By James Eze (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chief Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State has once again proved to Ndi Anambra that they did not make mistakes in voting him into office. On Saturday, September 26, 2015, Chief Obiano demonstrated this with a riveting performance that firmly placed him a cut above the crowd gathering at the foot of the ladder, eyeing his position in November 2107.
While the entire idea of presenting an 18-month scorecard is in itself a novelty, holding such a high profile state function that attracted the ‘who-is-who’ in Anambra State at night was in itself a loud statement on the great work the governor has done in securing the state. If the presence of Anambra’s best and brightest at the event is a measure of Obiano’s acceptance among his people, then, the point was resoundingly made. With the presence of a former Vice President, two former governors, former Ministers, eight former Senators, members of House of Representatives, Six former Secretaries to the State government, prominent religious and royal fathers, a Forbes Magazine rated maverick billionaire, leading industrialists and several leading opposition figures, the event was an overwhelming endorsement of Obiano’s 18 months of sterling performance.
The day’s business got underway on schedule. Dignitaries turned up on time at the impressive marquee mounted in the expansive compound of the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia. Governor Obiano entered with a flourish, his white flowing robes sweeping the audience to attention as he moved around, shaking hands and acknowledging the guests as a good host. The event flow was brisk, in tune with the weighty business of the night.
When governor Obiano took the podium, the audience waited in anticipation. A tremor must have coursed through the hall as different people wondered what he would say. The social media; particularly facebook, had been awash with speculations on what he would say. There had been heavy insinuations that he would break his silence on the handover note from his predecessor. There were stories about how he would rip the opposition apart, castigate his hecklers and spit on the achievements of his predecessors. Little did they know that a shock was on their way!
In the opening sequence of his highly persuasive speech, titled, My Dream of a New Anambra: The Journey so Far, governor Obiano deftly steered the audience to lively depths and took the edge off the evening. After masterfully placing the night in a proper perspective with an allegory on democracy and accountability, the governor threw the first clanger into the noisy chamber of the opposition with the following comment – “I must also thank the critics of my administration for providing the sharp edges that have helped us to keep our eyes on the ball; reminding us that governance is a social contract between the state and its citizens and that the power we exercise truly belongs to the people.” It was a direct dig at the battery of attack dogs, recruited and funded by the opposition to distract him. In a manner of speaking, Obiano was simply telling them, “I have no hard feeling towards you. There’s a place for everyone in my universe.” It was a rare act. It is unheard of that a sitting governor has a kind word for people who earn a living from casting slurs on him and his family.
But if the people were taken aback by Obiano’s disarming candor and humility, they had a bigger surprise coming. Again, in a rare show of extraordinary humanity, governor Obiano showered praises on his predecessor, former governor Peter Obi who had been locked in a bitter war with him for quite some time. “I must thank my brother and predecessor, former governor Peter Obi who as the first APGA governor laid a good foundation for my administration to continue the journey for a better Anambra State. Government is a continuum and though administrations may come and go; the concept of the organised society and the merits of purposeful leadership shall never change,” he declared. He went on to reel out Obi’s achievements and thereafter, he implored the audience to give the former governor and his team a round of applause. It was another rare act; never heard of in these parts for a feuding governor to have enough grace to ask the audience to clap for his opponent. But Obiano pulled it off nicely and earned the respect of the state’s leading citizens. To most people in the audience, that singular act was the central message of the day. They may well be right. Obiano’s act is rare! He has proven to be an unusual leader!
The governor’s account of his stewardship was gripping indeed; drawing applause intermittently as he took the audience through a kaleidoscope of commendable achievements, reeling out statistics and spicing his narrative with anecdotes and catchy idioms to sustain their interest. Broken down into three main sequences with fitting subheads, Obiano’s speech is a polemical tour de force; the first subhead paints a picture of the Anambra that he inherited while the second and final subheads talked about the state he was creating and the Anambra of his dream. The second segment of the speech exploded all the myths of governance, taking the audience through a maze of excellent performances on the governor’s economic blueprint. It x-rayed with pin-point precision, Obiano’s resounding success in giving shape and form to his Vision and Mission Statements in 18 months and offers a comprehensive insight into the many benefits of having a technocrat as a political leader. Obiano’s private sector background shone through his overall approach to governance which is process-driven and result-laden. It answered questions on the key Enablers of his economic blueprint and cast a beam of light on the factors behind the governor’s ability to increase workers’ salaries at a time when his colleagues are looking for bailouts.
The third component of the address weighed in on the Anambra of Obiano’s dream. And he started by defining what his dream is not and traced the footpath to what it is. Said he; “It is a functional and efficient geopolitical space where the quantum of man’s capacity to remake himself and his environment is equalled by the opportunities for inventive expression. It is a place where our well-known entrepreneurial talent and derring-do will manifest in its fullness for the comfort and prosperity of everyone. That is the dream!” The ovation that followed his performance on that night mirrors the level of acceptance and support the governor enjoys from the upper crust of society.
Similarly, a documentary that captured with HD clarity, the visuals of all the projects and programmes the governor had undertaken in the past 18 months drew even a louder applause. It gave a compelling cinematic account of all the inherited projects and their various stages of completion. It also covered all the new projects initiated by the governor and the progress recorded so far.
The question and answer session that followed actually brought out the best from Governor Obiano. He gave deep, analytical answers to all the questions raised. His brilliance on the night showed even more when he masterfully crafted a soothing response to an irritating question asked by a guest who claimed that he had made repeated efforts to see him without success. The governor’s initial impatience must have come from the high expectations he had from the audience whom he had expected to ask more serious questions than the one posed by the guest who lives in Jos, Plateau State, who incidentally was the first person to ask a question that night. But even so, his impatience helped to set the tone for a more serious exchange, eliciting carefully thought-out questions from prominent figures like the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and Nollywood icon, Pete Edochie.
On the whole, governor Obiano has clearly demonstrated why he should continue to enjoy the support of Ndi Anambra. His 18-month account of stewardship is the turning point in his administration’s quest for accountable, open and transparent leadership. Apart from raising the bar of truly democratic governance, Obiano’s 18-month scorecard and its masterful execution have set him up for a well-deserved second term in office.