The zoning arrangement in the political equation of Anambra State took a new twist recently, when the people of Ihiala Local Government Area stepped into the contest for the 2021 governorship election in the state. OKEY MADUFORO reports
It has been a raging debate over which of the three political blocs in Anambra South Senatorial District will produce the next governor of the state after the incumbent, Willie Obiano, serves out his second tenure. Before now, there was no sign that the people of Ihiala federal constituency will join the contest as their son, Chinweoke Mbadinuju, served as governor of Anambra State between 1999 and 2003.
The contest was earlier ceded to the Old Aguata Union made up of Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South local government areas and Nnewi political bloc made up of Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo local government areas. Arguments are that Ihiala political bloc has had its fair share in the power equation hence it has no business in angling to take another shot at the Anambra governorship position.
But at a recent meeting attended by major stakeholders and political heavyweights in Ihiala, a near conclusion was reached that the area did not complete its two tenures of eight years hence should be allowed to do so.
It was further contended at the said meeting that Mbadinuju was the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sitting governor that was denied a return ticket, a development, those who attended the meeting, insisted was unfair.
Against this backdrop, a group known as Ihiala Coalition resolved that the area must complete its two tenures. The group, particularly, noted that it would be injustice for Nnewi or Aguata to lay claim to the next has been zoned to Anambra South Senatorial District. According to one of the coordinators of the group, Hon. Afam Ukaegbu “Ihiala is one in this struggle and as I speak to you all the high and mighty in Ihiala politics are behind this move.
We have Dr. ABC Orjiakor, the man who was instrumental to the emergence of former Governor Chinweoke Mbadinuju; we have Chief Allen Onyema of Air Peace, we have Chief Obi Jackson. Even Sir Emeka Offor is also in the league even though he is from Ekwusigo Local Government Area, which is in Nnewi political bloc.
Ukaegbu further explained that Ihiala has a candidate in the person of a former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Akachukwu Nwankpo, who he said, is eminently qualified to lead Anambra State. Also speaking on the issue, Prince Chris Okwuosa of Okija Consultative Forum, noted: “We are getting the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as we do not see Prof. Charles Soludo winning the party’s ticket.
We are talking about capacity and acceptance by the people at the grassroots not theory and our brother Akachukwu Nwankpo is the man and we already have the list of statutory delegates of the party, so we are coasting home to victory.”
It was gathered that the people of Ihiala Local Government Area have already started raising funds for their candidate and several meetings are said to have been held towards realizing the Ihiala governorship project. Also, within the ranks of APGA, some power brokers are said to have already started tinkering with the Nwankpo candidacy, while reaching out on the party leadership to get them buy into it. However, it is not clear if Nwankpo has declared to contest under the platform of APGA though some members of his ward confirmed that he is a card carrying member of the party.
A former Commissioner for Works and one time Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Prince Kenneth Emeakayi, who spoke on the matter, submitted that the postulations of his kinsmen are correct. According to him, that Ihiala Local Government Area produced the governor of Anambra State in 1999 does not mean that the area has been barred from contesting the next election.
He added that if the people of Anambra State accept a candidate from the local government area, nobody can stop him. His words: “Consultations are still ongoing and with time the picture would be clearer, but make no mistake about it, we have the capability and capacity to execute this project from the primary election stage to the main election proper.”
The chairman, Anambra South Senatorial District of APGA, Chief Titus Anigbogu, who also spoke on the unfolding drama, however, said it is too early to begin to make conjectures over who becomes the candidate of the party. “We have not started selling nomination forms and we do not even know those who are contesting. Politicians are free to meet and discuss, that is the true nature of politics and you cannot stop them from doing so as we have freedom of association in the country’s constitution.”
Anigbogu’s explanation, notwithstanding, the emerging political development appears to have caused disquiet within APGA as the Ihiala elements are gradually pulling out of the initial arrangement of handing the ticket to Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. But coordinator of Soludo 2021, com-prising the over 21 political organizations in support of the ambition of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chief Jude Emecheta, explained that there is nothing to worry about.
“We are not worried about anybody coming to contest and we shall take them as they come. This is APGA and we have our constitution and guidelines for primary election. Stories of one or two big names sponsoring an aspirant is not new to Anambra politics, this is done to intimidate other aspirants.
“You know that a personality like Soludo cannot be intimidated by any one. His track record is there to speak for him both locally and internationally,” he said. The Old Aguata Union is not sleeping either as according to a former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, “we are not strangers to Anambra politics and we know what to do about that when the time comes. What we are interested in is let it (the governorship) go to Anambra South Senatorial District, then we will lay our cards on the table, experience for experience, capacity for capacity, intellect for intellect and we take it from there.”
He added: “I am from the Old Aguata Union and I was governor of Anambra State and I did not complete my eight year tenure. I did not even complete four years before General Sani Abacha came in. So, if they are claiming injustice, we in the Old Aguata Union are also victims of injustice and should be allowed to complete our tenure.” Also contributing to the debate, a former member of the state House of Assemby, Hon. J C Okeke, who hails from Nnewi North Local Government Area, contended that the next gubernatorial election would not be won based on sympathy.
“Anambra governorship election and position is not for sympathy and cannot be given away based on pity. So, for us in the Nnewi political bloc, we are not looking in that direction. They had their chance and nobody stood against them, now it is for us in Nnewi and we have come very prepared.”
Should all that the Ihiala political bloc claim about its preparation for the forthcoming gubernatorial election is true, then APGA as a political party as well as the anointed candidate, Soludo, have a lot in their hands, while for other political parties in the state, it is a waiting game for the fallout of APGA primary election and the fate of Ihiala people.