Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) - Press Release
RESTORING ANAMBRA (ELECTIONS 2013): VETTING THE CANDIDATES
Anambra State came into our radar because the state has a different governorship election schedule from the rest of Nigeria, due to past political mischief by governorship candidates; and the consequent intervention of the courts to restore the legitimate votes of the citizens. Thus Anambra has by default become the proving ground, as to whether Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), can demonstrate proficiency in conducting credible elections, in Africa’s largest democracy.
Though only a few members of the Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) are from Anambra State; however the importance of a credible election in this state portends what could go right or wrong with Nigeria’s 2015 general elections.
In our first Media Release on this matter (see “Press Releases” in our website), we set out standards that the citizens of this state should strive for, in electing its number one citizen. We now note that the following persons have directly or indirectly declared serious interest in this gubernatorial race: Ifeanyi Uba (Labour Party), Oseloka Obaze (APGA), and Christopher Ngige (AC/APC).
Photo:Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC)
The Council has chosen to refrain from analyzing any of the twenty three (23) candidates, that have picked the nomination forms for the “People’s Democratic Party (PDP)” Governorship candidacy. This stance is because the Council sees the exercise by PDP and the players involved, as a serious sign that the party is in disarray at the state level; and cannot obviously contemplate the party winning a gubernatorial election as a “divided house.” Twenty three (23) candidates arising from one party, clearly signal either a serious problem with internal party discipline, or a big joke.
At a recent stakeholders meeting at Council headquarters in Washington, DC, the Executive Director of NALC, Okechukwu Mbonu, a Washington DC trained Juris Doctor, former Commissioner in Maryland, and currently a Political Consultant, stated; “This Council has committed itself to careful and objective analysis of the candidates for Governor of Anambra State, because their suitability for the high office of Governor, is squarely in the public interest.”
The Council has deployed its research tentacles to unravel the businessman turned politician, Ifeanyi Uba. Ifeanyi Uba burst into the political space with plenty of fanfare, predicated by his stipulations on his own wealth, as if private wealth alone translates to an automatic mandate to govern a state, any state.
Our research shows that Anambra state may have pockets of poverty; but Anambra state has also seen private wealth. As a matter of fact, the state remains one of the largest repositories of private wealth in Nigeria; and an Anambra man, Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, once the wealthiest man in Nigeria, and possibly West Africa, actually founded the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Therefore, we do not expect Ifeanyi Uba’s private wealth alone, to earn him Anambra’s number one citizen, even if Uba doles out millions to every family in the state.
Pursuant to our worldwide research, Ifeanyi Uba’s business dealings started from Nnewi Nigeria, then meandered to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sao Tome & Principe, and then back to Nigeria, with minimal ties in the UK and US. Our research in Congo shows questionable transactions that could potentially still land Uba in complicated legal situations, if full scale investigations are initiated further by the DRC government. Uba of course has other problems with Nigerian Banks and Nigeria’s Law Enforcement agencies.
Additional details on Uba from DRC are being analyzed by our researchers as at press time. This Council is also analyzing other business dealings and controversies surrounding Uba in Nigeria, and may comment on the findings in the near future. How can Anambra citizens deal with a complex candidate for governor with this much complicated legal distractions?
Obaze was a US-trained Diplomat who served at the United Nations (UN) for many years, before being recruited by the current Governor Peter Obi, to serve as the state’s “Secretary to the State Government (SSG).” Obaze is being groomed by Governor Peter Obi as his successor in-waiting, and as the ruling party’s candidate.
Working one’s way through the international diplomatic ranks at the UN does not confer any special experience relevant for state-level governance, in a developing country like Nigeria. UN work is not politically mandated work; it does not provide experience with executive governance necessitated by political reality.
Nor does a UN job build the necessary temperament for dealing with the local Anambra citizenry, who in-spite of their private wealth, have not enjoyed significant infrastructure or sustained dividends of governance. In fairness, Governor Obi has plowed into an aggressive development agenda in the past one year, but the adequacy of these initiatives remain to be seen.
The Anambra state capital Awka, where Obaze operates as the SSG, is perhaps the most embarrassing state capital in Southern Nigeria; in-spite of Governor Obi’s efforts, and the active role of Obaze as a powerful state official, with full access to the Governors ears. Awka town as at today does not in any way represent the world’s perception of Anambra people worldwide.
Obaze’s close ties to the current Governor, has not resulted in a more developed Anambra; especially in the visual appeal of the state capital-Awka. These are big strikes against Obaze. We are continuing our research on Obaze and will delve into his real performance at the UN over two decades in our next report.
Christopher Ngige, a current Senator representing Anambra Central in the Nigerian Senate, is a wily but controversial politician with reasonable following in some population centers in the state.
Ngige brings substantial political baggage as a former Governor of the state, under a controversial election, which saw Ngige leave office after three years of strife. However, Anambra citizens also say Ngige’s term witnessed a record of fast-paced road infrastructure development in the state. Is political strife going to trail Ngige again and distract much needed development momentum in Anambra?
NALC findings also indicate Ngige has a craftiness and political brinkmanship that may not endear him to the entire Anambra citizenry. This Council is actively researching and analyzing Ngige’s legislative accomplishments, so as to be able to present a fuller picture that will aid the citizenry to judge his candidacy with serious veracity and not hype.
Ngige’s erstwhile performance credentials must be weighed and balanced against his potential for trustworthiness or lack of, as Governor for the whole state. Does Anambra state want the distraction of political controversies and strife?
Moving forward, none of the three above persons may as yet be judged as the most suitable as Anambra’s number one citizen, though this assessment can change with more facts and analysis in our next report.
However, this Council will continue to vet the above persons, amidst any other serious candidate for the Governor of Anambra state. The Council will perform what we have promised this state, a comprehensive and factual analysis that should leave no one in-doubt of a candidate’s suitability for this high office.
NALC’S Executive Director, Okechukwu Mbonu, summed it up when he stated; “NALC still insists that the Anambra citizenry must get this election right, or get out of the “Smart-Alec or Genius” syndrome.” Continuing, Mbonu stated; “persons with Anambra roots already compete well in other climes; to date, two persons with Anambra roots (Chuka Umunna and Chinyelu Onwura) both of who’s fathers are from Anambra, are currently serving as Parliamentarians (MP’s) at the revered British Parliament in the United Kingdom; while others have served or are serving in other important roles in the United States and elsewhere; Anambra at home cannot afford to fail Anambra abroad.”
In conclusion, this Council insists that Anambra state must not only be known as the home of numerous wealthy business moguls, with selfish and parochial interests; because it’s not enough to build businesses in Lagos, Abuja, or Kano; nor private mansions in Anambra villages that serve no public good; and hold “Ozo” titles. Anambra must also lead the nation in public infrastructure, and be sufficiently appealing for Anambrarians worldwide, as they bring their guests’ home to Anambra from around the world. We witnessed one such event at the last home-coming of the world-renowned Chinua Achebe, when Anambra hosted Presidents and dignitaries from across the world.
Anambra is far from where it should be at this time.
Ingrid Megan, Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC), Washington, DC