By Ejike Anyaduba
Tomorrow, 13th of January 2018 to be precise, the void in the central senatorial district of Anambra state will cease to exist. On that day, every wrong act since the senatorial election was held nearly three years earlier will be put right. Though there may be one or two persons still working surreptitiously to have the anomaly continued, and a cheerless few drumming up support, January 13 will bring to an end the years of unreasoned struggle and prepare the zone to reclaim its lost glory.
Two things will happen on the day. One, the “captive” of the grand political conspiracy, Chief Victor Umeh, will walk free of the protracted plot and come out smelling of roses. Two, the long-denied people of the central senatorial zone who have been kept down by unnecessary intrigue will have not just a representative but one equipped with the boldness and commitment required to bring back its lost glory. A writer on this subject who does not think differently on the quality of representation Umeh will bring to the Senate said that his representation can compare with that of only one or two senators out of the 15 that represent the Southeast zone in the Upper Chambers. It may be difficult to contest this claim going by Umeh’s antecedent. A peep into what he will bring to the Senate can be gleaned from his exploits in the 2014 National Conference. At that Conference, where he was a late entrant as a result of a tortuous legal struggle – he was delayed by almost two weeks – he still proved his mettle. He was able to prove that time was not a barrier to a decided cause of action. That time can only impede a cause which action was either not defined or completely out of tune with reality.
Bold, and without the fecklessness of many an Igbo politician, he galvanised support for the basic Igbo question and gave the people a voice. In fact, he was able to prove that not every representative of the people at the chamber lacked a voice to be heard.
But, there are those who still question what Umeh will do differently in the Senate. A few others also express concern that he has limited time to achieve anything and possibly attempt what others before him never broached. Perhaps, this is one of the beauties of democracy – the right to hold different views without condemnation unto “death”. It is not out of place that those who think this way were outraged by unmitigated disaster that their representatives have consistently posted. Perhaps, the only achievement these types of representatives have recorded is the wearing of the inglorious tag of ranking senators. The needs of their various constituencies are hardly their problem. They neither have the interest of the people at heart nor the political clout to build bridges necessary to advance the fortunes of their people.
Though it is not the interest of this piece to state what Umeh will do or not, but he will surely represent better, his limited time notwithstanding. At least, his brief but vibrant contribution to debates on the floor of the 2014 National Confab still resonates with the people. More than that, it took his effort and the achievements of the focused administration of Chief Willie Obiano for APGA to win handsomely in the just concluded governorship election in Anambra state. Umeh’s contribution to that election, more than anything else, was the subtle harnessing of divergent political interests that conduced to an unprecedented win for the governor.
It is not often that Umeh’s steadfastness is remembered by those who hound him. Notwithstanding, all his contributions to the survival of APGA and its unrequited effort in winning for Rochas Okorocha the May 2011 governorship election in Imo state, he remains about the most villified by elements within and outside the party. His political survival till date has confounded not a few persons. In fact, many see him as a manifestation of the mysteries of his names. By his account Chief Tony Onyima, the former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in the state thinks that Umeh’s names profoundly define his life and politics. Wrote Onyima: “At birth, his parents gave him two names; Chukwunonyelu (God be with you) and Victor. These two names seem to have profoundly defined his life and politics”.
Many may not easily agree to the fact that luck plays vital role in advancing the cause of men. Those who do so are quick to point with some justice to the claim of a certain philosopher that “when people have no reason to trust in themselves they trust in luck”. But looking at Umeh, it is hard to ever contemplate he fits in the fold the philosopher referred to. Yes, he might be lucky but he has never surrendered anything to chance. He has always worked hard for his luck to manifest. It may be fair to say that Umeh represents the triumph of courage over luck. He approximates the summation by a character in the epic film, Clash of the Titans that fortune is allied to the brave. As the villain in the film sulked in defeat that his effort was rendered impotent by the assistance given to his opponent by a Spirit Being, the latter quickly retorted that fortune is allied to the brave. To that extent, no benevolence, however it is rendered by any transcendental force, can come strong without effort from the beneficiary.
Umeh has paid his dues in nurturing APGA the party that has been in government in Anambra state in the last twelve years. His effort to take up an elective position should not have been fought with the vehemence that greeted the troubled senatorial seat. Those who spend time and money to frustrate his effort, if guided by reason, should have offered support because not once did he bear their pains. It is not often that certain things are admitted publicly but if Umeh were pitted against those who jostle for the position, he easily towers above them. He has better credentials. By credentials, it does not mean he has higher number of degrees. That may be possible, but more than that, he is familiar with the political process, has the boldness required of the office he seeks, has grit, political sagacity and eloquence. Rarely can any of his fellow contestants claim greater contribution to the democratization process than himself.
Anyaduba writes from Abatete