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Anambra guber: The battle of moneybags and intellectuals

Anambra elections have always been for moneybags. Big boys showcase their war chest. It is about, if you do not have the cash, do not dare. Those who have formidable godfathers also flex their muscles.

In 1999, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, a legal practitioner, became the governor of Anambra State at the behest of Emeka Offor, an oil mogul.

Chris Ngige managed to preside over the state on the benevolence of the then enfant terrible and moneybags, Chris Ubah.

Ubah did not only have the cash, he also had all the right connections, and his tentacles stretched deep into the Presidential Villa during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Ngige had the brain as a medical doctor.

Peter Obi did not also come to the Government House as a poor man. His net worth at that time conferred some air of confidence in him. He did not just stop the fight at the polling units; he brutally pursued and won a number of legal battles.

The incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano could be said to be Obi’s “man Friday” and effortlessly rode to the power stool on Obi’s crest. It would be uncharitable though to say Obiano contested the position as a pauper, because he had made some money having worked at the apex levels of some oil companies and banks before venturing into politics.

Today, as the state prepares for an off-season gubernatorial election fixed for November 6, 2021, a galaxy of stars has appeared on the scene, jostling to succeed Obiano.

While a few of them cannot be said to be moneybags on their own, they however, have eminent backers ready to bankroll their electoral expenses to the last kobo.

A good number of them are private-sector players who have never, either worked for government or done any contract for government. They became whatever they are today by dint of hard work.

For some months now, Anambra has been in the news. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been going back and forth on the issues arising from the factional and acrimonious primaries of some parties in the race.

Some lawyers have also used the opportunity of the confusion to profiteer from the process as they engage in “forum shopping”- taking cases to faraway places outside the jurisdiction where they originated. Some of the judges have also smiled to the bank as a result of entertaining such cases.

INEC, until recently, had been thrown into confusion as to what to do with the ballot, as it continued to add and drop names of candidates in line with the variegated court pronouncements.

It does appear that the coast is now clear for the Commission to really do its job as those who are supposed to represent their parties are now cleared by the court and their parties.

Read Also: Soludo, Ozigbo missing as INEC releases list of Anambra Guber candidates

The final list of candidates for the election will however, be published by INEC in October.

Of the political parties, seven are prominent. They are the All Progressives Congress (APC) represented by Andy Uba; All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Chukwuma Soludo is the standard bearer.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is being represented by Valentine Ozigbo. The Accord Party (AP) has Godwin Maduka as its candidate.

Others are Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) with Obiora Okonkwo as the candidate; Youth Progressive Party (YPP) is represented by Ifeanyi Ubah, and Labour Party (LP) fielding Obiora Agbasimalo.

Although all the candidates have since commenced skeletal campaign, BusinessDay gathered that the real electioneering will begin from Monday, September 27, 2021.

Godwin Maduka

Godwin Maduka was born in 1959 in Nkerehi, Orumba South Local Government Area. He is a Nigerian-American doctor, businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder of Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre. In 2008, he played a major role in the renaming of his hometown, from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu.

He started his education in Nawfia Comprehensive Secondary School and All Saints Grammar School, Umunze, before getting admission to study Medicine at the University of Port Harcourt, but couldn’t join his peers due to lack of monetary support. He got an opportunity through his cousin Richard Igwike (who taught at Russ College at the time) to study at Rust College on a scholarship that covered half of his tuition. He later got monetary support from his younger brother and uncle and moved to the United States in 1982. In 1984, he graduated summa cum laude in chemistry from Rust College and got another scholarship to study pharmacy at Mercer University, graduating in 1988.

After graduation, he worked as a pharmacy technician, before getting a full scholarship to study medicine at the University of Tennessee, where he completed an internship and graduated in 1993. He furthered to Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre for his post-graduate training and residency in anesthesiology, critical care, and pain management, graduating in 1997.

In 1997, after his education, Maduka moved to Las Vegas and got a job where he was paid $8,000 as an advance payment. He worked as an anesthesiologist at Desert Spring United Methodist Church, Nevada and other hospitals, before starting his own practice at Red Rock Medical Group, Nevada. In 1999, he founded Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, before expanding to other six locations in Southern Nevada.

He is a clinical faculty supervisor and adjunct professor of pain management and anesthesiology at Touro University Nevada. He is also a clinical assistant professor of surgery at UNLV School of Medicine. While growing up, Maduka’s mother was a farmer and merchant. His father was a traditional herbalist.

Today, Maduka has touched many people with his philanthropic gestures. He has built houses for indigent members of society. He believes that what he has been able to do is enough to convince voters that he is the best man for the job.

