By March 17, 2014, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State will be handing over power to another governor who will be elected presumably in November this year. And many people are asking: Who will step into the Agulu-born governor’s shoes? Who will be the next governor after Obi? Who can muster the financial base and the physical strength needed to tour every nook and cranny of the state in order to get the votes needed to win the governorship race? Quite many have so far indicated interest to vie for the exalted office. But the most intimidating of all the newbreed politicians who have so far made known their intention is Godwin Chukwunenye Ezeemo, a multi-billionaire, highly educated technocrat, unassuming philanthropist and founder of Charity Ezeemo Trust for the Less-Privileged, who hails from Umuchu in Aguata L.G.A. Fondly called ‘G.C.E’ by his admirers, Godwin has always been a winner. His life story shows how God’s winning has dotted his path from his primary school days to the moment when he indicated his interest in Anambra gubernatorial seat.
With the way the oldbreed political parties, notably APGA and PDP, in the state have fallen apart into many warring factions, the race to the Agu-Awka Government House is wide open and the seat of power obviously vacant. Political commentators have opined that it is the right candidate, rather than the old party syndrome, that matters these days. They point out that a right candidate can easily pick the ticket of any of the un-fractionalised political parties and win the race, irrespective of his senatorial zone, since Anambra is a homogeneous political entity where zoning or sectional politics is a taboo. According to them, whoever runs on the basis of zoning sloganeering has already lost half the electoral race. So far the coast is clear for Ezeemo to offer his latent talent to the service of his people, thanks to his constitutionally guaranteed rights.
One thing that endears Ezeemo to the people is his simplicity. He is humble and moderate in everything he does, despite his stupendous wealth. To add to this, for many years he has made it clear that he will not accept any chieftaincy title from any traditional ruler. He is satisfied in being addressed as Mr. Godwin Ezeemo. Also, money is one of his strengths considering that politics nowadays is a cash-and-carry business. But his greatest strength lies in his freewill philanthropic lifestyle.
Any relationship between the philanthropist and good governance, then? Well, yes. To begin with, the biblical saying that when the righteous is on the throne, the people will rejoice is made manifest in the life of an average philanthropist. Every philanthropist in political leadership is a firm believer in the twin doctrines of egalitarianism and utilitarianism. For instance, Nigerians would have benefitted from the benevolence of late MKO Abiola’s egalitarian and utilitarian governance had his mandate not been cut short by the annulment of the June 12 election. Abiola was famous for his philanthropic lifestyle before delving into politics and seeking political leadership of the country. Of recent is the popular example of Rochas Okorocha, the incumbent governor of Imo State. The name Rochas rings a bell in the ears of even the forgotten – thanks to his extra-ordinary philanthropy. Today Imo people are the better for it, having elected him as governor. Okorocha has translated his famed philanthropy into good governance – doing the right things for the greatest happiness of the greatest majority. Thus, philanthropy is a sine qua non to good governance.
Good governance itself is a process in which public institutions or leaders conduct public affairs, handle public resources and foster the security of human lives and property in a way free from corruption and decadence. The acid test for good governance is the level to which it respects the rule of law and secures human rights and justice. The other attributes of good governance are freedom from fear and want, freedom of conscience and information, responsible government, participatory democracy, transparency, accountability, full employment and human capital development, etc. All these together create manifest peace, security and social justice.
It is against this backdrop that it is worth canvassing that the search for the next governor of Anambra State should go beyond zonal tribalists, old faces, oldbreed politicians and old party syndrome. Anambra people should rather make their choice on the right character, right qualities and right pedigree of the individual candidate. A wrong individual or old decadent, tribal or zonal jingoist elected into power will definitely hijack all that good governance stands for. Anambra people should wake up from docility by electing a new face, newbreed politician who has personal integrity and philanthropic lifestyle to translate into good governance. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” John C. Maxwell, one of America’s inspirational writers, amplified this epochal speech when he wrote that power is a test of character. Truly, power in the hand of a person full of love for mankind is a tool for the enhancement of the well-being of the people and, conversely, power in the possession of a tribal and selfish person is a metaphor for mass impoverishment.
Godwin Ezeemo is a challenge as well as a chance for newest hopes and expectations of Anambra people yearning for change. A vote for Ezeemo governorship of Anambra State will bring with it the fresh dewdrops the state urgently needs to stem the tide of the years of the locusts. Today, not only is he providing succour for hundreds and thousands of the helpless through the provision of job opportunities, scholarship awards, donation of cars and buses, motorcycles, sewing machines, wheel-chairs for the disabled and cash for the needy, he is also providing free medical services to the sick and aged people in the society. There is no doubt that this is the man to replicate in Anambra come 2014 what Okorocha is doing in Imo State today. The taste of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.
Ekejiuba, an Onitsha-based human rights lawyer, is executive director, Centre for Good Governance and Peace Advocacy.
Send reactions to: