Anambra election is always electrifying, costly but never bloody and this isn’t going to be different even though one life has been unfortunately lost but not through murder. Looking at the factors of the election so far, it is going to be determined by interplay of incumbency power, godfatherism and not too young to run, all in one election.

Anambra election remains the bellwether of south east politics and this time, it will define many directions for the geopolitical zone not minding the peculiarity of the state in terms of the resource deployment. The gladiators have been picked and the major players among them have their high points and low points.

Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano is the APGA candidate and the current governor of the state. Obiano received his bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Lagos in 1979 and a Master of Business Administration from the same university. He began his banking career in 1981 at the First Bank of Nigeria before joining Chevron Oil Nigeria Plc as accountant where he rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor. In 1991, he joined Fidelity Bank as Deputy Manager and head of Audit unit and rose to the position of Executive Director in October 2003. He prides himself as no nonsense focused and visionary leader of the state in a controversial video interview with channels television that went viral recently. He has some factors working advantageously in his favour. He has incumbency power and can use last minute developmental projects to garner some votes to his favour in areas his opponents are expected to have block votes. APGA has been the winning party in Anambra elections since 2003 and is well rooted in every nook and cranny of the state. Apart from his performance in security which recently has been consistently violated, his agricultural achievement might reflect in the voting pattern if the electorates are convinced of it. He equally has state coffers to prosecute one of Nigeria’s costliest elections.

His candidacy however did not come without challenges and hurdles before it. His major challenge is Agbaso APGA faction. His campaigners often say that Agbaso whose faction is projecting Hygers Igwebuike as flag bearer is wasting their time but the case that is in court cannot be waved away with hand. If AGPA eventually wins, there is possibility no matter how small that powers that want Governor Obiano out of Ikenga house Awka might resort to Agbaso solution. There is also erroneous believe in APGA invincibility in Anambra election by many of its beneficial followers. They are basking on the premise that APGA won 2003, 2010 and 2014 elections with ease and that the status quo hasn’t changed but they may be taking it too far. In 2010 and 2014 elections in Anambra state, APGA had a political understanding with PDP controlled federal government where they do not field presidential candidate in exchange for PDP switching off its interest in Anambra state guber in addition to Ojukwu factor but APGA today has none of these two major factors that won 2010 and 2014 elections for them. It is only a political neophyte that will downplay and underestimate the electoral power of federal government in Nigeria’s unitary federalism. Governor Obiano’s candidacy equally faces a very arduous opposition from the machinery that brought him to power. Equally, no ‘money bag’ from the state is willingly and openly backing his candidacy except few financial light weights like Mr. Aloysius Ikegwuonu A.K.A Bishop na Ozubulu. IPOB members are generally against the election and particularly against Obino returning to Ikenga house. They have been accusing him of complicity in murder of their members by security agents. Voters sympathetic to IPOB struggle in the state who are not members of IPOB are huge hence Gov. Obiano’s recent apology to them to avoid going into this election as IPOB’s bete noir.

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Obaze Oseloka is the candidate of the PDP and he is from Anambra North Senatorial District. He served as the ninth secretary to the Anambra State Government (SSG) during the administration of Peter Obi and the early stage of the incumbent, Willie Obiano. Obaze was Obi’s senior in secondary school, and Obi continued referring to him as ‘Senior’ while he served as SSG in his government. Close aides of Obi said that it took over one year for Obi to convince Obaze to leave his job at the United Nations to join his government. After finishing from Christ the King College, Onitsha from 1973 to 1974, Obaze studied Political Science and International relations at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He holds many certificates in different disciplines both home and foreign institutions. He served as a member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service from 1982 to 1991 and was appointed as a UN official in 1991. He served in the UN till 2012 as a political affairs officer in the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs. In 2013, he contested for the ticket of APGA but was disqualified on the grounds of a voters’ card technicality. Obaze defected to the PDP after he resigned from Obiano’s administration.

Obaze’s candidacy has a lot going for it. He has the full backing of former Governor Peter Obi who still enjoys huge followership and supporters across the state. He is also from Anambra north just like governor Obiano and his qualifications, personal achievements and his peaceful demeanor all count to his advantage. He equally has the most popular party in the state behind him as ninety nine percent of who matters in Anambra politics are members of the PDP but only enjoy stint work membership of other political parties on convenience. Many people believe that he possesses the profile of a dethroner and he is actually referred to as Governor Obiano’s nemesis.

