Never in the annals of Nigeria’s nascent democratic sojourn since 1999 has there been such consternation and apprehension amongst the populace, with respect to the upcoming governorship election in Anambra State scheduled for Saturday, November 6.
This state of unease, besides the heightened insecurity and challenges which pervade the polity during an election period, has been exacerbated by the secessionist and oft-violent activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Despite the clarification that its directive for lockdown from November 5 to November 10, 2021 has nothing to do with the election, but only for Kanu’s release, the political atmosphere is turbocharged.
Both the electorates and those to be elected are in panic mode. The buildup is so ugly that even the candidates could not openly campaign or make promises – empty or of substance – to voters with electioneering campaigns holding in far-flung places like Lagos.
Allaying the fears of the populace, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, mandated the increased reinforcement in security personnel in order to allow residents to exercise their franchise.
In all, eighteen candidates have been listed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as having made it to the starting point of the gubernatorial race. Each had spent weeks selling their manifestos to the Anambra people.
The thorny issue of IPOB and the continued incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu took centre stage during the recently-held governorship debate with the four major candidates: Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Ifeanyi Uba of the Young Progressives Party (YPP); and Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC), unanimously pledging to commence peace talks after taking over the helm of affairs.
Besides this pledge towards quelling the secessionist agitations, it is trite to analyse the portfolios of each candidate in order for Anambra residents to make an informed choice regarding the next four years.
CHUKWUMA SOLUDO (APGA)
Chukwuma Soludo is a Nigerian economist, a professor, a one-time Governor, and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Professor Charles Soludo is the APGA aspirant for the Anambra State governorship elections scheduled for Saturday, November 6.
Soludo joined the Nigerian government in 2003 as the Chief Economic Adviser to former President Obasanjo and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Planning Commission of Nigeria.
In May 2004, he became the Chairman of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Also, he got an appointment from President Muhammadu Buhari, to be part of the newly formed 8-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) on September 16, 2019.
Despite this glowing profile, the former CBN governor was slammed with a lawsuit over alleged failure to declare his assets during his tenure at the apex bank.
In July 2021, a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Abuja issued a direct summons to him over alleged failure to declare his assets while serving as CBN Governor.
The summons were signed by Gambo Garba of the Upper Area Court, Zuba, Abuja.
In a direct complaint brought by one Oliver Bitrus, it was alleged that between the period Prof Soludo held office as a Public Officer, he flagrantly breached the Code of Conduct for Public officers by buying properties.
Oliver claimed that “the property was bought or acquired using a proxy and/or nominee company known as Universal Energy Company Limited, and which by his investigation, was incorporated in the Isle of Man; and now used to round-trip public funds for the purchase. As a matter of fact, the purchase price of £2,150, 000 was paid on 20th October 2006 in a single tranche, which sum was not fairly attributable to his income as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria at the material time.
He claimed further that, “Further investigation also disclosed that presently, the property is being occupied by the defendant, his spouse and children and used as their personal and official addresses for all their companies and other business undertakings.”
However, the APGA candidate refused to issue an official statement over these allegations which might make voters wary, considering the impunity and lack of accountability of Nigerian politicians.
VALENTINE OZIGBO (PDP)
Valentine Ozigbo was born in Amesi in Anambra State on August 20, 1970. He grew up there, and was enrolled in the town’s secondary school, Christ the Redeemer College, where he excelled academically and obtained his O-Levels.
Ozigbo is a trained accountant, having studied at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka between 1989 and 1993. He graduated with a First-Class degree (honours), the best in his department and the entire faculty during that academic session.
Two years after his first degree, Ozigbo returned to the University of Nigeria to obtain a Master’s degree in Business Administration, with specialisation in Banking and Finance, and he graduated in 1997. In 2003, he won a Chevening Scholarship to study Finance at UK’s Lancaster University, graduating in 2004 with a Distinction.
The PDP candidate had at least 16 years of professional banking experience working in some of the biggest banks in Nigeria. He was Head of Commercial Banking at Diamond Bank Plc for five years between 1995 and 2000, before proceeding to United Bank for Africa where he worked for a year (from 2000 to 2001) as a Business Manager.
In 2011, he delved into the hospitality business as the CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc, the parent company of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, and Transcorp Hotels, Calabar.
Nonetheless, his career was not without a blemish due to a lawsuit brought against him by Transcorp shareholders over abuse of office.
According to these claims, Ozigbo was actually reportedly fired by the board despite widespread reports about his resignation over his governorship aspirations.
