Billionaires Battle

The Anambra State governorship election, scheduled for 6 February, promises to be a blockbuster

Drama, even of the tragic variety, is a fixture of Anambra State politics. In 2003, the state gave Nigeria the oath-taking saga at Okija Shrine and the substitution of winners of primary elections with those who did not participate in them by Chris Uba, a self-styled godfather. The same year witnessed the abduction of Chris Ngige, then a sitting governor, masterminded by the same godfather. In 2006, Ngige was sacked as governor by an election petitions tribunal, with generous assistance from his party, the Peoples Democratic Party. • Obi: Will he use the incumbency factor? The list is endless, a development that has cemented the state’s reputation as an indisputable laughing stock. On 6 February, the drama will continue–not that it ever stopped– when the state gubernatorial election will hold. All the ingredients for drama are present: a crowd of 25 sweet-talking candidates, desperate godfathers, premium thugs and a vast array of vote rigging tricks. And there is money; tonnes of it. In fact, this year’s election is effectively a contest of the moneybag. The power of money is already being felt. Candidates have been accusing one another of voter “buy-back,” a practice that sees candidates pay suspected supporters of their opponents to acquire their voting cards for sums ranging between N5,000 and N10,000.

The leading candidates, naturally, are those with the deepest pockets. Leading the pack are Professor Charles Soludo of the PDP, Andy Uba of the Labour Party, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife of the People’s Progressive Alliance, PPA; and Nicholas Ukachukwu of Hope Democratic Party, HDP. With state resources in his control, Peter Obi, the incumbent, is expected to put up a credible fight. There is also Chris Ngige of the Action Congress, AC, who was removed in 2006 by an election tribunal. Compared to those earlier mentioned, Ngige is considered a pauper. But he remains popular for taking on Chris Uba and is perceived to have performed well before he was thrown out of office.

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