I got into town last week and decided to meet up with my old time friends. Customarily, we would sit round some mouth-watering delicacies and have sound discussions about the general state of things.
One very good thing I love about my circle is that almost everybody has their special and unique niche when it comes to gist and gossips, so one is always almost sure of a deliciously prepared and well served balanced diet of stories and happenings in town whenever we gather.
Everything was going smoothly until Ebuka asked me why I strongly support Mr Valentine Ozigbo in his gubernatorial ambition.
“You of all people should know that he does not stand a chance to win the election because he does not have any experience”, he said.
I didn’t reply him immediately because I was waiting to hear more. I needed him to give me several other reasons why he thinks Mr Val is unfit to be a governor. Unfortunately, none was forthcoming. Like one that is about to drown in a deep ocean, he clutched fiercely on to that one feeble stick of hope, that experience is needed for one to be a governor. Finally, I realized that just like so many others before him, he had nothing much again to say.
There is a popular Igbo maxim that said ‘onye na ada ada na ejide ihe aka wee na ada’; people will always look for something to hold onto when they are crashing. So for them in the other side of the political divide, their only means of assuaging the nightmare they are having about Mr Val and his victory at the polls is to say that he doesn’t have experience.
I was expecting him to say that Mr Val is dull, ignorant and unintelligent, that he doesn’t have any academic qualifications or the human management skills to lead and govern. I wouldn’t have had any solid defence if he had pointed out to me instances where Mr Val has failed in his duties, accused of dubious practices or convicted for any criminal act.
But no, all he said was that he doesn’t have experience. Specifically speaking, he doesn’t have political experience.
As a careful observer of the Nigerian political ecosystem, I can confidently assert that whenever Nigerians talk about having experience in politics, they are referring to one having a godfather who controls him and tells him what to do and not do. They are taking experience to mean knowing how to lie and deceive the masses, how to steal, embezzle and misappropriate public funds for private use.
What they see as experience is synonymous with lavish and frivolous lifestyle funded by the tax payer’s money, medical tourism and overseas trips. For my friend Ebuka and others who think like him, political experience means knowing how to carefully separate themselves from the sufferings of the masses, cruising town with bullet proof and armoured vehicles while insecurity ravages the state, being able to afford diesel for 24 hours power supply in their numerous mansions while the poor masses are subjected to perpetual blackout.
Experience for them means knowing how to wriggle themselves out of any consequences of breaking laws and order, how to remain untouchable and not held accountable no matter the gravity of their offences.
These are the kind of experiences they say Mr Val does not have. And yes, he truly DOESN’T have such horrible experiences.
But the bigger question which they have all failed to acknowledge is still here staring us all in the face. Is this the kind of experience ndi Anambra want their next governor to have?
Your answer is as good as mine.
Now more than ever, Anambra state needs someone who is experienced in the dynamics of economics, international trades and diplomacy. We need a governor who has worked with different kinds of people, managed both human and material resources effectively with a proven track record of success and excellence. The next governor of Anambra state should be someone who has experienced life in Anambra state as a young child, known poverty, seen the real challenges of being born in the rural settlements without societal privileges. We need someone who grew through these challenges and by dedication and hard work has achieved tremendous personal success.
As someone born and brought up in a low class modest home, little Valentine learnt contentment, honesty and integrity while growing up. As the son of a village headmaster in the good old days, he was brought up with the fear of God and love for humanity. He took these characters to heart, grew up with them and has since applied them religiously in his dealings throughout his career in the private sector. Whenever I come across someone who has had a personal encounter with Val, they always have one thing in common to say about him.
“That man is so humble, calm and soft spoken, he doesn’t have this arrogant attitude that most Nigerian politicians are known with”.
Of course, my favourite Igbo adage says that ‘anaghi amuta aka ekpe na nka’ loosely translated to mean that one cannot learn to use the left hand at old age. Val was raised right as a growing child. Seeing him today, one can dare to say that his parents and his ‘chi’ specially prepared him for this race a long time ago by exposing him to the needed character formation befitting of an amiable public servant.
Valentine Ozigbo’s track record in the banking sector has overtime remained a feat yet to be unmatched. An award winning accountant and tax expert, he has cognate experience garnered throughout the different positions he occupied in the banking industry. Mr Ozigbo went into the banking sector as fresh graduate full of zeal and passion to contribute meaningfully. Like the gold fish that cannot hide in water, the sterling contributions of Mr Val didn’t go unnoticed. He rose so fast in his banking career, so much so that by the time he was leaving the industry after a meritorious seventeen years, he already occupied highest position of a general manager.
His experience was put to test immediately after leaving the bank upon resumption as the President and group CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), one of Africa’s largest conglomerates with operations in power, hospitality, agriculture, oil, and gas, etc. Like the champion that he is, Val recorded tremendous achievements at Transcorp and even exceeded the expectations of those who thought he couldn’t get the job done.
Wherever he goes, all he does is win no matter what!
If these qualifications and experiences are not needed in the making of a governor, then I will have to ask my good friend Ebuka and by extension the good people of Anambra state; what exactly do you want from your next governor?
Those who champion the ‘experience’ mantra are not necessarily doing so in the interest of the masses. If truly leadership means service to them, then they should also understand that the call to serve is one that has a time-frame. When you have given your service, you give way for others to contribute as well. There is definitely no need going back to pick from the thrash for reuse when there are fresh choices waiting to be made.
If experience is all that is needed to become a governor, then I have it on good authority that Mr Val is very much qualified to run and capable to govern. Since experience is not all that matters, he is also bringing character, competence, and capacity to the race.
He has done it before; he will do it again, this time in Anambra state!
CJ Ubaka tweets from @CJ_Ubaka
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.