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After Umeh’s senatorial triumph

THE argument wasn’t on whether or not Victor Umeh would emerge victorious in the January 13, 2018 Anambra Central Senatorial rerun election.

Senate President Bukola Saraki in a handshake with newly sworn-in Victor Umeh

It had to do with the range of victory he would post. In the November 18, 2017 Anambra gubernatorial election, Governor Obiano had won in all 21 local government areas in the state. The 100 percent result had led to Obiano acquiring the new sobriquet of ’21 over 21’. Was Chief Umeh also going to post a 100 percent result by winning in all the seven local government areas of Anambra Central? He did win all over, earning himself the nickname of Seven Over Seven!

Not surprisingly, there have been two antipodal reactions to Chief Umeh’s emphatic triumph. APGA chieftains and foot soldiers are in uproarious celebrations; the losers have been whimpering. The celebrations are not about to end. The licking of wounds will linger for a while more. Both of them are transient, ultimately. They will cease. After they have passed, the pertinent and enduring question of what next will surface and entrench itself. That is the central concern of this piece.

In winning both the governorship and Central Senatorial elections in Anambra, APGA has emphatically served notice that it is the party in Anambra State. It has also put the rest of the South East on notice that other component states of the geopolitical zone – Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States – are standing in line, card in hand, to answer to their rightful names as APGA entities. That is the challenge of today, the quest for the immediate future, the epic political tussle that Governor Obiano and Senator Umeh must front.

The duo’s antecedents posit them as eminently qualified to lead this emancipatory confrontation. Chief Obiano came from the corporate world, not necessarily the best pitch for the grooming of political players. But in the four spectacular years of his first term of office, he wrote his name boldly in the sand’s of his people’s history. He demonstrated that a sense of purpose, a belief in the divine benediction of his people, and a commitment to serve with an empathetic disposition were enough to make his people crown his sterling achievements with consensual followership and solidarity. Chief Umeh, on the other hand, is a veteran of the country’s Fourth Republic politics, a master of the nuances and finesses of partisan jousts and legalistic forays for political benefits. He was instrumental in the election of Mr. Peter Obi as APGA Governor of Anambra State (in 2006) and his re-election (in 2010). He played a fundamental role in Governor Obiano’s election in 2014 and his re-election for a second term.

It is pertinent to amplify Umeh’s tenacity. Throughout his journey to the Senate, he faced multiple legal huddles erected by disreputable attempts to truncate Anambra Central District’s place in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly through superfluous court processes. In all of them, he left his traducers worsted. Umeh was subjected to epical calumniation in the Social Media, the free-for-all zone for insipid and anarchistic dissemination of vitriol. Being a master of the media himself, he fought off the broadsides, the diatribe and the vituperations with consummate counter offensives. He now laughs last; he now laughs best. But he remains human. In this wise, his triumphs recommend an increased understanding of human nature. The acrid media trained against Victor Umeh before now can, going forward, only be deployed by the same adversaries to vitiate his overall effectiveness. This is why stories flung in his direction must continue to be subjected to forensic examination before decisions on them are taken.

As a tag team, the challenge before Obiano and Umeh, is more fundamental and of a different hue. In a sense, this challenge is straightforward because, bereft of the fractiousness that often sounded the death knell of many a political collaboration, and gifted in their individual ways with discernment to appreciate that this era’s power dance is not of the category carried out with palms precariously carrying snuff, they are to train their restorative lights like laser beams on knots begging to be untied, and loose ends yearning to be neatly seamed. These political gladiators know that APGA, were it not for serially blatant electoral manipulations, would from time have been presiding over the affairs of the entire South East. They remember that Imo was an APGA State disingenuously delivered into the hands of muffler- sporting dilettantish moulders of statues to the effete. They know that things upside down and inside out must be returned to their natural positions.

In The meaning of Governor Obiano’s reelection, an article I wrote after his victory for a second tenure, I made the point that “Anambra is not for pushing around. Ndigbo are not anybody’s second-class citizens.” I added that, “Governor Willie Obiano’s electoral victory means that the fate of Ndigbo is squarely in their own hands.”  That’s the score!

Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam is chairman of Governor Obiano’s Media team


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