New forces’ takeover of Anambra politics
MICHAEL OVAT-AWKA writes on how peer groups are beginning to shape the politics of Anambra State in the battle
for the successor of incumbent Governor Willie Obiano
The beginning of every New Year typically brings hope and expectation as people are eager for something different to come to their way. However, regardless of the anticipation, new years are not autonomous of the previous years before it as no new year operates in a vacuum without recourse to the previous one and ditto for a new decade.
In this regard, most of the actions and inactions, as well as the game changers will make the news in 2020 to 2021, the election year in Anambra State, are largely from the previous years with different undisclosed intentions. Of course, the politics and permutations of 2021 zoning formula in the state, specifically champion by the Anambra state chapter of the Ohaneze Ndigbo and the state council of traditional rulers, headed by Chief Demian Okeke-Ogene and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, respectively, are expected to raise the political tempo across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The extent it will have on governance in the state under the Governor Willie Obiano-led administration in terms of distractions from those who are desperate to succeed him at all cost is what the year is keeping firm to its chest.
But Obiano is not sleeping with his two eyes closed as widely observed by the opposition aspirants and their political parties, including some All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) leaders, in which they speculated that the governor is seeking to overcome the crude politics ganging up against him in a bid to stop his alleged plans of imposing a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo, through an alliance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to succeed him. So, the current political atmosphere in Anambra shows that with the governorship election coming up next year, it is left to be seen whether the onslaught against Obiano to stop him from securing the APGA ticket for Professor Soludo will succeed.
Other issues on the front-burner in the gradual buildup for the epic battle include the fight against the politics of godfather among the game planners, as well as power sharing formula. On a general observation, most people in the state are not oblivious of the drama and intrigues the year holds on the political space, but they, most often than not, appear indifferent on politics in the state, but are more interested in what happens to their business life.
Individual and class interest takes preeminence in politics in the state. The absence of principle manifest in all manner of realignment and defections among the major political gladiators at the threshold of election years in Anambra. The defectors often latched on the issue of lack of internal democracy in their parties to seek sojourn in rival political camps. Already, others are throwing up the issue of zoning arrangement, with a number of stakeholders in the state perceiving it as another catch phrase among potential defectors. Some leaders in the APG are contending that since the zoning formula has gone full circle from Anambra South Senatorial District to Anambra Central and down to the North, it is only proper, fair and democratic that the North should start the fresh circle of rotation, irrespective of the fact that the incumbent governor is from the North zone.
The pressure has deepened the challenges confronting Obiano, whose kinsmen from the North are breathing down his neck to pick the APGA candidate from the same district. Interestingly, the district also has a second trump card, which is to draft someone from the North as running mate to whoever may emerge APGA candidate from Anambra South. But there are fears that the promoters of Anambra North could have an agenda to move against any governor from the South to pave the way for his deputy as substantive governor.
Be that as it may, the South is making frantic bid to produce the next governor hence polarizing the zone into three separate political blocks. The Ihiala political block would certainly not get the nod of the South since former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Uli, Ihiala Council Area, took the slot. The old Aguata Union (OAU) Aguata, Orumba North and South keen on the contest, despite the fact that it had produced Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Senator Andy Uba, who they contend never completed a four-year tenure. Ezeife spent less than two years, while Andy Uba spent 17 days in office.
The Nnewi political block is currently shopping for strong candidates across Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo council areas and so far, it has more than five aspirants and the more proactive camp is the Nnewi North Local Government Area with heavy power brokers in the race. It will be recalled that another former governor of the state, Dr Chris Ngige, once described the concept of zoning as poisoned chalice. Ngige seems vindicated in view of the extraneous influence the church now has over the politics of Anambra and currently both the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church are believed to be seriously involved in the political intrigues over the governorship race.
A section of Anambra political watchers have expressed strong reservations on the alleged meddlesomeness of the church in politics, describing the trend as “satanic.” It is their opinion that Dr Ezeife of the Salvation Army could not have emerged as governor of the state in the past, because of the numerical strength of his Christian denomination. They alleged that the governorship seat has been reduced to a mere church representative position, where a denomination in power plays the winner-takes-it all, reserving choice political appointments to Knights and church committee leaders and leaders of the Deanery. Even priest and pastors are appointed into special positions to the detriment of merit and proficiency, hence propagating mediocrity.
Apparently, all the governorship aspirants have converted all the church dioceses to pilgrimage centres, where Bishops and Vicars are consulted with the assistance of Grand Knights of the churches to obtain the Episcopal blessings of their denominations. Therefore, it is almost certain that the church will make substantial inputs into who becomes the next governor of the state, as old boys of Christ the King College (CKC) are pitched against the Old Boys of Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Anglican Mission School and Catholic Mission School. The duo of Peter Obi and Obiano are old boys of CKC and the DMGS old boys are angling for a shot at the top.