David-Chyddy Eleke writes that Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, a businessman, an intellectual and philanthropist, who is a contender for the governorship position in the 2021 election in Anambra State is brimming with great ideas for his home state
It will take only a short conversation with Dr. Obiora Okonkwo for one to deduce that he is a sound intellectual whose ideas are out of this world. Yet he relays them with a touch of reality. As lofty as his dreams are, they also come with set plans.
Though he has not declared his intention to run for the governorship position in Anambra State, formally, many stakeholders in the state have already started tipping him for the contest, knowing that he has the capacity to move the state to a whole new level. Okonkwo admitted in a chat with our correspondent that his interest in the governorship position was still at the level of making consultations with diverse stakeholders in the state.
Okonkwo, a major stakeholder in Anambra State and a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while chatting with THISDAY gave insight into his dream for Anambra State. He said, “If you ask me, I think we are going backwards as a state. For a high flying state like Anambra, we have no reason to do so.
“We already had Onitsha main market, noted as the biggest market in West Africa at a time when Dubai was a desert. Can’t you ask yourself how come Dubai grew to have the biggest malls in the world, when we already had a market that only needed to be developed into a model, and complemented with malls, since we already had a large population of people that can feed the market?”
As magnificent as Okonkwo’s ideas are, one cannot fail to see a touch of reality in them as he also does not fail to use current realities to illustrate the future dreams he has for the state, and what could be done to achieve them. For example, Okonkwo wondered why Anambra which was in the old Anambra State, with very well planned housing estates could not develop over the years, especially after it was carved out to stand as the current Anambra State.
His thinking is inspired by the Lagos example. What used to be the greatest slum in Lagos State, Maroko, has today grown to be a high brow area of Lagos, and also serving as a residential area for elite citizens of the country. “The difference between the two is policy.” He said, “I am not saying that I am the best for Anambra State, because the best is not yet born. But I have this dream of growing the state. I feel this is the time to do it, because If I don’t do it now, posterity will never forgive me.
“I schooled outside the country. I was in Russia for my studies, and I have travelled around the world. God has also blessed me with wealth, so what else can I be seeking. As a young boy, I was a trader in Onitsha main market before I went to study abroad. The main market was already a full-fledged market then. As at that time, Dubai was still a desert, with just one road running through one end of Dubai to the other. Today, can you compare the two cities?
“By every standard that wealth is measured, I am a rich man. The two things that occupy my mind these days is how to make heaven and how to impact on my society. What will I say after now, if I had the opportunity to change the story for my people and did not do so? I want to show the people that policies of government is what moves the society forward, and I want to demonstrate it to the people.”
Okonkwo will be contesting for the position of the governor of the state for the first time when he eventually makes up his mind. It was also revealed by a source that he had the opportunity of becoming the senator representing Anambra Central zone, but despite an earlier attempt, he changed his mind, settling for the contest for the governorship of the state, convinced that it is a better position to make the changes he craves after in the society.
The businessman who hails from Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government area of the state, which falls in the central senatorial zone also spoke on a recent argument on the zoning formula in the state which favours the southern zone. He cautioned his party, the PDP to concentrate on fielding a candidate that can win back the governorship position rather than zoning it to any part of the state.
He said the state was predominantly a PDP state, and the party should rather be concerned about how to return executive power to the party, as it has been out of power for16 years now. “Zoning has never worked in the state (Anambra) before. Those who are shouting zoning now are doing so because they happen to come from a part of the state that is favoured by the argument.
“If you look carefully, you will see that there has never been a time when the zoning arrangement worked, because, if we have to zone, then we have to stop people from other zones from contesting, but that has never happened, and every politician in the zone has been contesting election when they wish, so there is no zoning in Anambra State.”
He said it was wrong to canvass zoning, just because some people have made up their mind on certain politicians who incidentally hail from the zone being favoured.
As the days draw near for the contest, Okonkwo will be faced with a motley of other aspirants in his party, the PDP, both from southern and central senatorial zone. Among those that Okonkwo will be up against in his party for the ticket are Senator Mrs Uche Ekwunife, former Aviation Minister, Mr Osita Chidoka, a business mogul, Mr Godwin Ezeemo, a House of Representatives member, Hon Chris Azubogu, among many others.
The contestants may be in their numbers, but Okonkwo believes that he stands in his own world among them all. Very cerebral, Okonwo is a man who grew from a humble beginning to an enviable status. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Russian Academy of Science Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow, and a professional fellowship doctorate from the Institute of Chattered Economists of Nigeria, among others.
His dealing with many business people and other allies have produced great testimonies about his person. Chukwuemeka Dike (PhD) of the Nigeria Immigration Service, who is a close friend of Okonkwo said, “I have known Dr. Okonkwo for about two decades. I have taken time to study him. I have also discovered so many qualities in him. An observation from a distance may give most people a skewed impression of Okonkwo as difficult, unfriendly, but when you get closer, you will be amazed at the simplicity of Dr. Obiora Okonkwo. He is simply a model and a special human being. He is a perfect gentleman who keeps his words and his promises. He is a man of vision and mission, he sets achievable targets with timelines. He ensures that targets and objectives are met to the benefit of all participants, in strict compliance to the soviet socialist principle of production; to each according to his ability and to each according to his contribution.”