But like every other candidate in an election, his does not come without attendant disadvantageous issues. He has been accused as former Governor Peter Obi’s puppet and handpick. Some say he is from the north like Obiano therefore he should not be voted for as he will like to go for two terms meaning that Anambra north will spend 12 years instead of 8. Another issue with his emergence is the fallout from party primary election that produced him. One of the candidates who incidentally can hold his own money wise, Ifeanyi Ubah was insisting that he was systematically rigged out and will go to court. Some other candidates like Sen. Stella Oduah dropped out before the primary complaining of no level playing ground. If he can settle his in-house issues with other PDP aspirants which looks like he has done, it will be a major boast for him.

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Chidoka is the candidate of the United Progressives Party (UPP). He defected to the party after the Appeal Court had affirmed the leadership of former acting national chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff. Chidoka was in support of Ahmed Makarfi, the chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, and some of his aides say he had to make the choice to defect because he was unsure of what the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment would be. He attended the Union Boys High School, Enugu and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he obtained a Bachelors degree in management in 1995. He obtained a graduate diploma in Marine and Ports Management from the National University of Singapore in 2002 and later obtained a Masters Degree in Transport Policy and Logistics from George Mason University in 2006. He also served in several capacities in the Federal Capital Development Authority while working closely with various cabinet ministers between 1997 and 2003. He was appointed Senior Advisor, Government and Business Relations to Mobil Corporation. In 2007, he was appointed Corps Marshall and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps and in 2014, he was appointed as the Federal Minister of Aviation to replace Stella Oduah.

His strongest advantage lies on the fact that he is fresh and young. He is one of the youngest contestants who his supporters are clamoring and campaigning with recently passed ‘not too young to run’ bill which actually does not apply to him. His achievements and revolutionary ideas he brought to FRSC and aviation ministry are his selling points. He had earlier run into media dispute with Governor Obiano’s government when he questioned over $2 billion airport Obiano’s administration is proposing. That incident actually saw more people form the opinion that he could be another Peter Obi and that having had a stint work in aviation under Goodluck’s government, he might understand some issues with Obiano’s proposed airport especially as it concerns the cost. Osita Chidoka is actually and obviously in good books of many in the state including the elites and money bags but some of the following problems stand before him and Ikenga house Awka. He is from Anambra central senatorial zone. His zone just finished 10 years and nine months in power after Dr. Ngige and Mr. Peter Obi. His is running on a new and not too grounded party, UPP. He appears to have a lean budget meaning he is depending on free and fair election which often isn’t the case in this clime.

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Tony Nwoye is currently representing Anambra East and West Constituency in House of Representatives and he recently emerged the flagbearer of the APC beating over 10 other contestants including Andy Sen. Ubah. In the primary, he polled 2146 votes while other contestants shared the remaining 2187 votes cast. He was the governorship candidate for People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013 where he emerged the first runner up behind Obiano. He rejected the result of the election and called on the electoral commission to cancel it and conduct fresh one but eventually defected to the APC. He attended Metropolitan Secondary School Onitsha from where he proceeded to study medicine in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He discontinued his studies from UNN based on reasons not clear or too private. He later went to Ebonyi state University where he qualified as a medical doctor although many people opposing him alleged that he never graduated just like he didn’t at UNN.

His advantages in this election mirror that of other contestants from the same Anambra north. He has a godfather in the person of Arthur Eze, the man from Ukpo who many youths in the state refer to as ATM machine. His willingness to part with money is legendary and he actually showed that when he handed over #1.1 billion naira to Governor Obiano in support of development of the state and security. Hon. Tony has the backing of the ruling party at the center and equally has his online boys renting the air with not too young to run which does not apply to him. Defeating Sen. Andy Ubah in the primary is actually counting to his favour as some people are beginning to see him as a serious candidate.

His drawbacks are as numerous as his pluses. In Anambra politics, background prior to entering politics is part of the marketing tools but Tony Nwoye’s achievements and activities before entering politics is blurred to few and unknown to many. His party APC is hugely unpopular in the state based on perception of the people. The nauseous performance of Rochas Okorocha administration is another red flag for many Anambra voters. The federal government policy outputs which greatly reflects 5%, 97% theory is equally not going to count as a plus to Tony Nwoye’s candidacy. In Anambra, one often hear traders ask why they should vote APC in any election after seeing disaster of the party’s administration in Imo state and at the federal. There is no doubt that APC needs miracle to win based on the truth and reality on the streets of Anambra. There are other candidates but these are the major contenders and their strong and weak points.

Obi Ebuka Onochie writes via [email protected]

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