From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha
That Anambra State, in its political evolution, is trying to set the pace in our democratic adventure is not in doubt. That the state is trying hard to maintain the lead in almost every aspect of life, economy, education, human and natural resources, is not also in doubt. But the jigsaw is whether the state is ready for a female governor.
The stand of the people of Anambra State on the issue of a female governor was made abundantly clear in the last governorship election in 2010 when Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, even with her political sagacity and vibrancy of her former political party, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), could not get to the Government House, Awka. As the 2014 governorship election in Anambra draws near, political gladiators in different parts of the state are making public and secret statements, concerning their ambitions.
However, some top women governorship aspirants, who have made their marks in different areas from the state, strongly hold the view that the topmost executive office in the state, which is the governorship, should come to them this time, hence they are ready to lock horns with their male counterparts. Some notable women gladiators have been rumoured to be nursing serious ambition to put up good fight over the governorship seat with their male counterparts and the funniest thing is that whichever way you view it, Anambra women politicians have evolved a certain political consciousness that makes them no push-overs in the political contests in the state.
Having excelled in every quarter, in politics, business and academics, Anambra women to say the least have carved a niche for themselves and tried to liberate themselves from the unfortunate grip of being relegated to the background and confined to the kitchen. They have been in the fore front to take their own political destinies into their hands.
While some political analysts hold that some of them may be trying to showcase their availability to be running mates to the male counterparts, others still hold that most of them have genuine ambition of ruling the state. But the truth of the matter is that Anambra state producing woman governor is like the biblical injunction of a donkey going through the eye of the needle. The gladiators Senator Joy Emordi She is the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on National Assembly Matters. She was also the senator representing Anambra North senatorial zone for two terms on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).
Emordi, from Onitsha is not a new face in the politics of Anambra state; neither is she a new comer in the contest of governorship election in the state having contested and put up a good fight before. She was strong politically in the early days of the democratic dispensation, but as our democracy continued to deepen, the political fortunes and strength of old politicians started dwindling until the last general election when she lost her bid to return to the Senate for the third time on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA).
Some hold the view that she lost the senatorial election because she has lost grip of the new dynamics in the state and may not make serious impact in the election. However there are other odds that may work against her which some people say includes where she comes from, and her past political scorecard when she had the opportunity to represent the entire people of Anambra North in the National Assembly. There is this notion that Anambra people would want fresh blood injected into the political system in all spheres in order to enthrone a breath of fresh air.
However, she is a very strong politician, who has been in politics for a very long time, she is well informed and she is one of the women that may likely contest the governorship election against men in 2014. Prof. Dora Akunyili The former Director General of NAFDAC and former Minister of Information and Communication, hails from Agulu, Anaocha local government area of Anambra state. She held the position till 2011 when she resigned to contest the senatorial election on the platform of APGA and lost. Political analysts believe that all the women that contested for one political position or the other on the platform of APGA in the state lost except Mrs. Uche Ekwunife who won Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka federal constituency election.
Dora Akunyili wrote her name in gold when she was the Director General of NAFDAC where she fought against forces and tried to root out, counterfeit drugs which formed part of her problem in the politics of Anambra state. While the entire world and indeed Nigerians were busy celebrating Akunyili’s exploits in the area of the fight against fake drugs, her people back home in Anambra were laying political land mines for her, and eventually she came out and they paid her in her own coin.
Some of the things militating against Akunyili according to Mr. Ben Anadi, a lawyer in Onitsha includes her role in the closure of the Onitsha drug market which he said caused the death of over 100 traders who he claimed died of heart attack when their source of livelihood was destroyed. He also said that Akunyili can never win elective position in the state owing to her inability to attract any federal government projects to the state during her tenure as Minister of Information and Communication. Mrs. Uche Ekwunife She is the member representing Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka federal constituency in the House of Representatives. She contested the governorship election in 2010 on the platform of PPA where she came fourth just behind Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of PDP.
Ekwunife, a two time member of the House of Representatives hails from Nri, Anaocha local government area with the incumbent Governor Obi who also hails from the same council area. She beat her opponent twice in the same election and is well connected to the powers that be. She is a great mobilizer and grass roots canvasser and very much on ground in the politics of the state. She is a member of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Anambra state APGA caucus in the National Assembly and former governorship candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance, (PPA) in 2010.
Mrs. Ekwunife has been described by many as a good political asset having showcased her political sagacity. However, it may not be a surprise that most of these women may be playing “notice me” politics to be picked as running mates to the male counterparts. But whichever way, Ekwunife who is already on ground could be a boost to whoever that picks her as a running mate. She could use her political strength to mobilize the voters and woo them to the person that picks her which will assist in the person’s victory. She is likely to be well sought after by some male governorship aspirants when the battle line is drawn in 2014.
However, like others, Ekwunife seems to be confronted with these obvious facts that it is not an express road to victory when she will finally file out to contest the governorship election as there are some political heavyweights in her zone. Mrs. Stella Odua The current Minister for Aviation hails from Ogbaru council area of the state. She was prominent in the campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan, and could be said to have presidential backing to file out with other notable women from the state. Odua may be popular when it comes to Abuja politics, but the current events in Anambra state is all about grassroot politicians. Having said that, Mrs. Odua will be confronted with the challenges of consolidating her political empire in the state as well as bringing her political powers to the fore since she is deficient in grassroots politics.
The Minister even with the asset of being at the Federal Executive Council could also be confronted with the cry of her inability to attract any federal presence to her people of Ogbaru, which is one of the worst hit in the ongoing flooding that have ravaged the entire state. She has been accused severally by her people of not listening to their plight, which suggests that her emergence on the political battle field could be used to pay her back in her own coin.
From the foregoing, it is therefore very interesting that the two women from Anambra North Senatorial zone, Mrs. Senator Joy Emordi and Stella Odua may reap from the sentiment that power should be rotated among the three senatorial zones in the state, if equity should be applied to our politics. But the fact remains that as the political events are fast unfolding, the handwriting on the wall is seriously telling all the politicians who have ambition to work harder individually as the election will be hotly contested for irrespective of age, gender, political party and where you come from.