Ken Emeakhayi, who recently joined Maduka’s team, said: “Many people are coming to you asking for your votes and promising they will develop your community when they become governor, but you need to go and check what they have been able to achieve for their own communities.

“Maduka is from a poor family, but made a pledge to God that he will bless the poor with his resources, and he has been doing that as a private individual. That is why he has developed his community.

“His dream is to see that he helps a lot more people out of poverty, and the only way to do this is to get government machinery, by becoming governor.”

Read Also: Anambra guber: The battle of moneybags, intrigues and antics

Andy Uba

Andy Uba was born on December 14, 1958 in Enugu, and attended the Boys High School in Awkunanaw. His parents originated from Uga in the Aguata LGA of Anambra State.

While still in the United States Uba assisted in the 1999 Presidential elections in Nigeria.

Following the elections he returned to Nigeria and was appointed Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2007, Uba contested in the PDP primaries for the Anambra State governorship election, and was elected in the April 14, 2007 elections. However, the former governor Peter Obi challenged the election, saying that because the courts had only accepted that Obi had won the April 2003 elections on 15 March 2006, he still had three more years or his four-year term to serve. The courts accepted this argument and on June 14, 2007 nullified Andy Uba’s election. In November 2009 it was reported that Uba was planning to run for the delayed Anambra State gubernatorial elections in February 2010 on the Labour Party platform, after the Labour Party had invited him to make the move. The party’s leadership said they “believed that he will deliver on the ideals and objectives of the party”. In the February 2010 elections, Uba came in third.

Uba returned to the PDP and was nominated as PDP candidate for Anambra South Senatorial district in the April 2011 elections. He won with 63,316 votes, ahead of Chukwumaeze Nzeribe of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with 43,798 and the Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah of the Accord Party with 24,724. Uba’s election was challenged by Senator Obiora, the Accord candidate, who claimed that Uba had forged his West African School Certificate (WASC) and had not obtained any of the university degrees that he claimed.

Chukwuma Soludo

Charles Chukwuma Soludo was born on July 28, 1960. He is a Nigerian economics professor and a former governor and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Chukwuma was named governor of CBN on May 29, 2004. He is also a member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group.

Soludo has been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge, the Brookings Institution, the University of Warwick, and the University of Oxford as well as a visiting professor at Swarthmore College (USA). He has also worked as a consultant for a number of international organisations, including The World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme. Soludo is a core professional in the business of macroeconomics. He obtained his three degrees and then professorship at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Enugu State. Soludo graduated with a First Class Honours degree in 1984, an MSc Economics in 1987, and a PhD in 1989, winning prizes for the best student at all three levels.

Chukwuma has been trained and involved in research, teaching, and auditing in such disciplines as multi-country macro-econometric modelling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modelling, survey methodology, and panel data econometrics, among others. He studied and taught these courses at many universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Warwick. Soludo has co-authored, co-edited, and authored a number of books on this subject matter.

In 1998, Soludo was appointed to the position of professor of economics at the University of Nigeria; the next year he became a visiting professor at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA.

Soludo joined the Federal Government in 2003. Prior to his May 2004 appointment to the bank chairmanship, he held the positions of Chief Economic Adviser to former President Obasanjo and Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission of Nigeria.

On September 16, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Soludo as a member of a newly formed 8-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) which would report directly to the President.

In September 2009, Soludo announced his aspiration for the seat of the Governor of Anambra State’s election of February 9, 2010. On October 9, 2009, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chose Soludo as their consensus candidate for the position from a field of 47 candidates, after repeated attempts to hold elective primaries were stalled by court injunctions. However, his nomination was contested by 23 of the 47 aspirants, citing lack of transparency in the process.

After the initial rancour, 36 out of the 47 candidates, and several top shots of the PDP affirmed their support for Soludo on Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Soludo went on to lose to Peter Obi in an election which was largely considered free and fair according to major election observers. However, with his perceived solid performance as CBN governor, Soludo remains a respected economic policy authority in Nigeria. Political commentators, while urging an issue-based campaign in the 2011 election, had called on aspirants to work with respected economists like Soludo towards an acceptable economic plan.

On 17 July 2013, Soludo resigned from the People’s Democratic Party after writing a letter to the National Chairman of the party, Bamanga Tukur. He later joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance in preparation for the November 2013 governorship race in Anambra State. In mid-August 2013, he, along with five other qualified aspirants, was disqualified by the APGA Screening Committee.

On March 31, 2021, unidentified gunmen disrupted an interactive session between Isuofia youths and Soludo at the town’s civic centre, leading to the death of three police officers.

In February 2021, Soludo officially declared his intention to run for the position of Governor of Anambra State under the banner of APGA.

