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“Hurricane Willie” Sweeps Anambra As The Final Hour Approcahes

By Emeka Ozumba
Chief-Willie-Obiano
Chief-Willie-Obiano

There are no other storms like the hurricane on earth, it comes with low pressure and gradually grows to a sustained wind of over 74 miles per hour leaving destruction in its wake; but if you reside in Awka, Onitsha or other parts of Anambra State currently in the throes of political campaign, you would most likely have encountered hurricane Willie. Hurricane Willie, unlike the tropical cyclone, is a moniker on the lips of many who had encountered Chief Willie Obiano's passion and zeal for a better Anambra as he bestrides the State's political space. Chief Obiano emerged as a gubernatorial candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for the Anambra elections against all expectations, but fully made with hurricane potentials embedded in his credentials and track record as a successful manager of men and resources.

However, just as it's easy to despise the day of small beginnings, many asked, who is Willie Obiano? Gradually Chief Obiano's swirl of good programmes outlined in a well-thought out blueprint has caught the attention of ndi Anambra like the sprouting and growth of seeds of the imagination and dreams.

A distinctive feature of Obiano's blueprint is the recognition of the foundation laid in Anambra State in the past seven years with a realistic plan to build a super structure that will take the state to greater heights. Contrast the Obiano scenario in a contest of 23 candidates on the official ballot which political pundits after the primaries, initially tagged a two-horse race between Chief Obiano of APGA, and Senator Chris Ngige on APC platform whose mantra is “I have done it before I will do it again,” without any clear direction. On the other hand, apart from a nationwide advertising campaign with high share of voice not much is expected of Dr Ifeanyi Ubah on Labour Party platform, or the PDP which had engaged in a game of musical chairs with regards to their choice of candidates until Comrade Tony Nwoye eventually emerged as their flag bearer.

Chief Willie Obiano's rise to political prominence is in keeping with the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu's envisioned roadmap for Igbo renaissance within the larger Nigerian family, using the platform of APGA, the only standing political structure that Ndigbo can lay claim to in Nigeria as their own. Thankfully, Ojukwu's confidence in Governor Peter Obi's ability to provide leadership is validated by his 5-Star performance, while the emergence of Chief Willie Obiano, a thoroughly prepared leader has re-assured Ndi Anambra of continuity in competent leadership and vision.

Chief Obiano comes with a blend of professional experience and exposure which lends to hope and believability that after all politics can be done with grace and candor by thoroughbred professionals driven by the fear of God. Obiano has not disappointed, since his presentation at the Flag Off on 7th October 2013 in Awka by the party hierarchy. He hit the ground running with a rousing speech that captured the moment and a clarion call for the preservation of past heritage, cohesion, brotherhood and unity with his fellow aspirants and a call for ndi Anambra to identify with his programmes for the sustenance of the match to greatness in the years ahead.

The Awka event was followed by another successful Flag-off at All Saints Cathedral Field in Onitsha a week later which saw a display of party unity by all APGA aspirants who queued behind Obiano at the podium. At the rally, the leader of APGA Caucus in the National Assembly and Senator representing Owerri Central Senatorial District, Imo State, Sen. Chris Anyanwu, called on ndi Anambra to return APGA to power by voting for Obiano; warning that, “if Anambra falters the rest of Igbo nation would fail.”

Even the Lagos based Anambra traders on 12th and 13th October 2013 at Alaba International, Balogun, ASPAMDA, Idumota and Berger Auto markets made sure they were not left out of the 'hurricane Willie' experience on the campaign trail when they shut their stores to express support and endorse Obiano. Subsequent campaign rallies in Onitsha on 16th October 2013 proved a triumphant return for Willie Obiano, who was humbled by the appreciation of the mammoth crowd who received him at 11 Ajasa Street Onitsha, his maternal homestead, with shouts of “Willie! Willie!

The same outpouring of emotion and support followed Obiano and APGA at the campaign stops in Ose-Okwodu, Main Market, Ochanja, and Bridge Head markets. Reports showed that various dance troupes and drummers made it a campaign carnival with some youths running and shoving amidst tight space shouting “Willie! Willie! Willie”; “Obi kerere nke” and “o mpa” o mpa,” a common refrain at every stop referring to the popular Hero brand of beer sited in Onitsha by SABMiller Breweries brought in by the APGA regime in the state.

At each stop Chief Obiano expressed emphasized that the APGA campaign was driven by a clear record of achievements by Governor Peter Obi, and that his Anambra Wheel of Development would take the State to greater heights based on four Pillars: Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Trader and Commerce, and Industrialization, which would lead to massive economic activity, industries and jobs, jobs, jobs for the people. Equally, announcements of plans to make education free at primary and secondary schools with scholarship for gifted students received spontaneous applause, even as he reiterated commitment to providing security of lives and property.

The massive support at the Onitsha rallies also played out at Nkpor during the Nzuko Imeobi, Idemili under the theme, “Ogu ide, maka odi mma Idemili,” where APGA candidate, Chief Willie Obiano and his campaign train swept the event with colour and fanfare, while the APC candidate Sen Chris Ngige was shut out by his own people from the activities marking this year's celebration of the Idemili Day; not to mention Dr Ifeanyi Ubah whose entry at the event was muted as the APGA team departed the arena.

Chief Obiano took his dominance to the Guber Debate circuit where he shone line a million stars with the ability to marshal his programmes based on realistic and believable goals. His comportment and sincerity of purpose also caught the attention of discerning observers. For instance, the Executive Director of Media Ethics and Rights Initiative, an Onitsha based media critic and responsible journalism advocacy group, Prince Ezekiel Amanambu, praised his forthrightness at the debate. Prince Amanambu concluded that the display of knowledge and humility stood Obiano out in the race for governorship of Anambra State as a leader to watch. “Even when he could not attend the Channels TV session which clashed with another critical engagement he promptly wrote and apologized for his inability to make it,” noted Amanambu.

The torrent of endorsements and groundswell of support from groups and communities for Obiano even in perceived strongholds of the opposition is so pervasive across the communities, hence the refrain 'hurricane Willie,' trails Willie Obiano and APGA's mobilization of ndi Anambra. As the count down to the final hour draws closer, attempts have been made severally by the opposition to halt Hurricane Willie, with smear campaigns and frivolous allegations to no avail. There is no doubt that the Willie Obiano phenomenon which currently reverberates across the length and breadth of Anambra State will make the difference at the polls on Saturday 16th November 2013.




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