Posted by News Express | 7 May 2018 | 2,648 times
An Igbo popular saying – that a person’s name follows him – best describes the circumstances under which Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano emerged as the successor of former Governor Peter Obi in Anambra State, despite the original line-up of party loyalists.
Before his emergence in the political arena of the Light of the Nation, the name Obiano was nowhere in the political chess-board of Anambra politics but, definitely, there it was in the heaven’s board, according to destiny.
When he came on board, many political analysts wrote him off as a clean, well-dressed American returnee, unfamiliar with the system; hence, would end up as an abysmal failure.
But like a striker who knows how to swerve the ball to the target, he set it rolling and kicked off his first tenure with the construction of two flyover bridges, and a dream to make Anambra State the Dubai of Africa.
Though the flag-off attracted a lot of criticisms from politicians as well as individuals, who felt it was simply a waste of the state’s lean resources, Obiano on his part ignored the critics, saying that he had not only come to transform the state as the heart-beat of Igbo land, but to also make it an envy among other states.
As he said in a meeting with correspondents during his first tenure in office: “When I smile, you know that I have seen a vision; a vision to make the state better.”
Clearly, Obiano’s vision for the state is no longer in doubt, as it has become obvious within the state capital and in the 21 communities that make up the state.
Apart from constructing the two fly-over bridges along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, within a short space of time in his first tenure, he also added beauty by putting street light and beautiful side-shields to prevent pedestrians, especially students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, from crossing the ever-busy road on foot.
Obiano, without doubt, took his critics to the cleaners when the fly-over project was completed within the stipulated time of three months. This is the kind of project most governments in power never finish before they live office, because they keep it as a drain-pipe to siphon state money. It was a shocker to his critics. Unlike his predecessors, Obiano romanced not just the churches but, the 21 local government areas. He gave communities a mouth-watering sum of N21 million for each community to choose a project of their choice and build without government interference. Worthy of note is that it is not a one-off thing, as communities that finished the first project are given more money to continue with another project.
That unique style endeared the governor to the hearts of people within and outside the state, while his regular and swift payment of salaries earned him “the alert governor.”
Following the towering admiration of the man popularly and fondly called Akpokuo dike global, he contested for a second term. Despite the many tackles from different oppositions, the governor went to the battle-field without adorning any toga of a warrior. Yet, he came out with an intimidating victory of 21 over 21 votes. A feat no other politician has achieved in the annals of Anambra politics.
Rewind to the period before the governorship election on November 18, 2017, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) changed their strategy, which ultimately intimidated opposition parties. As a result, heavy weights from the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) started aligning with them openly and secretly.
For instance, the member representing Orumba North and South Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon Ben Nwankwo, who is a notable PDP stalwart and a strong force in his area, crossed over with his many loyalists to APGA, during the party's rally in Orumba.
Also, the Nnewi-born pastor and foundation member of PDP, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, dumped his party for APGA.
At APGA's grand rally held at Alex Ekwueme square in Awka, Ukachukwu openly praised the governor for transforming the state, adding that his ship was the one worthy politicians should identify with.
Though the Chairman/CEO of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah, took part in PDP's governorship primary election, feelers from the grapevine has it that he was actually in the race, not as a serious contender but to play a scripted spoiler's role in favour of the ruling party, APGA, despite still wearing the toga of PDP.
Also in the mix was Senator Stella Oduah, who even though bought form for the governorship ticket of PDP, but failed to attend the party's primary election.
A founding father of PDP and first state chairman in the state, Chief Joseph Okonkwo, was another big-wig that openly aligned with the state governor.
In a meeting he hosted at his country home, Enugwu-Ukwu, before the governorship 11, Okonkwo whose son was one of the special assistants to the governor openly urged his followers to transfer their support to the incumbent governor, for the good works he had done in the state. Not forgetting the big masquerade, Charles Soludo. Like the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, whose picture adorned all APGA billboards, Soludo remained the larger picture, starting from when the state government organised a business summit which was held at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
Speaking at the summit, he made a categorical and surprising statement, when he affirmed that there was no need changing a winning team. “If it’s not broken, why mend it.”
Already, there are indications that his early alliance with Governor Obiano will fetch him the governorship ticket as Obiano’s successor. Only time will tell!
Also fingered in the alliance was former national secretary, caretaker committee of the PDP, Chief Ben Obi. Though his may be classified as a discreet executive alliance, he created room for suspicion when he failed to associate with the party during their campaigns and journey to re-take the Agu-Awka seat of power.
Though Nigerian politicians have the attitude of always toeing the line where they feel their bread would be buttered, the attitude of the opposition only confirms the saying: “If you can't beat them, join them.” The bottom-line remains interest!
Already, Ubah has declared interest to run for the senatorial seat of Anambra South Senatorial zone under the umbrella of APGA in 2019.
While some have openly declared their interest to align with APGA because Obiano has succeeded in making it a party of the moment through words and actions, there are some who have chosen to tap-dance from outside the flanks to avoid losing it all.
For instance, the self-acclaimed god father of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, has severally been seen around the governor and was also present at the epoch-making second term inauguration event, held in March in Awka, Uba was among the big-wigs of PDP who were accused of selling out during the last year’s election.
Information has it that he had allegedly said that “since Obiano was doing well, he should be allowed to finish his term.”
Another angle to his un-seeming support or alliance is the old Aguata Union (OAU) accord and the thin thread belief that their zone has a better chance of getting the governorship slot through Soludo, with Obiano as the governor than with any other candidate from the north. The irony, though, is that majority of the people that make up APGA are all PDP at heart, and can easily switch in an event of a crash.
With the National Assembly election fast approaching, interested parties view romance with Obiano and APGA as the only sure way to relevance. Already, a lot of politicians from other political divide are shifting base to align with the government-in-power, by way of praise-singing and body language.
Be that as it may, the unprecedented victory at the November governorship poll has made Obiano a juicy fruit-tree, the beautiful bride to court for most politicians in the state.
Politics is a game of commitment and loyalty hence Obiano may have a hard time deciding on how to share the power-cake without creating rancour, bitterness and crack in the fragile cock-party, which is currently the party to beat in the state.
The pertinent question is whether the big boss will abandon the old party horses that have throttled and stood the test of time for APGA and tag new entrants, who are only looking for a ladder to the front row seat at the top.
•Pamela Eboh is Anambra State Correspondent of News Express. She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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