Valentine Ozigbo

Valentine Chineto “Val” Ozigbo was born July 20, 1970. He is a Nigerian politician and business executive. He is the immediate past President and Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria plc (Transcorp), a diversified conglomerate with strategic investments and core interests in the hospitality, agribusiness and energy sectors. He was appointed to the position in 2019.

Previously, Ozigbo worked as managing director and chief executive officer of the Nigeria-based hospitality company, Transcorp Hotels Plc. Transcorp Hotels is the hospitality subsidiary of Nigerian conglomerate Transcorp. He also worked in the banking sector, gaining over 17 years of experience with NAL Merchant Bank, Diamond Bank, Continental Trust Bank, FSB International Bank, Standard Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Bank PHB.

Ozigbo attended Christ the Redeemer College, a secondary school in Amesi, Anambra State, where he was an outstanding student, having represented the college in various quiz competitions. He later taught Physics and Mathematics at this institution while awaiting University admission.

He studied Accounting at the University of Nigeria, Nigeria graduating with the class of 1994 with the best result in both Accounting and Business Administration.

He obtained his MBA in Banking and Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2000 and an MSc in finance with distinction from the Lancaster University, United Kingdom in 2004.

Ozigbo has professional qualifications in accounting (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria) which he obtained in 1998, Taxation (The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria) gotten in 2000 and Credit Administration (Institute of Credit Administration) which he bagged in 2015. He is a fellow of all these three institutions.

Previously, Ozigbo worked in the banking sector, racking up over 17 years in experience with NAL Merchant Bank, Diamond Bank, Continental Trust Bank, FSB International Bank, Standard Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Bank PHB.

As CEO of Transcorp Hotels, he oversaw the hotel’s expansion to other cities across Nigeria and a consolidation of its status as the leading hotel in the country. Under him, the company announced an N8 billion initial public offering (IPO) in 2014, which was oversubscribed.

June 26, 2021, Ozigbo emerged as the People’s Democratic Party candidate for the November 6 election, amid serious contention.

He was elected at the party’s primary held at the Prof Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre, Awka, the state capital.

Ozigbo served as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc from October 2011- December 2018. In this role, he provided strategic direction and drove the execution of key strategic goals of the company and its projects under management which included business expansion, merger and acquisition opportunities, business improvements, upgrade and renovations.

He was also responsible for developing five new projects worth over $500 million including two hotels in Lagos and Port Harcourt, a 5000-capacity conference facility, luxury apartments and the upgrade of existing hotels with additional retail facilities.

Obiora Okonkwo

Obiora Okonkwo holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science (with distinction), from the Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow; a Professional Fellowship Doctorate, from the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria; and Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and Mediators of Nigeria. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Economics, also, with distinction, from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, Moscow, and a First Class in Economics from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, also, in Moscow.

He had his early education in Onitsha, Anambra State, where he combined trading at the Main Market and managing a horde of apprentices, with schooling.

Okonkwo, who was in September 2019, awarded the Rotary International Youth Leadership Icon Award in Abuja, is an engaging public intellectual. In February 2020, he delivered the lead lecture titled Education: Challenging Mindsets for Tomorrow’s Leaders; at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON), held at the Shanahan Hall, Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Onitsha, Anambra State. Before that in December, 2019, he also delivered the lead lecture titled, Ndigbo in Contemporary Nigeria: A Social, Cultural, Political and Economic Reflection, at the annual Umunri Colloquium at Enugu-Ukwu, Anambra State. In September, 2019, he delivered a lecture titled, ‘Media, Democratic Governance and Development in Nigeria’ at the Media Summit of the Anambra Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Awka. Same month, he also delivered another lecture titled and Giving Back to Society at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in commemoration of the International Day of Charity.

Previously in August 2019, he delivered a seminal paper on ‘Sustainable Millennium Goals and Its Impact on Youths’, at an event to mark the International Youth Day, held at the Shanahan Hall of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Onitsha, Anambra State. In July 2019, he gave a keynote speech titled ‘Leadership and Service in the Nigerian Democratic System’, at the annual retreat of the Southeast Zone of Heads of Federal Establishments and Parastatals Forum, held at Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu, Anambra State. In June, 2019, he was on the podium to deliver a lecture titled ‘The Media and National Integration in Nigeria’, at a colloquium by the Enugu State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

A political economist with uncommon skills, Dr. Okonkwo, whose work ethic is guided by his personal philosophy of ‘don’t tell me about the storm, deliver the cargo’. He was in July 2019, conferred with the prestigious honour of Business Philanthropist of the Year by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School, Awka.

