The Anambra election has been fixed for November 18 and the electorate have already dusted their voters’ cards, anxiously waiting to troop out to the polling centres.
Various political parties who have fielded candidates for the election are now in full campaign mode, inviting high profile dignitaries for mega rallies.
This is despite an earlier threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu, to thwart the governorship election unless a referendum is conducted.
Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has completed arrangements for the exercise.
It said the Anambra people are “good-to-go”, considering the way they embraced the on-going continuous voter registration.
The Director, ICT in the commission, Mrs. Bimbo Oladunjoye, at a recent publication and presentation of official Register of Voters (RV) to political parties’ candidates, in Awka, said a total of 2,158,171 eligible voters have been registered to participate in the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
This is besides those who had their voters’ cards and participated in the 2015 general elections.
But one thing bothering political analysts is the way leading political parties and their candidates are working on the psychology of Anambra voters and playing with emotions, all in a bid to get their votes. No fewer than 37 political parties are contending for the office.
The call for secession, increased claim of alleged marginalization by a section of Igbo leaders make the forthcoming election not only uncertain, but a source of concern for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which wants to consolidate its gains ahead of 2019.
It is also very important to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) which sees the South-east as its traditional constituency, even though Anambra at present belongs to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
UPP aligns with Biafra agitation
As part of its gimmicks, the United Progressives Party (UPP) is not mincing words in aligning itself with the call for the Biafra republic.
This agitation came to the fore two weeks ago, when its gubernatorial candidate, Osita Chidoka, launched his campaign in Amorka, a sleepy village in Uli, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, home to the Uli airstrip that served as the link between Biafra and the outside world during the civil war.
Many wondered why someone seeking to win a governorship election would decide to take his campaign launch to a remote village instead of Awka, the state capital, Onitsha the commercial city or Nnewi, the industrial hub.
But reports have it that for the fact that many of the Anambra people believe in Biafra, they see Amorka as a Mecca of sort; hence their resolve to defy several odds, including distance, bad road and economic situation to grace Chidoka’s rally.
He was also not unclear about his reason for choosing Amorka. “Every Igbo man who survived hunger during the civil war owed his life to Uli Airstrip from where relief materials were brought down to the area,” he said, describing the town as “Biafra’s window to the world and hope for survival.”
According to him, “Many people may be wondering why we chose this ground for this launch. This ground is historic by its significant position as the last standing territory at a great time in the history of a great people and their unconquered resilience in the face of all odds.
“This is the home of the famous Uli Airport – an airport, which at some historic point, was the only link between Biafra land and the rest of the world. It remains a loud testimony and tribute to the Igbo ingenuity, innovation and the resilience for which we are known all over the world.
“Uli Airport remains one of our finest hours when in the midst of bombardments and gunfire; of injury, pain and death; we held forth and sustained an airport that was our support and our access to the whole world even in the midst of battle.
“Today, we stand to pay tribute to all those who died in the quest to build a nation out of the regions of Nigeria; we pay tribute to their courage, their valour and audacity of identity and self-expression.
“As we launch our campaign, we lift the “isi agu”(tiger head symbol of UPP), the very Igbo symbol of our courage, pride and undying consciousness as well as our composure and resilience as a people even in the face of adversity. It is therefore symbolic that the isi agu is also the emblem of our great party, the UPP, which today is the political vehicle for our new consciousness and engagement as a people in Nigeria and which also has in its manifesto, the quest and right to self-determination,” he said.
On his party, the National Chairman of UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the ruling APC “must have been overwhelmed by day time dreaming to think of taking over Anambra or penetrating Igbo land”.
He also chided APC’s National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, over his recent comment that the only way Igbos could run away from marginalisation is to join the APC.
“Now we know why they are marginalising us. But let me tell you, any Igbo man who was brought up properly would not vote for APC. The only way we can ensure we defeat them is to make sure that no part of Igbo land falls to APC. Our party would continue to talk about marginalisation. We will continue to talk about referendum and Biafra. We will not be intimidated. We are the only party that has referendum in our party manifesto,” he said.
The first son of the Biafran war lord, Sylvester Odumegu Ojukwu, who is a member of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) put his party’s toga under his pillow and attended Chidoka’s rally, it was gathered.
Speaking at the event, he said, “I left everything I had to do to come here because of the significance of Amorka to Igbo people. Amorka gave my father peace and happiness; today you are giving Anambra peace and happiness in the form of Chidoka.”
APGA promises salary increase, new airport
At a time when many states cannot pay salaries, coupled with the fact only last week governors approached President Muhammadu Buhari with their caps in hand, gazing at what remains of the Paris Club refund and hoping to grab it, Governor Willie Obiano said he will increase workers salary and build an airport city if given a second mandate.
APGA controls only Anambra out of the 36 states of the federation and the governor is stopping at nothing to get a second term.
Addressing a mammoth crowd at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, the state capital, Obiano said a bill to increase the workers’ salary is already before the state’s House of Assembly.
“For all civil servants, we have proposed a 15 per cent increment in salaries like we did in 2015 and once it is approved, your salaries will be increased
“Soon, there will be no need for people to travel to Enugu and Port Harcourt to board flights. It will be done here in our own state, let’s go now and spread the news of Onye aghana nwanne ya (be your brother’s keeper) because this is our own state,” he said.
APC’s N15,000 pay for students on holiday jobs
Like APGA, the APC’s gubernatorial candidate in Anambra, Dr. Tony Nwoye, beside other pledges, has promised that Students in Anambra State will have the opportunity of earning at least N15,000 during the long holidays if they enrol for a job scheme being proposed by the party.
Dr. Nwoye, a medical doctor, said, “ the jobs will be exclusive to students from SS1, both male and female. These students will be sent to government institutions or private companies to work during their long vacation.”
This promise is coming at a time when millions of graduates, who left the walls of universities and polytechnics are roaming the streets in search of job.
It’s ‘good governance and economic viability’ for PDP
PDP’s gubernatorial aspirant, Mr Oseloka Obaze, said that if elected, his administration would be premised on principles of good governance and economic viability.
Obaze had served as Secretary to the Anambra State Government (SSG) during the days of ex- Governor Peter Obi; and he is aligning with the former governor, who in turn is not in good terms with incumbent Governor Obiano, despite the fact that he (Obi) handed over to him (Obiano) in 2013.
He said he would “change-the narrative” on November 14.
“I am also connected to the grassroots, and the grassroots politicians, and my ears are on the ground to know when they are doing things and attend like I have always done even when I was not contesting election.
“I think with all modesty I am the most qualified to contest the election. We need to change the leadership narrative in Anambra State, we need to take the state forward,” he said.