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Man of many parts

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Today marks another milestone in the life of Governor Maduabuchi William Martins Obiano, as he clocks 64 years. On this day in 1955, the agrarian community of Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State witnessed an addition of the first child to the family of Philip and Christiana Obiano of the baby named Maduabuchi and baptized William.

For a man who lost his father at a tender age, life thrust him with the challenge to aspire to higher heights and inspire others. Chief Obiano, the fourth democratic governor of Anambra State is a man of history and of many parts. He is a banker, technocrat and politician. On this day in 1876, renowned inventor, Thomas Edison received a patent for the mimeograph. The mimeograph was a “method of preparing autographic stencils for printing; a forerunner of the photocopier. Not many knew that Willie Obiano’s name would be inked in the annals of the personalities that would drive the socio-economic life of his people; duplicating success stories.

In the words of former United States’ President, Ronald Reagan, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” This has remained one of the salient attributes, which Gov. Obiano possesses that most people are unaware of. He goes out of his way to get the best hands as his managers, which are evident in the ministries and other agencies.

For instance, his uncanny gift to spot talents was manifested in the choice of the present Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners, Mark Okoye, who initially was penciled for that role, but age factor bared him, and he was made Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Economic Planning, with the ministry attached to the Governor’s office, pending the time he attained the statutory age to be made a commissioner at the age of 30.

The appointment of Sir Chuka Nnabuife as the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of National Light Newspaper, also testifies to that. Sir Nnabuife resuscitated the almost moribund paper to its now enviable heights. This, among others is a sign of Gov. Obiano’s managerial craftsmanship. People attest that Governor Obiano delights in seeing those who passed through him rise through the ranks to top management positions, handling big responsibilities and contributing to the bottom-line.

He encapsulates Robin S. Sharma’s statement that “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”

Chief Obiano’s vision to make Anambra State become the first choice Investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities in Nigeria has not lost focus. He created agency like Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) to serve as a special purpose vehicle to grow the micro, small and medium enterprises, which in turn grows the state GDP astronomically, having in mind that SMEs constitute over 60 per cent of the economy of the state, which their major challenge is financing. The agency has empowered and resuscitated many SMEs in the state. A proof of that is the state winning the 2019 Best State MSME Supporting State in Nigeria. Besides, the governor created Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), which serves as a one stop-shop to attract investment to the state and promotion of exports. The state now exports of vegetables and some agro-allied products to other parts of the world.

He also has his silent but indelible footprints in other areas of the state, which is pushing the transformation of the state.  Governor Obiano owes his spectacular performance to his four pillars of development; Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Oil and Gas and Industrialization.

Gov. Obiano is passionate and enthusiastic to create a socially stable, business friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities in Anambra State to transform the state to occupy its rightful place in Nigeria and Africa. “As the CEO of Anambra State, my job is to look for ways to better the lives of Ndi Anambra. That’s why we keep creating opportunities for our people. Because I know that our people are entrepreneurs and business owners, I tackled insecurity and provided a very safe environment for our businesses to thrive.”

Gov. Obiano’s political accomplishment started with his academic conquest, a trait he inherited from his educationist father who was a teacher and catechist. His intellectual quest started at Holy Trinity Primary School, Waterside Onitsha, where his father was headmaster. Father and son rode on bicycle to school every school day, which gave rise to the moniker Nwa Teacher (son of a teacher). Gov. Obiano believes in hard work, but deserves rest when necessary, a habit he imbibed in his boyhood. His disciplinarian father, who led the exemplary life inculcating the values of scholarship and hard work in children would ensure that his four children studied hard but ensures they take compulsory siesta every day after school.

For his secondary education, he proceeded to the famous Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, where he distinguished himself academically; obtaining his West African School Certificate. In 1974, while at CKC, he won the John F. Kennedy Award for Essay. University of Lagos was his port of call for his tertiary education. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree( B.Sc.) Second Class Upper in Accounting in1979 and an MBA in Marketing in 1993 from the same university.

He holds a national merit certificate for outstanding service during his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) and the Best Youth Corper Award in Benue state in the 1979/80 service year. Gov. Obiano, before his entry into politics spent his career years in the banking and accounting field. He began his banking career in 1981 at the First Bank of Nigeria.

He left First Bank to join the services of Texaco Nigeria Plc as an accountant and rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor in 1989.Hewas promoted four times in his eight-and-half-year-service at Texaco to become Chief Internal Auditor. As a specialist in Bunkering, Lube-blending and Refinery Audits, he was one of the auditors that audited Texaco Refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1989.

Riding on the back of his impressive career performance at Texaco Nigeria Plc, Chief Obiano joined Fidelity Bank from Texaco in 1991 as Deputy Manager and head of Audit and was promoted Manager in 1991, where he rose to the position of Executive Director in 2003.He was part of the great team that saw Fidelity Bank through the bank’s consolidation process, besides deploying his vast entrepreneurial mind to attracting quality risk assets and high-end businesses to the bank.

Chief Obiano is a 2006 BNV (Building New Ventures) CLASS member of Harvard Business School, Boston USA. Professionally, he has been honoured with Distinguished Banker of the Year 2012 Award. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

The desire to serve his people led him to quit the banking sector in 2013 to join politics, pitching his tent with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). As the party gubernatorial candidate, he won the election and was sworn in on March 17, 2014, to succeed Mr. Peter Obi.

He is a man that knows how to avoid controversy. His achievements are verifiable and the record undisputable. He used higher knowledge of economy to make Anambra not experience recession, despite coming into government just at the peak of emergence of inflation in 2014.

On November 14, 2017, against all odds, Gov. Obiano was re-elected for a second term. He defeated four other candidates to emerge victorious at the polls. He is a silent power broker and achiever. He became the first person in Nigeria’s gubernatorial election history to win in all the local government areas of his state by obtaining victory in the 21 local government areas of Anambra State.

One of the greatest qualities of Gov. Obiano, besides his philanthropic spirit is his willingness to help people in need, which also manifests in his governance approach. Many attest that he secretly operated a foundation that has offered scholarships to many people from Anambra North Senatorial district long before he journeyed into politics.  Long before Chief Obiano became governor, his house was always a rallying point for friends and shelter for the needy. Right from when he was living in Gbagada to when he moved to Lekki, in Lagos, every Sunday, there used to be a buffet in his house. He donates generously. He earned the title of Akpokuedike Aguleri because of his generosity.

As a man with a large heart, he has always supported the course of religious organizations; making extensive donations and contributions to diverse development projects in churches. He is a winner of the Role Model of the Year 2009, organised by the Maribet, a winner of the Career Excellence Award from the Awka Development Union in 2008. He has won many honours from the church, including recognition from Catholic Diocese of Onitsha in 2008, for his contribution to the church and society. St. Gerald Catholic Church, Gbagada, honoured him with Grand Pillar of the Parish in 2010, among numerous other honours and awards.

Chief Obiano cuts friendship across the breath and length of Nigeria and preaches unity, which is evident in the conferment of Otunba Atayese and Erelu Atayese on him and his wife respectively by Oba David Adegboyega Oyewumi Obadu of Ilemeso- Ekiti.

Chief Willie Obiano is married to Ebelechukwu Obiano. The marriage is blessed with children.

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