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Anambra: Setting the stage for early guber campaigns

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Peter Gregory Obi

Peter Gregory Obi

• Peter Obi Recalls How He Installed Obiano
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Immidate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, stole the show at the recent 2016 re-union of Osisioma Foundation. Obi stunned the mammoth gathering at Astrac Plaza, Awka; when he restated that he orchaestrated the governorship schemes in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in 2013 to favour Governor Willie Obiano at the expense of the preferred choice of Anamabra North people, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.

The former governor bemoaned the absence of credible leaders in Igbo land, especially to represent the people at the federal level, saying that the situation where the region remains as spectators in Nigeria may continue as long as misfits continue to represent them.

He called for serious turn-around in Igbo reasoning and criteria for enthroning politicians that end up parading themselves as their mouthpiece, noting that he used his position as governor to ensure that his successor came from Anambra North Senatorial zone.

Obi noted that while those who benefitted from his actions as governor have turned against him, Obidigbo forgave him for his actions. “Only a person like Obidigbo can forgive me because of the kind of heart he has. I know and I still believe that Obidigbo is the most qualified person to govern Anambra State, but nobody is above mistake,” he declared.

The former governor said that he was ready for a new beginning in Anambra State, stressing that he would continue to work for the peace, progress and prosperity of the state.

Some of the dignitaries present at the occasion, which had His Royal Highness, Igwe Roland Odegbo, the Abogu 11 of Nteje; as royal father of the day, included: Activist and celebrated columnist, Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam; Ichie Okwuchukwu Ezeaku; Colonel Geoffrey Onyejegbu, (Rtd); Chief Chris Ndigwe; Archbishop A.A Nwodika; Prof. Orajiaka; Mr. Ikechukwu Abana.

Other are, Chief (Mrs.) Chika Ibeneme; Chief (Mrs.) Patricia Ofodulum and resource persons, Chief Ralph Nwike; Hon. Abia Oyike; Felicity Okolo (United Kingdom) Uzoamaka Nkem Nwankpa (United States of America) and Sir Gilead Okolonkwo.

Osisioma Foundation, which is a socio-economic organisation to press for the social well-being of Anambra people, put together the re-union to discuss the plight of Nd’Igbo in the Nigeria project.

The Foundation stressed that being devoid of political affiliation; it was in the best position to serve as clearing house for ideas for Igbo rebirth. Consequently the 2016 re-union of the foundation provided a setting to discuss the socio-economic and political development of Ndigbo.

Earlier in his welcome address, Dr. Obidigbo lamented the poor attitude of Igbo to human development, stressing, “We are determined to change the attitude of our people to politics and through politics, ensure that welfare of our people is guaranteed”.

Obidigbo declared that the Foundation was programmed to canvass for a firm stand against exclusivity in policy formulation and implementation, since according to him, “they represent modern forms of discrimination that feed discontent, acrimony and violence.”

He asserted that until everyone and every segment of the society is given a true sense of belonging and accommodated in the scheme of things, “the entrenchment of self-interest and bitter struggles for political power must continue.”

While condemning lethargy and lackadaisical attitude of privileged individuals and people in public office towards the plight of the less privileged, the foremost industrialist called for economic renaissance that could propel the private sector and political leadership towards re-shaping the economy.

“Under this paradigm, creating employment opportunities for young people and empowering women to be self-sustaining must be envisaged and pursed with utmost seriousness and vigour,” he stated.

Delivering his paper titled “Interrogating democracy, Social and Economic Development in Anambra State”, Obidigbo described genuine democracy “as governance that blends the humanity of leaders with the patriotism of followers.”

He regretted that what democracy has been offering citizens of Nigeria so far “is the imposition of development projects on the people based on the whims of the representatives.”

He promised to use Osisioma Foundation to synthesize a team to churn out positive ideas, “a people-oriented network that will help in transforming Anambra State to the level of industrialized and self-sustaining economy.”

In his own paper, former Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Abia Onyike, dwelt on the Economic, Social and Political Emancipation of Nd’Igbo.

He chronicled the contemporary Igbo condition in Nigeria since 21st century, blaming its stunted growth on several major obstacles. “The 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates, which was described as a fraud by the former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Richard Akinjide, was the root cause of Igbo nemesis,” he posited.

He applauded the vision of Osisioma Foundation for “laying unbiased platform for a radical shift, not only for Nd’Igbo to rediscover themselves, but to assume their rightful place in the scheme of things.”

Onyike called for a re-examination of Igbo character, especially in area of political education, as well as establishing an information bank on Igbo affairs, which he said, should be in charge of research, documentation and dissemination of issues.

