By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The speculation came like wave but Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State promptly dismissed all talks that his party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, would field him for the 2019 presidential election. For me, it is a mark of straightforward leadership for the follower ship to always be abreast where the leader stands.
It is crucial that Governor Obiano has kicked aside the speculation through a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, James Eze, thusly: “Our attention has been drawn to some speculative reports in the media alleging that the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano may run for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming 2019 elections. We hereby refute the said reports as totally untrue, false and misleading.
Governor Obiano has no intention of running for president. After recording a historic victory at the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial election in which Ndi Anambra gave him an overwhelming mandate, Governor Obiano is totally committed to initiating new revolutionary projects that will transform the state and justify the people’s confidence in his second term in office. Consequently, all reports about the likelihood of Governor Obiano running for president in 2019 are a manifestation of speculation carried too far and have no shred of truth to them. We therefore urge the general public to disregard these reports in their entirety as they are totally false.”
It is of course to be expected that given the landslide manner Governor Obiano dusted his opponents in the recent Anambra gubernatorial elections that a lot of people would want Obiano to go for higher matters! But as things stand, Governor Obiano has his feet on the ground, knowing that his work is cut out in Anambra State for now.
In my article before the Anambra elections entitled “Anambra And The Future Of Nigerian Democracy” I wrote inter alia: “The dream of nationwide credible elections in Nigeria will get its acid test through the November 18 Anambra State gubernatorial election. It is as though the future of Nigerian democracy rests on the showcasing of a free and fair election in Anambra State. Well over 30 gubernatorial candidates have thrown their hats into the ring in the keen contest to try their luck against incumbent Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). It is the prescient duty of the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to provide a level playing field for all parties. Incidentally, Governor Obiano has met with President Muhammad Buhari in the drive to ensure free and fair polls on November 18. The time of using the so-called Federal Might to swing elections in Nigeria should be gone for good if we indeed want democracy to survive… President Buhari keeps harping on his desire to for once give the country credible polls. The Anambra election should prove to be the penultimate test pending the 2019 presidential polls. ”
President Buhari surprised his traducers by not in any way bending the rules to support his party’s – the All Progressives Candidate (APC) – candidate in the election, Dr Tony Nwoye, who was duly defeated. Governor Obiano has since congratulated President Buhari as a leader who could be trusted. It is now incumbent on Governor Obiano to get the Federal Government to refund a hanging N43 billion expended by Anambra State on federal roads. Instead of dissipating energy on a presidential contest Governor Obiano can get Buhari to undertake a massive focus on roads and other Federal infrastructural matters in the Southeast.
Under Obiano, Anambra State is seen as a model-in-progress. The focus is on Anambra as a governance masterpiece and the translation of the new paradigm in sister-states. As the National Chairman of APGA Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye stated, “APGA does not have the predisposition of fielding a candidate for 2019 Presidency. Our preoccupation for now is how to maximize the opportunity presented by the recent Anambra Governorship election victory to win more states, especially in the Southeast where agitation for self-determination has assumed a worrisome proportion of recent.”