RACE FOR DOUGLAS HOUSE
NDUKA NWOSU asserts that Martin Agbaso of Labour Party has what it takes to fight the battle ahead
in June 2022 when Ochudo Martin Agbaso donated his campaign office to the Labour Party in Owerri Imo State, this writer wrote an article titled: “Obi and the Nigerian Spring,” arguing that Nigeria’s revolution, like those of Czechoslovakia-the Prague Spring and the Arab world-Arab Spring has arrived, adding that the change we had been clamouring for would come through our PVCs, not by armed insurrection.
About the same time, a woman from the bottom of the pyramid in faraway Sabongida-Ora in Edo State, donated her shop to the Peter Obi Campaign Organisation, a reminder of the Biblical widow’s mite. Both Agbaso and the Sabongida-Ora Obedient disciple had early in the day identified themselves as precursors of a worthy cause.
Agbaso has always been at the forefront of positive change anyway; his involvement with the Obidient Movement, the Unite Nigeria Group (UNG), which he had convened sometime in 2021, and the Labour Party, was the result of a thought process, a mindset waiting to happen. I was therefore surprised to read Dr. Chigozie Oparanozie’s recent article (not published on THISDAY) with the headline: Imo 2023: “Martin Agbaso is Bad News for LP.”
Oparanozie’s hatchet man’s assault was short of critical respect for a man who has contributed in many ways to the growth of Imo State and the service of humanity. The son of Chief Nathan and Mrs. Anna Agbaso and beloved husband of the American born, Igbo speaking Robin Agbaso, his biographer painstakingly noted that his parents imparted in him, Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity. “These virtues later became the defining character of the man whose life is simply a treatise in compassion, and flexibility.” Therefore, Oparanozie’s sweeping resume of a man he does not know left a sour grape in the mouth.
Oparanozie and his sponsors made a determined attempt to whitewash a sterling political track record coming all the way from college politics whether at the famous Catholic Pontifical University in Rome Italy, or to the equally prestigious State University of New York, down to the fatherland, under the National Republican Convention (NRC) where he contested as a Senator and won in 1992, and the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) under which platform in 1998 he clinched the Senatorial seat of Owerri Federal Constituency.
For the records, Agbaso won the 2007 Imo Governorship election under the platform of the All-Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), but his victory was annulled in broad daylight, on a day he was about to be officially given his mandate. This happened in an election where all other candidates of the State House of Assembly who were voted for at the same time and place by the same people who voted for Agbaso, had their results endorsed and that of the Governorship annulled because of an imaginary inclement weather that did not affect the other candidates’ results.
Agbaso has the gift of seeing beyond the ordinary, always identifying with men and women whose political perception moves in the direction of positive change for society. He has boldly challenged all negative forces that impede society’s progress and cannot be blackmailed to the contrary. He remains a man of capacity and integrity.
In 2011 Agbaso keenly contested the APGA Governorship ticket when the APGA ticket was up for sale by some top hierarchy of the party. Okorocha offered a hand of fellowship to Agbaso after grabbing the ticket. Agbaso, using his APGA machine in Imo, vigorously campaigned for him, ensuring his victory. Okorocha later decamped to APC and the rest is history with the big frame up and impeachment of the Deputy Governor Jude Agbaso.
Agbaso has gone ahead to keep the APGA structure intact, a structure that has followed him to the Labour Party.
Oparanozie was querying the source of Agbaso’s wealth. How can anyone query the source of Agbaso’s wealth? For discerning minds, Agbaso’s employment in 1983 at the world-renowned Prudential Inc, a financial derivative and strategic investment management organisation, and subsequentadmission in 1985 to the famousNew York Stock Exchange, signaled the emergence of a man with a mission. Since then, he has not disappointed going ahead to be admitted as a member of the Million-Dollar Roundtable on Interest Sensitive Products at Prudential Inc and member Commodity Improviser of New York in 1987.
Back home in 1992 Agbaso founded Agad Nigeria Limited, a worldwide stocks and commodities monitoring company through which he brought to bear his years of experience as a stock, insurance, and commodity broker.
He is the Executive Chairman of Sud Riva Limited, a company that is a major player in the construction sector, oil and gas, and marine ropes, employing over 623 Nigerians. Agbaso, a homeboy, has provided jobs for many more people through his large-scale agricultural scheme in his Emekuku community. He has over the years proved to be adept in the art of creativity, and getting adequately rewarded, maximising every opportunity that comes his way while keeping his robust goodwill intact.
The New York based Nathan Drycleaning Shop is a franchise he runs with his wife Robin. Today Nathan Drycleaners is a household brand in many state capitals of the country complemented by a winery whose plant is based in South Africa. So, who has a problem with that?
Truth be told, Oparanozie seems to be a front, a PR panel beater for some people infiltrated into the Imo State Labour Party by those threatened by the growing influence of the party, its strong and tested leader and governorship hopeful. The battle ahead goes beyond being bogged down by the activities of political hired guns, rookies and fifth columnists acting as spoilers in a terrain littered with booby traps, which only an Agbaso at this time can withstand, navigate, and close the war, with a victory beagle booming in the firmament.
Last year, some character assassination-oriented merchants made insinuations that linked Agbaso to activities standing against the interests of his principal Peter Obi, leaving the impression Agbaso was a mole planted by Uzodinma in the Labour Party. Of course, such characterisation was swept inside the gutter, and deposited in the garbage bin of history. It was a figment of the imagination designed to distract the onward sail of the Obidient Movement. I hope Oparanozie by his action in bringing up this issue, is not creating an image that does him no good.
As President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Ecology between 2001 and 2004, Agbaso had nothing to do with the Ecology Fund of Lagos Stats as Oparanozie insinuated. Besides Agbaso has only made a bid for the Imo Gubernatorial ticket twice and the third will be on the ticket of the Labour Party. Oparanozie should ask the previous occupants of that prestigious position of CEO of Imo State, how many times such contest took place before Father Success came their way.
As we go into the Imo Labour Party primaries come April, and the November Guber election, we are faced with two choices, to vote those who have brought our country, Imo State in this context, to its precipice and about to bury it, those that have ruined this country through prebendalism and rent seeking, vote for a candidate whose record till date, would signal a futuristic foreboding for the state or a candidate who has what it takes to turnaround the fortunes of Imo State to where it ought to be.
This is the mantra of the moment as we proceed to redeem the soul of Imo State. Martin Agbaso, businessman, political strategist, Labour Party chieftain, an investment expert and economist with varied backgrounds in banking, finance, and capital market trading, is the man.
Described as a man of considerable cerebral content with alluring humility, Agbaso was once quoted to have said: “I am driven by a passion to put our people back to work, restore the middle-class structure, give impetus to both investor and customer confidence, and stabilise the naira while pushing up export and discouraging import.”
A social and liberal philosopher king, Agbaso has come a long way with the leader of the Labour Party Peter Obi whose ideals of governance are in sync with his. He will lead Imo State by the liberal ideals of Labour, having scaled the April primaries, preparatory for the November 11 Imo Governorship election and by God’s grace, is elected as the next occupant of Douglas House Owerri.
Nwosu is a former Deputy Editor of THISDAY Newspaper