By Casmir Igbokwe
Anambra State is blessed with abundant human resources. In 2021, the people of the state will go to the polls to elect a successor to Governor Willie Obiano. Even before the campaign officially starts, the challenge the majority of the people of the state will have is choosing from among the galaxy of stars who will be vying for the number one position in the state. From the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the quality of the governorship aspirants is super. That is the type of human quality we desperately need to contest elections in other states and at the federal level in Nigeria. Today, we will briefly examine the credentials of some of the key aspirants. Their strengths and weaknesses will be analysed when the political drumbeat reaches a crescendo.
Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo is our starting point. Though he has not formally declared, he appears to be the only one to beat in APGA. Born at Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, Soludo is a first-class brain. He is a product of Uga Boys Secondary School, Uga, in Anambra State. He graduated with a first-class in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Thereafter, he did his postgraduate and doctorate degrees in Economics from the same UNN. He was the best graduating student at all the three levels.
Though he has held different positions in government, he stood out as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), between 2004 and 2009. During his reign at the CBN, Soludo championed banking consolidation that changed the landscape of our banking industry for good. It was popularly christened the Soludo Solution. He had variously worked as a consultant in world-renowned institutions like the World Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, European Union, African Development Bank and many others too numerous to mention. In September 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as a member of the Economic Advisory Council. A multiple-award winner, Soludo is Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), Nigeria’s third highest national honour. He is married with children.
Mr. Valentine Chineto Ozigbo, the immediate past president and group chief executive officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) is of the PDP. The Transcorp conglomerate comprises Transcorp Power, Transcorp Hotels, and Transcorp OPL281 (an oil and gas company). He stepped down as president of the group in March 2020 and retains a seat on the boards of Transcorp Plc, Transcorp Hotels Plc and Transcorp Power Limited. Currently, he chairs the finance and general purpose committee of Transcorp Power Limited.
Ozigbo hails from Amesi in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. A Chevening Scholar, he holds a B.Sc. in Accounting and an MBA in Banking and Finance both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also has an M.Sc. in Finance from Lancaster University, United Kingdom. He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Institute of Tourism Professionals and the Institute of Credit Administration.
He is widely travelled and has over 25 years’ experience in corporate transformation, hospitality, energy and banking. Ozigbo is a multiple award winner. He is married with children.
High Chief Obiora Okonkwo had his early education in Onitsha, Anambra State. He later proceeded to Russia, where he had a first class in Economics from the Russian Peoples Friendship University in Moscow. He obtained his master’s degree in Economics with distinction from the same Russian Peoples Friendship University. He holds a Ph.D in Political Science from the Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow; a Professional Fellowship Doctorate from Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria and Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and Mediators of Nigeria.
Dr. Okonkwo is the winner of many awards and author many books. He hails from Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State and is the chairman of the boards of many companies. Some of his companies include The Dome Entertainment and Hospitality Limited, Solicom Engineering Limited, Private Airline Services Limited (PASL), and Rokada Security Company Limited, among others. A widely travelled man, Okonkwo is a Knight of the Order of King Leopold, the highest national honour bestowed on foreign nationals by the King of Belgium. He also holds different traditional titles. He is married with children.
Dr. Godwin Maduka is an accomplished Harvard-trained medical doctor based in Las Vegas, United States. He is the founder of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre and one of the best in pain management in the world. Born in Umuchukwu, formerly Nkerehi, in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Dr. Maduka went to Nawfia Comprehensive Secondary School and All Saints Grammar School, Umunze. After his secondary education, he got an admission to study Medicine at the University of Port Harcourt but could not do the programme due to lack of money. With monetary support later from his younger brother, he moved to the United States, where he got full scholarship to study Medicine at the University of Tennessee. He was also at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for his postgraduate training. After his education in 1997, Maduka moved to Las Vegas, where he worked as an anaesthesiologist at some hospitals before starting his own practice.
