In a state where money has until recently almost always guided political thought and processes, the matter of zoning is emerging as a major factor in the unfolding campaign for the Anambra State governorship election due on November 18, 2017.
By Emmanuel Aziken,
IT is generally acclaimed that money had until recently almost completely overwhelmed all other permutations in the election of the governor of Anambra State. Though still an important factor, zoning is, however, springing up to be considered as a factor in the next governorship election as never before.
The issue is prevailing in all the major political parties in the state. The three major parties are the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Among the civilian governors to have governed the state, Anambra South has the unique distinction of having produced the highest number of governors in the persons of Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, (1992-3), Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju (1999 to 2003), Dame Virginia Etiaba, (November 2006 to February, 2007) and Senator Andy Uba (2007).
Anambra Central follows with Dr. Chris Ngige (2003 to 2006) and Mr. Peter Obi (2006 to 2013) while Anambra North has produced its first governor in the person of Chief Willie Obiano, the incumbent governor who came to office in March 2014 on the platform of APGA. The issue of zoning follows the strident determination of the people of Anambra North to sustain the governorship on the premise that this is the first time that someone from the region has been governor.
The move was first championed by traditional rulers from the region last August. The traditional rulers including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, who is the chairman of Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council, as well as the chairman of Anambra North Traditional Council, Igwe S.U. Nnose, who is the traditional ruler of Mmiata Anam, and 32 other royal fathers had endorsed Governor Obiano for a second term on the claim that he has performed well.
“After reviewing these outstanding and impressive achievements just within his first two years in office, we the Traditional Rulers from Anambra North senatorial zone of the state strongly and unreservedly feel, affirm and passionately believe that if given a chance for a second term in office, Obiano’s achievable outcome would definitely blow the minds of Ndi Anambra and that of Nigerians that such fits are possible and achievable in a nation such as Nigeria.
“Therefore, we the members of the Anambra North Council of Traditional Rulers unanimously endorse and support Chief Willie Obiano for his second term bid as the Executive Governor of Anambra State.”
The assertion of the traditional rulers was recently backed by some political stakeholders from Anambra North led by erstwhile chairman of the board of trustees of APGA and former minister of health, Dr. Tim Menakaya who said that their support for Obiano was upon the fact that he is the only one with a ready ticket. That claim at the meeting of the stakeholders last February was upon the fact that no one is presently contending with Obiano for the ticket of APGA. That is mainly because of the fact that his predecessor and one time godfather, Mr. Peter Obi has left the party and is now a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Given that Obiano has the governorship ticket of APGA for the taking, that, however, has not stopped other strong politicians from other political parties from Anambra North from challenging Obiano in other political parties. Among the major contenders from Anambra North are two medical doctors, Dr. Tony Nwoye of the APC who is presently a member of the House of Representatives and Dr. Alex Obiogbolu. Also contending is Oseloka Obaze. The contention of Obiano’s rivals is that he has failed to deliver on the wishes of the electorate with insinuations that the governor has been very sectional in his appointments and allocation of projects favouring mostly his section of Anambra North.
While Obiogbolu has been a long wayfarer in the PDP and sought the office in the past, his ideals and ideas for the governorship of the state have mostly been blocked by what some see as funding. His steadfastness in the PDP is, however, beginning to be seen as a plus for him from major party stakeholders who are determined to attack Obiano from home.
That is especially given the fact that most of the other major PDP contenders like Andy Uba, Nwoye and Nicholas Ukachukwu are not contending for the party’s ticket. Also in the contest from the zone on the platform of the PDP is Obaze who is a former secretary to the state government and served both Obi and Obiano.
While he is said to be liked, his rivals are set to challenge his moral authority to contest against Obi having served his government until few months ago. The other major PDP aspirant is from outside Anambra North, that is Osita Chidoka, the erudite former minister of aviation. While he is said to have the financial clout, other aspirants are raising the issue of zoning, questioning the basis on which Chidoka from Idemili in Anambra Central should become governor so soon after Mr. Obi’s tenure.
Waiting in the wings is Senator Stella Oduah, the former minister of aviation and present senator representing Anambra North. Her aspiration remains clouded especially after she took a break from the public after the death of her son few months ago.
However, one of the major challengers against Obiano is Dr. Nwoye, a member of the House of Representatives who is vying on the platform of the APC. Nwoye vied for the same office in 2013 and lost narrowly to Obiano on the platform of the PDP but was undermined by the division in the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan’s desperation to help Obi foist Obiano on the people of the state.
Aspirants from the zone
Irrespective of the agitation of the people of Anambra North to hold on to the office, there is also increasing agitation by the people of Anambra South for the office. Their claim is that though they have produced four former governors, but that their collective time in that office was not up to the more than ten years enjoyed by Mr. Obi and Dr. Ngige from Anambra Central.
Among the aspirants from the zone seeking to contest are Senator Andy Uba who was governor for 17 days, Engr. Barth Nwibe, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Obinna Uzor among many others.
However, though no agreement has been formally made on zoning among the parties, the godfathers in the different parties are said to be quietly canvassing the issue. Mr. Obi according to sources has thrown his weight behind zoning the ticket in the PDP to Anambra North. If not, then to checkmate Obiano in the main election.