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Anambra 2021: Can Valentine Ozigbo Win the Crown?

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Trying to cajole Chief Valentine Ozigbo, one Facebook user quizzed: Do you know any Anambra  gubernatorial candidate that is known for birthday and condolence messages?

No doubt, the media visibility of the immediate past President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Plchas been strong. But many election analysts and observers believe that it has to a larger extent, wrongly been channelled, hence the import of the above question.
Campaigning under the slogan “ka Anambra Chawapu,”  Ozigbo admirers, vuvuzelas as well as spin doctors have come to employ adjectives  like “frontline and leading” when describing his candidacy.

However, Anambra intraparty politics has an elite factor – which usually drown the phantasmagoria of “Ojebego” choruses. Popularity and strong financial base, though high political currencies, cannot buy much in the electoral market without the blessings of the party stalwarts.
So how will Ozigbo fare in the murky waters of Nigerian politics? Can he fly the highly controversial flag of Anambra PDP?

Oha Francis, an Abuja based political scientist, in his analysis of Anambra fiber race stated this about Ozigbo: “Even though a new entrant into the political foray, he has since stamped his presence.  He is believed to have similar traits of the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, and average Anambarian believes he has all it takes to lead the state.”

Going further, Oha noted “If handed the Party ticket, which appears slim, he will surely make a good candidate for the PDP, but the problem is, are the stakeholders willing to hand the ticket to someone perceived to be a newcomer to the Party.

He may be the dark horse in the race, should those regarded as heavyweights fail to agree on a consensus, as his candidacy may be the one that may be considered by all to be neutral.” 
Aligning his submission with the above views, Nonso Okeke , an Awka based political scientist, stated:  “Ozigbo is eminently qualified but he is a newcomer and I don’t think he is a grassroots politician like some of his top challengers in other political parties. Most people might view his WALK FOR HEALTH initiative as cosmetic and a political stunt towards awareness creation, but whether such moves would translate into actual political victory is another thing altogether.

He is the type of leader Ndi Anambra are yearning for but his chances of electoral victory are slim.”
In an op-ed piece titled “Why Anambra needs Valentine Ozigbo,” Alozie Alozie wrote: “One of the major problem in Nigeria today has been that of government’s wastefulness and one of the characteristics that have endeared me to Valentine Ozigbo, is his prudence in management as we saw during his time as CEO of Transcorp Plc.”

Explaining further, Alozie stated: “Valentine has always noted that “Prudential management of public resources is crucial to good governance” In his words, “If we can cut waste and direct these funds to areas wherein they would be more impactful and valuable, we would be on the right track to development.”
Above notwithstanding, the larger question remain: Does Ozigbo’s success in business tell us anything about whether he would be a successful governor? The Debate on whether success in business can translate to success in politics has remain open-ended one.
In his column titled “C.E.O. in Politics, ” David Brooks of the New York Times asked : Is success at making corporate profits the same as crafting good economic policy? 

Brooks in that powerful column argued that there is no direct correlation between business success and political success. He has long maintained that successful political leadership has similar but deeper roots than that which is required for success in business.

Although success in business and politics requires talent and a large storehouse of technical and intellectual tools, politics is about the business and management of people, not just the business of assets and profit margins. Politics is about stewardship, being of help to others and not necessarily always competing with others.

Politics should be about public duty and not just private ambition. Politics is always about others and not just self.

Concluding, Brooke noted that success in business is  largely irrelevant to the question of whether one could be a good leader. “The real question is whether he has picked up traits like emotional security, political judgment and an instrumental mind-set from his upbringing and the deeper experiences of life,” he noted.
One PDP Stalwart, who spoke to Orient Daily on condition of anonymity alluded to Zik joke in the1983 gubernatorial election in the Old Anambra State when describing Ozigbo’s growing campaign in social media. “Mbada n’ awji ukwu mgbe egwu ebidobe gi”–  An antelope dancing himself out before the dancing competition starts.” 
“Val Ozigbo reminds me of Obinna Uzo, who became the frontline candidate before the game started but was forced out of  the party before the primary.”

” He is new in the system and in Anambra, the tactics is simple: let’s eat his money this time and listen to him next time.
“Valentine Ozigbo is yet to garner the blessings of the party. He is placing the cart before the hoarse.
“Make no mistake about it, he is a green horn in the system. Also they are people who have invested so much in the party – do you think the party can just push them away because of Ozigbo?
Party leaders have a way of considering aspirants they want to cede their flag to. They consider the electability of the candidate.

Trying to convince his party and Anambrarians that he can do the job of the chief executive, Valentine Ozigbio argued in his op-ed piece “My grand vision of unifying Ndi Anambra” published in Guardian Newspaper of July 10th 2020 that good governance is all about people oriented policies.
“In charting a path to the governorship, I intend to play in the arena of ideas for good governance, for growth, and for giving back to our people. I intend to articulate my policy prescriptions for meaningful and sustainable change. And I entirely reject the approach of making undeliverable promises and wild accusations against my opponents,” he said

“We don’t have to adopt an absolutist approach to politics. The either my way or the highway’ philosophy is redundant and we can retire it. The new way is of co-operation in place of competition. I believe that we can all disagree with one another within the boundary of political decency with increasing coarsening of debates,” Ozigbo furthered.

However, Anambra politics is not about goodwill, it’s about the candidate that garnered the people’s trust and confidence. History has it that the rank and file usually pitch their tent with the devil they knew rather than bedding with the angel they are yet to know. 

Also, connection is an important issue in state’s election in Nigeria.  Ozigbo being a political outsider will find it difficult to win the general election – especially when the federal government has an alternate interest.

Ozigbo’s intention of carrying the masquerade that will dance in the Agu Awka depends on how his party. PDP in Anambra is known for intraparty wrangles. In their last guber outing, they fielded two candidates and nothing has proved that such event would not repeat itself.

That said, Valentine Ozigbo is a good man but the handwriting on the wall shows that his strong shoulder can’t carry him farther than his Amesi town.
The electoral map is already divided, but Ozigbo can still make history if he did not lose faith. After all, the white men used to say: the world is your oyster.

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