Without denigrating the many others in the race, five contestants have been isolated as frontrunners. And out of the five, two have again been pencilled down as ‘possible’ and ‘probable.’ Who gets it? Kulu tempa, as we say in this side of the world. When a bride is being brought to your house, you don’t crane your neck from the balcony again to catch a glimpse of her. She’s coming in to be yours and yours only, till death do you part.
There are implications if any of the five top candidates runs away with the diadem. Implications for democracy, for Nigeria, for Anambra. By the way, you already know the top five, but let us mention them again. Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party (LP), Godwin Ezeemo of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), and Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Any of the five listed above can be Anambra’s next governor. But what are the fallout of victory, the necessary corollary, if any of them emerges, as it must necessarily happen?
Let me start with Tony Nwoye of the PDP, a late starter, hobbled for weeks by litigation in his party, which was not settled in his favour till Monday last week by the Supreme Court. Call him “one born out of due time,” like the biblical Apostle Paul, and you would be right. Others had more than a head start over Nwoye, and he can only try and play catch up.
But what if Nwoye wins? Now, why are you laughing? Don’t you believe in miracles again? Me, I do. I never rule out anybody. Yes, what if Nwoye wins?
If the PDP gets Anambra State back again, it proves the veracity of the biblical saying that “the last shall be the first, and the first shall be the last.” The battle is not for the strong, nor the race to the swift. It would, indeed, be the eighth wonder of the world if Nwoye becomes governor after the polls tomorrow, but it would be good, exceedingly good for the PDP.
Consider the current state of the much-vaunted largest party in Africa. The umbrella (logo of the party) is torn, perforated, tattered, and rain is badly beating those taking shelter under it. In fact, most of them want out, and are already considering other options for their political future. At least seven governors, a national secretary, a former acting national chairman, and many others are in rebellion against the party. They call themselves New PDP. For PDP, things have fallen apart, the centre cannot hold, and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. There is depression, despondency, disillussionment in the party. PDP badly needs encouragement, its waning fire needs to be stoked again, it needs a transfusion before the last breath of life escapes through its nostrils. Victory for its candidate in Anambra will be a shot in the arm the party needs so badly. It is enough to bring PDP back from death’s door, enough to snatch it from the jaws of the lion, which is about to tear its jugular. Will it happen?
If Nwoye wins, not only will PDP rejoice, the confidence of President Goodluck Jonathan will also be kindled, if truly he wants to run in 2015. The way it is, the rug is about being pulled from under the feet of the president. The scenario at work now is to so decimate the PDP, that by 2015, nothing will be left of the party, except a carcass. And it will not be useful for anybody as a political platform again, especially the president. A victory in Anambra tomorrow will, however, change the permutations. Nwoye? Good luck to you.
How about Ezeemo of PPA, the man who was first in APC, and contested for the gubernatorial ticket with Ngige. Twice they ran the race, and twice Ngige dusted Ezeemo, the second by a landslide margin. But the latter believed he had a date with history on November 16, 2013, so he headed for the PPA. He found accommodation in that party, and he’s candidate for tomorrow’s election.
If Ezeemo wins, what a resurgence it would be for PPA. Remember that in 2007, that party had two governors, and it was poised to become an alternative party to APGA, particularly in the East. But then, Brutus showed his hand. Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State was the first to decamp, and later T. A. Orji of Abia followed the same infamous track. They weakened the party considerably. From outside, they even sponsored an insurrection within the party, and a splinter group emerged, laying claim to leadership. But PPA has been retooling, re-strategizing, and it is still a credible platform. If Ezeemo wins tomorrow, it will be a great comeback for the party. Will it happen? Ezeemo has my best wishes.
If Ezeemo wins, it will exemplify the saying that one must be resolute in one’s convictions. He had a dream to be governor, believed in the dream, and when the APC attempted to turn the dream to nightmare, he held a speedy dialogue with his feet. Keep your dream alive, let no one extinguish the fire. Dreams do come true.
Now, Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party. Deep pocket. And it is said he’s the one who has spent the most money in the race for Government House in Awka. Maybe true, maybe not. If he wins, it shows that you truly need a deep pocket to make any impact in the political race in Nigeria. Money, answereth all things, as the Good Book says. And of course, beyond money, you need ideas, good ideas.
