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Anambra: Valentine Ozigbo Withdraws from ANAFEST Chieftaincy Citing Political Tensions

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AWKA, Anambra — In an unfolding situation that appears to be deeply entrenched in political undercurrents, Valentine Ozigbo, a key figure in Anambra State, has declined a prestigious chieftaincy title.

Initially scheduled for October 7, 2023, at the Anaocha Local Government Headquarters, Mr. Ozigbo was to be honoured with the title of “Enyi Oma Anaocha” at the Anaocha Festival (ANAFEST 2023)

However, reports suggest that the event has become a hotbed for political tensions, with some elements attempting to capitalise on the occasion for their agendas.

The Trent reached out to the organisers on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Hon. Dr. Tochukwu Obiadi, Secretary of ANAFEST 2023 and the Anambra State Youth Leader of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Hon. Gerald Ikechukwu Ozoh, the TC Chairman of Anaocha Local Government Area. While both promised responses, they remained unavailable for comments at the time of this report.

On Monday night, an insider familiar with this development had informed The Trent that this politicisation could be attributed to the ruling party, APGA’s discomfort with Ozigbo’s political profile. According to the source, APGA stalwarts believe that Ozigbo poses a substantial threat to unseat the current Governor Soludo in next year’s gubernatorial election.

“It is all politics. APGA, the ruling party in Anambra, is uncomfortable with Valentine Ozigbo because they believe he is the only politician with the capacity to unseat Governor Soludo,” the source said, pleading anonymity. “It’s for fear of what Soludo could do to them, particularly Hon. Ozoh (the TP Local Government Chairman of Anaocha).”

Anambra Man of the Year Awards , Armed Hoodlums, Chukwuma Soludo,
Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the governor of Anambra State

In an official statement on Thursday, October 5, 2023, signed by Chief Tony Offiah, the Director of Finance for the VCO Campaign Organisation, Ozigbo’s camp expressed gratitude to the traditional rulers of Anaocha and its people for the honour but confirmed that Ozigbo would be withdrawing from the event. 

The decision comes after deliberation and in the interest of preventing any diminishment of the traditional institution and avoiding potential community unrest.

“We wish to inform the general public and all esteemed stakeholders about a recent development concerning the planned chieftaincy for Mr. Valentine Ozigbo by the Anaocha communities,” the statement read. 

“We want to clarify that on September 18, 2023, Mr. Ozigbo received a formal invitation to accept the esteemed chieftaincy title of “Enyi Oma Anaocha”. This invitation was extended following prior discussions with some of the organisers.

“This prestigious honour was scheduled to be conferred upon him by the Anaocha Traditional Ruling Council and the respected people of Anaocha on Saturday, October 7, 2023, at the Anaocha Local Government Headquarters, Neni.

“We have become aware that certain interests within the state, possibly uncomfortable with this honour and Mr. Ozigbo’s increasing rising profile in Anambra State and nationally, are attempting to politicise the award. This could not only diminish the traditional institution but also create unnecessary tension in the community.

“As a result, after thorough consultation with leaders of the Anaocha community, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, hereby confirms that he will no longer participate in the event,” the statement added. 

Ozigbo extended his appreciation and apology to all stakeholders, reiterating a commitment to upholding core values and principles. The overarching sentiment is clear: the focus should remain on uniting Anambra and fostering its growth.

Valentine Ozigbo
FILE: Valentine Ozigbo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag-bearer in the 2021 Anambra governorship election (L), exchanges pleasantries with His Royal Highness, Igwe Damian Ezeani, the traditional ruler of Neni (R), at the celebration of the 2021 Neni New Yam Festival held at the Igwe’s palace in Neni, Anaocha LGA in Anambra State on Saturday, September 4, 2021 (Photo Credit: Onyinye Omah)

“Mr. Ozigbo deeply appreciates the sincere intentions of the Traditional Rulers and the esteemed people of Anaocha,” the statement read further. 

“He (Ozigbo) apologises for any inconvenience this may cause to all those who had intended to be present at the event, including religious leaders, traditional rulers, members of the Labour Party (LP), the dedicated Obidient team, the Aguata Council of Traditional Rulers, family, friends, and esteemed members of the press.

“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our distinguished leaders, His Excellency Peter Obi and Senator Victor Umeh, both proud sons of Anaocha, who initially encouraged Mr. Ozigbo to accept this honour.

“While circumstances may change, our commitment to upholding the principles of fairness, honour, and community development remains unwavering. We call on everyone to uphold the values that define us and collaborate toward a more prosperous and united Anambra,” the statement ended.

In the 2021 Anambra governorship election, Valentine Ozigbo, 53, a celebrated global CEO who was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) came second behind Professor Soludo, 63, a former Central Bank Governor who was the candidate APGA, who was making his 4th attempt at winning the governorship of the southeastern state.

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