On Saturday, exactly a week to the Anambra elections, a former governor of the state Peter Obi was on radio to campaign for his candidate when he was asked who he thought would be a better governor if his candidate was unsuccessful at the polls. In his characteristic candor, he responded, “Osita Chidoka”. He is not alone in this assessment.
I am in Ojoto as we prepare for the elections. However, because I am going through a major renovation of my country home, I have to stay with my cousin who unfortunately is a chieftain of the All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA). This means that I have to endure the various meetings that he convenes with party faithfuls in his home.
Although I am convinced that they are all misguided, I pinch my nose and engage with them. They, like Peter Obi, all concur that Osita Chidoka is the most qualified candidate in the race but then pellet me with ill-formed reasons why he should “wait his turn”.
Some argue that he should wait for the northern senatorial zone to complete their 8 years at the political feeding pen as if the women who would die at child birth within the next 4 years can also wait. I remind them that the young Ndi Anambra who were unable to go to school during the disastrous years of Mbadinuju’s government are still paying the price today. I remind them that Ndi Anambra do not need affirmative action for any senatorial zones to produce a governor. “Anyi by Odogwu Odogwu”. There are enough great men and women in all parts of the state that you do not need a zoning formula to ensure representation.
Some of these folks tell me that Osita Chidoka cannot win because he does not have the funds to run the elections. With their chests puffed out like “Akara Nne Biati” (which is shiny on the outside and empty inside), they ask me who Chidoka’s “godfather” is and quickly tell me how many billions Willie Obiano is going to spend on this election. I look at them and consider how far lost they are in the logical spectrum and then decide whether the effort to engage them is worth it. Any one who needs to be reminded that the state will suffer after these billions from the state coffers are expended in the elections does not deserve my time. Nor those the one who needs me to explain the ills of
“godfatherism” in politics. Such has obviously never listen to Patti Obasi’s old spirituals about “onyinye mamiwota” – the gift of the water spirit.
The worst is when I see my friends from the southern senatorial zone and they pledge their support for Obiano simply because they believe that after he has completed his two terms as governor, they, from the south, would produce the next governor. I remind them that Northern Nigeria has produced presidents for the majority of Nigeria’s existence since independence but the region suffers the highest rate of poverty in Nigeria. The fact that the governor is from your region does not guarantee improved socio-economic outcomes for your people. Do we still need to expend energy explaining this fact to people in 2017.
In my reflections, I come full circle back to Peter Obi. I respect what he achieved for Anambra and, on the occasions I have met or spoken with him, I always leave the encounter reassured that he has genuine interest in the development of the state. I am always amazed at his frugality and focus on the things of value. However, I can’t reconcile some of his political choices. It is Okwute who introduced this politics of zoning in Anambra and its sad consequences (current and future). We must cut off this tumor now before it becomes cancerous. The consequences will be irreparable in the coming years. Before this unfortunate political creation, there were no obvious fault lines. But hey are beginning to appear now. There are still mere lines now but anyone from Anambra knows that this is how many gully erosions start. Let’s quench this fire before it gets to the rafters. This is not about politics.
Nigeria wins its football matches whenever it fields it best eleven. We saw it in Fanny Amu’s Under-17 World Cup Team. We see it every weekend when the Premiership matches are played; the best players adorn the jerseys for their teams and deliver the goods. We have an opportunity in Anambra to field our best candidate and this should not be marred by any unfortunate political calculations. But do not take my word that Osita Chidoka is the best candidate. Tune in this evening at 7pm to Channels TV, AIT and ABS and watch the debates. I will be in the studio to, as always, Stand With Osita Chidoka. Watch and see why progressives across Anambra State, who are able to think with their hearts and not their stomach, stand firmly with Osita Chidoka.
by Patrick . O.Okigbo III