Tony Okonkwo


As the 2003 race draws nigh, elections into the National Assembly will also be keenly contested by the big parties such s the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s  Democratic Party PDP each seeking to control both chambers of the legislature in order to ensure that the legislative agenda of each party is implemented should  either of these parties win a majority of seats.


Failure  of either party to do so could spell doom for the losing party should it emerge victorious  at the presidential  elections, as the party with the majority  of seats could go on to block the agenda of the executive branch and frustrate its implementation.
Our nation’s democratic  history is filled with such happenings, particularly in the first and second republics for which  the ruling parties then had to enter into an alliance of sorts with certain members  of  the opposition in order to ensure a smooth sail for the ruling party. The Nigerian People’s  Congress, NPC was to enter into an alliance with Zik’s National Convention of Nigerian Citizens NCNC with Obafemi Awolowo’ s Action Group as the main opposition. In 1979, following the National Party of Nigeria NPN’s failure to win an effective majority in the National Assembly, it formed what was then known as an “Accord Concordiale” with Zik’s Nigerian People’s Party, NPP. This was however not the case in the short-lived third republic and the fourth republic.
Anambra like every other state has three Senatorial Districts namely, Anambra North, Anambra South and Anambra Central. Each zone has seven local government areas each from which a senator must emerge from. In Anambra South, it will be a battle royale between four major contenders, namely Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji(APC)  Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, (YPP) Chris Uba (PDP) and Hon Chris Azubuogu(APGA). For the Anambra North Senatorial District it is Barrister Ify Anaezonwu (APC) Tony Nwoye(Labour Party) Stella Oduah(PDP) and former First Lady of Anambra, Ebele Obiano.
For the Anambra Central Senatorial District, it is going to be a war of known foes and new faces as four candidates will be going for the broke come February 23, 2023.
For the likes of Senator Victor Umeh, former National Chairman All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and Senator Uche Ekwunife of the PDP, the 2023 elections will be the third time both opponents will square it off. Both faced each other in 2015 with Ekwunife routing Umeh or so the public thought until Umeh challenged the process by which Ekwunife had emerged as a Senatorial candidate and successfully  had the Appeal Court in Enugu order a rerun which also  barred the PDP from presenting a candidate in that election. Umeh was to later go on to emerge as a Senator after a tortuous process in the courts, however by 2015 he again faced Uche Ekwunife in the 2019 elections losing again. Umeh was to attempt getting the APGA ticket for a third straight time but was to lose to Hon Dozie Nwankwo. Umeh feeling betrayed by certain forces in APGA’s leadership quickly moved to the Labour Party where he will now do battle with Ekwunife , Dozie Nwankwo and Kodilichukwu Okelekwe for the Anambra Central Senatorial Seat.
Ekwunife being the  incumbent has been a veteran of a number of electoral battles having represented the Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency in 2007 and 2011 respectively.  Matter of fact in the 2011 contest she had seen off Nwankwo in that election before a court ordered a rerun which saw her trouncing Nwankwo a second time. Ekwunife posseses a worthy grassroots hold and also has a sterling legislative career, combining this with her well planned campaigns has seen her win again and again at the polls. However, Ekwunife may not have it rosy this time around as she will have to campaign without a Peter Obi by her side, as the former Anambra State Governor has always backed Ekwunife at the polls. For example in 2019 his nomination as running mate to Atiku Abubakar spurred Ekwunife to victory , today, Obi himself is running  for president on the platform of the Labour Party this may swing a number of votes that have traditionally gone Ekwunife’s way to Umeh who will definitely inherit from his new found partnership with Obi in Labour Party. This is not to say that Umeh will find it easy. He will be running against his former party which has a new leader in the person of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Anambra State. Soludo in seeking to impose his party’s hegemony in Anambra will definitely attempt to deliver APGA’s candidates in all of the elections, using  APGA’s  structure and his goodwill as a fresh governor, this may rub off negatively on Umeh as he would have to contend with APGA in the seven local government areas.
Besides that Hon Dozie Nwankwo would not also be a push over for either Umeh or Ekwunife. While not possessing a sterling legislative career like Ekwunife, Nwankwo boasts of a massive political structure and deep financial pocket to match the duo. He also posseses the much needed experience in electioneering which may come in handy and will likely enjoy the support of the state government’s  machinery.
For Kodilichukwu Okelekwe of the APC, it will not be in the interest of the other contenders to write him off. Okelekwe is definitely not a green horn having jostled for the Senatorial ticket in 2015, nearly upsetting the apple cart then. He will be bringing to the race his years of experience both in the private and public sectors as well as boast of the support of the ruling party, which may decide to throw the kitchen sink and do everything to win some seats in the SouthEast region.
While the elections are some eight months away and campaigns yet to formally begin, the Anambra Central Senatorial District race will definitely be a memorable contest to watch out for with the auguries silent on which way the pendulum will definitely swing.
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