As far as Aguleri and other towns, masquerades, dance troupe amidst an ecstatic horde trudged towards a destination. The excited masquerades looking esoteric and colourful, gyrated in breath-taking theatrics, as the dance troupe kept the crowd exhilarated with its energetic dance steps with gravity-defying acrobatics. The destination became visible as the hysterical crowd mellowed. An auspicious occasion to mark the inauguration of Willie Obiano as Governor of Anambra State, captured by KASIE ABONE, was about to begin
Destination was the Ekwueme Park. The event was the inaugural ceremony of Chief Willie Obiano as the executive Governor of Anambra State.
It was time to take the oath of office. Chief Obiano mounted the podium. He was flanked by his immediate family and APGA bigwigs. Their presence sparked a huge excitement from an already animated crowd.
As early as 9 o’clock, the venue of the 12-noon programme had been filled to capacity. The state had never witnessed such a massive turn out for an inaugural ceremony. Traditional dancers, masquerades, all combined to enchant an already excited throng.
Days before, the state had witnessed a hype of activities as people from all walks of life emptied into the state capital from different parts of the world to witness the momentous event.
The excitement peaked immediately after the new Governor took the oath of office; and had read his acceptance speech. His wife, Ebelechukwu was moved into tears –she couldn’t contain her joy. And, in the most accomplished Hollywood fashion, the newly sworn-in governor turned. He reached out for Ebelechukwu’s face –wiped her tears. Then, swiftly, the governor’s lips were locked with the first lady’s, in a slow affectionate kiss. In response to this romantic display, the crowd roared in incredible exhilaration. Batteries of cameramen and horde of hands wielding mobile devices involuntarily went up for further snapshots.
Chief Victor Umeh was pleasantly elated. He just kept applauding.
Before now, no Anambra public figure was known to have openly kissed a spouse at such a grand occasion.
Speaking to ThisDay at the occasion, Chief Ziggy Azinge described the ceremony as a great day in the annals of Anambra State’s history.
“Today is a great day. A day like this has never happened in the history of the state. Anambra has never had a situation where a seating governor handed over to a successor. It has always been a form of chaos from one transition to another –either in military interventions or militant civilian intervention. It has never been a smooth transition.” “So, today, to God be the glory that an outgoing governor is handing over to an incoming governor in an atmosphere of joy, ambience and celebration. I think it’s just wonderful.”
He added that Obiano was standing on the shoulder of a giant and was expected to “rise higher and higher and exceed whatever Obi (his predecessor) has done. Peter Obi has laid a solid foundation. But, there is still much work to be done”.
Chief Umeh, visibly ecstatic said the inauguration of Chief Obiano as the new Governor of Anambra was a “very historic moment” for the state and its people.
“We have done what people thought was impossible. We have redefined governance in Anambra State. We have met the mandate of the people for eight years and they have renewed the mandate for us. We have started a journey for another eight years today. What we will assure our people is that what made Obi’s government to succeed will still be available for Obiano to succeed. We will give him unfettered support. He will have opportunities to take decisions to drive his policies,” the APGA chairman disclosed.
Also speaking, Hon. I. Bernard, a counsellor representing Anambra East Ward 2 who led a dancing troupe from Aguleri –Obiano’s town –to Ekwueme Park, described the swearing-in ceremony as a great day of honour for Ifite-Aguleri people. He said Aguleri people will support Obiano both spiritually and physically to ensure he succeeds.
To the now erstwhile governor Peter Obi, it was a mission accomplished. The ovation trailing him was very loud. Understandably, he seemed the happiest man at the occasion. Earlier, in an emotion ladden farewell speech, he urged Ndi Anambra to pray for Obiano and not criticise him negatively.
“When I was sworn in as governor I had no lodge; I had no Government House. I came with my car and I am leaving with my car. From here, Obiano is driving to Governor’s Office in bullet-proof car. I’m leaving and my job is finished. Anambra has returned to what it used to be. I am going back to my house. Today, we can look round and say we have a state. We have schools.”
Anambra State is the most financially viable state in the federation, according to Peter Obi. He mentioned that the state had purchased bonds from all other states.
He reassured the throng at the Ekwueme Centre: “We (Anambra State) are not indebted to anybody. The states owe us. We do not owe them. My appeal is that you should remember Obiano in your prayer; show him love and support; don’t pull him down.”
And to Obiano, Obi had just one request: “Your agreement is with the children of Anambra State. Give them a better future. Give them a better Anambra and it will be well with you.”
The former governor of Anambra State Obi made history, when on assumption of office, he became the first governor of the state to govern with his wife by his side. Obi left no one in doubt of his wife’s place in his heart –and his undying love for his family. He spoke glowingly of her at public functions when the need arose. Little wonder the women of easy virtue kept a safe distance from the state’s Government House throughout his eight-year tenure.
Despite the allure of his amiable wife, Obi was not known to have expressed public affection to her. For observers, this aspect was not surprising as it is not in the character of a typical Igbo man to show his wife love in public.
However, it’s on record that before the coming of Peter Obi as governor of Anambra State, no other governor had presided over the state with their families intact. Senator Jim Nwobodo, the governor of old Anambra state was “wifeless” when he assumed office as the number one citizen. His estranged wife, Mukosolu, was alleged to have been forced out of her matrimonial home due to the imperious influence of Jim’s mother. His wife Pat was a later addition during his reign. Other succeeding governors were either married but single, or married but kept their wives in the kitchen; others were either randy or notorious wife beaters. In all these cases, it was convenient for these men to keep their wives in the closet.
Due to the absence of their wives, that Scriptural “good thing” which he who finds a wife enjoys, understandably, eluded these “Governors without Wives” while in office. The factor contributed in no small measure in throwing Anambra into anarchy and darkness as immorality reigned in the seat of power.
At a private chat last year, the erstwhile Anambra’s first lady, Margaret Obi, had said that her job was to take care of the home. She provided that stability that ensured Obi’s ability to spread development projects across the state. With no office as first lady, the former governor’s wife still charmed Anambra people with her grace, disarming smile, love and empathy across the 177 communities in the state.
By that public kissing at the auspicious inaugural ceremony, the new governor Willie Obiano had sent out a final warning that never again will the seat of power in Anambra State be –overtly or covertly –a red-light district.