Yes, Ubah has good ideas, as I’ve listened to him espouse his dream and vision for Anambra a number of times. I was on the panel at the final round of the governorship debate held in Awka a fortnight ago.
If Ubah wins, it says again that you should never let any man stand between you and your dreams. Initially, he was in APGA, but Gov Peter Obi apparently did not want him as a successor. I could labour for the people somewhere else, Ubah told himself, so off to Labour Party he went. Will Dr Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State have a companion governor? Tomorrow will show. Again, good luck to Ifeanyi Ubah.
What if Chris Ngige wins? And he can win, can’t he? Does any soldier go to war with the intention of losing, or of being brought back home in a bodybag? Not at all. Ngige is former governor of Anambra, and if he wins, if shows that lightning always strikes twice.
On his first coming, the court said the mandate was snaffled from Peter Obi of APGA, so after three years, Ngige got a kick in the butt. But you know what? He had spent the three years doing good, and had built a good reputation for himself. The lesson: in whatever position you find yourself, use it to serve. Serve God, serve mankind. You never know what the future holds. Ngige is a frontrunner today because a large number of Anambra people have not forgotten what he did in the three years he held power, even if illegitimately.
If Ngige wins, it is very good for APC. The party is a coalition bent on wresting power from the PDP at the centre, and in as many states as possible in 2015. Victory for Ngige will, therefore, be a boost for APC. With Anambra in the bag, Abuja will be the next destination.
Again, if Ngige wins, it signals the final nail in the coffin of zoning in Nigeria. I used to believe in zoning, till it was killed in 2011. Now, I am for free contest. Let anyone from anywhere run for any position, if you believe you have what it takes. The outgoing administration in Anambra has made a lot of bones about the need for power to shift to Anambra North, which has never produced the governor before.
Obi is from Anambra Central, Ngige is also from the same senatorial district. Should the zone continue to rule, when Anambra North has not even ruled once? That is why APGA picked its candidate from the North. But if Ngige wins, Anambra people would have said a resounding no to zoning. We do not care where the governor comes from, we just want a competent person. That will also be quite instructive for our national politics. The people are at the heart and centre of democracy, and their will must prevail.
Again, if Ngige wins, it will reinforce the fact that by sheer force of personality, you can make the people accept your political party, even if some others try to portray it as a weak platform, or ‘not our own’ party. When Mimiko was forced out of the PDP in Ondo State, he joined Labour. PDP people laughed him to scorn, saying it would be labour loss. Today, the rest is history. Mimiko’s personality did it.
Also in Bauchi, Isa Yuguda was forced out of the PDP, he went to the then ANPP, and won (Don’t mind that he later went back to his vomit, rejoining PDP). So, an acceptable candidate can always make his platform widely acceptable.
And the last big masquerade: Willie Obiano. Does Anambra have another Babatunde Raji Fashola in the making? Before the 2007 elections, the question on everybody’s lips in Lagos was Babatunde who? But today, not again. He has become the poster boy for continuity and democracy dividends in Nigeria.
Peter Obi, by my reckoning, has governed well. He has laid a very solid foundation for Anambra. Will the people transfer the confidence they have in him to his protégé, Obiano? If the latter wins, well, lightning has struck twice again. First in Lagos, from Bola Tinubu to Fashola, and then in Anambra. As at six months ago, if you mentioned his name, the question would have been, Willie who? But not anymore. He is a frontrunner in tomorrow’s election. He has formidable following, just as he equally has formidable opposition.
If Obiano wins, it shows that zoning still matters in Nigerian politics. If he has block votes in Anambra North, despite Nwoye of PDP coming from the same zone, it then shows that people of Anambra North want the governorship so badly, and nobody could do it better than their own son.
A victory for Obiano is confidence booster for APGA, which will sally forth to try and win Imo back, and then other states in the region, and even beyond.
But what if any other candidate, outside the Big Five wins? And why not? Don’t despise the days of small beginnings. A little one can become a thousand. It will simply tell us that dark horses still exist, and can pull stunts. A dark horse can even run for president in 2015, and win. And that includes the person reading this piece. Or don’t you think so?