boast of big names are waiting in the wings to benefit from the fallout of the primaries of the big parties as some of those likely to lose out may join such parties to contest the election on their platform.
In the past few months, political parties, such as Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN, Citizens Popular Party, CPP, KOWA Party, African Democratic Congress, ADC, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, among others which hitherto were not existing in the state, have suddenly rented offices and hoisted their flags waiting for governorship aspirants to come into their fold.
Source: - vanguard
A central issue in the quest for Nigeria’s greatness is leadership selection. Some 2,400 years ago, the great philosopher, Plato, argued that “As a just and healthy person is governed by knowledge and reason, a just society must be under the control of society’s most cultivated and best informed minds, its ‘lovers of wisdom’…” I have chosen to share the thoughts of our two presidents to encourage a debate on the matter, especially given the pervasive indifference or downright loathsomeness to matters of politics and governance by the so called ‘lovers of wisdom’. I served Nigeria under two presidents. This piece is not part of ‘the book’ on presidential governance.
The date was Friday, March 17, 2006. At the morning prayer session with President Olusegun Obasanjo at the ‘red carpet’ in the villa, I raised a special prayer point and asked the congregation to pray for the new governor of my state Anambra, Peter Obi (who was on his way from Abuja to Awka to be sworn in same day), as well as for Anambra State so that Obi’s regime may mark an end to the brigandage and misrule in the state. We were all upstanding.
The president cut in, and pointing in my direction remarked: “We shall pray as you have requested but the problem with you people from Anambra is that those of you who have something to offer shy away from politics and hooligans have taken over your state”. To the best of my recollection, that was the only prayer point during the four years of daily devotion that received a commentary. ‘Baba’, as we fondly call him was basically telling us to ‘get involved or stop complaining’. Periodically, the three of us from Anambra who were regular members of the prayer group (Oby Ezekwesili, Rev.William Okoye and I) had cause to brainstorm on the challenges and limitations of participation in politics especially by those of us who were ‘technocrats’. While we were obsessed with ‘good governance’, we had little interest in the process of acquiring power.
After leaving office as governor of the central bank, I was in London when twice in June 2009 I received calls from Alhaji Mangal to the effect that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua wanted to see me anytime I was in Nigeria. I returned with my family late July and on Sunday, July 26, I received a call that the president wanted to see me by 9:30pm. After a few banter, he asked what I was doing abroad. As I explained the three offers I was considering, he was shaking his head. “Well”, he started, “it is not because you are here, but I have said this several times to you. Given your age, skills, and your accomplishments for our economy and financial system, it would be a waste for you not to continue to be involved in Nigeria’s public service… For example, there is going to be an election in your state early next year and I want to strongly urge you to show interest… You know that your state has been unfortunate with leadership, and our party has been in crisis there...”
At that point, my heart beat was racing. Before I left office, many people from Anambra had suggested that I should run for governor but it did not make any sense to me and my family. As I began my response, Yar’Adua cut in and suggested that I did not need to respond immediately but instead that I should go home and ‘consult’ with some of the political leaders in the state. He then raised his two thumbs and assured that “if you accept to do this, I will come out fully to make sure that you get there”. If he had allowed me to respond immediately, the answer would have been an unambiguous ‘NO’. I thanked him and left.
On getting home, my wife was curious. I summarized what the president said, and she asked: ‘so what was your response?’ I told her the president would not let me respond but asked that I go and ‘consult’. “Then go back tomorrow and tell him that you have finished consulting and that the answer is No”, she ruled. I pleaded with her that we should at least give some time, out of respect, before reporting our decision. I confided in a few people and sought their advice. Within a week, the ‘rumours’ were everywhere. In the meantime, Yar’Adua also told a few people of his plans for Anambra and how he wanted to ‘use Soludo to make Anambra a model state’. He specifically requested Chief Tony Anenih to help him make it happen. My wife and I came under inestimable pressure --- ‘to go and serve our people’. Some even said it was a ‘divine call to serve’, etc. My wife loathes politics and can’t stand it.
