By Chuks Iloegbunam
Someone brought to the office a video clip of Tony Nwoye “campaigning.” Since the man is the APC candidate in the November 18 Anambra governorship election, the urge to view his message was overpowering, especially as he had been rather taciturn since the contentious primary election that threw him up as his party’s candidate. What was his governorship ambition all about? Decked out in a dark suit, a cordless microphone appeared glued to his lips. “Willie Obiano is a thief,” shouted Tony Nwoye. “His wife also is a thief.” He mouthed this abuse for the second and third times. Like a repeater station, the voice of an unseen fellow echoed his foul words. A few of his listeners clapped. In a minute, the clip ended. What an anticlimax, I thought.
Nwoye’s sacrilegious tongue apart, there was the more serious tenor of malicious prejudice in this unsubstantiated accusation. Was his fulmination the sum total of the APC’s manifesto? One assumed that, in soliciting for political endorsement, effort must be made to portray the candidate as deserving of support. Did the outpouring of invectives ever solve any society’s problems? I immediately reckoned with the link between Tony Nwoye’s diatribe and the standard fare of the PDP in Anambra State, that has converted into a fine art the usage of the social media for mendacious effusions.
We will return to these aberrant behaviours. In the meantime, an introduction of Chinua Achebe integrity is important. When Abuja toyed with investing the distinguished novelist with a national honour, he struck a resounding blow for the oppressed, and demonstrated that real Ndigbo never put forward their conscience for sale. In a letter addressed to President Obasanjo and dated October 15, 2004, Achebe said inter alia: “I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra, where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency…
“Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honor awarded me in the 2004 Honors List.”
Well, Anambra has come a long way since the heady days of PDP’s governance of the state. Therefore, Governor Willie Obiano was able to deliver this proclamation last year: “Ndi Anambra, when I assumed office with my team on March 17, 2014, we took over a state that had no landmark infrastructure and no clear-cut strategic vision for the future. And perhaps, more importantly, we met a state that was heavily traumatised by violent armed robbery, kidnapping, child-trafficking and endless cases of drug-related crimes. This crime-ridden scenario discouraged investments and successfully cut off the state from the grid of modern development. Ladies and gentlemen, my team and I inherited a state with an average ambition but through strategic refocusing and a commitment to excellence, we have repositioned Anambra among Nigeria’s leading states today!”
Now, Governor Obiano is seeking reelection, to consolidate his administration’s legacy. The imminent governorship election means that the elephant’s carcass lies prostrate on the ground, and everybody has reached for their knife, to cut themselves a helping of its meat. Not surprisingly, there are more than 30 candidates primed for the contest. Of course, most of them are in it for keeping up appearances. But Oseloka Obaze and Tony Nwoye, PDP and the APC candidates respectively, deserve some attention, if only because they are of parties with some grounding in Nigerian politics.
You expected these dudes to say in concrete terms what they would do differently if they attained the political power they are hankering for. Governor Obiano has restored the peace and stability of an Anambra State previously reduced to a criminal fiefdom, as Achebe put it. He has transformed Awka into a real capital city. He has attracted investments both local and foreign. He has revolutionized agriculture in the state. He is taking particularly good care of government employees and retirees, paying their salaries and pensions and gratuities promptly and regularly. He has given back to Ndigbo their pride.
Now it is the place of those challenging Governor Obiano for Anambra’s governorship to, at least, have the good sense to state what they intend to do differently to further improve the lot of the people. Instead they are throwing curses and falsehoods about like confetti. If Tony Nwoye knows no better than to excoriate Anambra’s Number One Citizen and his dear wife, Oseloka Obaze, given the fact that he worked under Governor Obiano, should restrain the lying excesses of his campaign loudspeakers. Perhaps, he has bounded himself up a dilemma, knowing that the world knows that he would not be in politics today had Peter Obi not commandeered him godfather-like into the gambit. Even Peter Obi himself knows that the world knows that his self-imposed objective of dethroning Governor Obiano is nothing to do with principles. Otherwise, they would not aggregate and deploy mudslingers and quasi-journalists in the demeaning fixation with interminable lies on the Internet, the newspapers and frequency modulated wavebands.
I recently met with Anyanwu (Mrs.) Bianca Ojukwu who professed an inability to get over Peter Obi’s betrayal of APGA because it was in front of her eyes that he solemnly vowed before her husband, Dim Ojukwu, that he would forever keep the APGA flag flying.
The good news is that Anambra’s choice in the impending ballot is unambiguous. Ndi Anambra know the antecedents of the candidates and the sleight of hand masquerading as godfatherism. They know that it is anathema to ditch General Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s party and settle for an alternative that grudgingly ceded to our people a miserable seven per cent of democracy’s dividends. They understand that the equitably arranged zoning principle that should see the governorship in Anambra South in 2022 will be irredeemably compromised if unprincipled conspirators and recidivists forced the hardworking Willie Obiano from office. Those, blessed reader, are the reasons I will cast my vote for Governor Willie Obiano on election morning.
•Iloegbunam wrote in from Awka, Anambra State.