BY VINCENT UJUMADU
THE race for the person to succeed Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in 2022 has begun, with politicians intensifying consultations in various parts of the state. Last week, one of the contenders for the number one seat in the state, Sir Damian Okolo met a cross section of stakeholders in Awka, during which he argued that Anambra needs a home grown governor who understands the people and is very familiar with the state.
Okolo, a lawyer and an Estate Surveyor and Valuer, informed the stakeholders that he would contest the election on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. He urged Anambra people residing outside the state to endeavour to influence people at the grass root on the way forward, which is to ensure that Anambra voters understood the necessity of entrusting their welfare on someone who has been around and who properly understands the needs of the people.
He told them: “By training, I am an Estate Surveyor and a fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators. I am also a legal practitioner and by the grace of God, one of the few Nigerians that had been trained at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos. The people who pass through Kuru are people trained for good governance.
“Over time, I have served in various capacities in Anambra State and in other parts of the country. I was the chairman of the Anambra State Land use and Allocation Committee and vice chairman of Anambra State Volunteer Service Agency, which trained people for good governance. I have been chairman of Oluchukwu Micro Finance Bank for 20 years and I am a director of Radio Sapiencia based in Onitsha. I am also the financial secretary of Igwe Nnewi Royal Cabinet. I am happy that all these bodies found me worthy to serve in the various capacities.”
“It is noteworthy that Anambra people have agreed and decided that Anambra South senatorial zone should produce the next governor of the state. In this zone, Anambra South, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife from Aguata had served as governor, Dr. Andy Uba, also from Aguata had gone and Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Uli (Ihiala) also served as governor from 1999 -2003. The only time my town, Nnewi, tasted it was when Mrs. Virgy Etiaba held fort when Peter Obi was impeached for three months. So for equity and fair play, Nnewi should produce the next governor of the state, considering the fact that Aguata, Ihiala and Nnewi are the major planks of the zone.
“With all sense of responsibility, I have made modest contributions to the state more than most of the people aspiring to govern the state. If I am given the chance, Anambra people will benefit from my wealth of experience. At this point in time, Anambra State needs someone who is acceptable in the three senatorial zones of the state.
“As a professional, I do not regret practicing my two professions in Anambra State since my qualification. I could have made more money practicing in Lagos, but I chose to establish my company here.
“In fact, I am the first person to start Estate Surveying practice in Onitsha and today, there are many practicing in this state. Without the foundation I laid, that could not have been possible.
“When I went to Law School in 1993 my colleagues wanted to force me to stay in Lagos because they believed I would make more money there, but I insisted on coming back home. I had to convince them to see the need for me to remain in the East. If making money was my main objective, I would have become a multi billionaire now. But God had always directed me on what to do.
“Now that this issue of home grown governor has arisen many people feel rightly or wrongly that we need someone who knows the terrain well. The added advantage is that though I come from Anambra South senatorial zone, I am very well known in the Northern senatorial zone where I practice and in Anambra Central senatorial zone where I have many friends. Of all those aspiring to govern Anambra, I possess more credentials in terms of rendering service to the people of this state.”
Church and politics
Although Okolo is a Papal Knight and a former Metropolitan Grand Knight of the Knights of St Mulumba, KSM, for the entire Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states, he insisted that his ambition has nothing to do with any church demonization.
He said further: “We have friends in all denominations and they have already expressed their desire to support us. As I speak, people from all dominations have said that they will support me if I contest. We are proud of our achievements in various spheres of life and as contributions towards the development of the state has no denominational limitations.
“The important thing is that there is a lot of work to be done in the state. Our past governors, including the incumbent, have done very well and we will improve on what they did and where the incumbent will stop.”
All inclusive government
Okolo said although he would contest the election on the platform of APGA, having made his ambition known to the party leadership, he also has friends in other political parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which he belonged to in the past. He promised that if God makes it possible for him to win, he would run an all inclusive government.
“Very soon, we will establish various committees for the governorship aspiration and we intend to include credible people into those committees. There is indeed a lot of work for everybody to do,” he told them..