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Nigeria: Who’s who in the race to be Governor of Anambra State

Anthony Ademiluyi
By Anthony Ademiluyi

Co Founder at The Vent Republic

Posted on Wednesday, 28 July 2021 14:40

Nigeria's former central bank governor and a governorship aspirant, Chukwuma Soludo, casts his vote in Isuofia village
Nigeria's former central bank governor and a governorship aspirant, Chukwuma Soludo, casts his vote in Isuofia village, about 30 km (19 miles) to Awka,the capital of Nigerian eastern state of Anambra, February 6, 2010. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Anambra State is a bastion of Igbo intellectual and commercial life. But its politics remain twisted by the endless feuding of the Uba brothers, and the three major parties in the state all divided in their loyalties. Anambra will go to the polls on 6 November to decide who will be governor, and is seen by many as a bellwether for the looming presidential candidate battles ahead. In this column, Tony Ademiluyi assess the candidates chances.

Anambra State, one of the five states in south-eastern Nigeria was created out of the East-Central State in 1976 by the then military administration of the Late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed. It boasts one of the largest galaxy of Igbo stars in the country: from politics to business to academia.

The vice-president of the Second Republic, Alex Ekwueme, was from there, as was the Biafran leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the renowned novelist Chinua Achebe, IT Guru Phillip Emeagwali, Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, and many more. The state has been under siege from political ‘godfathers’ since 1999 when democracy returned to the country after a sixteen year military interregnum.

Emeka Offor, a businessman of Chrome Group who made his fortune under General Sani Abacha from a maintenance contract from the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has dominated the state.

He was responsible for the emergence of an American-trained political scientist and lawyer, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju as governor. Mbadinuju wasn’t given a free hand to operate and he owed civil servants their salaries for years. Teachers and pensioners suffered greatly, with the former going on strike. In 2003, Chief Chris Uba, the younger brother to a presidential aide, Dr Andy Uba, emerged as godfather. Uba installed Dr.Chris Ngige, the current Labour and Productivity Minister, as governor. When the duo fell out, Ngige alleges that Chief Chris Uba allegedly kidnapped him with the help of the late Assistant Inspector-General of Police Raphael Ige.

The field today

There are many political parties in the state but there are three dominant ones from which the next governor will likely emerge:

  • Current governor Willie Obiano’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA);
  • the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and
  • the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The three major parties are embroiled in internal crisis that have greatly divided them. The APGA has two factions – one led by its national chairman, Chief Victor Oye while the other is led by Jude Okeke. These factions held parallel party primaries and produced two different candidates. The Oye-led faction produced the former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo while the Okeke faction saw the emergence of a serving member of the House of Representatives, Chukwuma Umeoji. Both factions have gone to court to disqualify each other. A Delta State High Court disqualified the election of Soludo while a Federal High Court sitting in Awka upheld the election of Soludo.

The PDP meanwhile produced two factional candidates in the persons of the former Group Managing Director of the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), Valentine Ozigbo, and an elder brother to Chief Chris Uba and former senator, Dr Ugochukwu Uba.

The APC’s candidate of choice is Dr Andy Uba, the brother of Chris Uba, but the election was described as a charade by many of its stakeholders including Dr Chris Ngige who publicly called for the cancellation of the results.

Assessing the candidates’ chances

Charles Soludo

Prof. Charles Soludo is an economist with a First Class degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1984 gaining his doctorate age 29. He became a professor at 39 and was a consultant to many multilateral institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He made history as the first non banker to be made the CBN Boss. He initiated many reforms in the banking sector which helped stabilise the sector and created mega banks out of hitherto miniscule family banks.

This is his third attempt at the state’s number one seat and he has promised to turn the state into another Dubai. He is a seasoned technocrat who has the experience of managing men and resources at the highest levels. A drawback is that he is seen as elitist and cannot really be described as a grassroots man. He may not be able to play politics with the stakeholders who may frustrate his grand ideas.

Valentine Ozigbo

He made his mark in the private sector as a former top banker and GMD of Transcorp. He has managed financial and human resources at a high level and has a vast network of friends in high places that he could use to attract investment to the state. He will be largely insulated from the godfathers as he has the financial muscle to execute his campaign both from his personal purse and from friends.

The drawback is that he is a political greenhorn. Success in the private sector doesn’t automatically translate into success in the public sector in Nigeria and Anambra is no exception. The factionalisation of the party may also work against him.

Ugochukwu Uba

Being a former senator, Uba has political experience. He was a commissioner in Anambra State and was a special assistant to a former military governor. He also served as deputy assistant to Commodore Tony Abulu, the first military administrator of the state. Working on the Abacha government, he later helped set up the PDP in Anambra.

The drawback is that he is backed by his younger brother, Chris Uba who has a lot of baggage – he was allegedly vicariously responsible for the wanton destruction of properties when Ngige was kidnapped and the people of the state may not forget that he was also allegedly behind the abduction of a former governor.

Andy Uba

He made his name when former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as his aide on domestic matters in 1999. Andy Uba is an experienced politician and was governor briefly for 14 days in 2007 before a court threw him out and has been trying to return to the governor’s house ever since. He is a returning senator and a grassroots politician.

The drawback is that he is of the APC – a party that is widely believed to have failed to tackle insecurity, insurgency and youth unemployment at the centre. Why would the people want such a party in the state? He was once enmeshed in a certificate scandal where it was alleged that he forged his doctorate degree. It may rear its ugly head again.

Twists ahead?

The latest news in this contest is that Valentine Ozigbo has been disqualified with a court affirming the candidacy of Senator Ugochukwu Uba. Prof Soludo’s name was earlier dropped by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in favour of Hon. Chukwudi Umeoji, a factional candidate of APGA but a court reversed it and affirmed the name of the former CBN Governor as the APGA Candidate.

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