Anambra 2021: Emerging Contenders For Obiano’s Job

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With a few months to the end of the second term of Governor Willie Obiano, the atmosphere surrounding the forthcoming Anambra governorship election is becoming more tense as parties decide on who will fly their banners come November 6, reports Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor.

*Charles Soludo*

Chukwuma Charles Soludo is the candidate of APGA and he is from Aguata Local Government Area in Anambra south senatorial district. He was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2004 to 2009. He also served as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President of Nigeria and was the CEO of the Nigerian National Planning Commission from 2003 to 2004. Following his exit from his job as the CBN governor, Soludo has attempted twice before now, to run for governorship, making the current race his third shot at the government house. In 2009, the PDP chose him as their consensus candidate but a litany of court injunctions, his dream of governing the state fizzled out in no time. Another effort in 2013 after joining APGA also failed.

A successful professional, he was the Founding Chairman of the African Finance Corporation and has been a consultant to 18 international organisations including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNCTAD, the European Union, the African Union, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom,  the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada; the United Nations; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). He was the founding Executive Director of the African Institute for Applied Economics, Enugu, and has been serving as Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2008.

The APGA candidate will be relying largely on two factors to carry the day on November 6. One is his rich resume alongside his commendable professional experience. The other is the power of incumbency expected to be enjoyed by his party, the ruling APGA. Chinedu Obidigwe, the member representing Anambra East/West Federal Constituency, says with Soludo, APGA is poised to win the race. “Professor Charles Soludo is the best candidate. He has served Nigeria, Africa and the world and they may still want him but Anambra and Ndigbo need him most now. Soludo is the solution now,” he said.

To Governor Obiano, the choice of Professor Soludo could not have been better. He said Soludo is an excellent brand, and a globally recognized economist who was one of the few global thought leaders around the world invited by the United Nations to help reform the world economic system following the 2008 global recession. He recalled that Soludo, became a full professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in his thirties and is currently leading the Anambra Vision 2070 Committee which is fashioning out a strategy for Anambra’s emergence as a fully developed economy in the next fifty years.

*Andy Uba*

Emmanuel Nnamdi (Andy) Uba is a politician from Anambra south. He emerged the candidate of the APC for the November 6 election. Though controversy is still trailing his victory at the primary election, the national leadership of the party appears satisfied with his candidacy. A former Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he contested and won the 14 April 2007 governorship elections on the platform of the PDP. However, the then governor, Peter Obi, challenged the election, saying he still had three more years or his four-year term to serve because the courts had only accepted that he won the April 2003 elections on 15 March 2006.

The courts accepted this argument and on 14 June 2007 nullified Andy Uba’s election. Andy Uba emerged as the Senator for the Anambra South Senatorial District in April 2011. He ran on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. He was re-elected in 2015 but later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in February 2017. He won the APC ticket last week amidst controversies. In the words of Uba, the APC members who voted at the primary know the capacity of all the aspirants and decided that he is the right person that can effectively challenge candidates of other political parties.

Political observers say Uba’s acceptability among the electorates, his experience in the art of leadership, his doggedness, which can match any other candidate’s in other political parties and his deep pocket, and the infightings in most of the other leading parties, among other factors, may swing victory his way come November 6. The candidate himself says he will win the race for his party.

Already, a group under the auspices of Leadership Support Initiative has thrown its weight and support behind Senator A Uba as the best candidate for the job. Coordinator of the organization, Tina Okoi said Uba remains the only visionary and energetic leader with the track record needed to run the state. According to Okoi, Uba who made a remarkable impact within the short period he served as Governor of the state has the needed wealth of experience to again lead the state. She said as a senator, he has the required exposure and linkages to manage the current economic situation and take the state to the next level, adding that the former governor, having the concern and interest to contribute again to the betterment of the state was the greatest and the most pragmatic decision all the people of the state should appreciate.

*Ifeanyi Ubah*

Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is the lawmaker representing Anambra south senatorial district in the national assembly. He emerged as the candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) for the forthcoming governorship election. Speaking on his guber ambition recently, he said “I love being a businessman but also being a businessman does not give me the fulfilment of catering for the downtrodden. Being a businessman was not giving me the opportunity to touch the lives of people as much as I would have loved to touch. As a businessman, there are limitations to what I can do but politics is made for people at the helm of affairs to garner resources and focus on the people, build infrastructure and do other things that will touch lives. The entire essence of my politics is about touching lives and making our world a better place.”

A businessman who was initially known for importing motor tyres and vehicle spare parts, he founded Capital Oil and Gas Limited in 2001. He is also the founder of The Authority Newspaper, a Nigerian daily newspaper and the owner of Ifeanyi Ubah F.C, a football club in the Nigeria Premier League, following its purchase as Gabros International Football Club. In 2014, he gave politics a shot when he contested and lost at the 2014 Anambra gubernatorial election on the platform of the Labour Party (LP). Undetered, he kept alive his dream of becoming one of the leading political actors in the state. Five years later, on the 24th of February 2019, Ifeanyi Ubah was declared winner of the Anambra South senatorial elections under the platform of little known Young Progressive Party (YPP).

