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Obiano’s second term victory unites Anambra’s political gladiators

By Vincent Ujumadu

AWKA — GOVERNOR Willie Obiano, who was sworn in weekend in Awka to begin his second term of four years as the number one citizen of Anambra State, appears to be on the way to rewriting the history of the state on many fronts. At the time he came into the politics of Anambra State, the banker-turned governor was not known among the political elites.

•Willie Obiano taking salute from parade by security agencies

After retiring from Fidelity Bank Plc where he was the second in command, Obiano moved to the United States of America, USA, and was enjoying his retirement when destiny beckoned and he had to return to Nigeria to join the governorship race in Anambra State in 2012.

In fact, on the day he drove into the Anambra State secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and announced himself as a governorship aspirant, many did not take him serious. But considering the background from where he came, especially when information began to go round that he was former Governor Peter Obi’s candidate for the governorship, the political calculation automatically changed and he became the aspirant to beat at the APGA primaries.

He picked the party’s ticket and subsequently won the election. Indeed, Obiano came face to face with the murky waters of politics, with opposition from even those who sponsored him mounting heavily. But he was not distracted. He faced governance with zeal and by the time the 2018 election was drawing near, the opposition parties realised that his performance was going to be the issue during the campaigns.

Obiano’s swearing in

Among his landmark achievements were the construction of three flyovers in Awka in a record time, the construction of the longest bridge in the state to link the oil fields of Aguleri Otu in Anambra East Local Government Area, fighting of armed robbers and kidnappers to a standstill such that Anambra was named the safest state in Nigeria, with the resultant effect of attracting investors into the state in large numbers within three years of the administration and the N20 million to all the communities to execute projects of their choice.

But the main surprise was to come during the governorship election proper. Though about 35 people picked their political parties’ tickets to vie against Obiano, most of the politicians in those parties actually worked for the success of Obiano, which made it possible for him to break a record in electoral victory in the state by dusting all the candidates and their supporters in their local government areas. That was how 21/21 became a famous slogan in the state.

After the election, none of the losers filed a petition at the election tribunal and the tribunal sent to the state to hear petitions had to leave after staying idle for some time.

On March17, 2018 when Obiano was sworn in for the second tenure, almost all the candidates that lost to him, as well as who is who in Anambra politics, were present at the ceremony. Also for the first time, elected politicians from other political parties were on ground and expressed their solidarity to the re-elected governor.

Though Obiano is the only governor produced by his party, APGA, five other governors from PDP were present at the oath-taking ceremony. They included Governor Umahi of Ebonyi, Fayose of Ekiti, Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Okowa of Delta, as well as the leadership of Ohaneze led by its President- General, Dr. Nnia Nwodo. Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige also represented the vice- president, while Senators Stella Oduah, Andy Uba, Victor Umeh, among others, were present.

•His Royal Majesty, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha. His Royal Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife.

Apparently elated by what he saw, Obiano said: “I stand before you today as a product of love; your love; your love for Anambra State; your love for good governance.

“I am the proof that we have attained great political maturity in this state. I am the evidence that when the occasion demands, we can rise  together as one and that when we stand together as one; we can bend the tide of destiny in our favour.

“This is the moment you have wished for, hoped for and prayed for and I am here to serve.

“Never before had our beloved state witnessed the electoral history that you created on November 18, 2017. And today, I stand on the crest of your love to declare a new season of excellence for our beloved Anambra State.

“Our dear state is on a journey of self-awakening and discovery. We are reaching for the stars with the moon beneath our feet. And I am most grateful to you for choosing me and Nkem Okeke to lead you on this journey.

“Therefore, my gratitude goes to the Almighty God for saying yes to my dream of a second term in office, and I must thank you for your prayers and your votes that made me your governor.

“I bow in humility to the leadership and members of our great party, APGA, for fighting a good and decent fight to ensure our victory at the polls.

“Let me assure you here that the democratic garden you watered with your votes on November 18, 2017 will bloom with the flowers of progress.

“It will flourish to our joy and happiness and to the admiration of all Nigerians. We shall work together, dream together and create new narratives with happy endings for ourselves.

“Our dream is within a touching distance under my watch and we can see its gleaming surface on the horizon.”

Howver, the fear being expressed in the state is that those who made the victory possible might wish to insist on being rewarded with political patronages.

How this would play out would be seen in the next few weeks.

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