By Morenike Taire
AND the incumbent won. Ordinarily, there is no big deal about that, to use the pedestrian parlance, except you consider that the re-elected Anambra State Governor is no ordinary politician.

He is, at the expense of sounding far-fetched, a martyr of sorts of the Nigerian political terrain He has been rigged out of being governor in the first instance, though this does not at all make him unique. What does is his doggedness in the face of many years of great tribulation and his better than average luck. Here was a man against whom the odds always appear set in the particularly rocky terrain of Anambra politics within the general context of the Nigerian terrain.

The problem with Anambra is that it is a state of strong men. Once upon a time, strong men had dominated Nigerian politics, with the classic examples of great Awo, the Sardauna and Zik of Africa. They propounded and thought up great ideas.

They were extremely well educated and well read. They were world famous. They were men of destiny, and they had an umbilical chord kind of relationship with their respective people.

There is nothing, really wrong with a country’s having strong men, if they are of the ilk of those mentioned above. Strong men give the polity, and, indeed, the nation, a character. They foster a sense of competition.

They generate ideas. They basically keep the wheel of things moving, whether it be in business or statecraft.
Change, in any situation in the world where significant changes in society have been achieved, has always rested on the back of strong men.

When US president Barrack Obama made the famous speech in Ghana, the one about development being dependent on strong institutions and not strong men, he forgot to mention that institution building in places such as this can  only be achieved in the first place by strong men. Indeed, Obama is himself a strong man.

The trouble is, the definition of ‘strongman’ is changing. In business, a strongman used to be one who innovates as well as create such incredible value that his society is not only enhanced but drastically changed.

The vastness of the wealth that follows is only the by-product, the icing on the cake. Now, a strongman in business is likely to be one that takes advantage of disadvantages in his society for the sole aim of accumulating insane wealth.

They do not have ideas that had never been had. Rather, they fill holes, on a temporary basis, that ought not to have been there in the first place. Strong men in politics are tending to be, more and more these days, opportunists who just happen upon, on the lane where they were looking for relevance one way or the other, a chance to acquire great power.

In such cases, strongmen become, to the polity, more of a problem than assets. In many cases, they are poisonous. It is to such strongmen that Obama was referring. It is such strongmen that have managed to destroy the promise and prospects of a newly independent Africa, in the last 50 years or so.

As Nigeria looked forward to the  gubernatorial election in Anambra State, so did the people of Anambra. It was the chance for a much abused voting public to express itself. It was a chance for the rest of Nigeria to test the waters, as it were, in advance of the 2011 elections. Nigeria’s political fate was tied much more strongly to that election than most of us were willing to admit, the biggest question being, is Nigeria about to be rid of election malpractices?

It would turn out that habits die hard, and things were happening in front of openly displayed spy cameras during that election that ought not even to happen behind them.

The grumbling which followed the announcement of the results may or may not be attributable to habits dying out. Whatever the case, it is important to note that, though incumbent, there is a relevant and strong opposition in Anambra, which might or might not spread across the South East come 2011.

What the emergence of Obi  has shown is that through all the rubble, high propaganda does not equal high popularity. Money can buy a whole lot of one, but not the other and in any half way fair election, propaganda is of little use.

End of an uneasy peace

WE had known from the very beginning that sooner or later, the so-called amnesty deal with the Niger Delta militancy would fall flat.

It happened rather later than was generally anticipated and when the first post-amnesty militant strike came, it had been awaited for so long that it could only achieve an anti-climactic effect. Now that it is slowly getting back to business as usual, it is at least comforting to note that the peace had portended far more unease than the status quo.


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