He is well known in Anambra State for his philanthropic credentials. He has invested millions of dollars in various developmental projects in his hometown, Umuchukwu. Some of them include churches, schools, market, police station, magistrate’s court, houses for the poor and a 17-storey medical research centre. He holds a chieftaincy title of Okeosisi Orumba (Big Tree of Orumba) and has won many awards, including Africa’s Most Inspirational Developmental Entrepreneur and Philanthropist in 2017. He is married with children.
Mrs. Uche Lilian Ekwunife, nee Ogudebe, popularly called Iyom by her admirers, is an amazing woman. She hails from Igbo-Ukwu in Aguata Local Government Area by birth and from Nri in Anaocha Local Government Area by marriage. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Accounting from the University of Calabar and an MBA from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Before venturing into politics, Mrs. Ekwunife was in the banking sector where she rose to become area manager.
She currently represents Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Senate. Mrs. Ekwunife is the only woman in the race for now. But she is a woman who can do even more than what a man can do. Recall that she defeated the former chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, in the last senatorial contest for Anambra Central Senatorial District. Before going to the Senate, she was at the House of Representatives, between 2007 and 2015. She represented Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia constituency of Anambra State. Uche is married to Larry and they have children.
Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah may not be an academic giant but he is a bulldozer in business. He is the CEO of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, the founder of The Authority Newspaper, and owner of Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club. He is also a politician of no mean repute. Ifeanyi, who hails from Otolo, Nnewi, in Anambra State, learnt trade at a young age. He was once an exporter of tyres and spare parts to some West African countries and DR Congo. He has been able to attend local and international business courses and seminars in leadership and business management. He dumped APGA for the relatively unknown Young Progressive Party (YPP) and contested for the senatorial election last year. Surprisingly, he clinched the ticket, defeating candidates of formidable parties like APGA, PDP and APC. He currently represents Anambra South in the Senate. What Ubah has going for him is his philanthropy and human empowerment schemes. He is married and has children.
Chief Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo is another consummate businessman. He is the chairman of The Orient Group of Companies, which comprises over seven subsidiaries, including Orient Export Limited, Sokka International, Orient Feed Mill and Farms Limited, Global Orient Water and Orient Daily Newspapers, among others. Born in Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, Ezeemo attended St. Peter’s Secondary School, Achina, in Anambra State. He later obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Marketing from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro. He controls his chains of businesses from his base in Anambra. Ezeemo is happily married.
By and large, any one of these formidable aspirants has what it takes to transform Anambra State. As the day of reckoning fast approaches, Anambra people have no other option but to warm up for a great political contest. We shall keep you updated.
Re: Gov Bello’s COVID-19 cocktail
Dear Casmir, thank you for your Gov Bello’s cocktail. Kogi State was documented as the most corrupt state whose governor won where an opposition woman was burnt and murdered. In a sane society, Bello should have resigned. He is a disgrace to APC and Nigeria.
– Chuma, Mbaise, Imo State, +2348057525085
Viewed from the background of confusion, uncertainties and arguments generated by coronavirus, you need not blame doubting Nigerians. In those countries that are regarded as the epicentre of coronavirus, observance of safety guidelines is compelled by the deadly virus. Whereas in Nigeria, compliance is usually enforced by our security agencies. These days, all deaths in Nigeria including those caused by old age are ‘caused’ by coronavirus. The only exceptions are deaths caused by accident. The high and low of our society are caught in the web of the face mask drama. Vice-President Osinbajo wears his face mask. But I have observed that President Buhari doesn’t. I am confused and I need answers. Wearing of face mask, we are advised by medical experts, is not about protecting yourself alone but also the people around you. Or is it that our President, like the Bellos, doesn’t believe in the existence of the virus?
– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470
Casmir, from my vantage position as a microbiologist, I see Gov. Bello as a ‘fatal accident’ that is waiting to happen in Kogi and by extension Nigeria. All travellers from Kogi should be treated with special suspicion as potential high risk COVID-19 transferors.
– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
Dear Casmir, I can’t blame Bello. We have to legislate against politicisation of public health and undue intimidation of patients by health workers. Never in the history of lab tests have patients been diagnosed of ailments without being shown their results but people complained of that in this COVID-19.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu. +2349095385215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 13, 2020