Posted by Emeka Ozumba | 22 March 2014 | 14,013 times
When Dr Nkem Okeke first served as Commissioner for Economic Planning, and again as Commissioner for Works and Transport under Governor Peter Obi and later went back to immerse himself in the academia as lecturer and head of department of economics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, little did he know that fate had in store a second stint in politics for him, this time as Deputy Governor.
To underscore the presence of the hand of fate in the entire arrangement, Okeke was said to be on a family vacation in the United States of America when the lot fell on him to be on the APGA ticket with Chief Willie Obiano for the November 16, 17 and 30, 2013 Anambra State governorship election. No sooner had he arrived back in Nigeria than he had hit the ground running. He put his incredible networking ability, switching his charm on the campaign trail with the party faithful to mobilise the votes that finally made victory a reality.
Nkem Okeke has had a fascinating life. There are interesting parallels between the urbane erudite scholar who excelled at the ivory tower, and the amiable politician on the verge of making a success of two worlds. Born into the family of Engr. R.N. Okeke, this scion of Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka, Local Government, Anambra State, leaves no one in doubt about his industry and determination to succeed. Simple in outlook, and self-effacing in his demeanor, Dr. Okeke has behind him a history of excellence with a passion and commitment suited to public service.
Okeke holds a Ph.D in monetary Economics. He attended Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha and Universities in United States of America. He was until recently Head of Department of Economics Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Nkem is married to a charming and lovely wife Oby, with five children, two of whom are graduates. Oby has been supportive of Nkem all the way despite the discomforts of being thrust forward to prominence by the klieglights of politics alongside her husband. Beneath Nkem’s strikinglooks lies a depth of intelligence, self confidence and self awareness as well as a quick wit necessary for navigating the shark-infested waters of Anambra – nay, Nigerian politics.
Although the story of relationships between governors and their deputies in Nigeria is not a cheery one, it augurs well for Anambra that the new Governor and his Deputy complement each other academically and professionaly. Willie Obiano’s technocratic background is well suited to the scholarly background of Nkem Okeke. Evident in their public statements is a reflection of common contemporary disposition and world view, and an appreciation of what Anambra needs to forge ahead at this stage.
No doubt, Nkem Okeke’s humble disposition will serve the Governor well and help cement the camaraderie in the pecking order of government affairs. He will also bring to bear uncommon pragmatism and disposition for moderation in governance with emphasis on opportunity for all through jobs, responsibility and respect for law and order.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Ugogbuzuo – as Dr. Nkem Okeke is affectionately referred to in traditional circles – is ready for the task ahead in Anambra State.
•Emeka Ozumba writes from Awka, Anambra State. Photo shows Deputy Governor Nkem Okeke and his wife, Oby.
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