David-Chyddy Eleke writes that the intention to run for the governorship of Anambra State by Dr. Obiora Okonkwo has garnered tremendous acceptance. from monarchs in all zones of the state.
Dr Obiora Okonkwo, a Russian-trained political scientist and foremost businessman, in late 2019 made open his intention to become the governor of Anambra State, as the state gets set to conduct a governorship election to find a successor for Governor Willie Obiano. He stated during a small gathering of journalists to unveil his intention that his decision was hinged on the fact that Anambra can actually be better than what it is today if a competent hand pilots the affairs of the state.
Okonkwo stated that what also informed the decision was the deterioration being witnessed in Onitsha city, which should by now have attained the status of a mega city. He contended that in the early 80s when Onitsha was already a sprawling city, with the highest number of highrise buildings in Nigeria, and the largest market in the entire West Africa, today’s Dubai was merely a desert, with only a handful of buildings, running from one end of the city to another. He laments that today, Dubai has been transformed into a mega city, with some of the best highrise buildings in the world. Besides that, he added that Dubai has built its economy to the level where people from across the world come there to shop, and has a large market economy with influx of foreign currency.
With an emotion laden voice, Okonkwo declared, “Today, Nigerians, including Anambra people flock to Dubai, both for relaxation and to shop. So, what has changed? Why is it that Anambra which was already known for commerce with one of the biggest market in Africa, and a city like Onitsha which had already witnessed considerable development at a time when Dubai was only a desert land, turn out to be a mega city, while Onitsha has sank lower than what it was back then?
“Let me tell you the import of this scenario I just painted. What it means is that, while Dubai was being set up and struggling to grow, Onitsha was climbing down the ladder, and rapidly deteriorating. Then, let me ask you, why do you think this happened? It is simply because of leadership failure. At a time when the leaders of Dubai where working for the city to grow, our own leaders in Anambra either did not know what to do, or simply kept quiet, and watch the city deteriorate.”
Okonkwo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant has carried on with his preaching of transformation to all nooks and cranny of the state, and evidence abound that he is already raking up the support needed for the kind of contest anticipated in 2021.
A good example of the acceptance is that recently, Okonkwo who hails from Anambra Central zone was crowned jointly by all the traditional rulers of the other two zones of the state (Anambra South and Anambra North) with the highest titles of the land. Okonkwo, reacting to this said, “This is rare in the state. What is usually obtainable is one monarch, out of the 179 monarchs that represent the 179 communities, honouring one, but this one is a joint one. It is to me like acceptance, endorsement of you like.”
Okonkwo, in his native Ogidi community in Idemili North Local Government Area, which falls within Anambra Central zone holds the title of ‘Dikeora Ogidi,’ which in Igbo language translates literally as – the warrior of the entire Ogidi kingdom. But in Anambra North Senatorial zone, the entire monarchs of the area assembled at the Ofala square of Okalakwu Igbariam, the traditional ruler of Igbariam Kingdom, Igwe Kelly Nneli to bestow the title of – Ibobo, on Okonkwo. In the northern part of the state, Ibobo is known to be the highest traditional title of the people, and only few persons hold it, including Senator Victor Umeh, former national chairman of All Progressives Grand Congress (APGA).
During the event which was made very colourful, It was garlands for Okonkwo, as the host monarch, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nneli Kelly, Okalakwu Igbariam, during the breaking of the kolanut prayed extensively for Okonkwo, while also declaring that the installation of the title meant nothing more than endorsement and support for his good deeds. He said, “We have gathered for a two-day celebration of the culture of our people, and to honour a man who deserves to be honoured.” He disclosed that the joint installation of a title on an individual by all the traditional rulers of the northern senatorial zone was something that was rare. He said that the last time it happened was six years ago, and that it was happening again because of the feat Okonkwo had achieved with his philanthropic gestures in and around the state.
Besides the traditional rulers of Anambra North zone who were complete in their number, visiting monarchs also witnessed the installation, including; chairman of Anambra Central traditional rulers council, Igwe Peter Uyanwa, Ezedike Ukwulu, Igwe Alex Onyido, Ezechuamagha of Ogidi and Osuofia of Nawfia, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo among many others.
Shortly after the bestowment of the title, Okonkwo proceeded again to the Southern Senatorial zone where the traditional rulers of the state from that zone converged on the expansive Ekwulobia township stadium in Aguata local government, where again all the traditional rulers of the southern part of the state jointly bestowed the title of Ebube Mba on him. Just like that of Anambra North, the event was attended by many and had in attendance all traditional rulers of the southern senatorial zone and leadership of town union, just as coulourful masquerades entertained the crowd singing his acceptance and praise.
The day was declared open with the traditional prayers and breaking of kolanuts performed by the ageless Igwe of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Orizu, who also prayed for longevity, good health and good neighbourliness and better life for all. In his prayers, Igwe Orizu called for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. He also called on the Igbo people never to forget their cultural heritage. Done with the prayers, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, a Professor of Music and doyen of choral music in Nigeria who now sits on the stool of Oko kingdom, mounted the podium and performed the traditional cutting of the yam. ‘Ebube Mba’, the title bestowed on Okonkwo by the monarch in Igbo language means; the glory of the land.
Even though Okonkwo holds the title of Dikeora in his Idemili community which is in Anambra Central zone of the state, he also has a chieftaincy title from the joint monarchs of the area, which was earlier installed on him. He is the Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa of Anambra Central. With these installations, Okonkwo becomes one of the few people in Anambra State to have received such acclaim by the traditional institution in all three senatorial zones of the state.
Recently, he awarded scholscholarshipship to three blind students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He has also come to the aid of traders in the state who were involved in fire disaster. In Ochanja market, during the news of the tanker fire in which several lives were lost, Okonkwo did not only pledge to provide a firefighting equipment to forestall future occurrences, he also donated millions to help rehabilitate the victims. But in the fire incidence concerning Obosi Old Spare Parts Market, Okonkwo went full blast with the donation of a trailer load of cement to help in the rebuilding of the destroyed market. This gesture elicited a lot of accolades from the traders in the very densely populated market.
Recently too, Okonkwo through his Pro Value Humanity Foundation, inaugurated community service centres in all the communities of the state. His aim he said was to provide rural people the opportunity get information, referral and supportive services. He has continually impacted on the society and once confessed that his philanthropic works were not just because he was standing election but has always been in him. He rather said that standing election for a public office will only help him do what he is doing as an individual, in a much larger scale.
All of the above gestures, which have been happening in far flung parts of the state have elicited applause from the people. An applause which could be said to culminate to endorsement for Okonkwo, especially as it has become public that he is in the race to govern Anambra State. But as 2021 draws near, Okonkwo is still faced with the task of surmounting some notable personalities in the state who are also in the race for governorship ticket of the PDP, and only when the primary election have been held will one know how the gestures of Okonkwo have truly swayed their support.
The forthcoming battle in the 2021 governorship election, most pundits have accepted will not be an easy one, but besides wining the heart of the traditional institution in the state, Okonkwo is not relenting. Recently, he awarded scholarship to three blind students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He has also come to the aid of traders in the state who were involved in fire disaster. In Ochanja market, during the news of the tanker fire in which several lives were lost, Okonkwo did not only pledge to provide a firefighting equipment to forestall future occurrences