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Published On: Mon, Oct 9th, 2017

Anambra: The case for Willy Obiano’s Beatification

The up-coming November 18th governorship election in Anambra state is a straight fight between former governor Mr. Peter Obi and his successor, Mr. Willie Obiano. What is intriguing about the election is that Obi, who fought against all political odds to install Obiano as his successor now wants him out by all means. The unfolding drama in Anambra state is a mark of Obi’s failure as a leader and a pointer to the political future of the region.

Most Igbo people supported Obi in his struggle against the intimidating federal might backed by former president Obasanjo to impose his party candidate on the state. So, when eventually the Supreme Court on November 18th declared Obi governor, the average Igbo person believed that for once since the return of democracy, the area would be blessed with a true leader who would be a rallying point for unity and development of the region.

Since the end of the war, Igboland has yearned for a true leader to bring them back to national reckoning again. Zik tried but it was short-lived. Obi fitted that bill. He is not your usual politician – indeed, he was not one until he became governor; well educated, wealthy and coming from the private sector, many thought that he would bring foresight and professionalism into leadership and pull the region out of its present development alienation and national irrelevance.

Lagos presented a model where one man, Asiwaju Tinubu, elected to change the   political fortune of the state and his people. In the country, only Tinubu has emerged a credible and formidable leader in his 1999 class of governors. He did not do this by being selfish, money minded and reclusive. Tinubu became a political powerhouse by empowerment of people. No leader is a true leader without people. Tinubu made people and people are his backbone.

Obi on the other hand, proved to be a good manager of money but a terrible husbandman of people. He built roads even to the remotest villages; invested in industries, allegedly saved N74 billion for the state, but empowered no one. Because he did not empower people, he stands alone as a politician. While Tinubu built intellectual infrastructure, such as television, radio station, newspapers to empower his people intellectually, Obi simply walked away from power, which he now wants through the back door. It was the media which Tinubu controls that decided the 2015 elections.

Tinubu only controlled a state – Lagos; so did obi. Now Tinubu controls five states, Obi none. What a paradox! Instead of Obi investing in his people and the region for greater stake in the country, he simply wanted power for himself by looking for appointment. Obi’s failure encouraged the rise of IPOB and the political decimation of the region by the Buhari government.

Obi inherited a one state party – APGA – and failed woefully to expand its sphere of influence; in fact the party is in danger of extinction if Obi makes true his threat to sack Obiano. His inability to take APGA beyond the level he met it is the reason both he and the party have remained provincial. He abandoned the party he inherited from Ikemba Ojukwu because he wanted political appointment from former president Jonathan.  Now he wants to kill off the party if he succeeds to remove Obiano. No Igbo man should support such a self serving and vindictive action.

APGA remains the only political stake the Igbo have in Nigerian politics. It has elected members in the National Assembly. The aspiration of every Igbo should be how to correct the betrayal of Gov. Rochas Okorocha and Obi by expanding the political scope of APGA in the region. To support Obi in his political vendetta against Obiano is to make the evil of Okorocha more palatable. Obi must not succeed in getting a third term by killing APGA because that is what it all comes to. Without a state to control, APGA will be dead.

Our endorsing Governor Obiano for a second term is not only that he has done well but because of the strategic role of Anambra state in the zone. The state is crucial in the renaissance of the Igbo and therefore its governor should have a sense of duty and destiny for the region. Obi failed in this task; however we believe and hope that Obiano should rise up to the challenge to position the state as the industrial hub of the region and the key to integrating its economy.

We endorse him because the Igbo cannot be destitute and voiceless in the country. It was such lack of leadership that emboldened Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB to take up the stage. This must not be allowed to happen again as the leaders should rise up. Chief John Nwodo of Ohanaeze has done so much for the region since his emergence as President General. More of his kinds are desperately needed. Obiano has a political space for him and should step forward and fill it.

He must ensure that APGA spreads in the region beyond Anambra state; that is the only guarantee for its survival. Politics is a game of numbers and the more states the party controls the more relevant the zone will be in Nigeria. Building roads and bridges is no longer enough; he should build future leaders and the zone. This is the lesson from the Tinubu leadership example. If he can do this, he would have transcended the Obi’s uninspiring legacy, which unfortunately he wants to perpetuate by his third term coming.

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