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Anambra Governorship Elections 2017, The Winners And Losers

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Willie Obaino wins Anambra second term

The Winners

1. Ndi Anambra – the people of Anambra should be the ultimate winners of the elections. They came out in appreciable numbers to cast their ballot despite the calls to boycott the elections by IPOB and the heavy police presence. The turnout was lower than expected but those who came out conducted themselves in a dignified way as the election had very low incidences of violence.

2. APGA – the party has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that Anambra is APGA and APGA is Anambra. They ran a brilliant campaign, which carried Ndi Anambra from the grassroots to the elite. The party was united in electing Obiano after seeing off the irritation of the National Chairmanship tussle between Victor Oye and Martin Agbaso. The message of “Nke a bu Nke anyi!” (This one is our own!) resonates among the Igbo who are struggling to find a political identity within the APC led Nigeria. This victory is the fourth straight governorship victory for APGA in Anambra, each one with a bigger margin than the previous one. What baffles is how this is not translated at the federal level. For all its success at the state level elections, APGA performs very poorly at the Senatorial and House of Reps elections. It is time for the party to breakaway from the mould of the PDP and have a proper go at federal elections. With the PDP in disarray and on a downward spiral, there is an open space APGA can inhabit. The party should present a candidate for the 2019 elections, matching the PDP and APC by presenting a northern candidate. The aim should be to place a respectable third. This would give the party a strong platform to fight the 2023 elections. The party should be more ambitious and set its sights on other states as a party and not just a contesting platform. I believe the party can mop up the PDP Igbo votes in Lagos state and place at least one member in the Lagos State House of Assembly and possibly the Federal House of Representatives

3. Governor Willy Obiano – Akpokuedike Global got this one. He predicted a landslide and delivered. 21-0 in the three-horse race is no mean feat. He benefitted from a strong APGA coupled with his modest achievements as a governor in a country in recession. He ran on a platform of improved security and prompt payment of salaries. In a country where majority of states owe salaries, a governor who pays salaries, pensions and entitlements promptly is considered a very good one. He had a hard act following the achievements of his predecessor Peter Obi. He was able to create his own identity and highlight his own achievements. Despite his average showing at the Channels Governorship Debate, he was able to demonstrate his understanding of numbers and penchant for financial terminology. It behooves on Ndi Anambra to hold him to account to deliver on the huge mandate given to him

4. President Muhammadu Buhari – the president conducted himself with dignity by not interfering with the electoral process. His visit to Anambra will go a bit of way in repairing his frosty relationship with Ndi Igbo. By restoring the security detail of the governor, he demonstrated that he was going to do what was right despite party affiliation. He came for the APC rally, did what he had to do as a party leader and left. That is how a president should act.

5. Osita Chidoka – it is hard to understand how someone who placed a very distant 4th and with less than 2% of the votes can be a winner but Chidoka is. Contesting on the platform of the relatively unknown UPP meant that he was a no loss situation. What he succeeded in doing was to raise his profile as a very sound debater and communicator. He ran a good campaign that deployed modern technology and innovative practice. He has positioned himself as one for the future. Luckily, he has age on his side and appeals to the young. He should still be under the age of 55 by 2023 and can do worse than position himself as an Igbo candidate for the presidency then. He would do well to extricate himself from the tag of being an IPOB sympathiser, while he may have thought this would help him politically, it really was of no effect and could come back to hurt him in future.

The Losers

1. Peter Obi – By far the biggest loser in this election was St Peter of Okwute the Cornerstone. Although Oseloka Obaze was the name on the ballot for the PDP, the electorate saw Peter Obi as the contestant and rejected him. He took on Obiano, Umeh, the memory of Ojukwu and APGA and he got a bloody nose. Obi was a very good governor, the best Anambra has ever had. Most Anambrarians know and acknowledge this. His sin was abandoning APGA, a party in which he was a leading light, to join PDP in the dying days of the Jonathan presidency. For a man who comes across as very astute, only he can understand why he scored the political equivalent of an own goal by jumping into a sinking ship. The question is where does he go from here politically? His bad mouthing of Governor Obiano means that he would not be welcome back to APGA. The role he played in the emergence of Oseloka Obaze as the PDP flag bearer earned him many enemies within the party. APC? Somehow, I do not think so. For someone who was touted as a potential Igbo president, he would be lucky to win even a senatorial seat at the present time.

2. PDP – if anybody was in doubt about the decline of the once great PDP, the Anambra result should put his or her doubt to rest. To be beaten by APC in Anambra state to third is not just a poor result, it is a disgrace and an embarrassment. Internal bickering and anti-party activities was the order of the day. The party structures in the state were almost nonexistent as it was mainly the Peter Obi show. Notable party chieftains either took a back seat or out rightly came out to support the opposition as in the case of Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah. The PDP is a party in trouble, they have not been able to make the transition to opposition effectively. The whole Sheriff brouhaha did not help matters and this National Chairmanship tussle will further polarise the party. The way the party is going, 2019 will be a disaster for the once self-acclaimed biggest party in Africa. If as rumoured they are about to welcome Atiku Abubakar to the party and present him as a challenger for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, the only thing we can all do is be like Uncle Sege and be laughing.

3. APC – Some will say APC did very well to come second and beat the PDP in the very anti-APC Igbo land. They look at the performance of Buhari at the 2015 presidential election and conclude that Tony Nwoye did quite well. It will be wrong to assume so. The APC came second mainly on the strength of Nwoye and his main sponsor Arthur Eze. The APC and its previous incarnations the AC and ACN have always done well in Anambra through the leadership of Dr Chris Ngige. It will be interesting to know how much real effort Ngige put into this election. This result by the APC in Anambra is probably the worst result posted by a ruling party in a state election. Not to even take a single local government with all the Federal might is downright embarrassing. The party seems not to be making any inroads in Igbo land and the calibre of people defecting to the party are not really the most leading of lights. In Anambra, using the likes of Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Yahaya Bello of Kogi as part of your campaign team is a bit of an own goal. These states who are Anambra’s neighbours are in much worse positions and led by APC. They do not give any confidence to Ndi Anambra that an APC government would be any better than the APGA they already have. In a last desperate bid, they unveiled Emeka Ojukwu Jr. as a decampee from APGA. Politically, Ojukwu Jr is no Ikemba, he is not even a Bianca, his electoral value in Anambra is just one, his own vote. 2019 will be interesting for the APC in the South East, all things being equal, the party should lose Imo state without gaining any state but I believe they would make some inroads in the Federal legislature picking off some PDP seats.

4. IPOB – The much-touted boycott of the election fizzled out without as much as a whimper. They promised Foe Nsala to Ndi Anambra and they rejected it for bowls of Jollof rice, Gala and Grand Malt. That boycott was never going to work, not in Anambra in any case. The people love their politics, politicians invest a lot and the economic effect of electioneering campaigns is too much a lure for the electorate. Politics brings an excitement to people’s lives and a break from the mundane. IPOB strategists failed to realize this. The security services also ensured that nobody was able to prevent anybody who wanted to exercise their civic rights. This should further show how overestimated the influence of IPOB is.

Ike Onwubuya writes from Essex, UK

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