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Anambra elections: Who debate 'epp? – TheCable

  • November 6, 2021
  • 8 min read
Anambra elections: Who debate 'epp? – TheCable

Last Monday, November 1, 2021, E.I.E (Enough Is Enough), a civil society organisation and fast-rising Arise TV organized a debate for three front runners out of the over 20 parties contesting. The three parties were: All Progressives Congress, APC, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. The governorship aspirants for the debate were: Senator Nnamdi Emmanuel Uba, otherwise known as Andy Uba, (APC); Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo (APGA), and Valentine Chineto Ozigbo of the PDP. The moderators were Dr. Reuben Abati and Ngozi Alaegbu, both of Arise TV. Now, with all that ‘protocol’ out of the way, let’s talk about the debate. Did you watch it? Well, if like me you didn’t watch it live, you still have a chance to catch it on Arise News’ Youtube channel.
In the immediate aftermath of the debate, the internet was agog, especially social media. Going by the reactions, one candidate was obviously considered the clear winner of the debate. That person of course is ex-Central Bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, the APGA candidate. This left Andy Uba as the underperformer who bore the brunt of Soludo’s hard tackles. Although the tackles were figurative and not real, Soludo did look like he could’ve gone all the way as he had to be reminded quite a few times to return to his own side of the podium. He was on Andy Uba from the get-go. If the only debate was all it took or if only debates had that much power to turn things around in Nigeria.
In fact, we are at a stage that even elections don’t always determine who ends up in the governor’s lodge, sadly. Otherwise, we wouldn’t currently have a Supreme Court governor. I’m sorry you’ll have to google his name yourself. Still on debates, how many did our dear President Buhari take part in? In January 2019, he refused to attend the presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON). Did that stop him from winning a second term? Nope. Even his less than satisfactory performance at the town hall on the government-owned TV station, NTA (Nigerian Television Authority), hosted by Kadaria Ahmed which drew angry comments from Nigerians on social media didn’t change anything. But I digress. The point of this long introduction is just to remind people, especially fans of Soludo and APGA not to bring out their Akwete asoebi out just yet.
Back to the Anambra Debate, as I said, I watched it after the fact which was just as well. And here are some of my observations: Taken at face value, Soludo was the most ‘debatorial.’ As far as debates go, Soludo who appeared to favour the Donald Trump-style, won. But would I vote for APGA because of him attempting to bully the other candidates? I guess it all depends on the kind of person you are. I really didn’t expect Soludo to behave the way he did. He was hitting Andy Uba below the belt and anywhere he could quite frankly: from accusing him of certificate forgery to being President Obasanjo shoe-shining domestic servant. And Soludo didn’t forget to sell his closeness to OBJ even going as far as saying he slept and woke up with the then-president. No one asked him where Andy, ‘domestic servant’ was when he was sleeping with their boss. Or remind him that OBJ was a PDP president. All that njakiri was totally unnecessary and I consider it below Prof. Soludo’s person. If anything, I would have been less surprised if it had been Andy Uba, whose bad man reputation precedes him. If rumours are to be believed, he allegedly had a hand in the kidnap of Dr. Chris Ngige then governor of Anambra State. Well, Uba denied that allegation during the debate.
Andy Uba, the APC candidate was worse than I thought.  I wonder why no one prepared me for this. I suppose he can always blame Soludo. Yes, it’s true that Soludo managed to throw him off balance by attacking his academic credentials and was constantly moving towards Andy as if ready to use his fists. However, for someone who has ‘won’ the Anambra governorship elections before, who was in the National Assembly for eight years, he left much to be desired. He was giving one-line answers, monosyllables even. When he was asked what he’ll do to curb the effects of climate change, he just said: “I’ll plant trees.”  During the opening remarks where candidates were supposed to introduce, sell themselves and their programmes, he began by saying: “My name is Senator Andy Uba.” This is a pet peeve of mine. Did his parents name him Senator Andy Uba? What did he do with being a senator for 8 years? And Senator Andy Uba thought that this opening period was the best time to talk about his first governorship race that was aborted, and how he was a senator for 8 years. This was basically the gist of his opening remarks: Oga, let’s ask again, why do you want to govern Anambra State?
Now, Valentine Ozigbo, of the PDP was a pleasant surprise. When I first saw him, I didn’t think much of him. I was judging a book by its cover. I suppose the self-branded t-shirt he was wearing couldn’t have helped. But as soon as he spoke, I forgot about all that. I liked listening to him unlike Soludo whose deep voice can sound too ‘overcooked’. I don’t hold it against him hut if I have to choose who to listen to, I’ll pick Valentine’s voice. He was composed and refused to be heckled or bullied by the chief bully of the night. Soludo couldn’t also do too much with his education. He’s a chartered accountant. And even professionally, Soludo knows Ozigbo quite well. If for nothing, Ozigbo worked for over a decade for the Transnational Corporation, running Transcorp Hilton from where he resigned as its President/GCEO in 2020 to focus on politics. In the course of the debate, Soludo intermittently boasted about setting up Transcorp. Indeed, if these debates mattered, Anambrarians would have a fairly easy choice: On one hand, do you want APC to replicate what’s happening at the national level in Anambra? Also, do they love APGA that much? Even in the best of times, 16 years of the same party is a long time, a point Ozigbo made sure to remind everyone that his opponents represent either of these two ‘evils.’
Peter Obi, Still A Strong Factor in Anambra Politics
Peter Obi, the ex-governor of Anambra State may have left office 8 years ago, but he still remains the reference point. Each person on that debate stage gave props to Peter Obi in one way or the other. Soludo chose to qualify his commendation by saying Peter Obi was only implementing the APGA manifesto. Although he didn’t have a lot to say about the current governor Willie Obiano’s own implementation of the APGA manifesto. How are you running, and you can’t brag too much about the achievements of your party in power? The only way his Anambra comes on top is when he compares it, not to Lagos or even smaller states in the south but I believe he has states like Zamfara in mind each time he said: in Nigeria, Anambra has the lowest or highest whatever… The moderators could’ve helped here. Because if you’re beating your chest about unemployment being say 13% for example, someone should ask you what it was when this present governor came to office. Imagine if it was 10% but you’re now rejoicing that it’s 13% because other states are higher?
The Fear of IPOB: To condemn or not to condemn
Well, what do you expect? Uba asked for a roundtable dialogue to find out their demands. And Soludo wondered out loud how he could say he didn’t know the demands of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Soludo let everyone know that he led a delegation to visit Nnamdi Kanu a couple of years ago when he was detained in prison. Ozigbo said he’ll condemn their extremist actions but support their genuine demands.
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