Anambra State and APGA’s Politics of Succession

By Okechukwu Anarado

With no paradox at all intended, events in Anambra State over the past seven years have increasingly lent brilliant credence to ex-Governor Peter Obi’s preferences for Chief Willie Obiano as his successor. Never mind the spate of discontent and malcontents variously spawned by aids and episodic apologists of the two political icons; which diatribes are enabled and amplified by the seemingly limitless permissiveness of the social media space.

It is beyond contestation that Peter Obi’s success as an All Progressives Grand Alliance two-term Governor of Anambra State (17th March, 2006 to midday of 17th March, 2014), his partnership with religious bodies and other institutions, and the kindred spirit bonding the Anambra electorate with APGA, guaranteed Chief Willie Obiano the governor’s seat on March 17, 2014.

APGA’s growing welcome-rating as the people’s party was apparent in the relative ease of Obiano’s first term gubernatorial victory (November, 2013) juxtaposed with the palpable anxieties that marked Obi’s second term bid in February, 2010, and Obiano’s unprecedented second term trouncing of other parties’ candidates in the November 2017 poll.

Not inclined to obvious frivolities, Obi would not gamble with the fate of his stewardship in Anambra State. He painstakingly made his choice of a successor among the eminently qualified aspirants, some of who, at different points, were wryly cajoled into acting the exalted position, having wrongly interpreted Gov. Obi’s decoy that seemingly favoured them at such points. But Obi did not buckle. He tarried until the choice he considered best and impeccable was made in Chief Willie Obiano, who, being mentally sound, urbane and surefooted, suffered none of the traumatic overtures that wrecked other aspirants’ ambition.

Given Gov Obiano’s unwavering commitment to the development of Anambra State and the wellbeing of its people, which became manifest from his seminal Inaugural Speech that set him racing against time in providing security and vibrant economy for the people, he became readily endeared to the populace. His returning an unprecedented victory in the entire 21 Local Government Councils of Anambra State in the November 2017 second term poll was a clear endorsement of his innovative and impactful mode of governance. That enviable feat would however spare him no less envy from a handful of sour detractors.

But it has been victory for Ndi-Anambra all the way. In security (baring the prevailing heightening anxiety across the nation), education, healthcare, job creation, sociopolitical bridge-building, physical infrastructure, statutory institutions of government, humanness, etc., Anambra under Chief Willie Obiano is spectacular. Obiano has ensured that he builds on the consciousness of good governance which Obi inherited from Dr. Chris Ngige. His driving mantra of ‘expanding the frontiers of good governance’ by envisioning Anambra as ‘the first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities;’ and going ahead to create a stable and business-friendly sociopolitical environment where indigenous and foreign entrepreneurial minds ‘seek wealth creating opportunities,’ stand him out ahead of his predecessors.

The depths and spread of Chief Willie Obiano’s attainments as Anambra State governor leave greater legacy impressions than his predecessors’ combined ever did. Talk of the construction of the awe-inspiring Anambra International Cargo & Passenger Airport, the imposing International Conference Centre, the three strategic flyovers in the capital city, the strategic bridges and roads opening up erstwhile hard to reach extremities of the state which, though largely constituting the poorest of the poor population, are richly endowed with wealth creating potentials, etc. Fate probably chose to institutionalise Chief Obiano with these outstanding visible achievements as compensation for the huge energies he has expended in the intangible humane side of governance where he has silently championed the wellness of many, shunning the lures of mass publicity.

Beyond the easily verifiable crucial imports of Obiano’s administration in Anambra’s geopolitical space, the greatest of Chief Willie Obiano seems to be unravelling in the interest he takes in his succession. This leaves no one in doubt of his utmost dedication to the growth of Anambra State beyond his stewardship. Knowing full well the avoidable intrigues and pains (physical, fiscal and psychological) people are subjected to upon the dynamics of unruly electioneering, Chief Willie Obiano has shown unprecedented honesty in boldly lending his head to his heart in his preference for a successor.

Unlike his predecessor, he would not allow sustained speculations about where his interest lies. He does this without insisting on compliance from whoever still wishes to contend with his (the governor’s) position.

Chief Obiano’s understanding of prime statecraft and his determination to ensure that Anambra State takes a jolt to development heights like never before in the next dispensation are instrumental in his unequivocal preference for Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo as his successor. Obiano would not shirk the responsibility of providing ethical leadership beyond the conventional practice of leaders slyly playing aloof and noncommittal at points their actions should point the way to go. Honesty in leadership, like Chief Obiano manifests in his declared preference for Soludo, tolerates deliberate brash antagonism from those not inclined to the projected position. Of course this tendency is not in short supply in the scenario now playing out in Anambra APGA, but Gov Wiilie Obiano, being focused on his target, does not seem by any means hindered.

But for deliberate flair for wild goose chase probably, who should fault Soludo’s edge over every other gubernatorial aspirant in APGA in this age? Credible signs point that the pressure about who wins APGA primary is heavily induced from outside influences who are already feeling intimidated by the thought of Soludo flying the  APGA ticket. They would rather instigate and fan discomforting imbroglios in APGA’s fold hoping to weaken the party’s chances at the November 6 poll by either scuttling Soludo’s chances at the primary poll, thereby having APGA present a less formidable candidate; or by furthering sustained sponsorship of internal conflict in APGA to weaken the party’s chances at the poll, irrespective of who flies its flag.

Knowing the character of these outside influences, it is safe to conclude that the obvious financial baits for some persons at different rungs of APGA hierarchy might be too alluring for their washy integrity to prevail. The APGA hierarchy therefore needs an in-house integrity-check and morale boosts as the primary election approaches, lest the underhand acts of wilful traitors or disgruntled fellows subvert the noble cause the Governor and core APGA patrons stand for.

It is more in succession that the success of an acceptable regime rests, else the gains of the past might just be brought to naught by some ruinous slips traceable to naivety, ignorance, cheap capitulation to negative influences, or even outright avarice by wrong persons chancing upon state power and treasury.

Governor Willie Obiano has shown glaring capacity in providing leadership by pointing the way forward. It behooves the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Ndi-Anambra to harken unto his clarion call to tread the proven path to a greater Anambra State.

Without doubts, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s presence in the contests afoot pales the chances of other aspirants if the intention of the APGA primary exercise is solely sourcing one who will win the main election and wholesomely attend to the wellbeing of Anambra and its people.

Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu