Ahead of the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, OKECHUKWU OBETA writes that the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo seem to be in the frontline to get the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo was already coasting to emerge the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the ruling party in the state, before he was attacked by gunmen, last Wednesday, who killed three policemen and kidnapped the Anambra State commissioner for public utilities, Emeka Ezenwanne.
The attack happened as Soludo held a meeting with youths and women in his Isuofia hometown in Aguata local government areaof the state.
Although the Police has made arrests and Ezenwanne is released, a seemingly unruffled Soludo who spoke on TV after the event, suspects the attack is politically motivated. But analysts like Mike Obiekwe are puzzled over whether or not such attacks would come to define the November 6 governorship election in the state.
“It is imperative that a full and conclusive investigation into the matter is done to properly situate the motive behind such daring attack. Even at that we might never know whether or not this level of violence would define the forthcoming poll,” Obiekwe, a legal practitioner stated.
But how this attack affects the ruling party in the state is another matter especially as it seems to be placing all it’s bet on Soludo to retain power in the state.
This much was manifest when the ex-CBN governor on February 18, 2021 formally declared his ambition to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming election at the party’s headquarters in the state.
The event attracted virtually all of the party’s major stakeholdersin the state. Apart from all members of the state working committee of the party led by its chairman, Chief Nobert Obi, members of the Governor Willie Obiano-led administration were also at the event.
The party’s three zonal vice chairmen, its chairmen in the 21 local governments, Transition Committee chairmen in the local governments, as well as party executives in the 326 wards also attended.
To further underscore his acceptability to fly the APGA flag, two out of the five House of Representatives members elected on the party’s platform namely, Hons Chiedu Obidigwe (Anambra East/Anambra West) and Dozie Nwankwo (Aniocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia) accompanied him to the event.
After donating millions of naira to the party leadership to mark Soludo’s seeming endorsement, the federal lawmakers extolled the qualities of the ex-CBN governor and his chances of winning the governorship election for the party.
Some members of APGA Board of Trustees (BoT) also accompanied Soludo to the declaration ceremony.
But, events that played out shortly after Soludo’s declaration indicated that the party leadership may have foreclosed the chances of any other person picking its gubernatorial ticket.
After the former CBN governor’s visit to the party headquarters, the member representing Aguata federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji also stormed the office, declaring his interest in emerging APGA candidate for the November 6 poll.
Incidentally, Umeoji, who is believed to have a strong financial backing for the governorship contest, hails from the same Aguata local government area as Soludo. While Soludo hails from Isuofia, Umeoji is from Ezinihite community.
However, shortly after Umeoji’ declaration, the APGA leadership swiftly placed a ban on anyone going to the state headquarters to declare intention to vie for the party’s governorship ticket. The party stated that every other person who wants to contest for the party’s governorship ticket should go to the wards and local governments to canvass for support.
While pundits aver that the move is calculated to pave way for Soludo’s candidacy, attempts to get reaction from the party leadership over this matter proved abortive as the party spokesman was not reachable as of press time.
But besides Soludo and Umeoji, other party members jostling for the party’s governorship ticket are former aide to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Akachukwu Nwankpo, two Reps members: Hons Okwudili Ezenwaka and Hon Ifeanyichukwu Momah as well as the proprietor of Stanel Oil, Mr. Stanley Uzochukwu, among others.
Nwankpo has been more outspoken about the party’s preference for Soludo ahead of the primaries. He accused Soludo of trying to intimidate other aspirants from contesting the party’s governorship ticket.
He further told Soludo that with credentials like his, he would be more beneficial to humanity as a global player instead of governor of the state.
Responding, however, the ex-CBN governor who believes his ambition is divine, stated that he has contributed enough to the strengthening of global, African and Nigerian institutions. For him, it was time to focus on Anambra.
Soludo told APGA faithful when he visited the party office that his ambition to govern Anambra state was born purely out ofaltruism; that as a son of the state, he wants to give back to hisstate the special talent God freely endowed him with.
He said that for more than two years now people of various social strata in the state and outside have been mounting pressure on him and spending their resources and time in mobilising support for him to become governor, but that he had all the while told them that he would prefer to pray over it and wait for God’s approval.
He said that God has directed him now to come and become governor of the state; that if he failed to harken to the Divine call,he might not be judged to have discharged his assigned duties here on earth whenever he returned to his creator.
Soludo says “I feel that I have finished with the rest of the world –International community, I’m done. I don’t need any more job; I have finished with Abuja. A grateful nation has honoured me with the third highest National Honour. So what else am I looking for in that place?”
But this is not Soludo’s first attempt at emerging governor. In 2009, he contested on the platform of the PDP but lost, interestingly to APGA’s Peter Obi at the time. His emergence as PDP candidate attracted litigations at the time.
After that defeat he left PDP and subsequently joined APGA.
However besides his party, the zoning arrangement seems to favour him this time. Soludo hails from the South Senatorial zone favoured to produce Governor Obiano’s successor based on the zoning arrangement for the governorship seat as adopted by the party.
And in spite Umeoji’s interest for the party ticket, the Aguata local government chapter of the party has already endorsed the ex-CBN governor as their sole candidate.
The deputy chairman of the party in the local government, Chief O. C. J. Ezechukwu revealed this much when he said the party has adopted him as sole candidate for thegovernorship ticket in their local government. Chairman of Soludo’s Isuofia Ward, Chief Okeke Chukwuemeka Anthony corroborated.
Still, the race for the ticket is only beginning as it remains to be seen how the party would manage the brewing tussle for its governorship flag at a time APC and PDP are waiting in the wings to maximize on its mistakes.