Ubah And Syndrome Of Anointed Candidate


By IfeanyiChukwu Afuba

Every politically conscious citizen of Anambra State knows that Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is seized with the ambition of becoming the next Governor of the State in 2026. What no one seems to know is what developmental ideas Ubah, who presently represents Anambra South Zone in the Senate, has about governing the State. Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, who often looks vacuous, has not professed any socioeconomic vision for the State. If indeed, the controversial politician has sat down to think through a development framework, he has not shared it with the public.

But whereas the Nnewi born citizen has been wanting on governance perspectives, he has shown notable capacity in political advertisement and mobilisation.
Ubah’s restlessness over the first citizen’s job which he had failed to clinch in two previous attempts, has seen him busy coupling and inaugurating all sorts of support groups across the State. Whether as a strategy to make their task easier or as article of their faith in the rule of power, the Senator’s managers and canvassers tell you unapologetically that their principal is the anointed Governor come 2026. This posturing is amplified by loud logos of the Senator on social media. If the basis of the boast is unclear to anyone, then it means you’re unable to factor in Ubah’s recent photo opportunity with the President, Bola Tinubu during a visit to Aso Rock Villa, April 3, 2024; his strategic closeness to Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and APC Chairman Umar Ganduje’s personal attendance of Ubah’s empowerment scheme at Nnewi, 18 March, 2024.

But this card of the heir apparent, supposedly an ace is an explosive game, often with damning consequences. By it’s very nature, the concept of a superior candidate to whom other aspirants, nilly willy, must bow, generates backlash. It ends up stigmatizing the perceived beneficiary.

The history of Anambra State governorship is decidedly that of progressive politics rooted in social justice. This is so, given Christianity’s influence on Anambra society. Added to a cosmopolitan outlook, the principle of fundamental freedoms is widely shared. Consequently, the arrogance of anointed candidate is resented and resisted as much. Subscribers of this palace mentality have mostly lived to regret their effrontery.

In the original transition process of the Babangida dictatorship slated to end October 1990, Ben Ossy Umunna, the chosen one of a group of power brokers, fizzled out before the race started, notwithstanding the visibility his primed office as Chairman of Rangers Football Club gave him. For the extended transition programme governorship election of December 1991, enlightened and popular opinion preferred Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife to assume headship of government. But the motor park dimension of Nigerian politics threw up a counter candidate, Mr Okey Odunze in the Social Democratic Party primaries. The selection process was corrupted, thus, producing magical victories for Odunze. The counter candidate and his henchmen considered their coronation a foregone conclusion irrespective of the anger in the land. The political elite moved to avert the danger and through the instrumentality of the National Electoral Commission, indicted aspirants were disqualified from the race. Ezeife was subsequently elected Governor.

The power speculators would appear to be more daring at each new turn but so also the resolve of Ndi Anambra not to surrender.

As the transition programme of the general Sani Abacha junta appeared to gather steam in 1997, Joy Emodi a member of Congress of National Consensus (CNC) was touted as having been endorsed by Aso Rock to become the next Governor of Anambra State. Mercifully, it was said that the deal had been done and sealed by the wife of the ruling general, not the dictator himself. And the candidate herself began to parade as Governor in waiting. The first indication of rejection of the plot came in the form of trivialisation. A rush of female aspirants was suddenly noticed in the five political parties of the era. And the explanation was none other than that Aso Rock vowed a female Governor for Anambra State without personalisation; so it could be any of them. However, the bluff was more firmly called with the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), a major political party with powerful sponsors at the Villa, pressing on in the governorship race. And the female Governor in waiting never became a Deputy Governor to this day.

At the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1998/1999, PDP was the dominant party in Anambra State. But it’s loss of power in the 2003 election started from attempted imposition of a gubernatorial candidate in 1998. Professor Alphonsus Nwosu was believed to have an understanding with the State leadership of the party to emerge the governorship candidate. The perception instigated a crisis in the party, which itself, produced the climate for Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju to bulldoze his way as the eventual candidate. Predictably, the contradictions of Mbadinuju’s stormy ascension snowballed into the quest for political alternative in 2003.

Months before the April 19, 2003 election, it was common knowledge that APGA’s Peter Obi would win in a fair contest. It was also common knowledge that a band of power speculators headed by a so – called godfather were hellbent to foist their choice as Governor. APGA won handsomely but was declared loser in a show of national shame called 2003 general election. The Obasanjo presidency deployed a climate of intimidation to suppress outcry of electoral fraud, oblivious of the limits of temporal power. With invocation of divine intervention however, things fell apart in the usurper leadership, allowing successful prosecution of Obi’s election petition.

Restoration of APGA – Peter Obi mandate was a watershed in Anambra’s, nay, Nigeria’s political history. It was a feat that shocked the rice and sauce wing of Nigeria’s political class who had made a religion of incumbency politics. Although humiliated, these traditional, career politicians were not about to give up. They fought back first, with the jungle impeachment of Peter Obi in November 2006, and on it’s nullification, with Andy Ubah’s wretched, 17 day governorship, as well as subsequent attempts to reverse the Supreme Court judgment of June 15, 2007 upholding Obi’s four year tenure. Ndi Anambra were united in resisting Ubah’s imposition on them as Governor because the very idea was insulting, enslaving, anti development. Conceding Ubah’s power delusions would have amounted to betrayal of their Christian civilization. Still not learning the lesson that power comes from God, not from presidential connection or transactional politics, Ubah got no sympathy when his purported nomination as APC candidate in Anambra’s 2022 governorship poll was invalidated by the courts.

For his part, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah appears unmindful of the mood of Ndi Anambra. The clamour is for continuation of the Soludo administration’s track record of modernisation, infrastructure provision and frugal spending. While acknowledging Ubah’s right to run for Governorship, many wonder what he intends to bring to the table. Displaying little enthusiasm for discourse on development issues, how would he engage Ndi Anambra on governance conversations? Some ponder what assures the attitude that his antecedents will not be taken into account in the governorship race. Surely, scrutiny of the background of aspiring leaders is a legitimate public exercise. The controversies arising from business deals with two prominent kinsmen are in the public domain and quite revealing. There is also the bitter complaint on the showy undertaking of Nnewi Diocesan Cathedral building which left the project abandoned for many years. A leader of society should be someone that can be trusted, not one who habitually breaks agreements. As it were, analysts consider that Ubah’s governorship ambition lies between compulsive electoral candidacy and power – game of anointed candidate.

Indeed, the first shot against the plot of crown prince may have been fired from the APC itself. In New Telegraph story of January 10, 2024, with the caption “We’ll Not Allow Strangers to Destabilize Anambra APC, George Moghalu, the man who shattered Senator Andy Ubah’s triumphalist toga of the ultimate candidate, hinted on the attitude of old brigade members to new members of the party such as Ifeanyi Ubah, clinching the governorship ticket. To the question, “the 2025 governorship election in Anambra State is more than two years away but some people who recently joined the party (APC) are being tipped as candidates already”, Moghalu responded: “That’s what I call desperation. Someone just left his or her former party to join another party just for the selfish purpose of getting the ticket. What that implies is that those people have not come into the APC to help build the party but just to contest election.”

If the sensitivity on spoilsport candidates can be so much felt at party level, the consciousness promises to graduate into a movement with the Anambra voting public in the main election.

Afuba is Director, Public Administration Circle, Awka.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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