Mrs Obiano for Senate? How True? How Qualified? How Favourable?

Feb 18, 2022 - 12:42
Mrs Obiano for Senate? How True? How Qualified? How Favourable?

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Following series of calls by different groups on the wife of Anambra State Governor, Chief Mrs  Ebelechukwu Veronica Obiano to contest for the senatorial seat of Anambra North come 2023, it became imperative to assess the outgoing First Lady's true stance on the call, her chances, as well as her qualifications

Mrs Obiano, as we all know, will be leaving office as the First Lady of Anambra State come March 17, 2022, which is approximately one month from today, as his husband's second term of eight years in office will be expiring that day, for the Governor-elect, Prof. Charles Soludo and his wife, Mrs Nonye Soludo to take over as the Governor and First Lady respectively.

As we know also, Mrs Obiano is the Founder of Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) —a charity-based non-governmental organisation —through which she has transformed thousands of lives, given hope to many, as well as revived many hope in almost every nook and cranny of the state and beyond, such that many beneficiaries of her good works are already missing her and wishing she remains in government; while many other beneficiaries are looking for ways or opportunity to reciprocate her love and kindheartedness.

Having established these facts, it is right to say that the call by groups on Mrs Obiano to run for senate did not start today. It started years ago, but began to gain more attention and popularity sometime in August 2015, when Chief Omezie Chukwura, a youth leader in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, urged her to contest  for a senatorial seat, either in Anambra Central Senatorial zone, her birthplace, or in Anambra North, her husband’s place, come 2023.

Speaking on the backdrop of Caring Family Enhancement Iniatives (CAFÉ), the non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up by the Governor's wife to empower women, physically challenged, elderly children, among others, in the state; Chief Chukwura said that going by the First Lady's antecedents and relentless passion to touch lives of the less privilege, she should be encouraged to make herself available for an elective position, to have a bigger opportunity to positively impact more on the people.

Since then, some other groups have also been urging the Governor's wife to prepare for the senatorial seat come 2023.

These calls started becoming somewhat pressurising on Mrs Obiano since early this year, as many groups queued in.

For instance, sometime in mid January this year, a group of youths from the Governor's wife's hometown, Ogbunike, under the aegis of United Ogbunike Youths Association (UOYA), during one of their meetings, urged her to contest for senate, to represent Anambra North Constituency in the forthcoming heneral elections.

Led by the National President, Mr. Okonkwo Ikechukwu, the group, in their own assertion, explained that the reason behind the call was for her to continue to do good as well as attract more development to Anambra North senatorial zone.

They explained that, although Ogbunike had been in the forefront of past administrations in the state, Mrs Obiano recorded tremendous human and infrastructure development, and that contesting and winning a senate seat would offer her veritable opportunities to continue to promote human development.

As if that was not enough, a group of women in Anambra North Senatorial District have also recently fixed a prayer session where they would ask God to hear their prayers by making it possible for Mrs Obiano not only to agree to their request to contest for senate, but to also win the senatorial seat of the zone next year, to continue touching lives positively, especially lives of women.

Looking critically at all these calls and many others, two major things could be deduced —first, the callers are reason-based in their calls, secondly, the callee's response is yet to be heard formally on that.

However clear these may be, as these calls became louder on Mrs Obiano's ear on daily, speculations are beginning to emerge that she has yielded to them and accepted to contest for the senatorial seat.

When contacted on the emerging speculations, a closest aide to the First Lady, Mr. Emeka Ozumba, who is also the Program Manager of her charity organisation, CAFE, noted that the Governor's wife has not formally declared her interest to join the senatorial race.

Mr. Ozumba, who is also the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Obiano, said “Until she declares, I won't make any formal pronouncement on that now. It is her prerogative to make her intentions known.”

From this, it could be seen that although the speculations are much, the Anambra First Lady is yet to formally declare her interest, and the zone she is contesting for.

