Last week, the two remaining giants on the political scene of Anambra State, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the People's Democratic Party, PDP, concluded their primary elections by choosing their nominees for the great showdown that will take place on November 18, this year. Those primaries produced Hon Tony Nwoye, a grassroots politician and current member of the Federal House, and Mr Oseloka Obaze, a renowned diplomat, writer, social critic, as well as the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, SSG.
The two joined others, both known and unknown, in the long and hard race to the seat of government in Awka. Among the other contestants are industrialist, Godwin Ezeemo, of PPA; Sam Oraegbunam of Hope Democratic Party and others. These men have just one ambition: to unseat the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano. How they do that is what we are all waiting to see as events unfold quickly from now on ahead of D-Day.
The primaries produced surprises and drama. Surprise as in the emergence of Tony Nwoye, a former student unionist. He triumphed over his master, Andy Uba. It wasn't just that he triumphed, but he did so in some style, given the gap with which he dusted Andy, a serving senator, as well as a famous 17-day governor.
It can be said that without Uba, Nwoye will not be what he is today, politically speaking. But then the boy has beaten the man. The surprise element was heightened by Uba's pre-primary rating. He was seen as a formidable opponent, not just within APC, but outside. Indeed, other parties must have heaved a sigh of relief that it was not Uba that emerged as APC's candidate. The reason isn't far-fetched: he is seen as a master manipulator and puller of strings.
In the days of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Uba, though derided by many as a glorified houseboy to Baba, as Obasanjo is called, was still feared because of his powers. Uba then prided himself as being the first man to see Baba in the morning and the last man to see him, being that he was virtually living with Baba and attending to him at every minute of the day. That was how the houseboy appellation was born.
But it didn't matter to Uba. As long as he had the ears of Baba, regarded as all powerful at the time; that was enough for Andy. And indeed it was enough for him. From the confines of Aso Rock, he pulled the strings and called the shots here. That was how he aided Nwoye in clinching the presidency of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, at the time. He was also believed to have facilitated the emergence of Nwoye later as the state PDP chairman here and used Nwoye to eventually secure the PDP ticket to run for governor in 2007. In between, many things happened.
Chief of them was the unlawful impeachment of then Governor Peter Obi. Before the impeachment, Uba had allegedly gotten the PDP-filled state house of assembly to request Baba to release Uba for them in order to be governor. It was during Baba's tour of Anambra on the invitation of then Gov Obi.
But that didn't stop the house, loyal to Uba at the time, from literally begging Baba on the floor of the house when he attended a special session of the house in his honour, to release Uba to them to be the next governor. It happened in the very before (front) of Obi. It was followed by the disqualification by INEC of all the strong candidates of other parties before the 2007 guber election, allegedly at the instigation of Uba. These plots were allegedly orchestrated to grant Uba a free passage to the Agu Awka seat.
That election turned out to be a selection as Uba literally contested unopposed. But that was as far as he got. At exactly 17 days of assuming power, he was ousted from office by the Supreme Court and Obi, the beneficiary, continued as governor of the state.
Since then, Uba has been to the senate twice and has continued at every opportunity to contest for governor. But his antecedents have followed him, as well as the fear factor. Uba seems to cherish that fear factor and thus always manages to give the impression of being connected to the power corridors. Perhaps that was why he quit PDP to join APC, a party that is now in power.
In the senate he is the chairman of the committee on INEC, the nation's electoral umpire. This was majorly why his possible emergence as the party's standard bearer was dreaded. And why not? As the senate committee chairman on INEC and as a member of the ruling party, he possessed the capacity to do what we call ''Chandum'' or rigging. That was why many parties are probably celebrating his ouster. That's as far as the surprise element of the primaries went.
As for the dramatic element, we have the candidacy of Yul Edochie, a Nollywwod actor. Now, there's an ongoing controversy on social media as to whether Yul is serious or not. While some see him as a joker, others see him as serious, at least, as far as youth representation is concerned. But then we know that contesting an election in Nigeria isn't an owambe dance. It isn't something that any rookie wakes up one morning and decides to take on. Contesting elections here is an expensive business and that is why those without the financial clout or backing are regarded as jokers.
To that extent, Yul's aspiration appears as a kind of comic relief. Indeed, I've wondered at the strength of his structure in the grassroots, and whether his aspiration is a prelude to a new script to be aired on Nollywood.
Anyway, Yul and others like him can always be seen in every election. All it takes is for them to print posters and some people are bound to address them as ''Your Excellencies'' for life. It doesn't matter if they do not have any base in the grassroots or even one tenth of the funds to prosecute a campaign as costly as the governorship.
Following Yul in the drama series was the action of oil magnate and sports guru, Ifeanyi Ubah, of PDP. Shortly after he realized that he had been beaten at the PDP primary, he stormed up to the stage and snatched the microphone to condemn the process.
While it is his right to protest, I didn't see the way he did it as befitting of one aspiring to govern a worthy state as Anambra. His action reminded me of what he did during a football match in Nnewi between his team and Heartland of Owerri. He was fined by the nation's soccer body for entering the pitch during a scuffle among the players of both teams to push and shove a Heartland player.
That was the day I began to view him differently. I began to see the other side that isn't too good to me as a would-be leader. A leader displays maturity and the right temperament at trying moments. If anything, his latest display at the venue of the primary didn't do much to dispel my fears or to edify him. I couldn't possibly see an Ezeemo, Obaze or Obiano, whom he plans to contest against or unseat, doing exactly what Ubah did at the venue of the primary. It simply smacked of immaturity and/or childish exuberance. Perhaps, that would have sufficed for a gangster movie script. Goes to show that money doesn't provide class.
Well, the primaries have come and gone and the action starts now. We can expect hits or blows below the belt by desperate or fearful opponents. To them, anything goes, but then, what separates the boys from the men is the respect shown to opponents, not how efforts are made to tarnish their image. Those who restrict their campaigns to issues are likely to be respected.
Anambra voters have proved over time that they are discerning. Above and beyond the razzmatazz of the candidates and their supporters, they will always go for class, maturity and ideas. The days of the locusts are over. Our people have learnt how to ''eat'' politicians' money and still vote according to the dictates of their hearts.
As was proved in the primaries, nothing can be taken for granted now. Money may exchange hands openly, but the voting is done secretly. Therein lies the trump card held by voters.
As we have known the main men, it is now time to do some honest assessment of those lining up to manage our affairs.