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Thursday, June 13, 2024

As Obiano’s Magic Touch Spreads to APGA… – By James Eze



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Chief Willie Obiano arriving the Women Development Centre Awka, venue of the reception of APC defectors into APGA
Chief Willie Obiano arriving the Women Development Centre Awka,
venue of the reception of APC defectors into APGA

Michelangelo, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance once said that the “the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Two important events in Anambra State last week remind us, in vivid colours, of the dangers of low aim. They are – the visit of Dr. Alex Otti, former CEO of Diamond Bank Plc, who had picked the APGA gubernatorial form for Abia State the previous day and the defection of about 4000 members of APC in Anambra State to APGA.

Coming fast on the heels of the recent emergence of Chief Willie Obiano, governor of Anambra State, as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and Leader of APGA, the two events speak to the clarity of vision that informed the choice of Governor Obiano as the party leader. Perhaps nothing could have spoken louder about the party’s obvious low aim in the past than the near instantaneous rush of hope that Obiano’s new leadership has fueled, leading to the two great events under review. For a while APGA had seemed content with its narrow canvass, straining against the leash of a leadership that obviously lacked the inspirational leadership to attract people of note in the region where it is supposed to have its strongest roots. But with the entry of Dr. Alex Otti, a thoroughgoing technocrat with a towering reputation for excellence in the nation’s private sector, APGA looks sure enough to reclaim the promise it once held for Ndigbo by offering a credible alternative to Ndi Abia; a great sub-sect of the larger Igbo nation whose known capacity for greatness seems to have been stultified for years by bad leadership. It is this low aim that Alex Otti has obviously come to change…


Indeed, there is a growing feeling in most parts of the South East that with Alex Otti’s entrance into APGA, Governor Willie Obiano is quickly bringing his well-known people skills to bear on the fortunes of the party; that APGA would finally shrug off its age-old lethargy and strike out with greater boldness on the journey to reclaim the entire region from the ruling party. Political observers point to Obiano’s impressive records in governance so far as proof that he can turn things around in record time. They argue that with his inclusive and open approach to leadership, APGA would cast aside its famed narrowness of vision that hitherto seemed to mirror a seeming inability to see the big picture; the insular instinct that drove the desire to keep the party as nothing more than a symbolic flag that flutters only when there is a negotiation to make at the center. It was this anachronistic vision that stymied every chance of the party ever spreading beyond Anambra State. It is this paradigm that Governor Obiano has finally come to change…

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Speaking at the Amawbia Governor’s Lodge during his visit, Dr Otti bristled with brilliance; a striking effervescence that Ndi Abia may have missed for a while. “I have always known that APGA is home to me,” he intoned. “I must thank His Excellency, Governor Obiano for those calls that you made a couple of months ago that said I should come and join you to rebuild Igbo land and Nigeria. I have answered that call in the affirmative,” he declared, then quoting Edmund Burke on the conspiracy of silence among good men that allows evil to thrive in society, Otti enthused that people who sit in silence while evil reigns have lost the right to complain. Comparing his technocratic background with Chief Obiano’s, he recalled that his journey into the political race began when “I looked at myself and said, we cannot all sit idly by and complain and criticize. If we do nothing about the situation, we lose the right to complain. I told myself that I better stand up or shut up. And I choose the former. And very soon, we shall see a radical transformation in Abia State.” Dr Otti also thanked Governor Obiano for providing a quality leadership that has inspired his erstwhile colleagues in the private sector into envisioning a role for themselves in political leadership to retrieve Nigeria from the depths.

Responding to Otti’s comments, Governor Obiano showed great leadership when he emphasized the supremacy of group vision over individual ambition in party politics. “This is not a one-man-journey,” he observed. “This is the time to canvass for quality membership. This is the time to rebuild the party and place our collective goals far above personal ambitions. I want to assure you that APGA will grow stronger and stronger with the quality of people that we will attract. Alex Otti is one of them. I have known Alex Otti for over 30 years. We have done everything we needed to do in banking and I am happy that he is joining me on the other side,” Governor Obiano declared, raising the hope of party members.

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For the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, the entry of Alex Otti into the gubernatorial race of Abia State on the party platform is the turning point that the people of the state have been waiting for. Umeh has no doubts that in Otti, Ndi Abia do not only have a credible alternative but the best hope for an assured renaissance. He also expressed satisfaction that Igbo professionals were finally heeding the call to serve, pointing out that APGA remains the only viable platform for the realization of Igbo aspirations in a united Nigeria as it draws its sustenance from the support of the grassroots.

It is gratifying to see that Obiano is fully aware of the need to instill a team-spirit in the party and rebuild APGA into a forceful political movement that can fulfill its earliest promise as a party for true progressive in Nigeria. If his performance in the past seven months as governor is anything to go by, Chief Obiano looks certain to move the party beyond the threshold of hope. Perhaps nothing else captures the growing hope of the people in his ability better than the statement issued by Hon. C.C Nnoli, an APC stalwart in Anambra State, to justify the defection of 3500 APC members to APGA at the weekend. In an emotion-laden voice, Nnoli had informed Obiano that “as a leader, you have used wisdom in handling issues, so much that there is tranquility, harmony, fairness and equity in the polity; unlike where we are coming out from; we had dictatorship, acrimony, selfishness, greed and dishonesty as the bane of the day. We the members of APC in Anambra State, having taken time to analyze and evaluate your person, performance, and fatherly leadership, we have fully decided to decamp to APGA without going back.” There might be no stronger gauge of the great expectations that the people have of Obiano’s leadership of APGA than this.

Indeed, if Eric Hofer’s position that “the only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape it,” is true, then Chief Willie Obiano evidently sits in a vantage position to carve out a new and brighter future for Ndigbo because right now, he has the power to shape it.

Eze writes from Ifite, Awka

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