By Ejike Anyaduba

He has made kings. He has also defended kings. If the intelligent among the beneficiaries of his past efforts can avail him of their counsel, and the brave exert themselves to the fullest for him, his recent quest for the Anambra central senatorial seat will be as good as won. Neither a rabid critic of his – who is quick to scorn his recent aspiration – nor an obsequious endorser – eager to see him through to the red chamber- will fault this fact.

wpid-victor-umeh-480x294.jpgChief Victor Umeh is not new to politics, both at the state and national level. He has led APGA through thick and thin and had, in the course of doing so, won as many admirers as are scorners. Whichever side an observer, the fact of his decisive leadership commends itself to popular appeal. One testimonial to his brilliant efforts was his contribution to the recently concluded National Conference. Umeh brought to national consciousness the issue of compensation for the war-ravaged southeast and South-south zones. The courage of his argument against similar proposal for the reconstruction and development of areas in the North devastated by the Boko Haram suicides opened another window into the leadership qualities of Umeh.

His argument that the case of compensation should not be treated in isolation immediately compelled discussion on the willful neglect of the Southeast zone in particular. In a more decent clime such prodigy of representation of the people should earn him immediate victory in the coming election. But this is hardly the case in Nigeria where other considerations and the manipulative drool of demagogy easily stake claim to victory. Regardless, any time activities at the Confab are reviewed the boldness of Umeh?s efforts stands out. It confers certain fondness on his name, and stands him in good stead for greater political office. Unless representation has another definition, Umeh does not need better proof of his capabilities to represent his people of Anambra central senatorial district in the red chambers.

A critical appraisal of the merits of the candidates for the election as well as pretenders will ask the question: who among the candidates has Umeh?s vibrancy and the force of argument required to give the people quality representation at the senate? Even his traducer will admit, if not in public, at least in secret, that Umeh is an excellent talker and a courageous fighter. His antecedents very easily lend credence to this. Even as some of Umeh?s opponents in this election are not new in the game, they cannot claim his touch of vibrancy on issues. The election is going to be keenly contested no doubt, and none of the candidates will go into it with anything short of knuckledusters. Umeh understands this much. He knows that campaigning for an elective office requires greater sophistication than leading a political party. He will gird his loins accordingly.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance, the party which platform Umeh seeks to actualize his dream has firmed up on a number of plans to win all its elections. Part of this plan – the decision to stand down on the presidential election and concentrate on both the senate and federal/state assembly elections ? may seem unpopular but not imprudent. Conserving rather than dissipating energy on a contest that holds little prospects for it will give the party some mileage. Already there have been a lot of defections into the party since its last national convention at Awka. To the glory of the governor and credit of Umeh, the distractions that threatened to sunder the party have been sorted out. Through suasion, the aggrieved have been brought back. Those who fled to other parties have since returned and are now working assiduously for the party?s victory. It may be fair to say that APGA is better entrenched now, and has communicated very strong desire to win decisively in a free and fair contest.

For Umeh?s opponents the election must be a difficult one. They must work very hard to outvote him, especially now certain lapses like the issue of double candidacy is being addressed. Some did argue that Umeh had not stood for an elective office. Assuming this to be true, Umeh had been involved in more serious campaigns, even if they were not for personal advancement. Umeh?s leadership of APGA was never by proxy. He did not lead from the rear. Like a war-tested general, he was always in the thicket of battles, most of which he won to the admiration of his opponents. Victory against him in the coming election is difficult to contemplate. In fact, it is remotely distant. Besides his leadership qualities, his generosity will win him more votes.

Likened to this is the recent effort by the state government to streamline political activities in the field. The issue of double candidacy which has worked for the victory of a particular party is being addressed. This will help to further the gains of APGA and the chances of Umeh. Other positive interventions of the new government in the last couple of months like the welfare of the state civil servants, evident in salary increase, provision of shuttle buses, distribution of rice, etc will redound to success. Umeh?s chances of winning the election are high. His ?victorious victor? slogan is not a pun. In fact, it signposts that Umeh, who had won in the courts and on election grounds, will win again come February 14.

Ejike Anyaduba


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