Victor Afam Ogene

In, perhaps, more ways than one, the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial  election in Anambra can be fittingly described as a referendum on the leadership ability of the people from the Anambra North Senatorial zone  of the state.

Consisting of seven, out of the 21 local  government areas of the state, Anambra North had never had the good ‘fortune’ of having one of its own mount the exalted seat of governor since the creation of the state, almost three decades ago. Well, that was until four years ago, when the immediate past governor of the state, Peter Obi,  led the clamour and actualisation of the “Anambra North for Governor” project, which led to the election of the incumbent, Willie  Obiano.

Today, after three and half years on the saddle, it is time for stock-takings regarding whether the incumbent, nay the people of his senatorial district, would be entrusted with a fresh four-year mandate.

Although every election ought to centre around an individual candidate’s ability to deliver on the job, the coming Anambra polls has, quite against the norm, dovetailed into a citation on the leadership capability of the entire people of the governor’s senatorial zone.

Easy reference is made to the governor’s clannish tendencies in filling many appointive positions with his Aguleri kith and  kin, as well as having started and completed no fewer than 35 roads within the community, while leaving the other 170 communities in the lurch.

For a man who ascended the governorship stool on the promise of Continuing, Completing and Commissioning  projects started by his predecessor before Commencing (4Cs) any other, Governor Obiano didn’t take long in recanting this pledge. For, as soon as he mounted the saddle, he spared no effort at proving that he was antithetical to everything former Governor Obi represented.

Whereas Obi is known for his prudence, Obiano is an acclaimed spendthrift; just as Obi’s sobriety is made nonsense of by his domineering disposition; and his frugality jettisioned for an ostentatious affinity. Few examples would suffice. While Obi maintained a five-car convoy, Obiano’s stretches to above 25; while Obi flew  regular flights,  and sometimes on economy tickets,  Obiano routinely chartered jets;  just as he revels in champagne trysts in the Lodge, while Obi was famed for severely cutting down the costs of governance generally.

Now, as someone who hails from that region and who actively played a defining role in actualising the North’s governorship quest, this rankles. Yet, no one can gleefully deny the sincere concerns of our brethren from the Central and South  Senatorial zones, when they make infamous references to ndi North, as represented by Governor Obiano, as  “happy go-lucky fellas” – an euphemism for a people who prefer to merry when the bell of duty tolls.

Ironically, the angst of the people does not only dwell on the governor’s dubiety, infrastructure-wise (a story for another day), but rather on his many foibles, many of which are in contrast with the governor’s status as His Excellency!

Quite understandable, though, is the fact that man by his very nature is given to several idiosyncrasies: an excessive desire for wine; an irresistible proclivity for womanising, and perhaps a drunken addition to power and its abuse. Yet, all these and more are tolerable in private life, but not when it concerns the occupant of a public office. Moreso, the high office of a state chief executive officer.

In deed, the dividing line of moral probity is reinforced by the use of the word, Excellency, as against the commonplace prefix, Mister. Though high ethical and moral rectitude is expected of everyone regardless of title or status, a heavier burden of acceptable social conduct, at all times, is placed on the head and shoulders of every public office holder.

This, instructively, is what ought to differentiate an Obiano, who as a dainty banker can afford to spot a stylish 1950’s patting of the hair and the many distractions that it breeds, from the man who the people choose nearly four years ago as their standard bearer, with misplaced belief in his ability to further the moderation curve which his predecessor had enthroned. Instead, what confronts reasonable indigenes of Anambra in the public arena are often tell-tale signs of a somnambulist.

The lesson is forcefully reinforced  when we recall that inspite of all his charisma and eight years of superlative service to the American people and the world, the Bill Clinton years is, perhaps, best remembered by that little indiscretion of allowing an “inappropriate” liaison with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, right within the hallowed precincts of the White House.

In Awka, despite having a beautiful ornament of a spouse, the ferocious spat of the First Lady with a former female legislator was so engaging that at some point, the buzz word in and around Awka, the Anambra state capital, was that His Excellency was more enamoured to “Ukwu Sara Mbala”.

Added to the realization that instead of growing the state’s fortunes as bequeathed to him, Governor Obiano has proceeded to not only lavish same, but has even taken the audacious step of accumulating debts of his own, one can begin to understand the on-going negative profiling of the people of Anambra North.

But the average Onye Anambra North does not fit this label. On the contrary, they are an industrious lot, being predominantly farmers who work hard to eke out a living. Indeed, above all else, they are a people given to a high degree of fidelity to the truth.

Which is, perhaps, why it is the people of the North that would readily agree that they sold a defective merchandize to ndi Anambra in 2013. And as a conscientious lot, it behoves them to change the bad product, with profuse apologies, and then proceed to replace the deficient with a better one.

Luckily, the major political parties in the country,the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have both picked candidates from the North Senatorial zone.

All that the voting population of ndi Anambra have to do on Saturday, November 18, 2017 is to pick one of them – but this time, with the deep philosophical lyrics of folklore music maestro, Maduka Morocco, ringing in their heads: Onye obu na ya chi Anambra, chi kwa ya ka Peter Obi ( anyone who will rule Anambra state should do so like Peter Obi).

*Hon. Ogene, a former magazine Editor, was deputy chairman, Media & Public Affairs in the House of Representatives.

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