OKEY MADUFORO reports on the task before Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State as he strives to deliver All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidates for the national and state Assembly elections in the state for the 2023 general election
The immediate past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, on a particular day in 2017, cut the picture of a man set to open a sad page in the history of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). His preparation for his reelection for a second term had been set in motion and all appeared to be a smooth ride back to the government house, Awka Soon his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, came into the picture of the contest with the introduction of Oseloka Obaze, who had served as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) both under Obi and Obiano. Obaze emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and he had the backing of Obi, which indeed was an ultimate challenge for the then incumbent Obiano.
At some point, the candidacy of Dr. Tony Nwoye on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) came into the power play and the political sea became more turbulent for Obiano and deepening his predicament was the expected visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Anambra State at that time.
Emotions ran wild when it was touted that Buhari was coming to campaign for the candidate of his party, Nwoye and that Obiano would be history. Obiano’s security details were withdrawn, but suddenly, the unexpected happened. Buhari restored Obiano’s security details and merely wished his candidate good luck without even raising his hands up before the crowd present at the APC gubernatorial rally. That was all that it took and was reelected as governor of Anambra State and APGA retained its stronghold and status as the ruling party in the state.
Similarly, Obiano was also faced with the challenges of handing over to yet another APGA governor, and as it were, the PDP had a new kid in town, Mr. Valentine Ozugbo, who was touted to have a strong profile to beat APGA’s candidate, Prof Chukwuma Soludo. However, against all odds of insecurity and apprehension over the position of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Obiano returned an APGA governor thereby sustaining the party’s hold on Anambra State. At the moment, Governor Soludo is coming to terms of the reality on ground, which is sustaining the hold of the party in Anambra State and his first baptism of fire is the forthcoming 2023 general election. Political watchers are of the view that the per-formance of APGA in the polls will determine Soludo’s second term hence he is expected to pull all strings to ensure that the party does not die under his watch.
Obi, indeed, sustained the party for over eight years and handed over to another APGA governor, Obiano, who also handed over to yet another APGA governor – Soludo hence the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has to roll his sleeves and tackle this challenge headlong. Soludo is expected deliver APGA’s national and state Assembly candidates in the general election else he will go down in history with the sad commentary of allowing the party to die in his hands.
No doubt, Soludo has a tough fight ahead in view of Nigeria’s unpredictable political climate occasioned by alignment and realignment of political forces that have continued to play out since after the primary elections of the various political parties. According to Anambra APGA Renaissance led by Chief Uchenna Chukwuka, “we don’t care how Soludo intends to achieve this but he has no choice but to deliver as expected.
We have candidates in all the elections, we want them all delivered and we are solidly behind Governor Soludo on this. “Anambra is an APGA state and we must sustain it to the end and you know that most of us in the party have remained loyal cardcarrying members of the party and who believe in the party and in our leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
“We are not going to abandon the party no matter what the challenges are and Soludo remains our governor and we shall help him to deliver.” A former National Publicity Secretary of APGA and one-time Special Adviser to former Governor Obiano, Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye, posited that Soludo has what it takes to ensure that APGA retains its hold on Anambra State. His words: “We have been long in politics to understudy the climate and predict how it would go and I can tell you that those things you hear and read everyday are part of the ingredients of politics but on the election day proper, you will not see or read anything. “It is then that we are expected to translate those things to real votes and you will discover that most people do not have voters’ cards.
Besides that, Governor Soludo has under one year hit the ground running through massive road construction that he has embarked upon. “Before the election proper, virtually every part of the state would have felt the impact of those projects and you will discover that the governor has restored the confidence of our people in governance and that is yet another plus for our party ahead of this coming elections.”
But with the manifest challenges of top contenders in other parties, it may not be a tea party for the party in power in Anambra State. There is growing support for Labour Party (LP), a development that has pitted former political allies against each other, with political missiles being fired at APGA from different positions. There is also the PDP arm of the battle which boasts of well-grounded politicians, who know the game and what it demands.
There is no gain saying the implications of those attacks on APGA in the coming elections and how the party hopes to pull through this opposition infested political waters is in the hands of Governor Soludo. While uncertainty is the picture for now, Dr Alex Obiogbolu, the Political Adviser to Soludo, sees a silver lining at the end. He said: “We do not wish to be distracted by those attacks because the governor is highly focused with his eyes on the ball at all times.
“We have the best of the candidates in this election from the National Assembly to the state Assembly, and with what we have on ground, victory is assured. So, we urge members of our party to continue to repose that implicit confidence on our leader and on our candidates.” However, opponents of APGA have not gone to sleep and that explains why every move by the party and the governor is under watch at all times.
This is against the backdrop of the fact that they are keeping a tab on him as he showcases the party’s candidates ahead of the election and the governor has found himself in-between supporting his party candidates and supporting those his traducers see as better candidates. They are also neck deep in exploiting every opportunity to lampoon the governor and every step he makes.
The recent security challenge has not helped matters as the opposition parties have alleged that he has began to lose the war against insecurity in the state. But the state commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Chief Chikodi Anara, who disagreed with the opposition, contended that Soludo is on top of the situation.
“Whoever tells you that we are losing the war against insecurity is only playing politics with the lives and property of the masses. They fail to appreciate the work of the security operatives thereby creating the erroneous impression that the state has relapsed security wise. “I challenge them to compare the security situation before the last election in Anambra State and now. I also see mischief in their submissions because if the old order has returned, they wouldn’t have been moving freely in the state, holding meetings and rallies without hearing gunshots here and there” he said. The claims and counter claims, notwithstanding, for Governor Soludo, the 2023 general election will certainly be a litmus test for him not as a banker and economist but as a governor and politician.