Obiano's Speech at the APGA Special National Convention
With great humility, I thank you for the challenge you have handed to me to serve this great party as your National Leader and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Most men live out their lives without ever knowing what it takes to provide leadership beyond the narrow confines of the family. I count myself lucky for all the opportunities you have given to me in the past 12 months. I have made rapid progress on the ladder of leadership and climbed several steps through ordinary membership of this great party to become a gubernatorial candidate, a governor and finally a Leader and BOT Chairman. I am eternally grateful to you all for this and I say thank you for giving me this moment.
Fellow party faithful, in choosing me to provide leadership for our great party, you have made a bold and courageous decision to move beyond the crossroads of doubt to a whole new era of hope. So, I welcome this great responsibility with a quote by the foremost African-American novelist and critic, James Baldwin who once said that “There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the time to carve a new pathway for Nigeria has finally come. Looking back into history, we are reminded that our forebears paid the most prize for the greater good of this country, championing the nationalist struggles that gave birth to political independence. Today, we begin the march to re-possess the front-row of the new struggle to remake Nigeria.
Time and time again, experience has shown that it takes only a few determined men and women to change the course of history. I am determined to provide the quality leadership that will galvanize this great party to assume the fullness of its height and set the tone for a new Nigeria. I count on your support to achieve this.
Fellow compatriots, like all political movements, APGA has gone through different stages in its life cycle. Happily, we have progressed through the dark periods of uncertainties and self-doubt into the sparkling rays of a bright new day. Today, our fundamentals are stronger and our chances are brighter. I must thank all faithful members of this movement who have evolved through moments of uncertainty to the days of hope. In an environment where loyalty is fluid, it is almost a labour of love to maintain fidelity to one political party. It is on account of this that I must ask you to stand up for a moment of silence in memory of our great leader, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, whose presence is strongly felt among us here today. I must thank other past leaders of the party who laid the foundation that we are building on today. I fully acknowledge the immense contributions of the immediate past Chairman of the BoT and my predecessor in office, the former governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Peter Obi. Although he is no more here with us, I know that he carries the spirit of APGA wherever he goes. In similar measure, I must thank the National Chairman, the titan himself; I call him Ogbunigwe, Chief Victor Umeh and his team for holding this great family together through the various spells of turbulence. We are here today because you people stood firm through the years, against all odds.
Fellow party faithful, when you look around you, you will see the handwriting on the wall. Our great party has made a grand entry into a new phase of growth. Now, more than ever before, the strength of this party lies in the quality of our membership and our common resolve to pursue progressive steps for the greatness of Nigeria. Today, our resolve is even stronger.
Under my watch, APGA shall assume its manifest destiny. We can all see this great new beginning with the emergence of Dr. Alex Otti as the gubernatorial candidate of our party in Abia State and the emergence of Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho as the standard bearer in Imo State. When I listened to the passionate speech delivered by Dr. Otti at the Aba Recreation Club last week, I knew that Ndi Abia finally have a chance to be great again. I also saw in that speech a great future for APGA and for Nigeria. With people like Otti and Iheanacho, our ship is finally ready to sail and we shall not relent until we have added neighouring states like Enugu and Ebonyi as well as other key states in the country, to this illustrious list.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have just come out of the primaries. Like all contests, there are winners and losers. But in APGA, there are actually no losers; what we have are people who have been asked to try another time. Of course there are complaints and silent protests. No electoral process supervised by man can be devoid of that. However, under my watch, APGA shall continuously strive for perfection in our electoral processes. We shall continue to evolve internally and externally.
Internally we shall improve on our fundamentals and strengthen internal democracy that will inspire loyalty to the party. Externally, we shall be more vigorous in the projection of our ideology through responsible and responsive governance. Thankfully APGA has established a worthy tradition of excellence in Anambra State. It will soon take roots in Abia and Imo States come May 29, 2015 when Otti and Iheanacho will be sworn in as governors.
Great party men and women, as we approach the election year, it should be clear to us that we must fight together and win as a team. Consequently, all complaints and protestations arising from the just concluded primaries must be settled with ease. While it is pertinent to remind you that there can only be one winner at a time, let me assure you that all genuine cases of grievance shall be given a fair hearing. We can hardly afford to carry our grievances and discontent into the coming days of intense political campaigns. All wounds must heal and heal very fast. Our internal cohesiveness is a pre-condition for victory at the polls. APGA must win the coming race together in all available elective positions across the country except the Presidency. But even so, we shall still win because we shall not only vote for President Goodluck Jonathan but we shall work to ensure that he wins the Presidential Election.
Fellow compatriots, as we prepare to enter the New Year, I urge you to hold your head up high while campaigning for APGA victory in the coming elections. As I earlier observed, our fundamentals are infinitely strong. In the last few months, we have had one or two defectors but we have absorbed thousands of defectors from other parties. The beauty of this development is that this party still retains its inner core. That is enough to build on. And that is what we have been called upon to do.
Fellow party men and women, in the coming months, we shall push for more territories for APGA. We shall go from street to street and from door to door to win new members over to the party.
As you leave this hall today to return to your various states, cities, communities and towns, take with you, the message of hope. Tell your family, your friends and your neighbours that APGA represents the change that Nigeria has been clamouring for. Tell them to join this train before it leaves the station.
Once again I leave you with the words of Michelangelo, the great Italian Renaissance man, “the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Let us keep aiming for the top of the mountain. When we miss it, we land on top of a hill.
Chief Willie Obiano
BoT Chairman of APGA
Governor, Anambra State
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