By Douglas Anele
â€˜THE Amanze Obi phenomenonÂ is not an attempt at myth-making or at praise-singing, but a realistic effort to present an otherwise misunderstood personality, Amanze Obi.â€ This was how my friend, William Amanze Obi, and I used to rhapsodise about an article I was supposed to write on him more than 20 years ago.
I met Amanze in 1984 when we were admitted to study philosophy at the University of Lagos. Naturally, our friendship grew because we were in the same department. In addition, there were certain commonalities in our personalities which further cemented the bond of friendship between us. We took our studies seriously and enjoyed socializing once in a while.
When we were in 200 level, Amanze transferred to English department. He graduated as the best student in his class in 1988 and later got his doctorate in English literature. I still remember our undergraduate days with nostalgia. My friend, Amanze, was a brilliant student; he had dalliances with sophisticated female undergraduates, or pepperless, as we used to refer to such girls in those good old days. After his first degree, Amanze worked for the defunct The Sunday Magazine (TSM).
He also worked for The Guardian as a reporter, before moving to the foreign desk of Thisday newspapers. A restless but focused individual, Amanze was â€œpoachedâ€ by The Sun, where he became chairman of the editorial board. It was at this point that the incumbent governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim appointed him commissioner for information and strategy. Amanze is an upwardly mobile and experienced journalist with solid academic background.
As someone with a wealth of knowledge spanning 19 years in print journalism, he is very qualified to head the information ministry of Imo State. Amanze has made it clear that his tenure would be characterized by â€œbusiness unusual.â€
I am confident that he will prove his mettle as a seasoned and brilliant manager of men and resources. In terms of his strategy for service delivery, Amanze believes that it would evolve with changing circumstances in the state. He is convinced that as a â€œcommissioner-reporterâ€, he will report the activities of Imo State government himself. That is as it should be, because he has the requisite intellectual tools to do the job effectively.
Amanze has taken bold concrete measures to restore the stateâ€™s newspaper, The Statesman and the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (comprising radio and television) to their former glory. He understands very well the importance of radio and television in mass education and communication.
I have no doubt in my mind, knowing what I know about Amanze, that if given a free hand to run the ministry of information and strategy without unnecessary interference from â€œprofessional politiciansâ€, he will perform.
I cannot vouch for the integrity, transparency and accountability of the present ruling elite in Imo State. Nevertheless, I think that Amanzeâ€™s presence in the system has actually brought some credibility into it. I expect him to do his duty conscientiously to the best of his ability.
Although he has his weaknesses, especially his tendency to aloofness and bigmanism, Amanze is a good human being, a dedicated father and loving husband.
As commissioner for information and strategy, Amanze is at the forefront of the campaign called â€œThe New Face of Imo.â€ Hence, I want to draw his attention to a thoroughly disgraceful incident that took place in the premises of Vanguard newspapers on November 4, just 11 days ago.
I was there to see my friends. When I wanted to depart, I discovered that a dark grey Toyota Avensis with plate number IMO2 L01 belonging to Imo State government was parked recklessly, thereby blocking the exit from the car park. Everyone around tried to locate the person who parked the car.
When he finally emerged, I asked him why he parked without due consideration for others. I was surprised when he started calling me all sorts of names.
In his warped mind, he just could not understand why I should question him, since he is the driver of a big man in government and the car in question belongs to the government. It appears that the culture of impunity masterminded by dim-witted military dictators has become second nature to government officials, irrespective of their positions.
His behaviour is definitely not the kind of face which the Imo State government wishes to present to the world. He should be disciplined. All said and done, I heartily congratulate my friend, Dr. William Amanze Obi on his appointment.
I also congratulate John Nwokocha, a journalist who was recently appointed commissioner for information, culture, and tourism, Abia State. He was assistant editor, Sunday Vanguard, before his appointment. I wish them the very best as they contribute their quota to the development of Imo and Abia states respectively.