In the pursuit of his passion for philanthropy, he founded Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, a charity primarily concerned with recreating humanity through authentic human-centred development and reorientation of values.

In 2019, he endowed a research chair at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School, Awka, to study the future of Igbo entrepreneurship as he strongly believes that the research will help drive innovative changes that will revolutionise Igbo enterprise and reposition them to become global brands.

Ifeanyi Ubah

Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was born September 3,1971, is a Nigerian businessman, entrepreneur and currently the Senator, representing Anambra South Senatorial District in the Senate and CEO of Capital Oil (CCO, for short), which he founded in 2001.

Ubah was born as the first son of seven children to Mr. and Mrs. Alphonsus Ubah in Otolo, one of the four quarters of Nnewi in Anambra State, Nigeria. Due to the inability of his parents to cater for the educational and material needs of their children, Ifeanyi dropped out of Premier academy, Lugbe, Abuja to learn trade at a young age. He has attended several local and international business courses and seminars in leadership and business management.

He became an exporter of motor tyres and spare parts mainly in West Africa including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and DR Congo before he expanded his business ventures in some countries in Europe including Belgium and the United Kingdom.

In 2001, he founded Capital Oil and Gas Limited. He is the founder of The Authority Newspaper, a Nigerian daily newspaper and also the owner of Ifeanyi Ubah F. C., a football club in the Nigeria Premier League, following its purchase as Gabros International Football Club.

In 2014, Ubah lost at the 2014 Anambra gubernatorial election on the platform of the Labour Party. On 24 February 2019(5 years later), he was declared winner of the Anambra South Senatorial elections on the platform of the Young Progressive Party (YPP).

Ubah is married to Uchenna Ubah, a Business Administration graduate from Ahmadu Bello University, with whom they have 5 children. He also runs a foundation which is named after him; Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation.

Obiora Agbasimalo

Obiora Agbasimalo, a former banker, born in October 1981, had his primary education at Chrisland Nursery and Primary School Lagos and his secondary education at the International School University of Lagos. He had his university education from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, where he obtained BSc in Management Accounting, graduating with a Second-Class Upper Division.

Agbasimalo, who will be 40 years in October 2021, was the first in a family of four children to Emmanuel Agbasimalo, an engineer, and Ada Agbasimalo, a retired civil servant as well as an author.

Two months after his National Youth Service in Yobe State in 2005, during which he had a brief stint as a teacher in a primary school, he was employed by Zenith Bank, which offered him an opportunity to build a successful career in banking over the past 15 years. He became a chartered accountant after obtaining his ACCA certification, and also MSc from his alma mater in 2015.

He is married to Eucharia with whom he has two children. He is a devoted Anglican and is active in evangelism.

He recently gave an explanation on why he has been touching lives through humanitarian deeds towards indigent people especially sick patients, who are unable to pay their medical bills in government hospitals such as Gbagada Federal Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Agege and LASUTH.

“I am an active member of the Good Samaritan Society in my church, a group renowned for humanitarian activities towards indigent patients who are unable to pay their medical bills in government hospitals including Gbagada Federal Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Agege and LASUTH,” he said.

According to him, “I am also an active volunteer and donor of cash and clothes among others to charity organisations. I am the financial manager and brain behind the strategies for all projects in Oga Ndi Oga Foundation (ONOF), a non-religious, non-political, non-profit and private foundation that is active in Anambra State, which is renowned for its far-reaching programmes in the areas of healthcare and poverty alleviation, women and youth empowerment, back-to-school campaign and scholarships.”

During his 15-year banking career, Agbasimalo became an outstanding team member of the marketing unit from his first year till presently that he is the bank’s highest earner of income in his zone, where he manages a portfolio of about N4 billion and close to $20 million in customers’ fund, aside from fixed deposit.

On his future plans, he said that he has set his mind on moving to a sector where he can make a maximum impact especially in youth development and social regeneration.

“I feel it is time for someone with fresh idea to come on board and make an impact especially in the area of youth development, waste management and control, and most importantly, structural development,” he said.

Agbasimalo is also an advocate of a cleaner city. “I detest seeing dirty gutters and environment, especially on the streets. These wastes can be recycled and converted to use materials as is already being practised in Europe with the use of some technology that converts plastic bottles and wastes to use building materials,” he pointed out.

Driven by altruism, Agbasimalo has silently built a reputation that endears him to the public as a man of action, a man of his words, a man of good deeds.

On the place of women in his Anambra governorship project under the Labour Party, he promised to give critical roles to women in the state. He said that his desire is to include at least one-third of Anambra women in his cabinet while the youth will occupy a major part when he emerges as the governor of the state.

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