On August 12, 2009, I gave Yar’Adua the ‘preliminary report’ on my consultations. To enable me take a decision, I presented the challenges and threats to his proposal to which he laid out solutions. I told him that after three offices at the Federal Government (as chief economic adviser, de facto Minister of National Planning; and governor of the central bank) I believed I had had my day on duty as far as government was concerned and wanted to return to the international community, academia and private sector. The only reason another public office would make sense to me in the circumstance was if I believed I could really make a fundamental difference.
If I would contest, my vision was to transform Anambra’s economy such that after eight years, it would no longer need federation account allocation for recurrent expenditures but would devote 100% of it to capital budget. Consequently, I requested eight things the Federal Government would do to enable me quickly transform the state into an international city, including: an airport; modern seaport for Onitsha and dredging of River Niger to enable medium-sized ship to come to Onitsha; dualisation of Anambra- Kogi road to speed up commerce between the North and Anambra; Anambra as a special line item for Ecological Fund as one third of its land mass was under threat by erosion; completion of the greater Onitsha water scheme; inclusion of Anambra as an oil producing state; Anambra as one of the pilot states for the large scale commercial agricultural scheme; and speeding up the second Niger bridge. Surprisingly, Yar’Adua accepted all of them at the meeting that lasted 76 minutes.
We agreed that the agenda of transforming Anambra would require full eight years of working 24 hours a day. He was happy and said that if he could have two states per geopolitical zone that would become ‘models’, he would have succeeded as president. I then requested another four weeks to undertake ‘extensive consultations’ and report back early September.
In the meantime, while the ‘consultation’ was to proceed, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced a sudden timetable to collect and return an expression of interest form. I was advised to pick the form--- almost akin to jumping into the river while still unsure whether or not to swim. Yar’Adua fell ill and travelled to Saudi Arabia. Conspiracy theorists took over and I saw treachery, intrigues, blackmail and mischief at their most banal forms. Propaganda was hatched and effectively marketed that “Soludo is not contesting for governor; he is preparing to contest for president in 2015”.
I was shocked to the marrow about the wicked plot. Of course, the game plan was to put me on a collision course with all those with an eye on the presidency. It worked. The more I tried to explain that I was drafted into the race by President Yar’Adua, the worse my case became because, as I learnt much later, it was interpreted that since Yar’Adua was the one who asked me to run, it meant that he was grooming a successor. In my various positions at the Federal Government, I survived hundreds of evil plots, but this was a different baptism of fire. Yar’Adua never returned and with an electoral body then that literally determined which candidate to ‘return’ or ‘deliver’, the rest, they say, is history! This is subject of a book project.
To be honest, I remain grateful to God and to those who supported and opposed me, for the lifetime experience. I tell my friends that what I learnt in the last five years about human nature is priceless.
To some readers, the foregoing might appear discouraging. Most professionals or so-called technocrats are scared of being ‘rubbished’ by politicians, or fear that politics is so dirty that it is not meant for ‘decent people’. At a recent church event in a neighbouring state to mine, one of the officiating bishops pulled me aside and pleaded with me: “I beg you in the name of God, please leave politics. You are too decent for that”. An elder statesman and my mentor once advised that “God did not create you a politician: He created you an economist. Please leave those people”.
There lies the dilemma for our country. Chinua Achebe was quoted as saying that on matters of leadership, Nigeria is a country that goes for a football match with its 10th Eleven. When Achebe joined the PRP in early 1980s, many people wondered what he was doing with ‘politicians’. Most people believe that Nigeria can only be transformed if a critical mass of capable people take charge at all levels of governance. How would such people emerge without going through the political process? Power, they say, is not given; it is taken! Under a democracy, the electorate can only choose their leaders from among the candidates contesting elections. If Lagos State Governor Babtunde Fashola (a cerebral and successful Senior Advocate of Nigeria) did not go through the political process as a ‘politician’, perhaps Lagos would have missed the on-going transformation.
