By; PAMELA EBOH Awka
As the clock tick tuck to next year’s governorship election in Anambra State, billionaires in the state are beginning to take the spot for a battle royale.
Among them are American based medical doctor, Dr Godwin Maduka, former Central Bank Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, Valentine Ozigbo, Hon Tony Nwoye, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Bar Emeka Etiaba (SAN), Obiora Okonkwo, among others.
No doubt, The contenders are people with enough liquid cash to sway voters to their camp but despite the puffiness of their bank accounts, influence and contacts, the hope of the electorate is to have someone that will serve as a better replacement for the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano.
Though, some have had a run for the Agu-Awka seat of power at different times and lost out, others are appearing on the lane for the first time.
Though a political neophyte, Maduka has become a household name in Anambra State following his transformational overhaul of his country home, Umuchukwu in Orumba South Local Government Area of the state. Apart from spear-heading the change of the town’s old name from ‘Nkerehi’ to Umuchukwu, he single handedly built homes for the poor, reconstructed the roads, built police Barack, court with the attendant facilities, etc. Maduka’s notable achievements posits him as one with the Midas touch to not only improve the state’s economy but to rebuild and bring more international standard innovations to the state. It is believed that with his level of wealth, he will be more focused to leaving a lasting legacy than amassing wealth. However, there are fears that he is arrogant and egotist, hence may not appeal to the larger voters.
He has once swam in this murky water of Anambra political contest but couldn’t break the chord. Soludo is seen among the electorate as one with strength, capability, capacity, tenacity and the connections to pull the necessary strings to make Anambra State the ‘Dubai of Africa” as earlier propagated by him.Though his place in the rulling party, All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA is still uncertain and he has not declared interest to contest, there are indications that the party at the center, APC is wooing him to fly its flag as a way of sinking its grip on Anambra State. This is borne out of the general perception that he is the one that holds the ace. Despite the fact that he has not declared his intention to contest, different groups have been galvanizing for him. While the call is hitting the ground running, there is apprehension that his reign may create a disparity between the educated and the uneducated, thereby shutting the corridors of governance against the low class.
Since arriving the corridors of power, this amazon has not disappointed, Apart from being a go getter, she has proven to be a lioness who dares where men fear to thrive. She was the first to reach the people with palliatives during the Covid-19 lock down. Like a mother hen that shields it’s peeps from rain and all harm, Ekwunife has all it takes to lead Anambra State to a glorious end. She is close to the grassroot and feels their pulse. But, unfortunately, the political environment in the state and Nigeria at large influenced by male dominance in politics has made the emergence of a female governor a herculean task. That is perhaps the only stud to Ekwunife’s taking over of the Agu Awka seat of power.
Though one of the youngest in the pool of sharks, his resilience all through the years has stood him out as a small meat that fills the mouth. He not only knows the ropes well, he has the large followership of the youths that has been clamouring for a youth Governor in the state. Nwoye has thread the part twice in 2013 and 2019 and failed but twice, he came very close to the winning brace. Despite his fearless demeanor and closeness to the grassroot, his lack of support from the elite class may again stand in his way to getting to the top seat.
He came to the limelight during his mother’s short reign as the Governor of the state from November 2006 to February 2007. He was notably the unseen hand sailing the ship and the ship sailed to the end with landmark road projects. Etiaba who has capped his career path by becoming a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) seems ready to continues In the shoes of his mother. Though he has no political contest experience in his kitty as yet, it is believed that his short romance with power during his mother’s reign may have prepared him well enough to ride the chariot without any guide or outside influence. His challenge will be getting his party, PDP’s ticket. But, peradventure he scales the hurdle, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s interest in the exalted seat may pose a bigger wedge to his winning the poll with regard to getting the Nnewi bloc and untampered votes.
Okonkwo is like a new kid on the political chess board of Anambra politics. No doubt, he has done well for himself in the business world with over three hundred staff members on his pay roll, the business world is a far cry to that of politics especially in Anambra State. Having not been tested politically, people are of the view that he needs to taste the waters first before going for the number one position..
He is a fly high politician who always springs up surprises at the least unexpected time. His quest to occupy the no one seat of Anambra State started during the 2017 governorship election when he vied under the umbrella of UPP after falling out with the party in power, APGA. With his control of the UPP machinery, there are fears that he may stir the election to an unexpected direction. He has the backing and support of the Nnewi money bags, but because of his antecedents, the greater number of the electorate appears not to be taking him serious. To many, he needs to garner more political maturity before he can occupy the pilot seat.
Ozigbo is the immediate past President and Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria plc. He is a political neophyte struggling to enshrine his footprint in the annals if Anambra politics. Like other aspirants, he has money to beat the gun, but being a new bee in PDP, the oldies will prefer for him to join the line and wait for the baton to get to him. His business sagacity and money will not be enough to give him the party’s ticket.
As the nation wait to watch another spectacular display of wealth, bashing and intimidation of opponents, political watchers are of the opinion that despite the amount of money any contestant may have, the electorate will this time not be deceived by financial inducement but by who the cap fits.
Perhaps, this may not be the last time a match of billionaires for the governorship contest in the state will happen. However, the question is, who is good enough to sway voters in a direction to win and succeed Governor Obiano.