The Sunny Side of Obiano and Other Matters

By Jude Atupulazi

It is not for nothing that many of his admirers are ready to go to any length to defend him. Here is a man who believes that one can only be happy when those around him are happy. I’m talking about Anambra governor, Chief Willie Obiano, whom his community honoured with the title of Apkokuedike.

Before he came on board as Anambra helmsman, I met him once at Trig Point Hotel, Awka, after he met with a few of us media people. He struck me as a simple, jolly good fellow. Now, nearly eight years thereafter, I’ve not had cause to have a different perception, despite being up close to him only twice after that day.

Last Sunday was the second time I was with him. The occasion was what was supposed to be an interactive session with media practitioners shortly after a tour of some of his signature projects in the state. The venue was the Governor’s Lodge at Amawbia. At the end of it all, I still saw no reason to change my view of him.

During the session we saw a vintage Obiano who made jokes and made all to laugh as they never laughed in a long while. Indeed, even when he is angry, so I hear, he scolds you with a mixture of seriousness and jokes that you end up not knowing if he was indeed only joking.

Apart from his jokes, however, Obiano is one leader who really invests in people, a leader who recognizes the need to appreciate friendship and loyalty. These are features which lack in some other people.

However I only wish that those around him had allowed him more time to mix with people. These are people believed to be purposely shielding him from others for ulterior motives. They are also people whose actions have often given a bad name to their boss, either through their action or inaction. However, one clear fact is that Obiano, personally, is a very great guy, kind and affable.

On March 17 next year, he will finally bow out as the helmsman of Anambra State but there is no doubt that the many lives he has touched will not forget him in a hurry. That, in itself, will make history to be kind to him, for our world will be nothing without human beings.

Really, greatness isn’t all about building structures which largely remain inanimate. But building people has everlasting rewards. Obiano is a man who doesn’t want trouble and is easily disturbed by the hint of any trouble. You could see the speed with which he raced to Abuja to encounter President Muhammadu Buhari on the threat of emergency rule on Anambra by the Attorney General and Justice Minister, Malami Abubakar.

Watching the video clip of the meeting with Buhari, one would not fail to see that Obiano was clearly agitated about the entire thing and was bursting to put it behind him. He also comes across as a man who is ever ready to believe, to trust others; but that may also prove to be an Achilles Heel which ushers in the next topic.

Obiano Will Do Well to Take Buhari’s Assurances with a Pinch of Salt

In the heat of the controversial statement credited to the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami Abubakar, that a state of emergency could be declared on Anambra, the governor, Willie Obiano, had rushed to Abuja where he received ”assurances” from Buhari that no such thing was being considered.

Ordinarily, such an assurance coming from any nation’s number one man should be taken seriously. But with what has been happening in Nigeria since Buhari came on board, believing our president could be very risky indeed. Buhari has proven over time that his words mean nothing to him, just as the words of people. Is this not the man who assured Nigerians in his second term inauguration that he would belong to all and to none? What do we see today? Our president has been acting like a man in a daze. Things happen and all he does is stare at them fixedly without seeing them.

This is the reason why the country is today at the precipice of disintegration. He is a man to whom the cries of his country folks mean nothing; a man who bats no eyelid despite the enormous bloodletting going on in the country he supervises.

Should we talk about the way he has been handling herdsmen or the pampering he gives to terrorists in the north? Does that portray a man ready to convince anyone to trust him?

What Obiano should do is to carry on as if Buhari has given him no assurances and take measures to protect his government, state and people. If he believes Buhari, then he could as well prepare himself for the mother of all betrayals.

New Brand of Campaign in Anambra

Within the past week we saw videos of the campaign team of one of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the Young Progressive Party, YPP, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, snaking through the streets of Lagos. Many wondered aloud if the election was going to hold in Lagos. But the answer is simple: the activities of the unknown gunmen have almost put paid to political activities in Anambra State, at least for now.

Recently the Campaign Organization of the All Progressives Congress, APC, called off its planned campaign flag off scheduled to hold in Onitsha, also because of the precarious security situation in the state. Before the calling off of that flag off, some journalists who had been invited had expressed reservations about attending the event, being that Onitsha is among the hot zones of the UGM activities. But eventually the APC egg heads opted to cancel it and till date no new date has been announced; if at all it will.

Also the other major candidate, Val Ozigbo, of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has been campaigning outside the state too. He was recently in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to address Anmabra indigenes there.

In fact, it is only APGA that has been managing to campaign in the state in what clearly shows the party is enjoying the power of incumbency. The party has been going to campaigns in heavily fortified convoys and only last Tuesday, the unknown gunmen had tried to attack people at their rally in Ihiala but were repelled by the police who were later joined by the Army to pursue the fleeing attackers.

Thus, if the ruling party with all its heavy security apparatus could be attacked, who should expect other parties without such security fortification to risk the lives of their supporters?

This shows that the coming Anambra election will be like no other. At a time all the parties will be finishing touring communities, some have barely started. Despite these uncertainties, the body saddled with the task of conducting the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has insisted on going ahead with the election.

One will not but pity the parties who clearly need more time to sell their manifesto to the voters. No doubt, we will be seeing more of the beyond-the-Anambra-shores campaigns.

The Wood we brought Home has Invited the Lizards

Our elders say that he who brings home ant-infested wood is inadvertently inviting the lizards to a party. When the current anarchic situation in the Southeast was beginning, we did warn against what would follow. We pointed at the situation then in Imo where the populace was complaining against militarization of the state.

But like one who has never seen war but only been hearing tales about it, those sold on the idea of continuing with the anarchic situation never wanted to listen.

Today Anambra is seeing the military; no thanks to the continued activities of unknown gunmen. Now people are beginning to complain and grumble against the influx of soldiers in the state; conveniently forgetting the earlier warning.

There is nothing as valuable as peace. The absence of peace usually spells danger and all manner of trouble. That is why people are always charged to take it easy and act within the ambits of the law. No one breaks the law and expects the law not to react. The influx of the soldiers and special police forces is already taking a great toll on the people, at least as far as road traffic is concerned. Long queues are now normal scenes in parts of the state and these are inconveniencing people. But isn’t it better to be inconvenienced than to die?

I guess we all have to live with it until sanity returns.