Now that Obiano has Become APGA BOT Chairman…By Chike Onuora
On Monday, November 3, 2014, the Board of Trustees of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) unanimously appointed the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano as its new Leader and Chairman(BOT). The appointment brought to an end, an era that never was – the era of former Governor Peter Obi, the party’s recent past BOT Chairman, which was mired in intra-party squabbles and heady power-play. In the end, Obi’s appointment was never ratified.
Until his appointment, Governor Obiano has captured popular imagination with his inspiring performance as the governor of Anambra State. He wended his way into the affection of Ndi Anambra when he cleansed the state of violent criminals and kidnappers that had driven decent people away and unwittingly flung open the floodgates to investors who had hitherto been waiting on the wings. Besides that, Obiano, who ran on the pledge of continuity has kept his word; sustaining the tradition of purposeful governance that his predecessor started and continuing all the uncompleted projects he inherited from him. In truth, Obiano’s six months scorecard has sired poodles of hope in Anambra State which he must work hard to justify.
This is perhaps the reason why his recent appointment to the Chairmanship of APGA BOT has generated a lot of excitement among party followers. People who are familiar with his exploits as the governor of one of Nigeria’s leading states are expecting another demonstration of masterful leadership from Obiano as the leader of the party. There is a fair challenge here though. The fact is that to the average Igbo man, APGA is more than a political party. APGA is like a priceless family heirloom which everyone is obliged to protect and preserve. APGA is a treasured emotional heritage whose value cannot be gainsaid.
Thankfully, Governor Obiano has conducted himself in the past eight months as a man in absolute self-possession. He has mouthed the right rhetoric and played the right politics, sublimating his personal reflexes under the influence of the party. He has demonstrated the capacity to play and win as a member of a team. He has not assumed any unbecoming airs that would get in the way of party cohesion and unity. His ability to build consensus has been impressive so far and his consultations have been far and wild.
Looking back, it would seem as though Obiano had always known that a moment like this would come. For instance, in his speech accepting the party flag as the standard bearer for the November 2013 elections, Chief Obiano had hit the right notes that reverberated throughout Igbo communities at home and abroad. Quoting 1st Century Latin philosopher, Publilius Syrus who opined that “where there is unity, there is always victory” candidate Obaino had called on Ndi Anambra to “join hands together and form a formidable rainbow of unity that will sustain the fire of progress that is burning in Anambra State today.” He had urged them to close ranks and restore the pride of Ndigbo across the world. But perhaps even more importantly, he had argued that “the time has come to reclaim the rest of our sister states from the crushing grip of other parties whose ideologies stand in the way of the collective progress of Ndigbo and Nigeria as a whole.”
Stretching the argument a little further, candidate Obiano had also bemoaned the fact that Anambra was the only state of the five states in the South East where APGA was in power. “This glaring imbalance reflects our people’s inability to grasp the political realities of our time. The South Eastern Nigeria is the only region which does not have a dominant regional party. Before our very eyes, we have watched the only political heritage of our great ancestors shrink to only one state of the federation,” he had argued further harping on the theme of unity and brotherhood which he identified as the values that once made Ndigbo great.
As it has turned out, Governor Obiano now has a great opportunity to bring his vision for the party into full realization. Given his earliest disposition and his proven skills as a technocrat, Obiano will take the challenge of internal cohesiveness of the party very seriously. The obvious difficulties created in recent times by the turbulent exit of former Governor Peter Obi who was the custodian of the party for eight years was not unexpected and should be clinically dealt with to give room for rapid healing as the nation heads to another election year. With the mantle of leadership firmly on his shoulders, Governor Obiano presently stands on the cusp history as a man who rose beyond the turbulence of the moment to take APGA beyond its present little island of smallness.
Close observers believe that Governor Obiano has enough capacity to transform APGA into a strong political force that can challenge the ruling party’s stranglehold on the South East and South Southern zones of Nigeria. They point at his personal charisma and inclusive style of governance as attributes that can inspire belief beyond Anambra State. His consensus building skill that saw him bring Anambra’s numerous distinguished citizens together on the altar of brotherhood is expected to come in handy when APGA is finally ready to stretch its territorial ambition beyond its present confines. They also believe that if he demonstrates the same resolve that helped him retrieve Anambra State from the hands of criminals in pursuit of party ideologies and objectives, it would be a matter of time before other neighbouring states embrace APGA. There is also a growing feeling that he has struck a perfect understanding with the National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh which seemed totally impossible in the previous dispensation. This is believed to be very critical for internal harmony and unanimity of purpose in the party.
Beyond that, since he was announced as the Chairman of APGA Board of Trustees, many people have observed that if APGA would ever rise to approximate the political aspirations of Ndigbo in Nigeria, it would be with Chief Willie Obiano at the helm of affairs.
Onuora writes from Abagana
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