New Telegraph

2023: Litmus test as Soludo leads APGA to the polls

OKEY MADUFORO reports on the task ahead for Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, as he leads the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to battle in the forthcoming national and state assembly elections in the state

 

There is no doubt that Governor Charles Soludo, had a near smooth ride to Anambra State government house, Awka in November last year, after winning the gubernatorial election.

 

His victory no doubt was one that was occasioned by the incumbency factor of his party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as well as the mass movement and support of an army of top party leaders and stakeholders of Anambra politics.

 

Similarly, he had in his kitty over one hundred and fifty support groups such as the United Anambra Youth Assembly (U-AYA) and the United Anambra Women Assembly (U-AWA) as well as Youth Earnestly Support Soludo (YESS), among others.

 

While Soludo basks in the euphoria of his teaming support of his foot soldiers, the forthcoming 2023 general election would surely be a litmus taste for Soludo as APGA strives to sustain its hold on Anambra State. Since 2003 till date, APGA has had an avalanche of both internal wrangling and external challenges, which had apparently brought out both the good the bad and the magical.

 

As it were, former Governor Peter Obi was the flagship of this battle for the soul of the party and he practically sustained the party for eight years and installed an APGA governor in Chief Willie Obiano, who also ensured that the victory flame of the party didn’t extinguish under his watch hence handing over to another APGA governor.

 

With Soludo’s receipt of the baton, political watchers are awaiting a replication of the feat achieved by Obi and Obiano if not surpassing it. The Anambra governor cannot be said to be unmindful of the great task ahead of him and at a recent gathering with party leaders and stakeholders at the Governor’s Lodge Amawbia, he reassured them that the party would endure and come out unscathed.

 

But his traducers went to town to report that Soludo mocked Peter Obi and the report indeed shows the quantum of what opponents of the party have in their arsenal and a well-tailored war plan to sink the ship of APGA if Soludo goes to sleep. Compounding the fate of the party is the defection of the longest serving national chairman of the party, Senator Victor Umeh to the Labor Party (LP).

 

Similarly, Soludo may be faced with the challenge of campaigning for his party’s presidential candidate, Justice Peter Umeadi, a retired Chief Judge of Anambra against his longtime friend and presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Obi, who appears to be on the lips of most Nigerians.

 

Also he is currently battling over how to win the National Assembly election for APGA’s candidate in view of the fact that both the presidential and National Assembly elections would hold the same day.

But the Special Adviser to Soludo on Political Matters, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, one of the oldest and experienced politicians in the state is not losing sleep over this ultimate challenge. According to Obiogbolu, there is nothing to worry about because APGA is on ground in the state and for Governor Soludo, his administration so far has taken governance to the grassroots and he has been able to sustain the confidence of the people.

 

His words: “We are mindful of what your fears are but with the style of democracy and politics that are in place in the country now, people don’t consider party but the quality and capacity of the candidates that are on the ballot. “You saw what happened in the last Osun State gubernatorial election. Even with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in power, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) carried the day and Anambra will not be an exception in the coming election.

 

“When you look at the conduct of our party primary election, you will discover that Governor Soludo chose not to interfere with the internal affairs of the party. He encouraged a free and fair contest during the primaries. He practically allowed party delegates to decide and nominate their candidates, so that nobody would go to court to claim that the governor had anointed candidates.

 

“Anyone that is protesting may be those who were expecting to win against the run of play, which is against the laid down processes of the party. But APGA has nominated its first eleven and I can assure you that they will come out victorious as the process that nominated them showed that they are the best.”

 

APGA has three senatorial candidates and eleven House of Representatives candidates, who according to Obiogbolu have been meeting and interfacing with the party and Anambra electorate, adding that his office has put together formidable war chess to execute the general election. An insight into the chances of these candidates paints a picture of a crop of politicians with experience and structures but it is left for them to bring their respective experience to bear before and during the election.

 

Among the candidates is Chris Azubogu, who is addressed as Mr. Project following his membership of the Committee of Appropriation at the Federal House of Representatives and had used his position to attract capital projects to not only Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Constituency but across the state. He is a three term member of the Green Chambers and came close to being nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the last governorship election in Anambra State.

 

Azubogu believes in putting in place lasting and sustainable legacies. He has also impacted on the trade and commerce sector of the state and the South-East hence exposing the sector to the world. No doubt, his experience at the National Assembly would surely pay off in the coming election depending on how he and his party play the game.

 

Also on the list is Dozie Nwankwo, who caused the greatest upset in the last primary election of APGA, when he defeated the former national chairman of the party, Senator Victor Umeh, who many felt will have an easy victory. Proving book makers wrong, Nwankwo dusted Umeh to become the senatorial candidate of Anambra Central District.

 

The two-term member representing Anaocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka federal constituency will slug it out with the Senator Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Umeh who is contesting on the platform of Labour Party.

 

Nwankwo has in almost eight years as a member of the National Assembly taken the constituency to an enviable height and his capacity to sustain APGA’s hold on the three local government areas is to his advantage and that of the party. It is believed that his achievements in the Green Chamber will better his chances in the election.

 

There is Chinedu Obidigwe, a young lawmaker, who is among party chieftains that ensured Soludo’s victory in the he last election. Obidigwe indeed has Anambra East and West federal constituency under firm hold and political watchers are of the view that it would be pretty difficult to upstage him. Obidigwe has empowered almost every farmer, fisherman and women in the two local government areas to the extent that his campaign for a second term in office is being executed by the village and community leaders.

 

He has also built a support base for the party in his constituency as well as in the state hence he is an asset to the party and it would indeed be a great shock for the party to lose in the area. For Paschal Agbodike, who defeated the incumbent lawmaker for Ihiala federal constituency, Emeka Muoma, during the party primary election, his constituency is a major flash point at every general election in view of the voting strength and the level of political awareness in the area and it also has top flight politicians and major stakeholders in the state.

 

The two term member of Anambra State House of Assembly and current Deputy Speaker of the House, however, has to battle with PDP and APC tin gods to prove to his supporters that he is in charge.

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