Televised Political Debate is one of the best thing ever to have happened to democracy. It allows the contestants the opportunity to showcase their vision in their own words and to the best of their ability. It gives the electorate the rare chance to compare their choices in real time. Rather than the media packaged and often laundered image we see in stage-managed commercials and short video clips, live debates show us unfiltered reality and is a window to the true capabilities and worldview of the candidates. The Anambra State gubernatorial debate was no different. The 5 candidates that made it to the podium: Willie Obiano of APGA, Oseloka Obaze of PDP, Osita Chidoka of UPP, Tony Nwoye of APC, and Godwin Ezeemo of PPA made their pitch and sparred with each other on Sunday night in a well moderated debate that gave one hope that there is a future for issue based campaign in Nigeria. At the end of the night, all unbiased observers came to the same conclusion: there are only two governor qualities on the podium on Sunday night and they were Oseloka Obaze of PDP and Osita Chidoka of UPP.
Obviously, Willie Obiano can never be discounted because of the power of incumbency. I am also aware that the majority of the political aristocrats in Anambra state appear to stand behind him. But these two facts don’t make him the right man to lead Anambra state. The time has come for Anambra (and all Igbo states) to make that turn onto a new path, where politics is about ideas and futuristic innovation. The noise we make about the potentials of the Igbo people is meaningless until they are translated into tangible measurable successes. That starts with electing men and women whose vision matches our potentials. And that is why I urge all men of Goodwill in Anambra state to do the right thing and ensure that Osita Chidoka (Ike Obosi) is returned as the elected Governor of Anambra State on November 18, 2017.
I thank many of my friends who have invited me to take a look at this great man and the promise he holds for Anambra state. I must particularly thank my old pal, Patrick O. Okigbo III whose passionate belief in Chidoka and his consistent Facebook posts about the Chidoka Campaign inspired me to study this man more closely. Sunday night’s debate made it clear that it is not enough to quietly campaign for this man behind the scenes but that electing him to the Anambra government house is a task all men of goodwill must embrace publicly and wholeheartedly.
I stand with Chidoka because:
- HE IS REFRESHING. The ideas espoused by Chidoka when juxtaposed next to the postulations of his opponents make him sound like a visionary, and his opponents like stale wine from years past. Chidoka is a thinker who engages our problem today with contemporary analysis and proffers solutions that will serve as bridge between our position today to the tomorrow of our dreams. Overall, listening to Chidoka is liberating. It is like fresh air in the murky waters of incompetence we see among aspirants and contenders to office in Nigeria. He is bold, fearless and confident. He has a self-assured air around him that tells you his beliefs are deep rooted and that he is not putting up an act.
- HE HAS RUN AN IDEA FOCUSED CAMPAIGN. Of all the contenders to the Anambra state house, none has offered more ideas for transforming Anambra like Chidoka. His FaceBook page offers some exciting programs and initiatives. He has put forward ideas about Public Service Sector Reform, Creation of a Knowledge Hub, Urban Planning, Youth and Sports, etc. I have not seen a commensurate degree of specifics from any other candidate till date. I will return to the paucity of programs and ideas by the candidates later.
- HIS VISION FOR ANAMBRA IS ASPIRATIONAL. Chidoka talks about a future that is greater than today and certainly better than the past. Whereas many of the contenders on Sunday night spoke without vision and seem focused on how to manage the status quo, Chidoka seem to envision a future where Anambra is lifted out of the mediocrity of sameness within the Nigerian socioeconomic landscape onto a new pacesetting and pathfinding development track. He refuses to play the politics of the moment that seeks to appease and nudges us to the uncomfortable territory where we must compete with the rest of the world. Nothing less will do.
- HE HAS A GOOD KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORY: Any leader that has not taken the time to study our history is bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. Chidoka is the only candidate on the stage on Sunday night with a clear knowledge of the history behind the issues facing Anambra state and Nigeria. If you have not done so, then please go and listen to his Lecture “Towards a guiding Political Philosophy for Democratic Nigeria” delivered at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library” earlier this year. His grasp of the debilitating forces behind our developmental inertia gives me confidence that he possesses the historical knowledge and understanding that will enable him untangle the mess past leaders left behind.
- HE IS SMART. Chidoka is smart and wise. The brilliance of his mind oozes out of every word he utters. His speeches are measured and sincere. Anambra will be lucky to have such a man as the Governor.
