Dr. Godwin Maduka
Dr. Maduka addressing journalists after obtaining PDP nomination form

By OBINNA EZUGWU

Umuchukwu, a distant community in Orumba South Local Government area of Anambra State was for larger part of its history, mostly cut off from the rest of the state. Not until one of its sons, Dr. Godwin Maduka, MD, Las Vegas Pain Institute, United States, decided to come home and change that story.

He invested an estimated $30 million on various developmental projects in the community, and today, though still largely isolated, Umuchukwu is, in some ways, paradise. Now Maduka says he wants to replicate the achievement in the entire state through the instrumentality of the government and has been making his case before the state electorate.

Maduka has since picked a nomination form of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and is presently campaigning vigorously to beat the likes of former CBN governor, Prof. Charles Soludo; senator representing Anambra Central, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife; her Anambra South counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, among other candidates jostling for Chief Willie Obiano’s seat ahead of the governorship election billed for November 6, 2021.

The U.S, based anesthesiologist who turns 62 today, Monday, has his job cut out: Beat other candidates to emerge PDP flag bearer, and go on to the governorship battle and defeat other candidates in the main election. In an election that promises to be a battle of billionaires and technocrats, he has both funds and education to match any other candidate, and hopes his demonstrated capacity to impact life, as shown in his transformation of Umuchukwu, will give him an edge.

“The 17 storey Medical Research Institute I built in my home town, Umuchukwu, Anambra State, is beyond a physical structure; it is a functional replication. It is a symbol of hope, the power of possibilities,” he said.

Maduka says he only joined politics on a second thought, and for a purpose – to make change the story of Anambra, and get the state working again. And for him, his achievement in Umuchukwu is testimony to his ability to transform society.

“I had wanted to retire as a medical doctor,” he explains in a interview with Odogwublog.com. “But something happened to me when I first came to Nigeria from the United States. When I came to Umuchukwu, things were so bad. There was poverty, despair, and underdevelopment everywhere.
“I was so sad about that visit and I promised myself that I won’t allow the village where I grew up to remain the same. It was out of positive anger that I decided to build a semblance of an American city. So if you go to Umuchukwu today, you’ll see that that anger has paid off.

“I’m worried and sad again, not against anybody, but sad about poverty and underdevelopment. I have clarity of vision of the kind of development I want to bring in Anambra State.”

About his impact on Umuchukwu, Maduka is not bluffing. This writer’s desire to see things for himself drove him to Umuchukwu months ago. It is, in many ways, a far country at the extreme south of Orumba, close to Imo State, with no public transport available. Commercial motorcycles are the only means of accessing the locality. You could almost imagine what it was like some years before, with no access road.

But it now had tarred access road, which the people say was attracted by Dr. Maduka. And once in the community, his footprints are everywhere. In most Anambra communities, as it is with most Southeast communities, most developmental projects are undertaken by self help of each community. Usually, it’s a concerted effort, but in Umuchukwu, Dr. Maduka ran a one man squad. The 17 storey Medical Center he built is a sight to behold, easily the largest in the state.

At the community centre is a beautiful recreational park, and a community hall, all courtesy of him. Yet there are much more: Two standard churches, one for the Anglican Church, the other for the Catholic Church; Trinity Hospital and Maternity, Umuchukwu; a secondary school, Immaculate Conception International College; about 100 houses for widows; a police station; a magistrate court; a standard market, civil defence barracks; power transformers, among others.

Dr. Maduka literally brought development to his people, and now he wants to be governor of Anambra State in 2022, promising to do for the state what he has done for his community.

“If I’m elected the Governor of Anambra State, my pact with Ndi Anambra is that I will deliver democracy dividends and good governance during my administration,” he said in his manifesto.

“I will put in place, effective and efficient structures which will provide optimal support for citizens to live safe and productive lives.”

Dr. Maduka has been promoting his candidacy in various social media platforms, as he prepares to take on other billionaires, technocrats and political heavyweights in the state’s governorship election. It won’t be an easy task. But there are factors that may work in his favour, and which may indeed see him replace Chief Willie Obiano in 2022.

“He is popular, and has money. He is campaigning well too,” said Mr. Chidi Nwafor, business owner and political observer in Awka. “The other time I went to his campaign office, I heard he shared N30,000 each to ward leaders. But generally, only low key campaign is going on. Nobody calls crowd for campaigns because of the security situation.

As expected, the who is who in the state’s political scene are warming up. Among them, Soludo; Ifeanyi Ubah; Ekwunife; Wichtech Group CEO, Mr. Chidozie Nwankwo; immediate past president and group CEO of Transcorp Plc, Valentine Ozigbo; Member of House of Representatives, Chris Azubogu, as well as Nnamdi (Andy) Uba, former senator representing Anambra South, among many others.

But it’s an election that perhaps, more than anything else, would be determined by financial muscle. And Dr. Maduka, who is estimated to be worth millions of dollars; a billionaire in naira, has enough of the resources to go the whole hug. Yet, his philanthropy has endeared him to many. He is quite popular among a sizable segment of the state’s population, particularly in his Orumba zone.

Again, while the list of contenders is long at the moment, it may ultimately come down to Anambra South Senatorial District, the old Aguata zone, which, in line with the state’s informal zoning arrangement, is expected to produce the next governor.

The return of democracy in 1999 saw the emergence of Chinweoke Mbadinuju, from the South Senatorial District, as governor. But a rift with his then political godfather, Emeka Offor, meant that he lost the PDP governorship candidate to Dr. Ngige, who with the backing of another godfather, Chris Ubah, emerged governor in 2003.

Ngige, from Anambra Central Senatorial District, was eventually replaced by Mr. Peter Obi then of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2006, after reclaiming his 2003 mandate adjudged to have been stolen by Ngige, through the court. Nigige’s trouble had started when he fell out with Ubah, a situation that actually paved the way for Obi to emerge.

Mr. Obi, also from the Central Senatorial District, would go on to complete eight years in office as governor, bringing to eleven, the number of years the zone had at the helm of the state’s affairs. In 2014, Obi handed over to Obiano, from the North Senatorial District, who would be completing his eight-year tenure in 2022.

The argument therefore, is that after Obiano’s eight years, power should return to the South Senatorial District. Indeed, this arrangement was part of the reason Obiano was widely supported during his reelection bid in 2017.

The case for Anambra South is strong, and is supported by the state’s elders and traditional rulers. With this likely the case, it means that the battle for Obiano successor will ultimately come down to the likes of Dr. Maduka, Soludo, Ifeanyi Ubah, Nwankwo, Azubogu, Andy Ubah, among others.

This would further improve the chances of the Umuchukwu billionaire. Umuchukwu is one of the communities in Orumba South, one of the seven local governments in Anambra South. Others are Aguata, Ekwusigo, Ihiala, Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Orumba North.

But ultimately, a lot would depend on whether he is able to secure the ticket of the PDP, and this is where the challenge lies. At the moment, Uche Ekwunife, who though represents Anambra Central in the Senate, being part of the zone by marriage, is originally from the South, and looking more likely to secure the main opposition party’s ticket. Others like Ozigbo are pushing hard too.

At the moment, Soludo seems poised to take the APGA ticket, even as the party has once again, locked in leadership crisis. Ifeanyi Ubah who is currently a Young Progressive Party (YPP) senator, is almost certain to the party’s ticket.

For Maduka, the battle may well be over at the PDP primary. He will hope not.

“I think taking PDP ticket will be difficult for him. In the PDP, from what I’m seeing now, Uche Ekwunife will emerge,” Nwafor says. “She is quite popular in the state, and is doing a lot of grassroots campaign. She is doing a lot.

“There is also Soludo, Ifeanyi Uba, Chris Azubogu to contend with. Chris and Ifeanyi Ubah are from Nnewi, and Nnewi people are fighting hard for the governorship. But only they cannot elect a governor.”