Anambra 2021: The contenders, their chances

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Anambra
With the release of the timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the Anambra State Governorship election, the stage appears set for a titanic battle. The electoral umpire in a statement issued by the Director, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, scheduled the poll to hold on November 6, 2021.
Less than nine months to the poll, the field is inundated with contenders (and pretenders) trying to outdo themselves in their quest to clinch the ticket of their different political parties. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young People’s Party (YPP) are the major contenders for the coveted post. OYEDAPO OYEWOLE attempts to separate men from boys.

PROFESSOR CHARLES CHUKWUMA SOLUDO

The former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria is aspiring under the APGA platform. Soludo had once shown interest in the office under the PDP platform in 2009 even as the party picked him as it consensus candidate among 47 candidates. His bid fell through following an inconclusive primary that ended up in court. While unveiling his aspiration to become the governor of Anambra State in Awka recently, Soludo noted that he was seeking the office “ not to enrich himself or better his life, as God has blessed him with everything he needs.”

Soludo, a renowned professor of Econometrics, added that he “is in the race because I believe God did not make a mistake by making me an Anambra indigene. I have finished serving with the world. I have also done my bit in Nigeria. I now want to help develop my own state. I am not running for this election so that I can make money, or so that I can enhance my Curriculum Vitae. I am in this race to develop my home state. In my 30s, I achieved everything that every man wanted to achieve. I have travelled to all continents of the world and consulted for over 20 top financial institutions of the world. I am here to change the state for good.”

“If anyone thinks that governance is about going to Abuja to collect money, use part of it to pay workers and use the rest to award contracts, then that person is mistaken. If that is what governance is about, I will not be in the race because that is something my grandmother can do.We are talking about using our contacts all over the world to generate funds that we can use to develop our state at little or no cost to us. It is something I can do, and by the way, I have not seen anyone who is in the race, who has the contacts I have or even the pedigree.
We have touched many institutions and they changed. It is time to touch Anambra. After all the work I have done in various places, I asked myself what else I can do as a sign of gratitude to God, I said let God use me as a gift to change Anambra State. That is why I am here.”

AKACHUKWU NWANKPO

The former Special Adviser to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Technical Matters has also indicated interest in the election under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

AMBASSADOR IKE OLIGBO

A renowned international security expert is the founder of a Non-Governmental Organisation, Ike Oligbo Foundation. The top contender in the race under the platform of the PDP says he is in the race to ensure that youth unemployment in Anambra State is reduced to the barest minimum. He bemoaned the bad economy that had pushed many youths into crime and criminality, promising to tackle the menace by providing basic infrastructures such as energy, good roads, security, etc., reposition private enterprises for job creation and attract foreign investment. “Within my first year in office, I will reduce youth unemployment in Anambra State by 80 per cent”, the international security expert pledged.

While other contenders are probably busy weighing their options, Oligbo has put his resources on ground, building party offices in all local government areas to show his seriousness in his quest for the Government House, Awka. And through his foundation, he has empowered many people and providing COVID-19 preventive kits which include face masks, sanitizers, hand gloves and many other for the people all over the state.

DR. GODWIN MADUKA

There have been hues, cries and innuendos about Dr. Godwin Maduka’s foray into Anambra State forthcoming Guber election considering that he is new in the political game. Some have alluded to the fact that he is a political neophyte as he only joined the PDP from APGA in 2019. His movement to PDP was celebrated as he went along with many of his supporters.

Maduka a Nigerian-American doctor, businessman and philanthropist is the founder of Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre. He is a seasoned technocrat with no past political baggage. He is seen as a new comer to politics in the state. However, he was considered outstanding during the recent lockdown in the state, as he provided palliatives in various forms to communities and wards in the state.

VALENTINE OZIGBO

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Transcorp Hotels Plc, one of the biggest hotels in Nigeria was born on 20th of August, 1970 and has over 20 years professional experience in banking industry. He is also contesting under the platform of the PDP but also perceived to be a new comer in the party. In terms of finance, it is believed he could get a boost from the business community where he has considerable friends as the CEO of Transcorp.

