BY VINCENT UJUMADU
*SSG keeps mum about Anambra guber ambition
Governor Peter Obi has tended to behave like an apolitical public official while quietly undermining rooted political forces in Anambra State. With his exit date drawing nearer by the day, there are suggestions that he could be planting another seemingly apolitical man as heir.
AT a period when the many governorship aspirants in Anambra State are jostling for attention and trying to outdo one another with posters and other campaign gimmicks, one notable aspirant has been conspicuous by his seeming silence.
The Secretary to the Anambra State Government, SSG, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, considered by many to be Governor Peter Obi’s presumed heir has been largely mum. Like his principal, he is giving the impression that he is not a classic politician.
Obaze, it would be recalled, was brought back by Obi from the United States of America, USA, where he was a senior official at the United Nations, UN, to become the SSG. Since his return to Nigeria, the SSG, who hails from Ogbaru which is part of the Anambra North senatorial zone being favoured by his boss to produce his successor, has been engrossed in his work as the SSG despite his rumoured governorship ambition.
Given the well known impression that Obaze is nursing governorship ambition, it was not difficult asking why he is not yet campaigning and organizing meetings like other aspirants. Like a diplomat that he is, Obaze said it would be improper for him to jump the gun, insisting that he would only make known his ambition after the release of the guidelines concerning the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“Many governorship aspirants are going about doing what they are not supposed to be doing. People have asked me about my political ambition and my position is that we must wait for INEC to release the guidelines for the election. I have taken cognizance of one thing because of whom I am and where I have been. I know that before we start electioneering, we must wait for INEC to give us the guidelines. So I am not going to make any pronouncement on the issue until the guidelines are out.
“Those who are putting up billboards and campaigning are actually violating the INEC regulation and that is why I want to appeal to people not to pressurize me to say anything that I am not supposed to say in order not to violate the rules. At the right time, we will sit down and I will tell everybody what my decision is.”
According to him, the large number of people that have shown interest in the race (at the last count about 32) should not discourage any serious aspirant, adding that the essence of democracy is that people come out to ask for votes and people are elected based on their records.
“It is assumed that you are good before presenting yourself and not to present yourself for people to find out if you are good. All those who are going to run the governorship election have their pedigree, but at the end of the day, it is the voters that will decide who becomes the governor.
“I maintain that the race for an election is like an Olympic Game where you present a lot of candidates and people are eliminated during the heats. It you run on somebody’s track, you are disqualified and at the end of the day, it is only those who run a clean race and get to the finished line that will win.
One thing is however very clear about Obaze’s governorship ambition and that is that his job as the SSG and chairman of the state flood rehabilitation committee for the resettlement of last year’s flood victims in the state, has enabled him to get acquainted with all the nooks and crannies of Anambra State. Indeed, he has become a household name in the state as he was at the head of the team that distributed relief materials to the over 60 communities that were affected by the flood. During that assignment, he brought his personality to bear on the people.
Besides, the political body language of Governor Obi indicates that the cap of governor could fit his SSG. For instance, while performing an official function in the state last Monday in Awka, Obi told stakeholders of the state that gathered at the Women Development Center that development partners are concerned about who will succeed him next year in view of the on-going projects they are executing in the state.
Obi said: “Their worry is that Anambra has come a long way in terms of partnering with international donor agencies and they have been expressing worry that what we have achieved in the past seven years could be wiped out in few months by a governor who does not have what it takes to interact with and attract donor agencies that have described Anambra as one of the most reliable states in the country in terms of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, in which the state has ranked among the best performer.”
Interestingly, INEC is expected to release the Anambra governorship election guidelines later this month and until then, Obaze will continue to keep mum about his ambition even if he is carrying out the campaigns behind the scene.