In this piece, EHIME ALEX writes on Akpokuedike, a book on Obiano’s achievements, which was launched recently
On March 17, 2022, Chief Willie Obiano, after completing his eight-year stint as governor of Anambra State, Nigeria, handed over the reins of power to former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. For sometime, Obiano, known as Akpokuedike (calling on a strongman/warrior), may be behind the scenes, politically, if he resists the fad of seeing the Senate as retirement benefit. That is, if his people did not recall him, as his name depicts, to rescue them politically.
For many Nigerians, especially the Igbo, who do not know former Governor Obiano with the Akpokuedike title, the book written in his honour has brought that to the limelight.
Written by Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director of Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, Akpokuedike – Duty Call in Anambra chronicles the achievements of Obiano. Call it a tribute or special ‘thank you’ gift to Obiano.
Attended by the crème-la-de-crème of society, among them top government officials, industrialists and academia, the book launch coincided with a ceremony to mark the end of Obiano’s tenure as governor of Anambra.
The immediate past governor was, no doubt, elated by Chioke’s gesture of writing a book in his honour.
“It is with great pleasure and gratitude to God that I am unveiling the book written on my administration by a very famous industrialist and financial guru, Ike Chioke,” Obiano said at the launch.
Chioke’s enthusiasm in writing Akpokuedike started in 2021 followed a closer rapport with Obiano. The author had met Obiano in 2004 during the banking sector consolidation by the Central Bank of Nigeria. At that time, Obiano was Executive Director at Fidelity Bank, while Chioke was the Managing Director of Afrinvest. Their relationship, then, was simply on a professional level. It became cordial in 2013, when Obiano revealed his intention to run for the gubernatorial seat in Anambra State on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance. He was quick to beckon Chioke to help develop an economic blueprint that served as his manifesto for the governorship race, and later formed the bedrock of his administration. Eight years later, Chioke could put together the achievements of that administration in Akpokuedike.
In 2021, while Obiano was wrapping up his administration, Chioke told Obiano of his intention to write a book about him. According to Chioke, having learnt a lot working with Obiano, the thought of writing the book came knocking in his heart.
Hear Chioke, “In my business, we talk about public-private partnership, raising capital and attracting investors. But when you come on the ground, you meet what is called quicksand. You could easily be swallowed by the challenges on the ground, for you to implement your vision.
“But working with Obiano, I learned valued-lessons of how you implement an idea and move it into action. So, that was what led to the thinking of writing the book.”
With a team of about 30 people flying into Awka to interview almost everyone associating with Obiano, Chioke has built a “multidimensional picture of the subject”, whilst producing a book whose “information was consistent, complete and not misleading.”
A storybook, Akpokuedike chronicles Obiano’s achievements in the eight years as Anambra governor. Chioke contextualised, “Akpokuedike is a storybook about Obiano and Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency,” a sort of clinical report of ANSIPPA, the signature institutional infrastructure of Obiano.
It narrates the story of Obiano from his Aguleri ancestry, the orientation he got from his headmaster father, his career at Texaco, First Bank and Fidelity Bank before becoming Anambra governor.
The book alsocatalogues the experience of Obiano, who could rightly be called a banker-turned politician, and how he had to deal with the many practical issues of governance such as insecurity, politics, poverty, religion and ethnicity in his eight years in office.
Akpokuedike is written to document history. The author, a prince of Obioma Kingdom in Enugu State, affirms, “Akpokuedike is now on Amazon, so the book has become part of history because you can use it as a research piece to understand Obiano’s intervention in Anambra over the last eight years.”
It is also about acknowledging the impact of someone, who has served the nation, he added. “It is not a political book about praise-singing or anything; it is just a book documenting history in a candid and, in my view, entertaining manner.”
Akpokuedike will serve as a reference material in years to come, said Prof Osita Ogbu, who reviewed the book. A professor of Economics and Director, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ogbu summarised Akpokuedike as not just an ordinary biography of Obiano but also of his leadership in the past eight years.
“I am certain that the author did not realise that the book he has authored about Obiano will be a reference book on political recruitment, inclusive governance, loyalty and political fidelity, empathic and result-oriented leadership as well as talent hunt for political positions,” the don pointed out.
According to him, the author has painstakingly painted a balanced portrait of the man, Obiano; his antecedents, character, professionalism and devotion to family and church.
“It is also a story about love, triumph over adversity and God’s faithfulness to those that wholeheartedly trust in him,” he added.
Challenges and fear
Beside the rigorous exercise in penning down and painstakingly ensuring that information gathered is well articulated and grammatically structured, Chioke had other challenges while writing the book. In September 2021, when the first manuscript was ready, Chioke was compelled to put the publishing on hold to allow for the governorship election in Anambra to be concluded.
“I insisted that we must watch, wait and see the result of that election because a leader is not successful if he did not achieve the appropriate transition he wanted,” Chioke said. “Once that election was concluded, we added the 15th chapter of the book.”
Related to the challenges, the author is worried about Nigerians’ reading culture. “Sadly, the biggest challenge in Nigeria is that we actually do not read enough these days. The phone, other digital devices and social media have overtaken the lives of many young men and women that they hardly read books,” Chioke feared.
I have been part of his government in the past eight years, the Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, said of Obiano. “He has ruled Anambra State successfully for the past eight years, He came prepared. An accountant of world-class and international auditing standing for that matter.”
Achebe, who was the royal father of the day at the book launch, noted that Obiano brought his professional experience to bear in administering Anambra.
“What is the purpose of governance, if not to improve the wellbeing of the people? Obiano set about doing that and has achieved it,” he said. “We have to give it to him because he always achieves projects on time, budget and specification. His legacy is unquestionable.”
Little doubt that his administration transformed Anambra in a very important respect, said former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
Anyaoku said he has had the pleasure of reading the synopsis of the book, and everything he read confirms his personal view and knowledge of Obiano.
“His sense of mission, his vision, even before he got to the Government House in Awka, Obiano must be one of the most prepared leaders our country has ever had,” said Anyaoku. “And when I say prepared leader, I will like to reflect what Ogbu mentioned about one of the important lessons from the book – the lesson of how to choose and how to prepare for office.
“We have comments about the security, infrastructure and indeed we have the pleasure of seating in this building, which, as we were told and I believe, could be fitted in any pars of the world. Willie Obiano is leaving behind a legacy that will continue to serve the people of this state for many years to come.
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