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November 18 and Thereafter

Well, well, well, who could have expected it? Obiano's victory came like a Tsunami. Not even the most optimistic of Obiano's supporters could have seen the almighty storm gathering, despite what they may be claiming now. Indeed, what many expected to be the most closely fought election, turned out to be a no-contest. And by ''no-contest'', I'm just watering it down. Not even the combined forces of Abuja and those of erstwhile Anambra governor, Peter Obi, could stop the Obiano blitzkrieg! Blitzkrieg is what the Germans referred to as a lightning attack in World War 11. They deployed this strategy to the fullest in that war. It was used to sweep the enemies of the defunct Third Reich out of their feet, so that before they knew what was happening, the German Army had overrun them.
From Nsugbe through Obosi and Agulu to Ogbaru, the story was the same: Obiano's rampant army had overrun the opposition. How did he do it? How come all the opponents lost in their home base? Why was the gap very wide? Questions, questions, and more questions. But I guess only Obiano can tell us how he wrought this humongous feat. But this is not taking anything away from Obiano's victory. There is no doubt that he was the popular choice of the electorate. He rode on people's power to victory. It's as simple as that. Congratulations to him.
Perhaps, what he once told us at the Govenor's Lodge when he hosted us media people, had come into play. That day, he had likened himself to a visioner, saying that people might mistake him for a mad man whenever he kept silent and stared into space. To him, at such times, he was seeing what others were not seeing and if what he was seeing was good and elicited smiles or laughter from him, people near him might think him mad.
Who knows? Obiano might have seen what others didn't see and while they were lashing out at him from left, right and centre, he kept his cool and focused only on what he was secretly seeing.
But then, hostilities are over. The war has been won and lost, but no captives have been taken as Obiano is waving an olive branch. The warriors have also decided to put down their guns and embrace peace; a win-win situation for the state, if you ask me.
From my observations though, during the election, I dare say that a worrisome trend has just been born. Granted that money had always played a part in previous elections, this time around, it was very pronounced to such an extent that parties without money could as well have stayed home.
At many polling units, people voted and showed their ballot papers to parties of their choice whose agents took note and reciprocated accordingly by giving out money. Such monies ranged from three thousand to five; and in some cases, seven thousand, depending on the financial muscle of the party or on the integrity of the agents, some of who pocketed half and gave out only half.
But the amazing thing was that most of these ''transactions'' took place in the full glare of police officers on duty. Perhaps, they had their own deal.
It was Osita Chidoka, the candidate of United Progressive Party, UPP, who complained about the monetized nature of the election. According to him, the biggest spenders won.
Well, he may be right, but I will want to point out that virtually all the major parties were guilty of this act. So if the biggest spender won, it means little to me.
However, as I noted, this emergent trend is worrisome. It means that a benchmark has been set and there could possibly not be any going back. In future elections, candidates had better be ready to source funds or be damned. If you are not an incumbent, then be ready to rob all the banks in your state to raise funds. It is just not encouraging. People were even reported to have voted against their parties because of monetary inducement. To them, ''cash for hand better pass promise''.
But all that is now in the past. The people have got their wish and the losers have congratulated the winner and life will go on, no doubt.
But as Obiano begins his journey to the second half of his stewardship here, it behoves some of us who can say so, to warn him that the task before him will not be easy. Oh yes, he may have secured his final term in which he can do as he likes, so long as the state legislature is behind him, but then he should learn from his predecessor's experience now.
At a time, Obi was untouchable, despite being virtually a one man force. His concern was mainly with governance without caring a lot about what people here refer to as ''human infrastructure development''. This neglect was what had come back to haunt Peter in this last election.
It was his disposition to neglect that aspect that made him unable to influence who succeeded him despite staying eight years in power. Granted that he did shore up Oseloka Obaze as his successor then, it was a bit too late in coming. Besides, he did not have enough hold on the party machinery to make that work; hence the disqualification of Obaze and others by Victor Umeh's panel. This led to the hasty choice of Obiano to fill the vacuum. The rest of what played out is now history.
Today, Obiano has succeeded in knocking out all his major opposition with one solid punch. The coast is clear for him as the new big boss in town. Indeed, everything is panning out well for him. Those politicians whose time had expired, but whose careers he resurrected by wooing them over to his side are ready to do anything for him now; at least for as long he dangles the carrot stick before them.
He should be very wary of these people for they were the problems of the state in the recent past. These people have no other business but politics. They were kept at bay by Obi after they nearly messed up Chris Ngige. These people won't mind sleeping as maiguards at the entrance to Aguleri as long as they have something to gain. But they are baaaad, as some people will say.
Their support for Obiano today isn't because they love him or care for him. They support him simply for their selfish interest. They have eyes either on what he will continue to drop, or on becoming the next governor or power brokers in the state. Indeed, things will begin to heat up two years into Obiano's second tenure. That's when they will begin to find out if Obiano favours them as successors or not. That will bring its own problems and confusion, no doubt.
For Obiano to weather that storm when it comes, he has to strengthen his hold on the party structure from this moment. Let it not be that he only oils the machinery of the party when it is close to an election.
Yes, he may no longer be contesting, but he needs a conducive environment here so that any time he comes home, it will be to a warm reception. If not, he will become a pariah in his own state, and no ex-leader wants that. If he does well now, he will continue to call the shots and pull the strings even from outside government, the same way Tinubu does, or used to do, in Lagos. Life after power can be funny; even tough. Those who sing your praise today and eat from your table will very quickly abandon you to your fate the moment you cease to exercise power.
The first people to do this are the traditional rulers, men of God, the so-called stakeholders and past appointees. Such is life. Past governors can tell you that. You are popular for as long as you are relevant. Lose that, and you wonder what has gone wrong.
Obiano will do well by therefore solidifying his support base and empowering those who can add value to him and his government. He has to work with and invest in those he can trust; not fair weather people. And such people will have to come from other places outside Aguleri, unless he prefers to be a local hero in the future.
Above all, he should build bridges, rather than make more enemies. He should carry along, all those who lost, in some way. Obi did not do it when he had the golden opportunity. I remember the time he was being sworn in at Ekwueme Square for his second term. Some of those he defeated, including Alex Obiogbolu, mounted the podium with him in solidarity. I bet if he had really carried them along, many of those who opposed him today would not have done so. At that time, Obi might have felt he was into his last term and so would not be compelled to stick with them. But see how history works? In the just concluded election, he did everything to remain relevant by having his favoured man elected. It didn't work.
This is a lesson Obiano should learn. Leaving office is one thing; remaining relevant is another. It is even more important. But that is not diminishing Obi for he remains, as at now, the best governor we have had. Obiano has four years more to beat that record.
As the dust settles on the November 18 poll, I will be watching and reacting. But for now, I join others in saying, ''Congrats, Obiano''.                  

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