GODWIN CHUKWUNAENYE EZEEMO

The businessman cum politician was born in 1954. He is the Chairman of The Orient Group of Companies comprising Orient Export Ltd; Sokka International; Orient Feeds Mill and Farms Ltd; Orient Magazines, Newspaper and Communication Ltd; Orient Global Waterwell Limited; Union Haulage Ltd; Orient Mega FM and Multipurpose Computer Centre. He also established Charity (Ezeemo) Trust for the Less-Privileged.
At over 66 years, Ezeemo is among the perennial governorship aspirants in the state as he contested in 2009 and 2013 under the platform of APGA. He is now contesting under the platform of Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA). He was the first aspirant to announce his intention to seek the mandate of Anambra people in the 2021 gubernatorial election.

PATRICK IFEANYI UBAH

The Senator representing Anambra South was born on 3rd September, 1971. He is a businessman and CEO of Capital Oil which he founded in 2001.

Ifeanyi Ubah contested the governorship seat in 2013 under the platform of the Labour Party and lost. He also tried under the PDP in 2017 and lost before defecting to APGA. However, on 24 February, 2019, Ubah was declared winner of the Anambra South Senatorial elections under the platform of the YPP. But a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Kubwa, Abuja on Thursday, 11 April 2019, sacked him from the Senate based on a suit instituted by Mr. Obinna Uzor. Uzor had asked the court to nullify the election Senator Ubah for allegedly submitting a forged National Examination Council Certificate to contest the senatorial election. However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday 19 March, 2020, affirmed his election.

He has since indicated interest in the Anambra governorship race. And as a major boost to his gubernatorial ambition, 21 billionaires are said to be backing him. This was made known by the Coordinator of Project Ifeanyi Ubah 2021, Nonso Collins Ndubuisi. Ndubuisi said these billionaires who do not want to be identified wanted to ensure that the state is taken away from “career politicians” who do not have capacity to lead, adding that he has been directed by the group to solicit support for Ubah across the state and ensure that he wins.

According to him: “they mandated me to coordinate this group and to work in making sure that voters are galvanized across the 21Local Government Areas towards ensuring Ifeanyi Ubah wins the forthcoming Anambra election in November. Ifeanyi Ubah is still the highest employer of labour after the Anambra State government. He has about 25,000 employees working in his various companies, all in Anambra State. That Anambra State still features in Nigeria Premier League (NPL) today is because we have an Ifeanyi Ubah. When you check other candidates in various political parties, you will see that Ifeanyi Ubah is miles ahead of them in managing human and material resources.”

On Ubah’s debt to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ndubuisi said the “rumoured issue” is being settled out of court and at the right time the senator will speak on it. “Ifeanyi Ubah is an astute businessman and a consummate entrepreneur who has successfully managed his businesses. Acquisition of loans is synonymous with business development, even countries owe,” he said. He added that many people are envious of what Ubah has achieved; hence the “AMCON debt stories”.

HON. TONY NWOYE

Hon. Nwoye is a former member of the House of Representatives. He represented Anambra East/West constituency. A former governorship candidate of the PDP in 2013, he was also a gubernatorial candidate of APC in the 2017 gubernatorial election.

Nwoye was a former student leader and served as National President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) before becoming a full-fledged politician. After his unsuccessful bid for the governorship race which he contested under the platform of PDP in 2013, he contested for the Anambra East and Anambra West Federal Constituency, and won. He is currently a member of the APC where he has signified his interest to contest for the governorship poll in 2021.

SENATOR UCHE EKWUNIFE

A member of the 9th Nigerian Senate, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, and one of the most active female senators. Born on 12th January, 1970, Senator Ekwunife, at the moment, is the only female aspirant for the Anambra governorship election and is contesting under the platform of the PDP. She was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 2007 to represent Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia federal constituency. She was one of the 11 women elected in 2007 who were re-elected in 2011 when the Lower House was nearly 95 per cent male dominated.
In 2015, she was elected to the Senate. She was one of the six women elected to the 8th National Assembly. Ekwunife had won the 2015 election by switching from one political party to the other and because of this, her election was challenged resulting in her seat been declared vacant in December 2015. She was unable to get her former political party to back her for the bye-election for her former seat but she won the seat back in 2019.

According to the senator, her achievements in the Red Chamber was one reasons she would get the support of the electorate to become governor of the state. Ekwunife is also of the opinion that her qualifications is in tandem with the yearnings of Anambrarians, stating that the people of Anambra would vote for a candidate based on his or her performance which is the criteria she possesses. She added that maintaining a well-grounded relationship with the people and working for them would earn her their votes, expressing confidence that she will be the best governor the state has ever produced if elected.