On her part, Ms Uzoamaka Nwankpa, an America-based healthcare provider, viewed the sad situation of Nd’Igbo from the post civil war trauma among the people. She raised salient posers for consideration: “What have we done to take care of emotional, spiritual, social and physical problems that not only were acquired during the war, but were also passed on to each other? What are some ways we may begin to address the challenges?”

While appealing to the political leaders to be creative and visionary in their dealings; avoid bribery and corruption as a way forward for Igbo reconstruction, Uzoamaka declared: “The decaying infrastructure, resulting to the decay in the economy of Igbo land, should be addressed. Every effort should be made to provide sustainable employment opportunities for the youths.”

“Education alongside cultural values,” she added, “should be introduced into the school system. Social activities such as games and sports, dancing and music have been proved to decrease stress. This is a tool proven to build energy, heal trauma and become empowered.”

Willie Obiano, Anambra State Governor.

Willie Obiano, Anambra State Governor.

Journey To Anambra 2017
BARELY few days after the Osisioma Foundation re-union 2016 held, the political temperature of the state increased. First, the former governor came back into reckoning as various interest groups initiated moves to win him to their side.

Many believed that his open confession about how he influenced the process to favour the incumbent governor was indicative of his desire to do political restitution.

However, others noted the loss of camaraderie between the incumbent and his former benefactor, saying that so much bad blood has been spewed between them to make the possibility of reconciliation quite remote.
“The former governor wants to play to the centre as a godfather and side with the majority of Anambra people in the search for governor in 2017,” a source close to Obi stated.

But perhaps on account of the uproar generated by Obi’s utterances at the Osisioma Foundation re-union, APGA began fresh moves to bring him back to the party, at least to ensure that the former governor does not embark on any ‘political restitution’.

Chairman of APGA Reconciliation Committee, Chief Maja Umeh, disclosed that eminent citizens of the state have joined in the efforts to bring Obi back to the party, stressing that some of the important personalities included, Bishops and traditional rulers.

Umeh, who incidentally served as commissioner for Information and Culture under Obi, noted that though it was outside his immediate mandate to reconcile party members that defected to other parties, he deems it proper for the former governor to return to APGA. Even as he declared that Obi has “shown demonstrable statesmanship and support for governor Obiano”, Umeh noted that given the involvement of the clergy and royal fathers, the project was not a difficult task to achieve.

Pressure on Obi has continued, culminating in a recent radio programme where he underscored the fact that since he was the person who imposed Obiano on the state, he would be held responsible if the governor failed.

Obi’s loyalists contend that the decision of Obiano to set up the Maja Umeh Reconciliation Committee was “a cosmetic attempt to downplay the fact that he, alongside Umeh, allegedly told the clergy that the only way to achieve peace in APGA was for the former governor to quit.”

Governor Obiano put together the panel with the charge to explore all avenues to bring back aggrieved members, especially those that quit on account of ill treatment.

As if the buttress the fears of Obi’s supporters that Obiano’s motives for setting up the Maja Umeh reconciliation committee was not pure, sources close the governor confided in The Guardian that the governor has already started reaching out to those who would support his second term aspiration.

“You will notice that the oil magnate and Chairman of Capital Oil, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, has endorsed the governor for a second term. His Excellency has also promised to support Ubah to contest the Anambra South Senatorial seat, as well as, back him for the governorship in 2021,” the source narrated.

The source explained that Obiano plans to divide the votes of Anambra South Senatorial zone, where he believes Senator Andy Uba, would emerge as one of his greatest challengers for the 2017 governorship.

Indications of an early start of campaigns for Anambra governorship could be seen in recent public utterances of political actors in the state. For instance, state chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), Engineer Sam Oraegbunam; called for the conduct of council election in the state, pointing out that caretaker committees would jeopardize the governorship election.

While insisting that caretaker committees are illegal and unconstitutional creations of state governors, Oraegbunam disclosed that IPAC would challenge any attempt by the governor to railroad the House of Assembly into extending the stay of council chairmen or setting up of caretakers.

Currently, the following names are being mentioned as possible gladiators for the 2017 governorship: Andy Uba and Stella Adaeze Oduah, Dr. Chris Ngige; Godwin Ezeemo; Dr. Chike Obidigbo and Emma Anosike, who recently decamped from PDP to All Progressives Congress (APC).
With the protracted squabble for the Anambra Central Senatorial seat and contest for the soul of PDP in Anambra State, the forthcoming governorship poll promises to stretch the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and cause some perspiration in the polity.



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