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Obiano: A beautiful story that should have been (2) ~ by Tai Obasi

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I read via Google that the man in question was a chartered accountant, an auditor and a banker. Even though I was impressed with this appropriate CV, I was sceptical about his being a PhD holder.

Call it superstition or whatever, but I hadn’t forgotten the atrocious performance of the other man with same academic attainment who was governor of dear state from 1999 – 2003.

As a writer, I worried on how to start convincing my readers that OHO was no longer suitable. If I was planning to become a politician, that moment ended such plans.

Obasi Emeka
The author, Tai Emeka Obasi

I wasn’t cut out to say one thing today and turn to say another tomorrow without convincing reasons of such inconsistency.

And as far as I am concerned, a position as important as a state governor should go to the most qualified and not to the best friend.

But somehow, Chief Willie Obiano’s coming seemed divine. Here was a man, who retired to Houston, USA, swimming away his remaining days in the pool when a call to come home for something greater than he ever dreamed came his way.

His destiny was so cast in pure steel that even after the blunder of saying he had no money for flight ticket home to answer to such urgent life-changing call would have ended the opportunity there and then, his callers still went ahead.

Bought the ticket, bundled him into next available flight home, gave him every dime he needed to be a man as well as be a guy, a big guy at that, covered all his shortcomings and persistent blunders, forced him on naysayers, manoeuvred his primary election process, campaigned for him, made ndi Anambra to buy him and finally made him a governor; this man’s coming was a hero’s journey.

Obiano’s track to kingship has never happened elsewhere in Africa. I’m not even sure it has happened anywhere else in the world. Aligned side by side with his middle name, Mmaduaburochukwu, such rare honour was supposed to be divine.

Some aspirants and candidates were willing to spend N20 billion and even borrow more to become Anambra State governor, but Obiano did without spending a dime of his. In fact, he enjoyed huge allowances from his makers until sworn in.

Even though we were particularly warned when Ifeanyi Ubah caught him with ‘expo’ during the gubernatorial debate, the then formidable APGA media team went overdrive to battle APC and PDP to submission.

We perceived a governor like no other, almost like the one from Bayelsa who had no shoes.

The basic worries that he could find issues of governance tough as a newcomer to both governance and politics were allayed when HE Obi was making his handover speech.

Like Okwute made us understand all through the final push projects flag-off during campaigns, his successor was coming with all his beds made.

With N75 billion inherited and all plans of continuity well laid, nobody expected anybody taking over under such alluring circumstances to fail.

But Obiano didn’t just fail, he did so woefully. And it is even very woefully, considering how he was ushered in.

However, speaking and speaking seriously, Obiano never hid his true self. All through campaigns, I was watching him closely and wondering. He never hid his arrogance, pomposity, extravagance and above all, very worrying nepotic tendency.

These were so glaring that I constantly complained to my friend and ally, Kasvid. He was always telling me that if I was expecting another Peter Obi that I would always be disappointed in everyone because we won’t get another Okwute.

After that swearing in, we went to inaugural party at the Amawbia Lodge. Oh yes, we were duly invited because we selflessly contributed immensely during the campaigns without a dime from the campaign funds and most members of the team, including the DG, Honourable JoeMartins Uzodike, knew us very well.

Again, Obiano’s dance steps with wife while P-Square led the floor left much to be desired, but again, Kasvid worried that I was being unnecessarily critical.

Another party was slated for Aguleri that night immediately after the one at the Lodge, but same night saw the worst form of traffic hold up I ever witnessed in Awka. After over three hours at Amawbia bypass, with time running late, I begged Kasvid to drop me at our hotel.

I got to the East End Hotel few minutes to 1.00 a.m and the first thing I noticed was that HE Peter Obi’s framed picture as governor had been replaced with that of Obiano. Something kept telling me it was too swift, but I eventually took it as sticking strictly to routine.

To satisfy my curiosity the next morning, I went around Awka Capital territory with Kasvid and confirmed something was wrong, very wrong.

All billboards placed strategically of the governor that handed over less than 24 hours earlier were gone! It’s like saying plainly that the new governor couldn’t wait to see the back of his mentor. The writer in me warned me we’re in for a turbulent time.

And that turbulence didn’t take long in coming. Successors fighting their predecessors is a common denominator in Nigerian politics, but I wondered how on earth a successor who came the way Obiano did would ever fight a predecessor that left the way Okwute did.

Nonetheless, I was hoping that whatever turbulence that would come along would swiftly be arrested by numerous stakeholders who would mediate and settle differences for the good of dear state. From where we were coming from, individual differences should never distort continuity that should forever lead us forward.

I prayed for it. Many did too. But God seemingly didn’t listen. If He heard, He certainly wasn’t interested in answering those prayers our way.

The invisible crack suddenly became visible, very visible and quickly widened to a gulley.

Believe me, at this point I wasn’t truly bothering much about whatever feud the successor and predecessor were into.

I only wanted this man to be the governor we all hoped for and worked tirelessly for him to become. He must not be a Peter Obi. Let him just be a Willie Obiano that positively inspired hope.

I was still hoping and hoping until the movie titled, The Inconsistencies Of A Man, was made and distributed widely.

After watching this movie and all the character assassinations deployed in both ABS radio and television, all in an attempt to destroy a man whose only crime was saying, “Let’s Go North,” of which insistence landed us with a man who was never ever considered for such a very special position, I lost every hope of continuity.

But at this point, continuity was no longer my problem. What bothered me was destruction. And mostly psychological destruction. At handover, every secondary school in the state had a brand new Innoson school bus, all provided by Okwute. Some had two.

These schools proudly went to various debates and other schools activities with these buses. With students in them, ABS radio usually was the major station. Constantly, these damaging character assassinations of the man Okwute, who every school pupil and student saw as his/her hero, was completely destroying the psychs of these children.

How could they comprehend that their hero was a betrayer as being painted? Perhaps only physicians of psychiatry could appreciably evaluate the damage such abuse impacted on our leaders of tomorrow.

From that moment I knew my story was dead. For nearly seven years nothing changed to revisit that story. And one remaining year is too short to hope for a miracle.

Obiano started with squandering the naira saved by Obi, went into the dollars saved, finished them and went into borrowing. And talking of borrowing, it’s excessive borrowing. In the wildest imagination of incompetence, no one expected one of his credentials to have sunk such low.

From excessive extravagant governing style, to bizarre nepotism, straight to inexplicable abandonment of inherited projects, obsessive pursuit of mundane frivolities, and many more negatives, I watched with gleamy eyes, a very beautiful story that should have absolutely inspired turn into an ugly story that should definitely vilify.

The Way The Cookie Crumbles is one of the most popular James Hadley Chase’s titles. If the great thriller maestro was still alive, he most certainly would have employed a very similar title to sum up the intrigues, betrayal, greed, ruthlessness, wickedness, lies, deceit that rained in dear state since past seven years.

If our own Chinua Achebe were still around he would have regretted that Things didn’t really Fall Apart when he wrote they did. Our forefathers would have proceeded to huge sacrifices to the gods of mercy.

It has indeed been a great opportunity lost.

No matter the style of propaganda involved, no one can make the story of Obiano’s stewardship in Anambra State a positive tale. Whoever tries will force the likes of me to write the true narrative.

As we move towards November 6, we call on all well-meaning Anambrarians to besiege prayer houses and beckon on the Creator, with the chorus, at the highest pitch, of that very familiar phrase in our usual dialect – OZO EMEZINA!

Keep following as Part 3 comes up shortly.

Tai Emeka Obasi


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