With the dismal performance of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, IKENNA OBIANERI writes that the state Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, and his party are in a fierce battle for the control of the state legislature with the Labour Party
There is no doubt that the happenings in the political circle in the past few days in Anambra State have narrowed down the battle for the control of the state legislature ahead of the rescheduled March 18 governorship and state houses of Assembly poll to two political heavyweights and two political parties: The state Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance and a former governor of the state and presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.
Anambra is one of the states in which the governorship election will not be taking place on Saturday.
And to underline the importance of the Assembly poll, these two gladiators – Soludo and Obi – have both campaigned vigorously for their various candidates and parties for the control of the 30-member state legislature on Saturday.
Currently, APGA occupies 19 seats, followed by the Peoples Democratic Party with seven, the All Progressives Congress has three and the Labour Party has one.
Following the performance of the Labour Party at the February 25 presidential and national assembly polls, where it swept over 95 per cent of the votes, clinched two senatorial seats and also won six out of the 11 slots in the House of Representatives seats in the state, it is obvious that this unexpected feat by the party changed the narrative and dynamics and also sent jitters down the spines of other opponents ahead of the March 18 polls.
Although other political parties are still in the race, the battle has effectively become that of the LP against the others, particularly APGA. With what the Labour Party did during the presidential election, it became obvious that the effect of the “OBIdient” family as Obi’s supporters are known cannot be ignored.
APGA has been the ruling party in Anambra since 2006, going with the slogan, “Anambra is APGA land – Nka bu nke ayin”. By this, the state governor, who is the leader and the only governor on the party’s platform, is under intense pressure, not only to ensure that the status quo is maintained but to also make sure that APGA is not defeated on March 18, as it is widely believed that doing so, will definitely make the party go into extinction.
Soludo has at different campaign grounds and fora, continuously maintained that the people of Anambra should vote for APGA in the state Assembly poll, as according to him, APGA-dominated legislature will not only ensure stability in the state but will also continue to engineer the current “developmental strides” his administration has embarked upon in the state.
Although, stakeholders in the state are of the view that APGA-dominated legislature will usher as an ‘insurance cover’ for the governor’s re-election in 2026.
Fortunately for the governor, he has only the Assembly polls to concentrate on on Saturday, as the governorship election will not be in the state. Therefore, it has afforded him more opportunities to fine-tune the chances of his party and its candidates. It is also believed that this move has become apparent as getting majority seats in the state Assembly would avert any impeachment move against him.
Soludo, whose party failed to win any of the senatorial seats or deliver the state to its presidential candidate, Prof Peter Umeadi, during the February 25 polls, knows he has to double his efforts if he intends to get the majority in the state assembly, which is hanging in the balance considering the voting pattern in the last election, where the LP dominated in all the 21 local government areas of the state.
Perhaps, one thing that has remained on the lips of many after the February 25 poll has been what is referred to as the “Obi tsunami” factor. A factor that came with the Labour Party sweeping victories across the country, a feat which was highly instrumental in effectively ending the dominance of some political heavyweights and throwing up relatively unknown players in the saddle.
For instance in Anambra, the dominance of the duo of the PDP senatorial candidates, Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah, who have become perennial customers at the Upper legislative house ended with the emergence of LP candidates Victor Umeh and Tony Nwoye respectfully. This feat by the LP candidates, no doubt, was made possible by the “Obi tsunami”. It, therefore, became a case of “the fear of Obi” becoming the beginning of wisdom” in Anambra.
However, all hope is not lost, as the state APGA, headed by the governor and his candidates have been making frantic efforts to reverse the situation by ensuring that the “Obi tsunami” did not play any damaging effect during the Assembly poll. What is clear is that this weekend is crucial for the governor and his party if they must still remain relevant in their regional role as the party for the region.
Therefore, Soludo and his party candidates took their campaign to the markets and streets to tell the traders and residents about the need to vote for his party in the March 18 election, noting that achieving this would help him continue the development of the state. Although the governor will be marking his first anniversary in office on March 17, his eyes will still be on the ball for the March 18 battle for the control of the state legislature.
The former Central Bank of Nigeria governor has constantly maintained that his achievements in office in less than one year as governor of the state were enough to give victory to the candidates of the APGA in the state House of Assembly elections on March 18.
Adding to the fierce battle during the week is the tension generated between the camp of the governor and the LP and as expected, both camps have been firing salvos at each other and locked in a battle of words and wit.
While Obi is hoping to use his influence and that of his party to win a higher number of lawmakers in the assembly, APGA, the ruling party, is also fighting for the dominance of the state assembly.
To also underline the importance of the Assembly election to the Labour Party, Obi, while speaking to party supporters and residents in the state, urged them to remain resilient and be focused, despite his loss at the polls. He also called for support for all the LP candidates in the House of Assembly election, noting that the wave of change sweeping across the country cannot be stopped by anyone.
The former Anambra governor had last week met with National and state Assembly candidates of his party in the state, where he urged them to work with Soludo after they had been elected. He told his party members that Soludo remained his brother and that he should not fear being impeached by the Labour Party-dominated assembly, as all that was paramount was to bring development to the state.
But reacting swiftly, the governor’s Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, insisted that Obi’s call was rather “deceptive”, and was meant to deceive the people of Anambra against Soludo.
Aburime said, “That call was meant to deceive Anambra people. Obi cannot be talking about development in Anambra and also be talking about asking Anambra people to elect lawmakers from the opposition party to work with Soludo.
“He worked with a legislature that was dominated by lawmakers from the PDP when he first came in as governor, and he knows that it was not easy for him. He even suffered impeachment because of that, and we hope it is not the same thing he wants to set Soludo up for.
“Anambra people should go all out next Saturday and vote for APGA if they want the developmental strides of Mr Governor to continue. You can not be talking about development and at the same time talking about electing opposition politicians into the House of Assembly, it is not done. It is deceit.
“Anambra people supported Obi during the presidential election, and besides, Soludo refused to interfere as the people trooped out to vote for Labour Party, and that was even before Soludo made the environment conducive for people to come out and vote.
“We have voted Labour Party in the presidential election, but for the House of Assembly election, we are voting for APGA, and we want Anambra people to know so.”