By Vincent Ujumadu
OF all the candidates that would contest the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. Tony Nwoye stands out.
Apart from being the youngest candidate among the major political parties (he is 43 years), Nwoye had garnered enough political experience which, perhaps, is what had propelled his ambition to govern Anambra State from March 17, 2018.
As a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, during his days as a medical student at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria, Nwoye came to limelight nationally.
It was apparently based on his managerial ability that informed the decision of the Anambra State branch of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to appoint him the state chairman of the party and he moved the party forward.
During his days as the state chairman, PDP was the dominant political party in Anambra State as it won all the state and National Assembly seats, as well as the governorship of the state in 2007, though the tenure of the then elected governor, Dr. Andy Uba, was short- lived following the tenure interpretation of the then governor, Mr. Peter Obi by the Supreme Court. In 2013, despite the galaxy of governorship aspirants on the PDP platform, Nwoye dusted all of them to pick the ticket and would have won the election if not for the role played by the leadership of his party, which chose to allow the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the state to produce the governor.
This was done so that APGA would vote for the PDP candidate during the presidential election of 2015.
Not deterred by that development, Nwoye contested for the House of Representatives in 2015 and won. Although his victory dance was somewhat delayed following protracted legal tussle, he was eventually sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives for Anambra East and West federal constituency. He has been in the National Assembly for barely two years, but his impact has been felt by his constituents.
Nwoye began early to nurse the governorship ambition for 2013 poll, even as he often argued then that his decision to contest would be dependent on the performance of his brother and incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who is from the same local government with him.
His argument was that Obiano was not performing and he needed to sit up, otherwise he (Nwoye) would give the governor serious challenge to redeem the image of his people. Though he defected from the PDP to the ruling APC officially sometime in 2016, he was already working with the party’s lawmakers at the National Assembly, which was why he was able to get a lot of things for his constituency within a short period. So far, he had carried out three empowerment programmes, facilitated employment and offered scholarship to a large number of his constituents, to the envy of other federal constituencies in the state.
So, when he declared interest to contest for governorship, many threw their weight behind him to be the governor. However, some people felt he did not have much chance, considering that the likes of Senator Andy Uba, unarguably his political mentor and Dr. Obinna Uzor who had been vying for governorship for a long time were in the race. But the way he floored all the other 12 aspirants in APC was an indication that Nwoye might spring a surprise during the November poll.
The crowd he pulled during the rally, including the fact that the federal government, led by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was fully on ground to lend support to him, was also an indication that he is the candidate to beat in the election.
The presence of many APC governors and political big wigs from across the country had sent a strong signal to his opponents who initially did not give him a chance. Since the flag-off of his campaign, almost all the APC aspirants that lost to him have joined hands to ensure that the party produces the next governor of the state.
His chances are even made brighter by the fact of allegations of non performance by the incumbent governor, coupled with the strong backing he is receiving from one of the richest Igbo, Prince Arthur Eze, who has consistently argued that Nwoye is the type of person Anambra needs at this time to bridge the gap between the old and young generations.
While accepting the APC flag from the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun in Onitsha, Nwoye urged the Anambra electorate to trust him, assuring that he would not disappoint them if elected governor.
He promised to assist poor students in the state with payment of their WAEC fees and a downward review of school fees if elected to ensure that every child of school age went to school. He also promised to improve facilities in schools and health institutions and create jobs for the teeming population of unemployed youths in the state.
His promise to ensure full autonomy for the local governments has also endeared him to the people because, as he alleged, the APGA–led government in the state has been siphoning local government funds in the past three years.
“Let me assure our people that monies accruing to the local government would go to them if I become the governor,” Nwoye has consistently been telling the people.
The feeling many people in Anambra State have is that Nwoye, as a governor, would not be afraid to take decisions that have to do with the welfare of the people, which is one of the reasons he is being taken serious in the forthcoming election.