All things being equal, it is a well-known fact that she may not consider contesting the senatorial seat of Anambra Central (the senatorial zone of her birthplace) because of the presence of former APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, who previously represented the zone under APGA and is currently warming up to (under the same APGA) take back the position from the current PDP's Senator Uche Ekwunife, who defeated in 2019 to occupy the seat. Chief Umeh himself has, unarguably received even much more calls and pleads from the people of the zone to re-contest for senate in 2023, due to his political sagacity, boldness and the wonderful achievements he recorded in the National Assembly during the four years he represented the zone. If these are true therefore, contesting in Anambra Central MAY not be a salubrious and fecund option for Mrs Obiano. That is if finally she declares her interest.

On the other hand, if eventually the Governor's wife yields to these calls and joins the senatorial race in Anambra North, it then implies she would be squared against other political heavyweights from the zone, both at primary election level, and at the general election level if she wins the party's ticket. 

It would be recalled that the seat is currently occupied by former Aviation Minister and now All Progressive Congress, APC's Senator Stella Oduah, then of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), who first won it in 2015 and defeated 21 other contestants from different political parties in 2019 to retain the seat.

Speculations also emerge that the members representing Anambra East/West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Chinedu Obidigwe of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, is equally nursing ambition to contest for the senatorial seat of Anambra North.

It is also rumoured that Hon. Chuchu Onyema, who currently represents Ogbaru Federal Constituency may also consider joining the senatorial race of the zone instead of seeking re-election to the House.

These and few more senatorial hopefuls are some of the potential opponents to Mrs Obiano if she finally decides to join the race in Anambra North. 

It would also be recalled that there were series of defections and cross-defections in Anambra North and other parts of the state last year ahead of the 2021 governorship election. All those defections and political gimmicks were not without intentions, some of which may be 2023-related, or, if I may be more specific, senatorial-related.

In all these, however, how 'qualified', how popular/influential and endearing one is to his party and his people is very significant in determining the person's chances.

Now, taking these one by one; if I may ask, is Mrs Obiano really qualified for the senatorial race?

As stipulated in section 66 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the basic requirements one must meet before contesting for senate are (summarily): being a citizen of Nigeria; being, at least, 35 years of age; possessing, at least, secondary school certificate; being a member of a registered political party; not being a civil servant, at least, 30 days to the election; being mentally healthy; not being bankrupt; not being recently sentenced to death or imprisonment, not being indicted for embezzlement or fraud.

There is no known section of the constitution or supporting laws that disqualifies first ladies or ex-first ladies from contesting election, or, a senatorial election, to be more specific.

Now, critically speaking, one could say that Mrs Obiano is not 'falling short' in any of these constitutional requirements above.

Age wise, she is above 35

Educationally, she attended Lagos Premier Day School in Lagos State and Okija Community Secondary School in Anambra State, where she obtained General Certificate of Education (GCE). She was admitted into University of Lagos where she earned a Diploma in Mass Communication. She followed it up with a Degree in History and International Studies from Lagos State University (LASU). She later obtained an Associate Degree in real Estate from Lone Star College, Houston, Texas, United States of America. She had other trainings in Human and Material Management in Nigeria, Europe and the USA.

Looking at other items highlighted in that section of the Constitution, it could be established, based on records, that Mrs. Obiano is apparently qualified to contest for senatorial seat.

On the aspect of influence and popularity, being an active First Lady, which earned her the title of Osodieme, has already given her an edge over others.

Now, the matter of how endearing she is to her party and people, as a significant factor in determining her chances, is not my result to announce, but that of those it is exclusively reserved for. Although, one can safely argue that these reason-based calls by some groups on the Governor's wife to contest for senate are already a sign of what the result of her endearingness may be.

The rest of the result will be made known in due time, as day progresses. Remember, that is, if she is truly contesting. 

Against all speculations, whether or not the First Lady is joining the senatorial race is still formally unknown, and will also be made known in due time.

Until then, we keep our fingers crossed.


Izunna Okafor is an Awka-based journalist.

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Izunna Okafor Izunna Okafor is an award-winning Nigerian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, editor, translator, publicist, Igbo language activist and administrator who hails from Ebenator in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. He writes perfectly in English and Igbo languages, and has published several books in both languages. He has received over 25 awards, and has over 2000 articles published online, both nationally and internationally, cutting across creative writing and journalism. See his full profile at: