Anambra 2017: Why Willie Obiano should win – James Eze
Even the blind can see that Chief Willie Obiano will win the next gubernatorial election in Anambra State. And this is not even a great insight. The evidence is there; staring at anyone who cares to know…daring us all to contradict the screaming facts of his nearly three years of top-class performance.
The bad news about this obvious fact is that in spite of Obiano’s sterling achievements, some otherwise smart sons and daughters of the state have filed out to run against him. And they will lose their money! The good news is that in challenging Obiano, they will not only be preserving the democratic tradition but they will be providing temporary employment for the youths. They will also be injecting some huge resources into the local economy of the state with campaign funds that will be in circulation for the better part of the year. Now, that is something we all need. What a relief it would offer from the debilitating recession! But that is as far as it goes. The truth that stands unwavering before Ndi Anambra today is that come November 2017, Willie Obiano will be running an election in which even his greatest challenger expects him to win!
Indeed, Obiano has done so well in less than three years that he easily stands out as an oasis of hope in a terrain overcast by despair and decay. Not only has he shown us that there are better ways of handling important sectors as security, education, support to industries and trade and commerce but Willie Obiano is the first governor of Anambra State to take the issue of aesthetics very seriously. From the commendable provision of “road furniture” on many roads across the state to the dazzling streets that now shimmer with brilliant rays at night. Yes, Anambra is beginning to wear an appearance that is reflective of its helmsman. Obiano’s colourful personality is beginning to shine through in the physical structures on the ground, making a whole new aesthetic statement that is long overdue in a state of its stature. The height of this commendable shift was the evacuation of a 30-year old mountain of refuse in Okpoko, near Onitsha. This singular act symbolizes Obiano’s intolerance of ugliness of all shades; literally and figuratively. So, increasingly, we are beginning to see; not only the brick and mortar aspects of Obiano’s economic blueprint but also the glamourous side of a long vision of development. And this, to my mind is as it should be!
Obiano’s uncanny ability to read and interpret the times and the seasons makes it difficult to wrong-foot him. His forecast of the crash in oil prices leading to some of the measures he implemented to put Anambra on a strong footing; his swift response to the recession with a well-crafted Economic Stimulus Package, his rising to the occasion as demanded by the season to honour distinguished Ndi Anambra at the epoch-making event that rounded off the Anambra @25 Celebration, are just a few of Obiano’s quick-thinking initiatives that his opponents will have a tough time to match. When we also remember his symbolic memorial for Ndigbo who lost their lives in the Biafran War, we see a leader who is as obsessed with tomorrow as he is concerned about yesterday. Yes, sometimes, leadership collapses into an exercise steeped in symbols. The leader’s figurative stance, his body language, his calculated gestures all become powerful tremors rippling through the people and stampeding a movement in expected directions. We have seen a lot of that in Anambra State under Obiano.
There is also a widening circle of development across Anambra State. Roads matter a lot to Ndi Anambra. No community wants to be cut off from the spreading circle of development. But new roads are being constructed nowadays beyond the earlier target of providing access to the agricultural belt and the industrial clusters.
As a result of all these, the pack of frazzled aspirants seeking nomination in different parties to challenge Obiano will have a tough time explaining why a governor who cleansed the state of crime, put the state on the agricultural map, sustained its position on the educational map, extended development to every community with the N20m Community Choose-your-Project Initiative, opened access to the oilfields of Aguleri, lighted up the state with sparkling streetlights and changed the state capital for good, should not get a second term. How would they convince Ndi Anambra that a man who made it possible for them to sleep with both eyes closed does not deserve the chance to do more? Would doling out money as is their wont, cut down his popularity? Would the often blunt-edged calumny campaign whittle down the importance of his staggering achievements?
And maybe we should chew on this… The Igbo world applauds high achievements. We love to see one of our own rise above the strictures imposed by nature and nurture to change their status and their environment. This is the spirit behind Igbo achievements; the spirit of nwata kwo aka, osolu okenye rie nri. This is what Okonkwo Adi, the archetypal Igbo hero did in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. And that is exactly what Willie Obiano has done in Anambra State. He has shown himself worthy and should be fairly acknowledged!
On the other hand, the Igbo world detests imposition of any kind. This is the reason why the British had a tough time with our ancestors who refused to be beaten into shape with the colonial indirect rule system and its contrived impositions. This is also the reason APC’s marauding army will fail in Anambra State, the heart of the Igbo nation. Surely, the people leading this invasion must be familiar with these subtleties. Senator Chris Ngige, I am sure, could not have forgotten in a hurry what happened when he stormed Onitsha during the Ofala Week four years ago with a gang of broom-wielding APC invaders. The arrogance of the APC stalwarts who refused to acknowledge the slight they had done to the ancient stool of the Obi of Onitsha still lingers to this day. I remember some concerned Nigerians asking the former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who was one of the invaders whether he would have contemplated such a brazen violation of the Igue Festival in Benin. But Senator Ngige carried on with his toady arrogance as though the party could do no wrong.
All things considered, it does not require the use of a crystal ball to see that anyone aspiring to lead Anambra State on the platform of APC is hallucinating at best and in a delirium at worse. Ndi Anambra are bound to ask whether the basic philosophies behind APC are in agreement with the Igbo. They will ask how many Igbo sons and daughters sat down with the founders of APC to draft the ideologies of the party. But perhaps more importantly, Ndi Anambra will look across the hills to Imo State where the APC “magic” is in full bloom and decide whether that is the future we want for ourselves!
Interestingly, impartial observers of Anambra State under Obiano have made the decision fairly easy for Ndi Anambra. When they crowned him The Sun Governor of the Year, Silverbird Man of the Year, Vanguard Governor of the Year and the New Telegraph newspaper gave him an award for Outstanding Performance, they made the task of choosing less difficult for Ndi Anambra. And when the Ethics and Corporate Compliance Institute of Nigeria decorated him with the Nigeria Integrity and Anti-Corruption Award and the Institute for Housing and Urban Development of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam awarded him a Certificate of Recognition because “through his visionary leadership, strong motivation and commitment, he has managed to bring a radical change to his country’s development and empower future city changers,” they actually made his choice a sacred duty that Ndi Anambra must perform to stay in right standing with the rest of the world!
By James Eze (firstname.lastname@example.org)