DR. GEORGE NNADUBEM MOGHALU

Born on the 10th of December, 1962 at Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government of Anambra State, he is a fellow of Institute of Government Executives; Fellow of Institute of Project Managers of Nigeria; Fellow of African Business School and member of Nigerian Institute of Management among others.

He was the first National Publicity Secretary of the All Peoples Party (APP) that later became All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), and in 2003 he was the governorship candidate of ANPP in the state. He was also former Vice Chairman of ANPP, South East and former National Auditor of the APC. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in 2019.
He is regarded as a top contender for the office on the platform of APCz as he was said to have withdrawn from the race in 2017 in obedience to the power rotation arrangement that ceded the slot to Anambra South Senatorial district.

HON. CHRIS AZUBOGU

Member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo in the House of Representatives is aspiring on the platform of PDP. Before going to the National Assembly, the Engineer –turned politician provided critical economic development services for some state governments during which he learnt the workings of government. The three–term member of the House of Representatives said he has been consulting the people over the 2021 governorship election in the state and is encouraged by the response he has been getting across board.

As a representative of Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal constituency in the House of Representatives for a record three terms, there is no other legislator in the State with such a record. It was on account of his excellent service delivery that he is popularly called “MR PROJECT” by his constituents due to the large number of projects he had attracted to the constituency.

DR. CHIDOZIE WILSON NWAKWO

For Dr. Nwakwo, a new Anambra is possible as he declared his intention to run for the governorship election under the platform of APC. Nwankwo is a relatively new face as far as Anambra State governorship contest is concerned. Yet, many people believed he remained unbeatable.

Born 54 years ago to the family of Chief and Mrs Joseph Nwankwo of Ifite village, Oko, in Orumba North Lpcal Government Area, Nwankwo started his academic pursuit at the famous Central Primary School, Odoakpu Onitsha, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). He also attended Comprehensive Secondary School, Onitsha. He studied Building Technology at GTC, Onitsha and obtained Federal Craft Certificate. Dr. Nwankwo also studied Building Technology at City & Guilds London, before proceeding to Greenhills University, Denmark for his B.Sc degree in Building Services. He ventured into business in 1985 and founded Chido Business Ventures in 1986, which later became a limited liability company in 1992. In 1997, he led a company known as Chiddo-Dehaco Group, which transformed shipping business from Asian countries to eastern part of the country between 1997 to 2007, this group was the biggest customer to Mearskline in the eastern part of Nigeria for 10 years.

In 1995, Nwankwo founded Wichtech Industries Ltd. The company supplies high quality and specialized building materials to its numerous customers; thereby revolutionizing the face of building in Nigeria into modern edifices of class, structural integrity and aesthetic resonance. Wichtech has been rated as one of the foremost leading companies providing quality and durable building materials in Nigeria and West Africa of today.

Dr Nwankwo is also a great philanthropist. This disposition led him to establish the Kingdom Care Foundation; a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that organizes poverty alleviation programmes, offers scholarships, funds missionary activities, supports orphans and widows both in the rural and urban areas of Nigeria. The foundation has recorded immense progress and touched the lives of over 10,000 widows with financial assistance since its inception 30 years ago. Similarly, over 300 students have received scholarship awards, from secondary to tertiary institutions, in the last 10 years, and over 600 families have been assisted to start small businesses. Spiritual lives of people were not left out because over 30 missionary crusades have been organized and sponsored over the years with provision of financial support for medical outreaches across the country. In all, over 100,000 families have been supported by the activities of the foundation.

Nwankwo, while speaking at a fora, promised to turn Anambra State into the industrial hub of Africa if elected as the governor of the state.

There is no doubt that these aspirants, and others who may still show interest will be making frantic efforts to present themselves to the electorate in their bid to occupy Agu Awka Government House come March 2022. These contenders, some analysts believe, may be in the race to seek relevance or last minute negotiation and thus whittle down claims of zoning and rotational arrangements.

But by November 6, 2021, when the election is expected to be conducted, it would be seen whether the next governor of Anambra State would be a familiar face or a new comer.