By James Eze
In one of his many seminal essays on Nigeria, Chinua Achebe poignantly observed that “Nigeria is what it is because its leaders are not what they should be.” Indeed since Nigeria began its current democratic experience, one of the most crucial tests we have had to face is the quest for a responsible and astute leadership – a leadership that represents the best the country has to offer in the management of the affairs of men.
It is interesting to note that while the country continues its search for the right set of leaders that will consolidate its democratic journey at the national level, hope looms like a rain-bearing cloud in the regions. Not surprising, Anambra State is leading the charge in this regard. Perhaps it is in fulfillment of its position as the light of the nation, perhaps it stems from the pioneering role it has always played in the history of the country. Whatever it is; it is no longer in doubt that the fire of a silent revolution is presently aglow in Anambra State judging by the set of candidates that the ruling party APGA is presenting to the electorate in the coming elections.
Rebounding from a long period of intriguing mutation during which time its power and influence shrunk to only one state in the entire federation, APGA has stepped out of the shadows to stake a claim to the future of Nigeria through quality leadership. A quick look at the profile of the party’s standard bearers in Anambra, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Ogun and Zamfara states offers a deep insight into the party’s meticulous search for quality representation at all levels of leadership. It is almost evident that taking a cue from its Chairman BoT and National Leader, Governor Willie Obiano, whose public career took off from a strong private sector background, APGA seeks to push for a new paradigm in the leadership of Nigeria.
It is fascinating to see that among APGA’s impressive cast of candidates for the coming elections is Engr. Ernest Ndukwe who as the former Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) played a historical role in the evolution of the mobile phone industry in Nigeria. Many thanks to Ndukwe, the Nigerian mobile phone market has experienced an astronomical growth from a paltry 45,000 lines in 2002 to 88 million in 2011 and Nigeria is now the third largest mobile phone market in the world. Today, Ndukwe, the architect of this phenomenon is standing election in his home state of Anambra. Ndukwe seeks to represent Anambra South in the Senate. He is running against Chief Chris Ubah of PDP. In saner countries, it should be a no contest for Ndukwe. But in Nigeria, politics is a game of probabilities.
It is no less fascinating to note that after several years of weathering countless political storms, Chief Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of APGA has finally thrown his hat into the political ring. Umeh is running for the Senatorial seat of Anambra Central. This political titan packs a wealth of experience that dwarfs his rivals. Interestingly, APC’s Senator Chris Ngige who would have provided a counter weight to Umeh has since decapitated himself politically with the ignoble role he played in the aftermath of the brazen deportation of his kit and kin by Governor Raji Fashola from Lagos. Ngige’s uneventful tenure in the Senate has also driven a long nail in the coffin of his senatorial ambition as many voters are scratching their heads to find one reason why Dr. Ngige should be given yet another chance. As it were, Chief Umeh has only himself to beat in the ensuing race.
Hon Dubem Obaze’s emergence as the Senatorial candidate for Anambra North follows APGA’s established tradition of fielding strong characters. Obaze who is fondly known as “Ifeakachi,” is a highly influential grassroots politician whose impact as an erstwhile Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Matters is still felt in Anambra state to date. Obaze has a remarkable people’s touch and a striking personality that draws people naturally to him. Like Ndukwe in Anambra South, Obaze’s would have been a no contest. In fact, not even Princess Stella Odua, former Aviation Minister, can present a challenge.
There are also, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu Jnr, Ifeanyi Ibezim, Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo, Emeka Nwosu, Godson Ezenagu, Ifeanyi Momah, Tonia Tabansi, Igwebuike Hygers Ifeanyi, Madubueze Peter Obiano and Gabriel Onyenweife who together make up a formidable team of visionary young leaders who are passionate about serving their various constituencies in a more qualitative and purposeful way. When these gentlemen and woman get elected as they indeed will, there is no doubt that Anambra will witness the much anticipated rebirth and in so doing catalyze the entire South East into pushing for the fielding of the very best in elective positions.
Similarly, APGA is blazing the same trail in some key states where it is fielding candidates for various posts. Credit must go to Governor Willie Obiano and the entire party leadership for superintending over the electoral processes that threw up Dr. Alex Otti as a gubernatorial candidate in Abia State, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho in Imo, Labaran Maku in Nasarawa, David Olufemi Bamgbose in Ogun and Alhaji Sani Shinkafi in Zamfara State. A close look at the pedigree of all the gubernatorial candidates of APGA shows an unmistakable similarity in the quest for substance and overall excellence among them. It is obvious that all the candidates have great personal stories that set them apart from their rivals in the various states where they are standing election.
After years of first class performance in the commanding heights of corporate Nigeria, Dr. Alex Otti who also made First Class in the university has followed the footsteps of his friend, Chief Obiano and heeded the call to rescue Abia State from the abyss. Otti is running a brilliant issue-based campaign in Abia and garnering a massive support that will ease his way into the state house. Being an accomplished technocrat, Otti will no doubt transform Abia State in a very short time as his friend has done in Anambra when given the mandate. Ndi Abia will be the ultimate loser if they fail to vote him in. Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho has been very much a captain of a flourishing business empire and pretty much whatever else he has touched all his life. Iheanacho is reputed be a wise man and an astute administrator who knows what it takes to offer a purposeful leadership.
All through his time in office as the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku’s zestful brilliance held Nigerians spellbound. Labaran is undoubtedly among the few young leaders in whom the hope for a better Nigeria rests. The APGA model of governance is just the blueprint that Maku needs to lift his people from the bootstraps of unbridled privations and break a new path for accelerated development. The people of Nasarawa State will bite their nails in avoidable regret if they fail to elect him their governor. Prof. David Olufemi Bamgbose joined APGA as a renowned educationist who pioneered the setting up of private colleges of education in his native Ogun State. Bamgbose has made indelible mark in the history of education in Nigeria as his Yelwa College of Education has so far produced over 10,000 teachers in its short history of existence. Bamgbose is development-minded and intensely focused. Prof. Bamgbose will turn Ogun State into a centerpiece of overall excellence if handed the mantle of leadership.
Alhaji Sani Shinkafi is a large-hearted progressive leader whose sphere of influence stretches across Nigeria. A firm believer in the common destiny of the country, Shinkafi is known to have mastered the art of leadership by consensus. His years of experience as a great party man and consensus builder will certainly be of great benefit to the Zamfara people who are in dire need of an urbane leader in his mould to chart the course for a sustainable development.
In all, it is very fascinating to see how, Chief Willie Obiano’s recent assumption of office as the leader of APGA has influenced the emergence of a crop of accomplished Nigerians seeking to make a change from elective offices. Win or lose, the symbolism of their involvement in the political process cannot easily be wished away. The subtle message that underlines their bold ambitions reminds us that it is not enough to aspire to serve. It is also important to serve on a reputable platform.
James Eze writes from Ifite, Awka.