By Casmir Igbokwe
Don’t mind the big word ‘va-va-voom.’ It simply means something that is exciting or vigorous. The word is derived from the sound of a car engine being revved. I consider it an appropriate metaphor that describes the great excitement over Anambra State’s governorship contest. The battle is in 2021. But the political machine of the state is already revving.
One big issue on the table is zoning. Some segments of the state want it. Some others vehemently oppose it. The incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, is from the northern part of the state. By 2021, the zoning proponents argue that it would be the turn of Anambra South.
The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) agrees with this position. The party has zoned the governorship position to Anambra South. This is to conform to the action the party took when former Governor Peter Obi was about to leave office in 2014. Obi and the ruling party had reasoned that, since the inception of the state, nobody from the Anambra North had occupied the governorship seat. For equity’s sake, they went for a candidate from the north.
Today, one candidate who epitomises the drama and the dilemma trailing the zoning debate is Mrs. Uche Ekwunife. The woman currently represents Anambra Central in the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But for the purpose of the governorship contest, some of her supporters say she is from Anambra South. Yes, by birth, she is from Igboukwu in Aguata Local Government Area, which is in Anambra South. But by marriage, she is from Nri in Anaocha Local Government Area, which is in Anambra Central.
Dual citizenship is part of the beauty of being a woman. She can claim her birthplace, she can also claim her husband’s place, depending on where the bread will be better buttered.
On some social media platforms where this debate is raging, Ekwunife’s supporters readily refer you to women who have enjoyed this dual citizenship opportunities. Stella Oduah, for instance, is from Anambra but married to Edo. She currently represents Anambra North in the Senate. Florence Ita-Giwa represented her native Cross River South in the Senate. Daisy Danjuma is from Taraba by marriage but she represented her native Edo South in the Senate between 2003 and 2007.
Those against Ekwunife say, in Igboland, a woman has full rights in her husband’s place and not in her birthplace. According to them, that is why a woman does not partake in the sharing of her father’s inheritance. Her supporters counter this argument by citing the Supreme Court ruling that now empowers women to also inherit their father’s property. Whatever, the woman is watching events as they unfold as she also tries to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Professor Chukwuma Soludo is also watching. A strong member of APGA, Soludo is the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of the state. He has not declared his interest formally. But it is an open secret that he is eyeing Agu Awka, as the seat of power is called. Like Ekwunife, Soludo’s supporters are also marketing his credentials.
In a recent article, one of his admirers, Joe Anatune, wrote, “We need a man tried and tested, with track records for big ideas and excellent execution in order to create prosperity and put Anambra on the world map. After Ngige, Obi and Obiano, more than 90 per cent of Ndi Anambra believe that the next big thing will be Soludo Solution.”
No doubt, Soludo has what it takes to make Anambra the Dubai of Africa. But the road to Agu Awka is filled with thorns. One major headache for the former CBN boss is Dr. Godwin Maduka, from Umuchukwu in Orumba South Local Government Area. Maduka, a United States-based medical doctor, is a philanthropist with deep pockets. The man has done a lot for his community and will attract many supporters if he declares interest. To his credit are world-class edifices such as educational institutions, 17-storey multipurpose skyscraper, high court, health centre, churches, civic centre, police station, roads and houses for indigent indigenes, especially widows, etc. Many people are already projecting him. Will he run? The situation still wears a hat.
There is another aspirant in the person of Comrade Peter Nwosu. He is Obiano’s Senior Special Assistant on Petroleum Matters. In a recent interview granted an online publication called NewsProbe, Nwosu, a native of Nnewi North, said it was time ‘Old Testament’ (old politicians) gave way for ‘New Testament’ (youths) in the governance of Anambra. How far he will go remains pregnant.
Nevertheless, these APGA aspirants have a major hurdle to cross – the opposition PDP. Unlike the ruling party, the PDP is not taking the zoning route to 2021. Its priority is to field the best candidate who can recapture the state from APGA. And it has an array of aspirants who can do that.
Chief Godwin Ezeemo is one of them. This Umuchu, Aguata-born business icon was the governorship candidate of the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) in the 2017 election in the state. Last month, he, together with the state and local government officials of the PPA, defected to the PDP. The man has not only announced his intention to contest, he is also silently working underground, visiting different towns to identify with them in one social outing or the other. His supporters have also been projecting his philanthropic activities.
However, Ezeemo has Oseloka Obaze, Ekwunife, Osita Chidoka and Chris Azubogu to contend with. Obaze was the governorship candidate of the party in the last election. He is a fine gentleman and an astute administrator. His major challenge is that he is from Anambra North. And if the sentiment to zone the position to the South does not subside, he may have an uphill task in the coming battle. The same zoning issue may also affect Chidoka, a former aviation minister, who is from Anambra Central.
This is not forgetting Ifeanyi Ubah, the enfant terrible of Anambra politics. He had moved from one party to the other just to realise his ambition of governing Anambra, all to no avail. In the last senatorial election, Ubah, who is from Nnewi in Anambra South, won on the platform of the new Young Progressives Party (YPP). He had invested a lot of resources in APGA, but felt short-changed when the party denied him the opportunity to contest the senatorial seat. I am not too sure on which platform he would want to contest the governorship position when the time comes. But suffice it to say that he is currently in the Senate representing Anambra South and would want to acquit himself well there first while watching as events unfold.
Andy Uba also represented Anambra South in the Senate. He wielded enormous power when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power. He was governor of Anambra for 17 days in 2007 before Peter Obi dislodged him through the court. I am not too sure what his present permutations are. But he has Tony Nwoye to contend with.
Nwoye flew the governorship flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election. Like Obaze, he is also from the North and may find it difficult to overcome the sentiment of zoning. Even Sharon Ikpeazu, whose name has also come up as a likely candidate of the APC, is from Anambra Central.
Many unknown aspirants will definitely emerge with time. Some of them will come out just to crave publicity and relevance. Some will eventually bargain for one political appointment or the other.
At the appropriate time too, we shall analyse the leading candidates, their strengths and weaknesses. Until then, va-va-voom!
Re: Multiple tax collectors, defaulters and auditors
The gap between the haves and the have-nots will continue to widen in Nigeria. Soldiers kill policemen to free a wanted kidnapper; corrupt people are fighting corruption. These are indices of a failed state. It’s like Karl Marx had Nigeria in mind when he advised the working class to allow capitalism to grow, so that people will see the evil inherent in it. They should keep accumulating! The working class is uniting in another form and things are falling apart! Revolution is inevitable if they don’t change because Rev. Fr. Odey contended that, if you want to stop criminality, kill what breeds crimes first.
– Smart, Abakaliki, 2348160638941
Casmir, thanks for your good work on the above topic. I want to see the issue of taxes from three sides. 1. Government, federal, state and local, that receives the tax and diverts some due to corrupt officers among them. 2. The collectors, staff and companies charged with the collection, who play the role of the biblical Zacchaeus and yet fail to show the true amount they got before government. 3. The payers, companies, small/medium businesses and those who want to pay but have no money to empower business. Government should first plan with banks to give out loans at good terms. Once done, defaulters will decline.
– Pharm Okwy Njike, +2348038854922
Those who are behind the financial mess in the ministry of finance should be brought to book as a deterrent to others. Some people feel that being in government is to loot the treasury for their selfish aims. It is very bad and uncalled for.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 2, 2019.