By Chukwudi Nwokoye
When in 2003 I stuck my head out to support your candidacy, I followed my instinct. I believed that you had a mission to save Anambra state. Even after your victory at the polls was brazenly robbed by the forces of darkness, “we, the pro-Anambra activists”, would not back down from supporting the good against the evil. When you were impeached for no other reason than that you reviewed the over-bloated contracts for roads awarded by your predecessor and because you did not open the treasury for the professional politicians to plunder, we continued to back good over evil. Many that wouldn’t see beyond their noses asked that you give up the fight. “Nya jee zuzie ike”- let him go and rest, they said. Even when you were asking for the court to interpret your tenure, they swore in Andy Ubah, you didn’t give up your fight and your belief in the rule of law, neither did we.
You have touched our people the way no other politician, dead or alive has done. I have never supported or admired any governor before, and I don’t know if we could raise for ourselves another like you. Your achievements are legion, for they are many. However, the most precious achievement and the most things I admired about you is your civility, your calmness under fire, your humility, your humanity, your decency and your self-confidence. You have been able to impact the “politics without bitterness” the way that Late Aminu Kano was not given the opportunity to impact.
You were unjustly kicked out of power not once, not twice but three times. One time was enough to make an average person to quit, throw in the towel and go about his business. Not you! On each occasion, you did not lose your calmness or your civility. You refused to go into a “shouting match” with anyone you disagreed with. You went to court and laid your grievances. On all occasions, you came out victorious. You refused to take any chieftaincy title from any community or group until after your tenure. You refused to take gifts from any quarters or taking them on behalf of our people and channeling them to do the people’s business. You are not without faults. No one is without faults. Even Jesus Christ corrected a man that referred to him as ‘good teacher’ by saying: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:17).
You recorded a lot of milestones in the Nigeria’s political landscape. You were the first governor in Nigeria to dethrone a sitting governor through a legal process. This is because you were the first governor to recover his stolen mandate after being rigged out in an election you won roundly. You were the first governor in history of Nigeria to come back from an impeachment and resume your tenure. You were the only governor to have his tenure interpreted after another person was sworn in proving that your tenure started when your oath of office was administered and not when an impostor was sworn in and that your tenure did not start to run until you were actually sworn in. You were the first governor of Anambra state that served a second term. Previous governors of Anambra never survive after a first term in office. You were the only governor in Nigeria to render an account of your stewardship prior to the end of your tenure.
You have written your name not just in yourmany projects in the state, not just in the many schools, hospitals or government’s offices you renovated, not just in many industries or in foreign aids you attracted to the state, not just in the many scholarships you have awarded, not just in the many donations you have given, but your name has been written in the hearts of many in Anambra and the whole of Nigeria.
Thank you for being a role model to many and to me! You are the father of the modern Anambra. You are not a super star, but you remain a hero. To borrow the words of Henry Kessinger: “Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values.”
Thank you for making us proud. Thank you for stirring up the spirit of contentment and civility in us. Thank you for making us beat our chests and say, “I am from Peter Obi’s state.
Chukwudi Nwokoye is on Twitter.