Today, November 6, eligible voters in Anambra State will hit polling units across the 21 local government areas of the state to elect a new governor that will take over from the incumbent, Willie Obiano.
Obiano is expected to take the exit door from the government house, Awka next year, having successfully completed his two terms as enshrined in the constitution.
It was observed that the state is already charged with heavy security presence, just as the euphoria of going out to elect a leader is very high among the electorates.
Though 18 candidates are jostling for the number one seat, political pundits have identified three political parties as the most dominant in the race, while the candidates of those parties have also been adjudged to be the most popular among them, and one among them is most likely to emerge as the next governor of the state.
However, there are factors that will determine the advantages and disadvantages of the Anambra governorship candidates this Saturday. Among them are political parties, backings from top politicians, popularity among the people, religious denominations, antecedents and even financial standings of the individual candidates.
The three most popular political parties in the state; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are also fielding very widely accepted candidates in the persons of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Mr Valentine Ozigbo and Senator Andy Uba.
On the other hand, Soludo, who is running on the platform of APGA already has some advantages. His party – APGA is currently in power in the state. He is also lucky to have been endorsed and vigorously campaigned for by the incumbent governor, Obiano.
Uba on the other hand also has the luck of running on the platform of the ruling party in the centre, the APC. Many believe he will use such status to either manipulate or garner votes.
The dominance of religious politics is a strong factor in the state. The Catholic and Anglican churches dominate the politics of the state, with the Catholic having an upper hand. This has brought silent rancour that many candidates have leveraged to push their aspiration. While Andy Uba is of the Anglican stock, Soludo and Ozigbo are Catholics, just as all three candidates are from same local government area, Aguata.
There have been news of Andy Uba being the only candidate of Anglican stock, and will be using the opportunity to curry favour.
The antecedents of all the three leading candidates may also make or mar their chances, considering that the people may vote according to how relevant a candidate was, as at the time of holding a past office, which two of the candidates among the three are known to have held offices. But one area where all the candidates seem to have strength is financial stability. Though some of the candidates are far more accomplished than others, they cannot also be denied the right of being money bags in their own right.
Prof Chukwuma Soludo
Strength – He is the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which is seen to be a dominant political party in the state. He is highly popular in the state, and his antecedents at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), where he worked as the governor and helped to turn things around in the banking sector is one of his major strengths. His education, cerebral nature and strength of ideas are also to his advantage. He has a cult following among people of all levels, age and status.
Weakness – The only weakness which Soludo has, which in fact is also part of his strength, is the avowed resolution of the incumbent governor to deliver him as the next governor. Though this is also his major strength, his opponents use it against him, saying that such may amount to bringing back god-fatherism, which has long been done away with in the state.
Mr Valentine Ozigbo
Strength – Being a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is one of Ozigbo’s greatest strengths. Though many believe he is new in politics, having been a banker and business mogul all along, his ability to wrestle power away from known names in the party during the primaries is his biggest strength, such that he is today rated ahead of other candidates. He is known to be very cerebral in thinking, and also very innovative. His age, and religious denomination (Catholicism) are all to his advantage.
Weakness – Ozigbo is not known to have any visible weakness, as he has discharged himself creditably since he arrived on the Anambra political turf. However, the support he enjoys from the former governor of the state, Mr Peter Obi has been misinterpreted as that of a godfather and godson relationship, and has been used many times over to taunt him as one who is taking Anambra back to the era of political god-fatherism.
Senator Andy Uba
Strength – He is running on the platform of the national ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and has a lot of bigwig politicians behind him from across Nigeria, and people in the presidency. Uba is not in short supply of money to prosecute his election, and has successfully wooed most prominent politicians in the state, including top office holders to his party. What is Uba’s greatest strength is the fact that he is a great political thinker, and as always his taciturn self, he never boasts, nor openly discloses his political strategies, until he plays them. He is an Anglican, and considering the fact that Catholics have been dominant in the politics of the state, it may be the turn of his church to rally round him and produce a governor.
Weakness – Uba has a past about Anambra politics that is not so palatable to the ears, and has been severally accused of being responsible for the misfortune that befell Anambra between 2000 and 2006, when public properties were destroyed, and a former governor of the state kidnapped and mandated to resign from office. He is not also gifted with oratory, so, whatever his plans for the state are; he finds it difficult conveying them in simple and understandable language.
Although the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has called off its planned sit-at-home exercise, today’s election is likely to witness a low turnout due to the ongoing insecurity in the southeast region.