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Echoes of Anambra Guber Debate

UPP guber candidate, Osita Chidoka

By the time many of you read this, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will have either announced the winner of the November 18 governorship election, or preparing to do so. But besides this development, I have chosen to revisit the last governorship debate held on Sunday, November 12 at Emmaus House, Awka, and beamed live on Channels Television.
The debate had five combatants in the persons of the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano; former SSG, Oseloka Obaze; federal house member, Dr Tony Nwoye; industrialist and publisher, Godwin Ezeemo, and former minister, Osita Chidoka.
The Channels TV's choice of the five out of the 27 odd candidates that ran for the election, if I must tell you, only vindicated my earlier write up in which I presented the same candidates as the serious contenders and noted that any candidate who did not see their name on my list, should go home. Anyway, that's by the way.
The debate in question was an eye opener, being that it gave many of us an opportunity to know what we did not previously know about some of the candidates. Indeed, the candidates dug deep to make impressions on the watching electorate, but, alas, we all know that debates do not matter much here; a far cry from what obtains in America and Europe where those who perform very well at debates invariably win elections.
The problem here is largely because of the literacy and poverty levels. Debates here are mainly enjoyed by the elite, while poverty does not allow many people to watch such. Thus the last debate in Anambra was mainly watched by those who were informed and those who could afford either buying television sets or paying subscriptions for cable television.
Because of the afore-stated limitations, many potential voters do not get influenced by candidates' performances at debates (a very unfortunate thing if you ask me).
Watching last Sunday's debate was indeed an eye opener. As it must have done to many others, it took the veil off some of the propaganda some of the candidates had been dishing out. It also showed the hollowness of some candidates who, stopped from relying on their propaganda and hype surrounding their persons and achievements, looked like fish out of water.
While some of them floundered, and a few lived up to expectations, the debate threw up a new kid on the bloc. That kid is the United Progressives Party's candidate, Osita Chidoka; former aviation minister and corps marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.
Young, handsome, dashing and eloquent, he certainly emerged the hero of that debate, especially among the younger elements, with his compelling display of wit, confidence and brilliance.
Many who watched the programme took to twitter to hail their new hero who, according to them, only had the PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze, to contend with at the debate in terms of performance. But I am not going to talk about Obaze because many already knew him as a man of letters.
I had always known what Chidoka was made of in terms of what he dished out that night. I saw a young man full of confidence and a clear vision of where he was going. But I also sadly realised that this election wasn't for him. In a state as difficult as Anambra, it is virtually impossible for a young, politically untainted young man, to step out from the blues and win the governorship election at first attempt.
The only person to have done that was Peter Obi in 2003. Then, he took the politics of Anambra State by storm with his then novel style of campaigning. But unlike Chidoka, Obi had money to spend, being a very rich man. He also rode on the back of APGA, a party then seen by many as the new hope of Ndigbo at a time when the governor of the day, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, found it difficult to pay workers' salaries and oil the machinery of government. Hence, it was fairly easy for Obi, with his huge pocket, to make his mark.
But Chidoka doesn't have a big pocket. However what he doesn't have in money, he more than makes up in communication skills. He used his language power to wow his audience and tell the watching world that Anambra has people.
Now, even though as I wrote this, the result of the election had not yet come out, I was sure he would not win because of two factors – party and senatorial zone. Chidoka's party, UPP, could not have won the election at this material time. It lacked the strength, finance and acceptability to do so. And in a society where the so-called small parties are hardly taken seriously, Chidoka's candidacy was almost dead on arrival.
But beyond that, is the hope Chidoka brings. He must have made some people remember the late glamour politician, Chuba Okadigbo, who, since his demise, is yet to have a worthy successor, as long as his style of politicking goes. But whereas Okadigbo was wont to be rash on occasion, Chidoka looks an improvement and will only get better with time.
Now that the election has come and gone, his expected rise will be determined by how he carries himself and the steps he takes from now. If he remains focused and continues to make himself positively relevant, I'm cock sure that very soon he will realize his ambition to be governor of Anambra State, by which time his today's opponents must have well advanced in age and he, coming to the right age.
Perhaps, he should try the national assembly which elections come up soon. He is one person who is bound to be noticed and respected in the hallowed chambers of any of the federal law making houses. His ability to do well there will help him maintain his relevance and empower him physically, materially and mentally. If he takes future opportunities and packages himself well, as well as remains consistent, I can see a future governor of Anambra State in this erudite young man.
Now that Election is Over
As I noted earlier, by the time many you read this, the result of Saturday's election will have been out or about to be announced. Then will come the expected deluge of petitions by those who lost out. The petitions may be genuine or merely distracting. And this is why I'm writing this. I wish to please, please and please implore politicians to spare the state the trouble of meaningless litigations. Let only those with genuine cases approach the courts. Once their cases are genuine, they can count on my support to wage the fight all the way.
We did it in the aftermath of the 2003 election when Ngige and co robbed us, the people, blind. It took nearly three years to retrieve that stolen mandate. What Am I saying? Elections should be won free and square and not through the back door. The days of such rigging are gone and any repeat of that will have the rest of us breathing down the neck of the riggers. The heat will be such that they will regret the day they chose to rig.
However, after the dust of the election settles down, the winner will have to hit the ground running. If it is Obiano, he should learn from the mistakes that nearly threw him out and focus on governance, devoid of showmanship, nepotism, over bloated workforce and needless muscle flexing against opponents.
If it is anyone of the opposition that wins, they should not waste time gloating over their victory but should quickly get down to the serious business of governance. They should quickly begin to show us those ''wonderful'' manifestos that swayed votes in their favour. It will be the time to walk their talk and not make noise like market women.
It is not easy to serve a state. It is a very serious business and we expect those to be saddled with that for the next four years to know that. Four years is not the longest time; even eight years. So anyone who thinks they have the luxury of time had better think twice.
I will talk more on this in the next edition when a clearer picture of the winner of this election will have emerged and then, and only then, will I be able to dish some home truths to the person. For now, though, our fingers remain crossed as we await INEC to do the needful.            
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