With barely one year to the end of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, all eyes are currently on aspirants from different political parties jostling to take over the mantle of leadership from him. Among the top contenders are highly successful professionals, business tycoons, technocrats and career politicians. Presently, over 60 sons and daughters of the state have signified their intentions to battle for the top job. While the numbers will certainly decrease as parties conduct their primaries early next year, a few of the contenders stand out for their rare combination of experience, passion, competence and youthfulness. Barring any unforeseen political exigencies, these 6 aspirants may take the baton from Governor Obiano.
Professor Charles Soludo
It is almost a given that former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo is the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA choice for 2021 Anambra governorship election. Since leaving his top job at the CBN, Soludo has made two failed attempts to run for governorship in Anambra. In 2009, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chose him as their consensus candidate in a field of about 47 candidates. His bid, however, failed following an inconclusive primary that ended up with court injunctions. His effort in 2013 after joining APGA also failed .
As Governor Willie Obiano prepares to hand over the baton of leadership, Soludo is one man who is aptly qualified to take over his job. His sterling performance at the CBN where he undertook a banking reform that saw a motley crowd of 97 banks run by family Czars consolidate into 24 strong banks which today have branches across key cities in Africa and around the world is worthy of note. His foresight insulated Nigeria from the adverse effects of the global financial meltdown even as the banks are today better positioned to contribute to national development. He built the foreign reserves to an all-time high of $65 billion, and the dollar at some time during his regime was N112 to one dollar. The Nigerian economy was growing at an average of 7% during his tenure compared to recession or 2% now. Millions of jobs were created under him and poverty declined in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, these achievements garnered over the years are yet to be duplicated on the home front in Anambra. Depending on which side you are in Anambra politics, the Soludo baggage could be a factor as the race for 2021 rolls over in Anambra.
Paul Orajiaka is a young Harvard scholar who has carved a niche for himself as a highly successful businessman. From a humble background and beginning his entrepreneurial journey with little resources, Orajiaka has proven his world class managerial capability by transforming a relatively unknown company, to a world class entity. Today he is listed as one of the youngest billionaire CEOs in the country.
The Paul Orajiaka brand is that of a big thinker and an excellent doer; one who can see the big picture and who has the courage to bring his dreams to fruition. While other contenders were still weighing their options, Orajiaka put his resources on the ground, donating party offices in local governments and ensuring that his party, the All Progressive Congress, APC had a head start in the coming election.
His commitment and love for the people were exemplified during the upsurge of coronavirus in the country. He was in the forefront to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the people. Using his Paul Orajiaka Foundation, he created awareness and sensitised the people on the pandemic and provided COVID-19 preventive kits which included face masks, sanitizers and hand gloves. He also gave out food items to indigenes across the state.
To better understand the needs of the people, Orajiaka with his foundation team members, tranversed the 21 local government areas of the state including flooded communities and sought answers from the people what their needs were. The result of the survey, is the engine room of what Orajiaka promises to delivered once in government
As a new man in the politics of Anambra state, Orajiaka carries no baggage in this quest and if opinions in the state is anything to go by, he remains one of the youngest, passionate and experienced candidates to take over the governorship baton from Governor Obiano come 2021 at a time when they are is huge clamour for youthful leadership in the country.
Ekwunife is an experienced politician and a veteran in governorship contests in Anambra State. In 2007, she contested under PDP for Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency and won. Again, in 2010, she contested for the governorship position of the state on the platform of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA), while still a member of the House of Representatives.
She was the first woman to kick-off COVID-19 awareness campaign in the state, providing preventive kits, and later other palliatives. Meanwhile, the gender issue and the zoning issue in PDP could be an issue in her way to Government House, Awka.
Currently, a senator of the Federal Republic, Uba can safely be described as a veteran of governorship contests in Anambra State. He contested under the Labour Party in 2013 and failed. He tried under PDP in 2017, unsuccessfully, before decamping to APGA. He was however successful following his contest for the Senate on the platform of YPP.
He has since indicated interest in the governorship contest for 2021. He lacks political flair but has proven to be no pushover, as he defeated some known political giants on his way to the Senate. Ifeanyi Uba has so much baggage as he leads his team for Agu Awka in 2021.
Maduka is a well-known name in the politics of Anambra State. A philanthropist, he has proven that he can hold his own. He joined PDP from APGA in 2019. His movement to PDP was celebrated as he went along with many of his supporters. While being new in political statecraft, Maduka has no known baggage. He was outstanding during the early lockdown in Anambra State, providing palliatives like rice, face masks, sanitizers, etc. to all the 181 communities and 326 wards in Anambra State.
Tony Nwoye is a politician who has been in the scene for a long time. Nwoye has lots of political baggage. He has contested for governorship twice under the platform of PDP (2013) and APC (2019), respectively, and failed in both attempts. He is currently a member of APC but he has an arduous task to replace Governor Willie Obiano, with both coming from Anambra North.
Vanguard News Nigeria