Anambra 2013 Guber Race: Who’s afraid of Willie Obiano?

By James Eze on October, 27 2013

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The on-going organised calumny campaign against Chief Willie Obiano, the APGA candidate for the coming gubernatorial election in Anambra State, has shown his opponents as conceding that he is actually the man standing between them and victory in the coming polls. In the last two weeks, Obiano has become the only AGENDA in the heated race to produce a successor to Governor Peter Obi. His name has been dragged through all manner of muddy waters, turning him into the most discussed topic in the social media and the most-sought-after item on the Internet search engines.

It all seemed like a silly joke when it began. First was the charge that Obiano was a stooge. His opponents claimed that he was Governor Peter Obi’s stooge who had come to cover the tracks of the high performing governor whose turn will end in March 2014. They said he was Obi’s godson and that he was ill-prepared for the job. They also made a song and dance of his not having any political experience.

In response, Chief Obiano explained that with over 30 years of experience at the highest level in the private sector, it was wrong for anyone to think of him as a stooge. To those who said he was Peter Obi’s political godson, he countered that he was literally older than the governor and could not possibly be his son even in the figurative sense. His reply to accusations of not having any political experience was even more dramatic. He chose to reply by launching his Blueprint for the development of Anambra State; demonstrating a deeper understanding of the challenges at hand than his more experienced opponents and earning high praises from Anambrarians. Expectedly, the opposition left that thread of argument and reached for something far more sinister in an attempt to stop him in his tracks.

The social media was provoked into needless frenzy by a laughable report circulated by one Ikenna Ezenekwe, a blogger with a load of credibility issues, who claimed that Willie Obiano had been disqualified by INEC for allegedly possessing two voter’s cards. Ezenekwe’s blog-post claimed that after obtaining a voter’s card in Lagos, Obinao had gone ahead to obtain yet another one in his hometown of Aguleri.

Ordinarily, reports from Ezenekwe should have been taken with a pinch of salt. However, because it is human nature to watch other people’s sacred cows assaulted, many Nigerians began to believe the story and before long, what had started as a poorly hatched smear campaign had wended its way into the pages of some serious Nigerian newspapers.

The initial reaction of the Obiano Campaign Organization was to drown the calumny campaigners with a profound silence, believing that the public had enough discernment to tell when a lie is sold to it. But it soon became clear that silence was not enough. Happily, the Campaign Organization was rescued by the efforts of Joe Chukindi, an investigative journalist who undertook a trip to Awka to interview the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State, Prof. Joe Onukogu, who dismissed the story as a cruel rumour with no substance.

The Anambra electorate was to soon confirm that Ezenekwe and his partner in calumny, one Nnamdi Umeasigbu of Human Rights and Electoral Watch, had lied to them when INEC released the list of voters in the state and Obiano’s name showed only once, not twice on the register.

No sooner had that argument been squashed than the opposition had conjured up another ill-conceived plot: They claimed that Obiano had signed an agreement to pay the sum of N120m monthly to the National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, and another N30m to the party’s National Adviser, Chief Austine Ndigwe, when he wins the coming election. The dubious document which has been spreading like flu on the Internet also made so many wild claims but the crux of the agreement is the payment of the sum of N5.76bn to Umeh in the event that Obiano wins the election.

As is always the case with such miserable documents conceived to lie against innocent people, it was riddled with fundamental errors that exposed it at a mere glance. The errors range from the misspelling of the name Willie as “Willy” to the mistaking of Senator Chris Anyanwu for Ambassador Bianca Onoh. Tragic errors as these could not have made in any serious document by people who have left indelible marks in the private sector. Similarly, the signatures on the document are the works of an amateur forger who felt he did not need a specimen to guide him in creating his disgraceful designs that announce themselves as false. Many people have since dismissed the forged document and the thinking behind it as mischievous and ridiculous!

Obiano has finally dealt a deathblow blow on the poor “craftsmen” who masterminded this component of the smear campaign. Characteristically, he chose his moment to do that. At the first Anambra Gubernatorial Debate held in Awka on Friday, October 25, 2013 by Silverbird Television, Obiano dismissed the rumoured agreement as the handiwork of the opposition who had been hard-pressed to find a chink in his armour.

“In my thirty years in the Nigerian private sector, part of which was spent at the top management level, I have never seen such a poorly ‘manufactured’ document. It is a fake document. My signature is on many public documents in Nigeria and can be easily verified. The signature on that fake has no resemblance with my signature. I urge Anambrarians to ignore that document,” he explained, drawing applause from the audience,” Obiano stated.

Interestingly, the emerging pattern of dark onslaught on Obiano points to one clear direction – APC. This became more manifest when Senator Ngige, the APC gubernatorial candidate, launched a direct personal attack on Obiano in the media, describing him as lacking in confidence. Ngige’s action revealed that he had probably hidden behind a veil all along to hurl missiles at Obiano and suddenly felt emboldened to remove his mask when he sensed that the APGA candidate was not attacking him in return. He promptly fired broadsides at Obiano, calling him names for not wearing campaign materials that are branded with his image. Many political analysts have since dismissed his comments on Chief Obiano as inelegant and distasteful.   

Interestingly, the obvious desperation of the opposition to stop Willie Obiano seems to be working in his favour. Many voters in Anambra State believe that the strong campaign to halt him is indicative of the fact that he would make a great leader when he assumes office. They are impressed with his silence and his demonstration of a higher grace by not shouting back at his hecklers. The growing feeling is that Obiano has conducted himself as a serious leader, preferring not to bandy words with career politicians. They believe that he has been a victim of do-or-die politicians who would stop at nothing to score cheap political points. This feeling grew to a crescendo with INEC’s eventual dismissal of his alleged double registration as a ruse.

To many Anambrarians, it has become crystal clear that some agents of the powers that once held the state prostate are hell bent on stopping Willie Obiano. What is however, not clear for now is what new tricks they would conjure up their sleeves as the campaign heats up.  

In the meantime, however, the question that continues to agitate the minds of many observers of the macabre dance in Anambra is who is afraid of Chief Willie Obiano and why?

•Eze is Head, Media and Communications, Willie Obiano Campaign Organization, Awka. Photo shows Chief Obiano.

Source News Express


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