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Sailing like swan in Anambra waters



WHEN the shrilling voice of a crying baby broke the silence of the night at the modest Obiano’s family 64 years ago, only few people familiar with zodiac signs, read rightly the content of the stars heralding the emergence of a leader, this time, neither in Isreal nor Rome but a tiny riverine community of Aguleri, Otuocha in Anambra State – Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano was the child upon whom destiny has weaved great bond preparatory for future leadership assignments.

August is a month with significant memories, Maria Mitchel, the first female astrologer in the United States was born  on August 1, 1818. She discovered the Comet in 1847 and uncovered the true nature of sunspots. She went ahead to become the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and later named the director of Vassar Collage Observatory in the United States. Louis Armstrong, a famous musician and iconic composer was born on this month in 1901. Neil Armstrong, the great American astronaut who led the Apollo 11 space shuttle was born also on August 5, 1930. Lucille Ball, a famous actress, powerful business woman who became president of Hollywood production company, ‘Desilu Productions’ was  born on August 6, 1911. Her company produced stunning series like “Mission Impossible, I Love Lucy, The Untouchables amongst others, Matthew Henson, the first American arctic explorer, who was the first to reach the geographic north pole in 1909 with his team was born  exactly this day, August 8, 1866. The list goes on;  so, when Obiano on August 8, in the year 1955, was born, he fell naturally in line for the greats. Poised to make the prophetic aura surrounding him a reality, he made every time count in his efforts for great achievement. His footprints at Christ the King Collage, Onitsha, where he finished his secondary education is legendary.

His emergence as one of the bright Accountancy graduates at the University of Lagos in 1979 only affirmed the breed of ingenuity in his trait and what to look out for from his faculties. His banking career was a marvel, as he successfully held top positions at the Fidelity Bank, before retirement as managing director. For him, it was time to rest after a glistering career in the banking world but far from his thought, his call for service to humanity was only beginning, hence his thrust up as de jure sixth civilian governor and eleventh overall governor or administrator of the new Anambra State, created on August 27, 1991. This is indeed the defining moment of the personality of His Excellency, the Moses of contemporary Anambra society, Akpokuedike NdiIgbo, Willie Obiano, as he engages in silent transformation of the state across all sectors.

To appreciate the rare leadership qualities summed in his personality, some turbulence that had marked Anambra’s political waters need mention. It is not a new story that in Anambra State, a sitting governor was abducted on July 10 2003, in Nigeria’s history. The state slid into anarchy and the seat of power (Government House) was totally invaded by thugs and hooligans. Some politicians cared less about the good of the state and anything could be fair if only to gain control of political powers in the state.

From that period to 2006, Anambra political record was charaterised with avalanche of litigations, which coalesced to the eventual removal of Ngige as the state governor by the Court of Appeal in Enugu on March 14, 2006. This affirms the parallel points inwhich politicians in the state deploy their trade. There is usually no rallying point between the winners and the losers.

Chris Ngige and Peter Obi election legal tussle that lasted between 2003 and 2006 is on record to show that it is not enough to assume that one has won election in the state by mere pronouncement of the umpires. The Peter Obi versus Andy Ubah in 2007 further asserts the unpredictable terrains of the state’s politics. The unlawful impeachment of Governor Obi by desperate politicians with personal agenda overriding state interests even in the state House of Assembly all underscore desperation the polity is exposed to at the time. Despite Obi’s high intellectual acquisition and appreciable human relations attribute, he still found it difficult to navigate through the stormy Anambra political waters.

The story is not different even at the political party fronts, as cohesion and unity became rare commodity even amongst same party faithful. The Chekwas Okorie and Victor Umeh national chairman face off in APGA reaffirms the Chris Uba, Andy Uba and Chris Ngige all of PDP then as  familiar drama from the Fuji house.

All these seem to have given way for peace and faster development of the state over the last five years. Obiano in his assertive but charismatic manner has succeeded in bringing all opinions and interests together for the common good of Ndi-Anambra. The striking thing is the quiet manner he engages in this task and the sublime way he steers himself off conflicts in his leadership role.

Today, Anambra boasts of two ministerial slots at the federal cabinet even when the state is not an All Progressive Congress (APC) state. Dr Chris Ngige, Sharon Ikeazo all made the presidential nominees list. This is apparently, the result of warm relationship between Akpokuedike and President Mohammadu Buhari. Does it not surprise anybody that the two could strike good rapport even from different party lines without undermining the interests of their wards?

The political rabble rousers in Anambra have gone to their trenches as it stands, a testimony of Obiano’s capacity to carry all people along irrespective of ideological, class or party differences. The state’s House of Assembly no longer assumes arena for political rascality. The common understanding and mutual respect thriving between the two arms of government underscores Obiano’s outstanding interpersonal relationship with people. A trait not even the pomp of political office and frenzy of power had robbed off on in anyway.

Anambra State now boasts of contemporary ministries, departments and agencies with improved structures and systems. The old Youth and Sports Ministry now metamorphosed into Ministry of Sports and Youth Entrepreneurial Skill. The adjustment is not in nomenclature only but in ideal and direction as it sets to engage the youth in using their skills for self reliance. The old Ministry of Commerce, now bears Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Market  and Wealth Creation amongst other new innovations. The creations of agencies such as Anambra State Investment  Promotion and Protection Agancy (ANSIPPA), Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) have expanded business opportunities in the state and created jobs for the unemployed class. Perhaps, the governor’s foresight played great part in his navigation of the state through the economic recession without hash impact on the populace, unlike what obtained in other states.

The beauty of these innovative displays is that it comes with little or no hype. The state has generally grown on all fronts under Obiano’s watch in a quiet manner different from the hyping style of the typical Nigerian politician. If anyone calls him a silent achiever, it is simply a title well deserved.

Even when Obiano has attained great political height, he does not trade his love for the state and humanity with his political interest. Past experience shows that if the state has been in the hands of ambitious politicians, it would by now be boiling in plot for his successor. But Obiano is more interested in the welfare of the civil servants,  traders and all people in the state than personal political gains.

Ndi-Anambra do not lose sight of this great leader any bit. Their belief in him could be measured by the overwhelming votes they gave him during the November, 2017 gubernatorial election in the state where he won in all the 21 local governments in the state.

While the cannon sounds the 64th time for this great leader of the epoch, Anambra continues to relish in his robust experience and large heart, with hope that his successor would deliver in line with the set precedence.

August 8 is the date, while Willie is the substance. What the stars revealed 64years ago, manifests in heightened candour this time. Ndi Anambra hopes that the Moses that led them this far would hand over to Joshua for onward conquering feats.

Unarguably, Obiano possesses the adaptative property that aids his sail in Anambra troubled waters. His forthrightness and passion to accommodate even opposition views are his unique features that had endeared him into the people’s hearts, hence; his smooth sail like a swan. Bravo to the man of the people, the bridge builder, a leader who stands in the front- the Moses upon whose shoulders Israelis’ exit from Egypt lies, Willie Obiano is the man.



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