Anambra South 2019: Why Ifeanyi Ubah Should be Taken Seriously

By Agaji James Atah


His re-entry into  politics for a shot at the senatorial slot from Anambra South is a fixture that may turn out to be Nigeria’s political El classico .The match up for the coming duel offers one of the  most interesting ring side views  in the build up  to the 2019 elections. 

He is taking his chances against two of the most formidable opponents  to ever step into the ring in a winner takes all square up. To win the crown, he’ll have to beat incumbent senator Andy Uba, of the APC and wrest the APGA ticket from the iconic Bianca Ojukwu. 

On the surface,  it looks like mission impossible when you consider the odds. First of all,  Bianca is heiress to the most powerful political dynasty East of the Niger :the late Ikemba of Nnewi and founder of APGA. She will be hard to beat because she fought in the trenches beside her husband in the founding of APGA  and iater as arbiter in sustaining the party’s  momentum from centrifugal forces and splinter elements that threatened the very survival of the party  after Ojukwu’s  demise.  Symbolically therefore,  Ifeanyi Ubah may be seen to be fighting against the Ikemba of Nnewi in Nnewi. She is widely considered  the Benazir Bhutto of Anambra. 

Andy Uba on the other hand offers a less institutional challenge than Bianca. But ,he creates all the complications of removing an incumbent establishment type  with a firm grip on all the intrigues and power play that go into successful electioneering in Nigeria. For good or for bad,  Andy Uba and his brother Chris Uba remain key stakeholders in the political architecture of Anambra state and are known to  owe allegiances to powerful national networks with far reaching influence on political outcomes anywhere. However, Andy Uba’s detached and conservative nature and his lack of involvement in the lives of members of his constituency may be his Achilles heel. 

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Three titans,  one trophy. Enter Ifeanyi Ubah,the youngest of the three, but perhaps the one with the most bragging rights. Billions and business successes aside,  Ifeanyi Ubah comes with the best prospects for the job as a real representative of the people.  Raised on the wrong side of the tracks,  he clawed his way to the the top by hard work and inherent ingenuity. He became a billionaire in his thirties and in the process carved a name for himself as one of Nigeria’s greatest philanthropists with a series of large scale people oriented projects around his constituency and the nation at large.  He can win easily if he gets his strategies right.  His handlers must therefore pay  attention to his key selling points.

First of all,  they must convince stakeholders in APGA  that his candidature can only deepen the Democratic culture within APGA and not necessarily an affront on the late Ikemba. Even Bianca  understands the future of the party may only be guaranteed by a dynamic evolution of democratic culture and merit based leadership system instead of static worship of cult figures and parochial sentiments. The late Ikemba could not have wished for a more robust political culture.

This is in line with the political attitude of the people of Anambra.  When Peter Obi attempted to become a cult figure and omnipotent political oracle in the state,  Ifeanyi Uba was one of the first people to oppose Obi’s transmogrification . Long before the people turned against Peter Obi,  Ubah had defected to APGA with his game changing block of supporters across the state. His defection to APGA was strictly on principle. This same principle  has guided his attitude towards the people in his constituency in the creation of layers of empowerment projects for different segments of the society. 

Let a thousand flowers bloom is a Chinese maxim that Ubah has brought to life in the lives of members of his constituency.  He is a revolutionary factor in the human and material development of his Nnewi base. Unlike most politicians who became billionaires from politics, Ubah is one of a handful of billionaires going into politics. Head to head,  he will out class Andy Uba in Nigeria’s money politics. In the area of impact on constituency and goodwill from the electorate,  Andy Uba is lost in the shadows of Ifeanyi Ubah. 

The real challenge now is for APGA to move fast in strategic deployment of its best resources. Bianca and Ubah do not necessarily have to square up against each other.  They’re both quality assets with political weight on a national scale. Bianca with her technocratic bent and record of past political appointments could lbe reserved as ace candidate for national appointments from Anambra.  This will pave the way for Ifeanyi Uba to emerge in a replay of the US democratic party arrangement that saw Obama emerge as President and Hilary Clinton as Secretary of state.

In the feisty environment of the upper chambers and shifting sands of Nigeria’s current political climate,  the billionaire business man and master of boardroom politics may just be the best hand for the job.

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