#Anambradecides: Why Anambra Conducts Stand-alone Guber Election


Anambra is the only state in Nigeria not being governed by the two major political parties in the country.

On November 6, a new governor would be elected as the successor to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State.

Since electioneering began in the state, candidates of the various political parties have been making promises to win the hearts and votes of the people of the state.

Today, Anambra is the only state in Nigeria not being governed by the two major political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It is controlled by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).

In the last few months, the major political parties whose candidates have been campaigning include Young Progressive Party (YPP), APGA, PDP, APC, Accord Party (AP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and African Democratic Party (ADC).

The governorship race of the state has been made quite dramatic amid keenly contested primaries, serious security issues compounded by the threats by secessionist groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the historical rivalry among bigwigs in the state.

Unlike most other states in the country, Anambra observes a ‘stand-alone,’ off-cycle, governorship election due to the peculiarity of its governance history and the roles of the influential politicians who wielded power and ruled the state in the past.

Historical Insight
Godfatherism is an integral part of Anambra politics. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the state has been under the grip of sundry political godfathers who called the shots either directly or by proxy. Over the years, political actors and their estranged political godfathers have always struggled for the control of the state’s political, and by extension, governance architecture.

Between 1999 and 2003, the godfather-godson political kerfuffle began with Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Emeka Offor, a businessman who sought to control the politics of the state at the time. In 2003, Chris Ngige took over the mantle of leadership as governor and was locked in a war of survival with his godfather, Chris Uba.

Between 2006 and 2011, Governor Peter Obi ruled the state with the support of political figures, notably Emeka Ojukwu. Although Mr Ojukwu died in 2011, Mr Obi remained a notable force in the politics of the state both as governor and as one whom many analysts thought would provide political direction after the demise of Mr Ojukwu. In 2014, upon the expiration of his tenure, Mr Obi supported Willie Obiano as governor but things fell apart between the duo shortly after Mr Obiano was elected governor. When he sought re-election in November 2017, Mr Obiano of APGA had parted ways with Mr Obi, who had defected to the PDP.

Meanwhile, closely related to godfatherism is the peculiar nature of governorship elections in Anambra State. In many states across Nigeria, guber elections are held alongside presidential elections on a four-year interval. Since the inception of the fourth republic, general elections have been held in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011,2015, and 2019.

But in Anambra (and other states with similar peculiarities like Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Bayelsa and Edo), elections into the seat of the governor have been held as stand-alone since 2010.

Why Stand-alone?
First off, it must be noted that in Nigeria, Anambra State is the only state that paraded five governors under controversial circumstances between 1999 and 2007, including one who spent just 14 days in office.

Chinwoke Mbadinuju governed from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2003, under the banner of the PDP. In May 2003, Chris Ngige of the PDP was elected governor and was in office until March 17, 2006. Mr Ngige had a running battle with his godfather, Mr Uba, culminating in his removal from office afterwards.

On March 17, 2006, Mr Obi of APGA was declared governor by the courts. He governed the state until November 3, 2006, when he was impeached by the state assembly for alleged “misconducts”.

Virginia Etiaba would later govern Anambra between November 3, 2006, and February 9, 2007. She was appointed to replace Mr Obi. She transferred her powers back to Mr Obi three months later after the appeal court nullified Mr Obi’s impeachment by the state assembly.

Mr Obi would rule again from February 9, 2007, to May 29, 2007.

Quite dramatically, on May 29, 2007, Mr Uba was sworn in as governor of the state, having been “elected” some months prior. But on June 14, 2007, Mr Uba was removed from office by a Supreme Court decision after governing the state for 14 days.

Finally, Mr Obi returned as governor and governed until March 17, 2014, when his anointed successor, Mr Obiano, was sworn in as governor.

Mr Obiano will thus complete his two terms on March 16, 2022, when he will leave office and be replaced by the winner of Saturday’s election.

The dramatic twists and turns in the political and electoral history of the state account for why Anambra conducts stand-alone elections for the governorship seat

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