By James Eze
Fifty years from now, Thursday November 21, 2019 will be remembered as the day Anambra State began its journey to greatness. If the seed planted in the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia on that day grows to fulfill its promise, future generations will look back to it as the day Governor Willie Obiano gathered some of the brightest minds in the state and placed on their shoulders the burden of dreaming a new and prosperous Anambra into existence.
As I watched the inauguration of the team, I marvelled at the constellation of personalities on that table. I looked at Olisa Agbakoba again and again to be sure that he was the one. I looked at Oscar Onwudiwe, Emeka Eze, Patrick Okigbo III, Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu and Solomon Chukwulobelu. And I took yet another look at Agbakoba. The human rights icon has an image that towers beyond his 66 years on earth. Agbakoba’s life has been dominated by his relentless quest for a better society.
His works as the founder of Civil Liberties Organization, United Action for Democracy and a continental human rights initiative in Zambia known as Afronet reveal a restless soul whose most cherished obsession is to see improvement on the human condition. When someone like Agbakoba decides to be a part Anambra’s 50-year visioning process, we should all pay a close attention to what is going on.
Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu shot her way to limelight when she shocked the world with five secondary school girls from Onitsha at the 2018 World Technovation Contest in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco by walking away with the gold medal. Uchenna is intensely engaging and unbelievably passionate when she pursues any ideal. When Uchenna is involved in a process, we should all expect a hopeful outcome.
There are also Ikem Joseph Odumodu, former MD/CEO of May & Baker plc. who made First Class in the University of Ife, Oscar Onwudiwe; public commentator and leader of Aka Ikenga, Engr Emeka Eze who holds the unique honour of serving four different presidents of Nigeria at the highest level; leading the reform in public procurements in Nigeria and of course Patrick Okigbo III, inspiring technocrat and public policy strategist. These are just a few members of the Anambra 50-Year Development Plan whose stories I am familiar with. There are many other members whose stories we may never know but whose profundity is not in doubt.
From whichever point we choose to look at this Committee, one thing stares us in the face – most members of this eclectic group cannot be associated with failure. These people have a name to protect and a reputation to keep. They are not people who would jump into any arrangement without reflection, without a pre-emptive risk assessment.
They are far too accomplished to be driven essentially by expediency or a desire to take personal ambition a notch higher. Most of them are legends whose places in history have long been sealed. And this is why we must give them a chance.
One of the fascinating things about this Committee is the personal history of some of its members. Sometimes, the contrast between their backgrounds appears interesting in its own right.
For instance, Olisa Agbakoba has built an intimidating career in human rights advocacy and won some of the world’s most prestigious awards like the Roger Baldwin Medal for Civil Liberties and the German Association of Judges Human Rights Award.
To succeed as a human rights activist is to constantly wage wars with constituted authorities that are often in the habit of robbing people of their rights. On the other hand, Engr Emeka Ezeh holds the rare honour of serving four Nigerian presidents with distinction.
As a super-technocrat, Ezeh is an outstanding Civil Engineer who was successful in transferring the precision in engineering to the process of designing and sustaining public procurement in Nigeria.
He has worked quite successfully with several governments to entrench the global best practices in the National Development Process. The contrast between Agbakoba and Ezeh’s backgrounds speaks of the rich and diverse experiences Governor Obiano has brought together on one table.
Sadly, those who have no gift of seeing beyond the surface of things will never notice the sublime statement being made in bringing a First Class mind like Ikem Odumodu with all his experience in running a multi-national company to the same table with another First Class mind like Chukwuma Soludo with a global experience in economic planning and financial consultancy.
They are also most likely to miss what Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu’s unrivalled pursuit of excellence might spark up when it comes in contact with Patrick Okigbo’s exceptional resilience and never-say-never spirit.
Indeed, the Anambra 50-Year Development Committee is packed to the hilt with all the intellectual capital that can transform an arid landscape into a garden of blooming flowers. The cynicism of the operating environment cannot dislodge the imperatives of planning to human advancement.
Indeed, it cannot be gainsaid that in Anambra 50-Year Development Committee, Governor Willie Obiano has taken a historic step into the Anambra of our dreams and brought the future within a touching distance.
- Eze can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org