The embattled politician was said not have filed any proceeding in response to the litigation pending before a Federal High Court Court, which was originally slated for hearing on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
The petition by Transcorp shareholders on March 2, 2020, was titled, “Demand for immediate resignation, refund of salaries and emoluments derived from Transcorp, and notice of intention to apply to the Federal High Court for leave to commence derivative action against Mr Valentine Ozigbo in the event of failure to yield.”
Tolu Babaleye, counsel for the petitioners, who are Transcorp shareholders, cited Ozigbo’s alleged violations as jeopardizing the hotel’s image and operations.
Ozigbo was also charged by Transcorp shareholders for receiving salary and emoluments from the firm while failing to perform services as required by the terms of engagement, according to the suit.
Presiding over the affairs of a state requires transparency and it will be advisable for the PDP candidate to redress these allegations due to any potential mud-slinging from critics and stakeholders in the future.
IFEANYI UBA (YPP)
Ifeanyi Ubah is a Nigerian entrepreneur, business mogul, and philanthropist. He is the chief executive of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, one of the major players in the Oil and Gas industry in Nigeria operating in downstream operations. Ifeanyi Ubah is also, the owner of Ifeanyi Ubah F.C., a Nigerian football club.
Having built the needed connections from various business interests over the years, Ifeanyi ventured into the oil and gas business by establishing Capital Oil SPRL in DRC, through which he imported oil and gas from Ibeto Petrochemicals Nigeria. His major customers were transporters and industrial establishments.
Capital Oil is a growing operator in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. With rapid business growth, the company extended into haulage, transportation, and petroleum products retail.
Within a few years into the business, Ifeanyi led his company to a vantage position of becoming a dominant leader in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
However, he was implicated as the largest beneficiary of the multi-billion fuel subsidy scam, through falsification and forgery, according to a 2012 police report.
The 23-page report by the Police Special Fraud Unit, dated November 5, 2012, said Capital oil received N43.291 billion for a supposed importation of 538.74 million liters of fuel, through fabrication and forgery of documents.
“These cloudy transactions of Capital Oil and Gas Limited was anchored on credit facilities provided by the bankers, which make the banks party to the transactions as original copies of the bills of lading were kept by banks as consignees of the cargoes, also proceeds of this fraudulent act were domiciled in banks,” the reports adds.
Ifeanyi Ubah was neither indicted nor exonerated over these weighty allegations due to the cumbersome nature of the nation’s judicial process. Uba has repeatedly denied any wrongdoings.
However, as a governorship aspirant, the onus is on Anambra residents to ensure all these claims are vetted and made known for the betterment of the state.
ANDY UBA (APC)
Andy Uba, a native of Uga in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State was born on December 14, 1958, in Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
After his primary education, Uba attended Boys High School Awkunanaw, Enugu for his secondary education before travelling overseas for his tertiary education.
He schooled at Concordia University Montreal, Canada, where he obtained his first degree in Geology in the year 1984. After his first degree, he worked for some time with Golden State Mutual Insurance of California between the years 1985 and 1992 before he engaged in further studies at California State University and later Buxton University where he obtained his Ph.D. in Bio-sciences in the year 1996.
While in the United States, Uba participated in the electioneering process that brought Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999 and he was appointed as the Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In 2007, he contested for and actually was declared winner of a gubernatorial election in Anambra State of Nigeria.
However, a challenge of the election in court by Peter Obi had the entire process truncated, as the court held that there was no vacancy in the Anambra State’s Government House to warrant the election in the first place.
Before his recent defection to the APC, Uba contested for and won election as PDP candidate for Anambra South Senatorial district in April 2011.
However, he has been under intense scrutiny by the UK and US Governments over alleged money laundering.
Uba reportedly ran into trouble with the American government in 2003 for smuggling $170,000 into the U.S, using Nigeria’s presidential aircraft which flew into New York for a meeting of the United Nations.
Uba also allegedly ran into trouble with the UK government and was barred from entry.
“On the basis of your character, conduct, and association with fraud and other criminal activities, your presence in the UK would not be conducive to the public good and the Home Secretary has therefore decided that you should be excluded from all territories of the United Kingdom,” the UK authorities told Uba in a December 2, 2008 letter informing him of a decision to revoke his multiple visit visa to the UK, a document from a London court revealed.
A running theme amongst these four major contestants is some measure of doubt cast on their integrity regarding financial dealings which is evidenced by the various lawsuits which make for bad reading ahead of the polls on Saturday.
As a region with massive human resources, which of these candidates can be confidently endorsed to coordinate the affairs of Anambra State without distress over a short time?
Furthermore, which of the candidates possesses the requisite network needed to attract foreign investments to the state?
Finally, which of these candidates can rally the residents together amid the IPOB furore for the betterment of the state?
The solutions to these thorny issues and more will give an inkling into the future of Anambra State regarding the eventual winner of the governorship elections.