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Published On: Sun, Sep 3rd, 2017

Tony Nwoye: His victory and the odds

OBINNA EZUGWU |

Few people saw Nwoye’s emergence coming. Beyond the shores of Anambra State, he is hardly known. In the House of Representatives where he is a member, he is rarely in the news, and when compared to Senator Andy Uba, a colossus in the state politics who almost single handedly put him in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in 2015 after several pleas, he is easily dwarfed.
But in politics, an hour they say, is a long time. Today, Nwoye is the candidate of the APC in the upcoming Anambra governorship election, beating not only the Anambra South senator to it, but also the party’s long serving National Auditor, George Moghalu and eight other candidates, including Engr Barth Nwibe.
In its Monday, July 10, 2017 edition, Business Hallmark had written of Dr. Tony Okechukwu Nwoye, last week’s winner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election in Anambra State thus: “This time, the 42-year-old is back in contention under the platform of APC, and there are reasons he is not only expected to beat Andy Uba for the party’s ticket, but also give Obiano a tough challenge.
“He is a popular figure in the state, a grassroots mobiliser and a man of means who has been in the political scene from his undergraduate days when he served as president of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in 2003. By 2006, he was already the Chairman, Anambra State Executive Committee of the PDP at age 31.
“But more importantly, he is from the core Anambra North and already, with the insistence of traditional rulers in the state that the zone must be allowed to complete their eight years, the APC is said to be considering him over Andy Uba who is from the South Senatorial District.”
He polled 2,146 votes out of the 4, 333 votes cast, while Uba got 931 votes to come a distant second. Other aspirants with considerable vote figures included Muoghalu with 525 votes, Engr Barth Nwibe with 414 votes and Paul Chukwuma 110 votes. The fact  that he is from Anambra North would have played a major role in his election as candidate, no doubt, but it is no mean feat by all standards.
But for Nwoye, it is only the scaling of the first hurdle. He is up against the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Oseloka Obaze of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP) and Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA). These are no easy opponents, but how will the Nsugbe born politician fare in what is now more or less a battle of Anambra North Senatorial Zone, the zone where both himself, Obiano and Obaze come from.
He is confident, promising in his speech, to deliver the state to APC and accused APGA of using attachment to the late Biafra leader, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to deceive the people while siphoning state funds.
“We will tell our people that it is about the individual. Let them stop using APGA. They have used APGA enough to rob Igbo,” he said.
“If APGA is truly an Igbo party, why is it that up till now, it is only in Anambra State? Why is it that in the House of Representatives there are only two APGA members and out of 109 senators, none is an APGA senator? Why is it that since the time of Ojukwu who is the symbol of APGA, they could not win one single state outside Anambra? They have been using it to hold our people down, to siphon our money and we must stop it.”
He promised massive job creation as a way of fighting youth restiveness in the state, noting that it is only through job creation that crime can be fought, not with bullets.
Nwoye is no stranger to Anambra political landscape; he has a reason to be confident. He was the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2013 election in which he came second to the incumbent Obiano despite not receiving the much needed support of the party’s national leadership and then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Before then, he had served as Assistant Secretary of the Executive Committee of the state PDP in 2005 and by 2006 at the age of 31, he became the Chairman of the Committee,  making him the youngest State Chairman of a major political party in the entire nation.
In 2015, he was elected into the House of Representatives where he currently represents Anambra East/West Federal Constituency. But it has to be emphasised that his success in 2015 was almost entirely the making of Andy Uba who was the key figure of the PDP in the state at the time.
It is not surprising therefore, that in his victory speech, he properly paid homage to the senator whom he described as “his boss” and basically congratulated him despite beating him to the ticket.
On November 18, he would be looking to better his outing in 2013 by clinching the coveted seat of power in the state. He is also said to be sponsored by billionaire business man, Arthur Eze, and in addition he is running on the platform of a ruling party that would certainly bring federal might to bear. These factors will work in his favour, but will they be adequate? It doesn’t seem very likely.
As much as the factors emphasised above will help him in his quest, there are still other factors that might work against him and ultimately see him come short. The most critical of which, incidentally, is the APC itself. A few weeks ago, BusinessHallmark took a trip around the state to sample opinions on the November polls.
At the end of it two things were clear; one being that the incumbent Obiano, despite seeing his popularity wane considerably in recent months, is still considered a favorite; and two, there is still strong anti APC sentiments in the state with many respondents declaring emphatically that the party cannot win an election there.
This sentiment was captured by 80-year-old Linus Nwokoye, a resident of Awka, the state capital, who quipped: “APC is an Hausa/Fulani party, no one will vote for APC here.”
UPP National Chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie re-echoed this in a chat with Business Hallmark thus: “APC is still a party that no normal Anambra man or an Igbo man will vote for because the party has not hidden its hostility towards the Igbo people.”
Our continuous interaction with people around the state suggests that things have not changed in this regard despite Nwoye’s emergence as candidate.
“The general perception here is that the APC has just lost the election by choosing Nwoye instead of Andy Uba as candidate,” noted Nwede Emma, an Awka resident.
“Not that the APC is popular, but Uba is someone who could have used his clout to push and try to impose himself. Nwoye cannot do that.”
Nwoye’s fortune in this regard will also depend much on whether or not Uba, Nwibe and other aspirants who lost out to him in the primaries will rally around him going forward. This remains to be seen.
Again, both APGA and the PDP, obviously more popular parties with Obiano and Obaze as candidates seem to have been able to considerably resolve their respective intra party squabbles which mean they will be in a better position to fight for the seat.
For APGA, although the Martin Agbaso faction had elected its own candidate, Chief Ifeanyi Igwebuike, the matter has gone to the Supreme Court and it would seem unlikely that it would be resolved in favour of the faction.
The PDP on the other hand, had managed to resolve its leadership challenge and last week, held a largely successful primary that produced the former Secretary to the State Government, Obaze who is said to have the backing of former governor, Peter Obi. Nonetheless, his emergence is being described as an imposition by both Ifeanyi Uba, the capital Oil CEO and Senator Stella Oduah both of whom lost out to Obaze, but they have thus far, not proceeded to challenge him in court.
From interactions with people in the state, it would seem that the November polls will largely be a battle between Obiano and Obaze with Nwoye, Chidoka and Ezeemo bringing up the rear.

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