30 August 2009

Nigeria: Okonkwo Vs Obi - A Paradoxical Challenge


Lagos — Senator Annie Okonkwo, frontline Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Anambra State recently unveiled his vision and mission for what he called a New Anambra State. Charles Onyekamuo reports that his entry will surely square him against the incumbent Governor, Peter Obi, his dear friend and like-mind in a paradoxical contest

The two are identical and like-minded in several ways. They are politicians of peaceful mien and outstanding humility despite their huge business successes. But there is this saying about politics that has come to sink in the sub-consciousness of politicians. Most often, we are told that it is about permanent interests, and not enemies or friends.

An experience comes to mind concerning what happened during the Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chapter's stakeholders' summit convened by the second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme. During that event which took place at the Women Development Centre, Awka in March 2008, there was this advertorial by a section of the party dissociating itself from the summit. Senator Annie Okonkwo, Ekwueme, Chief Joseph Offiadiulu Okonkwo who spoke variously to the crowd of supporters tried to trace the genesis of the party in the state, its strides in the 1999 general elections, its failures thereafter and the way forward.

The two Okonkwos and Tony Nwoye, a former state chairman of the party, found alliance in uniting the party even as they lampooned those who found solace in insulting the second Republic Vice-President as being uncharitable.

Senator Okonkwo was to later commend his friend, the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi on the podium for the good works he has been doing through his Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS).

Weeks later, Obi himself graced, as a special guest of honour the inauguration of "Agunechemba Scholarship Scheme" at the Parktonia Hotels in Awka where he praised Senator Okonkwo for his vision in awarding scholarships to over 75 students of the state origin in various institutions of higher learning across the country, stating that it was in line with the state government's vision on education.

Okonkwo was at the tail end of last year to lead members of his Ecological Committee who toured the state's erosion sites after calling on his friend, Obi at the Government House, Awka.

Senator Okonkwo and and the Governor Obi, though from different political parties appear to have struck an understanding in working harmoniously for the common good of the people of the state. But the romance it seems may soon come to an end as Senator Okonkwo himself is challenging Obi and others for the office of the governor of Anambra State in what may look as a political paradox of sorts. An aide of the PDP governorship aspirant told THISDAY that there is nothing in it other than permanent interest. That is understandable because in modern politics, ideologies seem to have coalesced.

Ideology, be it capitalism or socialism talk about the welfare of the people as their meeting point. In Nigeria, political parties, though may have been founded on ideological principles, still share similar programmes in their manifestoes and even come together at times to talk of Government of National Unity (GNU). At such gatherings, their ideologies would be subsumed in that of the principal party in the union.

Now ahead of the 2010 governorship election in Anambra State, the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial zone has unveiled his "Change 2010: My Vision and Mission for A New Anambra" and launched a massive campaign drive for the PDP gubernatorial ticket for the governorship elections next year.

The 60-page compendium which detailed the framework of strategy and sustainable programmes for the transformation of Anambra State from 2010-2014 focuses on the economy of the state, and this is projections from a United Kingdom-based business management consultants forecasts a decline in the state's economy this year from its 6.3% in 2008 to 3.6%.

While offering himself for service, Okonkwo who unveiled his vision and mission at his campaign headquarters in Awka before a cross-section of Anambra's intelligentsia, professionals, businessmen and supporters said the bane of development in the state is an indication of the poverty of leadership which it has suffered all this while.

The Senator urged Anambra people to trust and team up with him to fix the education sector, promote commerce and tourism, develop Awka capital territory, maintain law, order, security and conflict resolution, develop human capital, motivate works in the state's civil and public services, develop such infrastructures like roads, seaports, waterways, water supply and airport, promote transparency and accountability in Public Service, industrialize and energize the state as well as ensure good health institutions, sports development and check erosion and landslides.

He said he would move Anambra State into a productive, diversified thriving economy through the stimulation of economic activities and massive employment opportunities.

Senator Okonkwo also pledged to embark on a critical public works programme of infrastructural renewal and expansion, while promoting agriculture and create the right business climate to attract sustainable investments in the state. The programme pledged to tackle the perennial power supply in Anambra State by giving priority to the sector through the proper funding of Research and Development of Science and Technology and the modernization of indigenous technology, to meet 21st century needs.

He took a hard look at the poor security presently ridiculing the state and pledged in addition to securing lives and property through what he called a systematic approach to modern crime bursting prevention strategies, embark on a regeneration of ethical and value orientation of the state especially the youth.

From all indications, Senator Okonokwo who recently inaugurated his campaign organisation committee with former House of Representatives member, Hon. Nze Chidi Duru as chairman, is poised to challenge for the governorship seat of Anambra State.

He said: "my mission is to make Anambra State the number one in terms of infrastructural development, security of lives, an investment and tourism friendly destination among others in Nigeria,".

With his proposed master plan of actions for Anambra's turn around, his political profile in the governorship contest seems to be rising such that his admirers at the event look up to him as the new face of PDP in the state as he pledged to work with honest intentions for the people of the state if given the mandate.

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