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Victor Umeh: A View From The Outside.

Again, Cross River State born James Atah hits the bull's eye with this gripping piece on Chief Victor Umeh, Ohamadike Ndigbo!

Victor Umeh; The very symbol of consistency and stability. Not qualities you would naturally associate with a career politician. But Umeh is different; a man used to raising his hands in triumph, he brings rare certainty and predictability to bear on a game rife with uncertainties. His supporters are the most relaxed and confident, every time he steps into the arena, he leaves his opponents with the smoldering end of the stick. In the final countdown to last year’s gubernatorial polls in Anambra, he popped out of a long break to halt a frightening slide in the fortunes of APGA and proceeded to a sweeping win as campaign DG for Governor Willie Obiano. Over the years, at the ballot box and in various courts and election tribunals, he has proven to be an impenetrable fortress against the underhand tactics of desperate opponents.

Now he is back in the running for a rescheduled senatorial election in Anambra Central and the outcome is already evident. He is on familiar turf. Two months ago, he swept the rug off the feet of more formidable opposition in what turned out to be a local derby between him and former governor Peter Obi. Unassuming, zestful and boisterous, he makes a meal of his opponents without trying. He lives in a flush of confidence and walks with the sure footed gait of a man with the secret codes to a baffling puzzle.

This secret code is lost on his opponents. But it is all too clear to the good people of Anambra. They will turn out in large numbers to vote for him this Saturday because he is the most enduring symbol of the party that has brought them so much good. He is their man. He gave them two largely successful governors under the auspices of APGA. And when one former governor became a turncoat, he ensured the party survived his antics and preserved the revered memory of the late icon of the party, the Ikemba of Nnewi. His ability to rise above self in the interest of common good prompted the ruling elite in the state to suspend all partisan inclinations as they shunned party lines in solidarity with Victor Umeh and his rallying cry for the good of the state in the re-election of Willie Obiano.

It is easy to trust him. His commitment to the good of the state is beyond question. To define Victor Umeh within the narrow lens of a single political party is to diminish the indefinable genius of the mind behind everything that has gone right with Anambra in the last twelve years, politically speaking. It will make for fruitless endeavor to attempt a positive appraisal of the political and economic evolution of Anambra in the last dozen years without acknowledging his singular role as the compass needle of the political edifice that has birthed this grand reality.

His desire to move to the federal legislative chambers on Saturday is only a master stroke that will garnish the political capital of Anambra at the center. He is Anambra’s best political ambassador and would make for its greatest political export since the brilliant cast of the first republic led by the great Zik.

His large heart and sense of accommodation are beyond compare. On new year’s day, I pulled into the parking lot of his Aguluzigbo country home in the good company of James Eze, the SSA Media to the governor and Chinelo Anwunah, the distinguished MD of Nelo-Grant media to share some precious moments of new year delight with Ohamadike . But we were shocked to find the parking lot, the size of a golf course, filled with cars.

Before we could recover from the shock of the number of cars in the lot, we were soon swallowed by the swirling crowd making merry inside the huge bowels of his sprawling courtyard. Food and drinks were served by professional waiters whilst a live band kept the atmosphere charged with high-life music and contemporary Naija beats. Nuns, politicians, local farmers, top government functionaries, outsiders and first time visitors like me mingled freely and were treated with equal warmth and welcome. When Ohamadike walked in from the local sports ground where he had gone to handover trophies in a local football game, he greeted most of the people by name.

His smiles and handshakes were genuine and warm. He was one with the people, a down to earth grass roots man with no airs and no sense of entitlement. Before we left, we talked a bit about the election which was barely a fortnight away and it was difficult to spot a single air of anxiety in his demeanor. As we struggled to pull out of the parking lot, it was clear that he had done his job and the people as usual will do theirs on Saturday, but like Chinelo Anwunah exclaimed, we all wondered if the celebrations had not come two weeks early!

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