BY ROBERT OBIOHA
Governor Peter Obi’s rule in Anambra State will terminate March next year. By this date, Obi would have governed the state for eight uninterrupted and eventful years.
Obi would go down in history as the first person to have ruled the state for two consecutive terms that made up the eight years of dedicated service. That alone stands him out.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that Anambra gubernatorial election will hold November 16, this year, a good number of aspirants have indicated interest to contest.
All of them including new entrants to the race want to succeed Obi. That so many contestants showed up is an indication that Obi has done well in office. For stabilizing the highly volatile Anambra polity for the past eight years is, to me, a very great achievement in itself.
Obi’s successor has become an issue in view of his immense developmental strides in virtually all sectors. Obi has opened up so many rural and urban roads in the state more than any other administration. He has added more impetus to education and the health sector as well.
All schools in the state from primary to university have received adequate facelift. Anambra is among the states in the country that are striving to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Most of the goals are centred on education, health, water, sanitation, poverty reduction, empowerment amongst others. That Anambra will meet the goals shows the tenacity of Obi’s administration to the welfare of the citizenry.
Obi has also worked with donor agencies and developmental partners to revolutionise development in the entire state.
With the March exist date notwithstanding, Obi is still embarking on new projects and commissioning finished ones. Working as if he has just started shows his deep understanding that government is a continuum.
Where he stops on March next year, his successor will take over and so governance will continue. There will be no vacuum created simply because a transition from one administration to another has taken place.
The next governor of the state will have no problem adjusting to governance because Obi has already cleared the coast for him or her and have left a seamless template that, if followed, things will work out well. If I were such a lucky person, I will continue from where Obi stopped.
That will be more beneficial to the state than starting all over again on a clean slate. Obi has made the work very much easier for his successor.
Left for Obi alone, he would prefer that his successor comes from Anambra North. This zone, according to records, is yet to produce the governor since over 20 years the state was created.
Past governors of the state have come from mainly Anambra South and Anambra Central zones. Some politicians have taken up Obi on this and surmised that zoning is unconstitutional.
They even pointed out that other Nigerian political heavy weights that had come from Anambra State are indigenes of Anambra North. Such names include the first Nigerian president and late political colossus, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, former administrator of defunct East Central State, late Ajie Ukpabi Asika, and erstwhile senate president, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo.
Apart from Okadigbo, the other political players reigned when Anambra State had not even been conceptualised. Zik’s antecedents dates back to the former Eastern Region during the nationalist struggle era while Asika’s dates back to Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s creation of 12 states as a counter measure to Biafra’s secessionist bid in 1967. Whether zoning will work in Anambra election or not, the most important thing is that power is taken and not given.
Any contestant wishing to govern should be well prepared to slug it out with other contestants. In the forthcoming Anambra poll, three parties are hot contenders. Although the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is yet to come up with a candidate, it is still the hottest contender being the ruling party in the state.
Anybody, the party endorses will likely carry the day. APGA is a party to beat in the contest. It has everything working for it now that the aggrieved members have allowed peace to reign. The only problem that will tear APGA apart is not agreeing on one candidate.
If the new mega party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) allows Senator Chris Ngige to carry its flag at the poll, it will be another strong contender to APGA. Ngige is very popular and he was once a governor and he showed signs of credible performance, especially in road construction.
The only problem Ngige will have is the acceptability of APC among the electorate. The recent deportation of some Anambrarians from Lagos, an APC state, will definitely work against Ngige.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is another hot contender. Their problem as usual is their inability to field one candidate. I see that playing out in the Anambra election. Senator Andy Uba is a big contender in this party. Will other big names in the party allow him to be their candidate?
The Labour Party (LP), which is likely to field oil magnate, Ifeanyi Ubah, as its candidate is just making entry into Anambra politics. They will make a symbolic impact that may not necessarily translate to electoral victory. Who succeeds Governor Peter Obi is a question only the Anambra electorate can answer come November 16. Until then, we shall keep you posted.