- HE HAS AN IMPRESSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE NODES AND TRACKS OF OUR MULTIFACETED DEVELOPMENT FRONTS. Chidoka is the only one on the ballot that has demonstrated a clear understanding of the interconnectedness between the various spheres of our developmental equation. He peaks of the connection between human capital development and increasing IGR. He recognizes the opportunity presented by the globalization phenomenon to creating employment in Anambra State. The continuum and connectivity amongst an effective health system, a healthy citizenry, Education, and economic development is intricate, but one which must be understood by anyone who aspires to lead us.
- HE KNOWS THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION: I urge you to google him, find his speeches on Youtube and listen again to the debate on Sunday night. None of his opponents can match his knowledge of the constitution and understanding of the inner workings of the government at the Federal and state levels.
- HE IS ARTICULATE. The gift of oratory is a plus to any leader that aspires to be transformational. The need to properly articulate your views in a manner that not only informs but also inspires the citizens to rally behind you and the vision you espouse cannot be over-stated. Chidoka is blessed with this added quality and it can only be to the benefit of Ndi Anambra.
- HE REPRESENTS MY VIEWS ABOUT BIAFRA AND THE FUTURE OF NDIGBO: I have heard Chidoka talk about Biafra before the debate and I have always been convinced that he is the most comfortable Igbo leader on that topic. He has a clear sense of the reason behind the struggle and how Igbo leaders should engage it. On the stage last night, whereas the rest of the contestants were calling Biafran agitators jobless youths, Chidoka was the only contender that clearly, unequivocally and correctly recognized that the agitation is well founded on the structural injustice within Nigeria and not a product of jobless youths. He is the only contender that rejects the idea that One Nigeria is non-negotiable. This is not saying that he is Pro-Biafra, rather he is saying that it is undemocratic to foreclose the option for any viable sub-nationality within Nigeria. He will be the first to also tell you that “The Igbo economy is bigger than the Igbo Geography” which is an argument that the Igbos are better off in a just Nigerian nation, but it should not be by force. I am totally for this view on the Biafra question.
- HE IS FROM MY GENERATION: As a young undergraduate and student union leader at UNN, I remember imploring my colleagues not to look further than themselves for leadership. I loved the quote then that says, “If not us, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? Decades later, my generation remain mostly sidelined in the evolution of the Nigerian leadership scheme. The youthful vigor, new thinking, contemporary ideas for development have thus failed to be infused in the Nigerian developmental journey. Today, we have an opportunity to prove that my generation can make a difference. Chidoka is our chance.
My one criticism for Chidoka and all the candidates in the race is the absence of a comprehensive vision for Anambra state that covers the full spectrum of the various spheres of the Anambra society. Ideally, Chidoka and everyone else seeking to lead Anambra should articulate a vision for all facets of the Anambra socio-economic landscape that includes vision for Healthcare, Education, Science, Technology & Innovation, Environmental Sustainability, Agriculture, Infrastructural Development, Employment, Tourism, Youth engagement, etc. We need to know how each one of them plans to make progress in these various areas? What role will Anambra Diaspora play in the development of Anambra? Many in Diaspora occupy positions of influence and have knowledge and the sort of access that can benefit Anambra state. What is the plan for youth engagement? How will they spur entrepreneurship? A website or a book are useful tools for cataloguing such a comprehensive vision and these are rare features in Anambra (or Nigerian) politics. I am mindful of the fact that Chidoka is the only one I know that speaks to some of these issues via his speeches and Facebook page, but to further set himself apart from the rest of the bunch, I would have loved to see a full throttle vision for every one of these sectors via a website or a book to enable Anambrarians digest his policies and imagine the future he envisions for the state.
I say this because of my belief that we should keep demanding more of our aspiring leaders and they must understand that we deserve the “best” there is anywhere and not “better than” what we have here. This was the standard we lived by during the Biafran struggle. We did not throw our arms in the air and capitulate to the label of an underdeveloped nation, rather we improvised and invented things. If under dire circumstances of the Biafran War, when plans were made and executed hastily, Ndigbo were able to make breakthroughs in Science and Technology, then future Anambra and Igbo governors should be able to mobilize and deploy our human and material resources at home and Diaspora to set in motion a process for creation of a modern world economy that distinguishes us from everyone else within the Nigerian geographical space. Chidoka is the only one whose rhetoric and philosophical orientation approximates this standard. I will encourage every person I know to vote for him. Failure to elect him Governor come Novermber 18 will be a missed opportunity for Anambra state and Nigeria. Ositadinma!!!!
Dr Anthony Ikeme
West Chester, USA