Yes, the system is very rough indeed, and the admission fee for new entrants (without godfathers) is too high. If you are not careful, the crude Nigerian system can destroy you if you are seen as a threat. Is the solution then to shy away and complain in our bedrooms? Now that Prof. Attahiru Jega and the new INEC are restoring confidence in the electoral system that votes count, is it time then for all those who have anything to offer to stand up? Surely I understand the enormous cost that very busy professionals bear by abandoning the glassy offices and certainty of office and income to dabble into the shark-infested waters of politics. Not everyone can or should be in politics. But in an underdeveloped country such as ours, the potential marginal contribution of one skilled professional is many times that of his counterpart in advanced societies.
Thus, the society loses greatly for every one knowledgeable person who stands akimbo as the duty of development beckons. As I ponder these issues myself, I can only surmise that the import of what Obasanjo and Yar’Adua told me is a reminder to us of the eternal wisdom of Plato that “the penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”.
Dr. Chukwuma Soludo is the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, and former contestant for Anambra State governorship election.
In 2014, Anambrians of voting age will go to the polls to choose Governor Peter Obi’s successor. Though the guber contest is two years away, Anambra politicians interested in the state number one seat are already behaving as if the exercise is in two months time. The state’s political atmosphere is steadily becoming charged.
Political gladiators girding their loins for the battle for the state’s topmost position are employing all manner of missiles in the fight. For now, the situation appears fluid as there is no indication any of the combatants are having an upper hand. There are three major political parties in the state: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). APGA, the ruling party in the state however appears to be where a plethora of the gladiators angling to take over Obi’s job are gravitating towards. Keen observers of Anambra politics are emphatic that the crisis in APGA is as a result of in-fighting in the party over who flies its flag in 2014.
For example, the travails of oil magnate and owner of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Ubah has its locale in his interest in taking over from Obi. Last month, Ubah spent days in police custody over issues bordering on oil subsidy fraud. It is believed in some quarters that Governor Obi’s feud with the National Chairman of APGA, Victor Umeh as regards future of the party and who becomes its governorship candidate in 2014 revolves round Umeh’s preference for a particular candidate as against Obi’s own choice. Many political stakeholders in the state, especially within APGA swear the candidate Umeh is rooting for is Ubah.
The anti-Ubah elements in APGA are working on the theory that while the Nnewi-born multi-billionaire businessman is funding Umeh’s war with Obi, Umeh on his part is projecting him as the next governor of the state. Umeh’s recent confirmation that Ubah is now a card carrying member of APGA and that the party would line up behind him anytime he declares his intention to fly APGA’s flag for the state’s 2014 governorship contest tends to give fillip to the above theory. But there is also the argument that the notion that one single individual would literarily hand Anambra’s governorship to his preferred candidate is too simplistic.
For one, Ubah is not the only Anambra politician nursing governorship ambition. Veterans of past governorship battles in the state such as former governor (and now serving Senator) Chris Ngige of the ACN, Senator Andy Ubah (not related to Ifeanyi Ubah) of the PDP who served briefly as governor in 2007 before the Supreme Court booted him out and billionaire businessman, Nicolas Ukachukwu also of the PDP. Former Central Bank Governor Chukwuma Soludo who contested against Peter Obi in 2010 on the platform of the PDP is also rumoured to be gearing up to test his popularity once more, this time around, on the platform of ACN or Labour Party.
Even in APGA, Chuma Nzeribe who flew the party’s Senatorial flag for Anambra South against Andy Ubah is equally interested. So also is Dubem Obaze from the Ogbaru axis whose Senatorial Zone, Anambra North is favoured by Governor Obi to produce his successor. Obaze is the immediate past Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. His Zone, Anambra North has not produced governor of the state since its creation.
photo credit: odimmaanambra.wordpress.com
Senator Annie Okonkwo who contested against Obi in 2010 on another party’s platform is now in APGA and also reportedly eyeing the state’s Government House, Awka as the next governor. Considering the volatile nature of Anambra politics, observers are worried that unless the current brick bat between prominent political and business elites from the state is checked prior to the election, Anambra will once again plunge into blood-chilling mayhem, the type witnessed during the Chris Ubah – Ngige supremacy tiff. A pressure group, Anambra Generation Next (AGN), a group of young professionals of Anambra State origin shares this sentiment.
