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Splendid man of style

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64 YEARS ago, a man was born to the family of late school headmaster, Philip Onuora Obiano on August 8, 1955 at Aguleri, a town in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State. His name, Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano started leading him as he lost his father early in life and was raised by his dear mother.

As a result of his humble background, Willie aspired higher, distinguishing himself in various fields of endeavour. He received a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Lagos, in 1979, and a Master of Business Administration from the same university and excelled as a banker.

In all standards, Willie proved himself as a man with high sense of good quality, standard, style and fashion. The will to succeed stands him out for the arduous tasks of governance. His strides in private and public service really equipped him. Without mincing words, Obiano had registered his bold imprint on the socio-political life of Anambra State, being the fourth democratic governor of the state.

Interestingly, Obiano’s sense of generosity was manifested few months after his inauguration, when he dedicated his official monthly salary to the upkeep of the poor and needy. His large-heartedness extends to the state civil servants as he broke the barrier in salary increment by giving the workforce a 15 percent increase in their salaries. He also provided buses to covey workers to and fro Awka at a moderate price. He cleared the backlog of pension and gratuities owed to the staff of state media establishments (National Light and ABS), making life meaningful to retired staff of the establishments, as well as raising hope to those still serving.

He equally cleared many years of promotion to civil servants with a promise of promoting them as and when due. On the issue of new minimum wage, Willie promised to be the first governor that will implement it. Obiano did not stop at workers’ welfare; he also extended his magnanimity to the generality of the citizens by providing mass transit buses which ply different parts of the state at low rate, making life easy for the masses. He constructed modern bus shelters in the urban centres to make people feel comfortable while waiting to board a bus.

In the area of fashion,  Obiano is trendy and non-conformist. In the first few years of his inauguration, he had turned up at several official outings donned in mostly two-button suites, mostly gray or dark navy blue, but each is tailored to suit his frame, depicting his banking background. But recently, he appears in public functions like his contemporaries in the east, stunning in traditional attires and good shoes to match while his black-and-white monochromic bowler hats cannot be ignored.

During his primary school days, he had a hobby of pulling grey hair off his father’s head as a way of keeping busy when he was not resting in bed after school. He obeyed his father’s instruction of taking siesta after school before going for evening lessons. His father made it compulsory that nobody was to have a haircut at the barbers. The father did the cutting himself to have his desired shape of a cap. Among his peers, his unique haircut earned him the appellation, Isi-Okpu (the head that looks like a cap). Willie became so used to this style, that even as an undergraduate, resident in the university campus, he would always look forward to going home to have his father give him the cap-shaped haircut and this, he held onto this day. In every gathering, Obiano’s unique hair style stands him out in the crowd. As he became the governor of the state, people started copying his style of hair cut with distinguishing line.

More so, in his passion for high standard, he insists that due process and general rules must be followed in every area. He applies global standard even in electing infrastructures. A typical example is the construction of the three flyovers at Arroma, Kwatta and Amawbia junctions. This, he did to give a befitting status to the state capital. While flagging off the construction of the flyovers, he told ndi Anambra that he will replicate the London Hanging Bridge in the state.  He continued in his quest for aesthetics and installed street lights in major towns in the state, making it easy for motorists and pedestrians to have free movement without fear of robbery or molestation.

Ndi Anambra are not in doubt of Willie Obiano’s sense of style and taste. This is evidently displayed in his breathtaking palatial country home, named after his daughter, Gechi, constructed years back even as a private citizen. The sprawling edifice speaks much about his person even when he had not developed interest of being the state governor. Apart from the stately ambience of this expansive structure, one considers the management of the uneven terrain and concludes that whoever built the edifice must be of high class and taste.

In spite of his decades of service with corporate organization and reaching the highest level in service, with high influence of globalisation, Akpokuedike as a red cap chief of Aguleri Kingdom is strongly immersed in his roots and did not allow westernization to erase the allure of his heritage. He speaks his dialect fluently. He also savours the blend of traditional drumming and flutes. No wonder after his inauguration as the Governor of Anambra State, Obiano retained his flutist for some months who accompanied him to various occasions. He consciously responds to the rhythms of different flutes which occasionally arouse his emotion to taking dexterous steps to the admiration of the audience.

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