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Mazi Paul Eze, leader of the South East Concern Group (SECG), says Ubah will win the race largely because he has all it takes to bring about development to the state. “We when we looked at the long list of aspirants seeking for the governorship seat in Anambra State, our group immediately embarked on an in-depth study and research to ascertain the capability, capacity, popularity and antecedents, amongst other parameters, of these candidates. Interestingly, after a long and  exhaustive search, Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah came tops above other candidates, hence the decision  of our group to strongly and sincerely endorse, support and campaign for his overwhelming victory at the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State,” he said.

*Valentine Ozigbo*

Valentine Chineto Ozigbo won one of the two factional PDP governorship primary elections held in Anambra state last weekend. Ozigbo, a former chief executive officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, hails from Amesi, in Aguata L.G.A of Anambra south. He secured 62 votes to emerge as the flagbearer of the party for the November 6 governorship election in the state. The exercise which saw Ozigbo emerge as the flagbearer is backed by the national working committee (NWC) of the party. The result of the election was announced by Philip Shaibu, deputy governor of Edo state and secretary of the party’s electoral committee.

Previously, Ozigbo worked in the banking sector, racking up over 17 years in experience with NAL Merchant Bank, Diamond Bank, Continental Trust Bank, FSB International Bank, Standard Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Bank PHB. As CEO of Transcorp Hotels, he oversaw the hotel’s expansion to other cities across Nigeria and a consolidation of its status as the leading hotel in the country. Under him, the company announced an N8 billion initial public offering (IPO) in 2014, which was oversubscribed.

John Paul Akinduro, a Communications specialist and Special Assistant to former Governor Olusegun Mimiko on Media, posited that with Ozigbo, PDP stands a good chance of overthrowing APGA in November.  “It appears major players in the state politics, including some aspirants consider Ozigbo as a unifier and peacemaker with a bundle of demonstrable skills and experience up his sleeves to transform Anambra and make it work for all. It will not come as a surprise, if Valentine Ozigbo clinches the PDP governorship ticket on June 26 when the primary election will be held. Evidently, he is setting the pace on development for Anambra state and writing a new narrative for the national politics,” he observed.

Ozigbo himself is very confident of victory. Hear him; “Anambra people know my past. They believe the story. All it takes is for those who never knew me to hear my story from those who knew my past. They know that I was born in Anambra and that I have added value to Anambra and other parts of the country. They know that I have been driven by excellence in all that I have done right from my days in primary school, secondary school, university. They know that when the grace of God started to shine on me mightily in my career progression, I never forgot Anambra. I always came back to give back in my little ways.”

*Ugochukwu Uba*

Chief Ugochukwu Uba, a former senator representing Anambra south in the national assembly, is also laying claim to the PDP gubernatorial ticket in the state. He won the Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries organised by the Chief Chukwudi Umeaba led faction. The election, which held at Paul University Complex, Awka saw Uba winning with 275 votes from the 665 votes cast to become the flag bearer of the faction. Already he has promised to restore PDP to its pride of place in Anambra politics after 16 years of being in the doldrums, adding that if elected governor on Nov. 6, he would address the leadership challenges of the stage including the local government system.

He insisted that he is the authentic candidate of the PDP because his victory followed “the due process like the constitution and everything we did were on the right part. It is against the due process and basically you should ask yourself do 62 elect a governorship candidate in a party like PDP. It is not done. Who are you representing? I can’t imagine the kind of embarrassment it will give to a party. We follow the due process like the constitution and everything we did were on the right part. Even a SAN who was a candidate said he could not be a party to this because the court is sacrosanct. He said he will not play this kind of politics while they are disobeying court order. Anything done outside the constitution and outside the order of the court is null and void.”

Uba started his career as a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he was the scribe of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Ugochukwu Uba is an elder brother to both Andy and Chris Uba. After the creation of new Anambra State from the old Anambra State, he was appointed Secretary, Asset Sharing Committee, which peacefully shared assets between the newly created Anambra and Enugu States. Ugochukwu Uba’s meteoric rise in his political career continued in 1992, when he was appointed Director – General, Department of Public Utilities, Governor’s office, Awka. In 1994, he was appointed Director – General, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Anambra State, which office he held till 1997.

In 1999, he was appointed the honourable Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Culture in Anambra State. In 2000, he was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as Commissioner. During the 2003 general elections, he was elected to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent the southern senatorial district of the state. All through his political career, he has consistently stayed with the PDP. “Ugochukwu has been glaringly tested and should be trusted. He possesses superfluous record of technical and political experience. He has decades of working experience and records of indisputable achievements, so he is the new face of change in Anambra,” Hon Ejike Chibuzor said.

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