AGN in a statement called on politicians in the state to eschew politics of bitterness acrimony and vendetta but rather pursue noble causes that will engender peace unity and the needed development in the state. AGN’s statement which was signed by its Secretary-General, Obiajulu Nwosu said the group was appalled by the on-going war of words between two sons of the state, Ifeanyi Ubah and Chairman of Coscharis group, Cosmas Maduka who are incidentally from the same town, Nnewi over an alleged business partnership gone awry.
According to AGN, “while we believe and also advocate that every business deal and agreements must be transparent and fair, we also know that disagreement do exist in some business transactions, in such cases the judiciary comes to play as an arbiter …. this is the civil thing to do rather than resort to convicting a business partner in the media.” AGN also buys the argument that Capital Oil boss’ travails is rooted in his alliance with the APGA National Chairman, Umeh.
“Followers of Anambra politics believe that the current challenges against Chief Ubah is not unconnected with his touted political ambition in the state… in the main the obvious close relationship between Chief Umeh and Ubah is the root of the current onslaught against him (Ubah) because of the erroneous belief in some quarters that he is the one funding Umeh in the battle of supremacy with the other faction of the party.”
Meanwhile, apparently eager to endear themselves to Anambra electorates, some of the gubernatorial hopefuls in the state, including Ifeanyi Ubah have been embarking on philanthropic gestures. Ubah for example has taken his “Kero-Direct” initiative to major towns in the state where residents were availed the opportunity of purchasing kerosene at N50 per litre. Besides that, through his Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation (IUF), he has distributed various items and food stuffs to the less privileged in the state, including orphanage homes. This is in addition to his educational scholarship scheme.
While Ubah and other politicians in the state may not be totally blameless, a broad spectrum of indigenes of Anambra are of the opinion that each of them should be allowed to test his popularity so that the people will decide. “The fact that the police detained Ubah does not mean he is already guilty of the allegations against him. Let him test his popularity at the poll and if Ndi Anambra eventually prefer a criminal or 419 as their governor, it is up to them”, Amaechi Eloka, a businessman and Awka indigene said.
"Disaster struck several communities in two Local Government Areas of Anambra West and Ogbaru in Anambra State following ravaging flood after a torrential rainfall in the state. Governor Peter Obi was compelled to make emergency visit to the scenes of the flood for on-the-spot assessment, and thereafter he called on the federal government to declare the affected communities disaster areas. The Governor, who visited the areas in company of officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), as well as some members of the State Executive Council, said that the level of destruction was more than what the state alone could handle. The communities affected by the flood tragedy in Ogbaru include Osomala, Ochuche Umuodu, Akili Ozuzo, Akili Ogidi and Atani, while those affected in Anambra West are Oroma Etiti, Ezi Anam, Umuenwelum, Umueze Anam, Umuoba Anam, Nmiata, Innoma, Ukwalla, Owelle, Igbedor, Odekpe, Odemagu, Nzam and Igbokenyi." - Daily Star
Governor Peter Obi with Anglican Bishop of Mbamili, Most Rev. Henry Okeke, traversing what was once a sprawling community of Umueze Anam in a boat. The entire Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Anambra West and Anambra East are completely subsumed by flood.
Bankers and other residents of Awka are now living in fear following the kidnap of a bank manager, Mr Tochukwu Nnadi, in the early hours of Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the incident took place at about 7.30 a.m. in Awka while the banker was on his way to his office close to Mama Africana Kitchen in Iyiagu Estate.
A source, who wants to remain anonymous, told NAN that contact had not been established with the kidnappers.
The source lamented the security situation in the state, saying: “My brother, we do not know where Anambra is heading to. We planned to close the bank because of fear but some of us summoned the courage to work.
``This man was just coming to the office in the morning and we learnt the people who kidnapped him were waiting in two cars, one was a Chrysler and the other was what they call End of Discussion with their doors wide open.
``Immediately he arrived, they came out and blocked him and took him away. Honestly, everybody is now in trouble in the state,” it added.
The police spokesman in the state, Mr Raphael Uzoigwe, said the issue was not reported to the command.
He said he had made contacts with the relevant divisions but that no such case was reported.
However, another source, who also wants to remain anonymous, told NAN that the matter was being handled secretly.
According to the source, that is the reason why it has not been reported to the police. (NAN)