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Willie Obiano:

Giving Governance

a Human Face in

Nigeria

Truth be told; we have seen state pardons of convicts

before. But we have not heard of prisoners given

amnesty in one hand and N1m in another, to help

them repossess their lives. And that is exactly what

“Governor Willie Obiano has done.


By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)

here are poli cal leaders whose ac ons and speeches

Tlend new depths to our democra c experience; whose

body language raises the expecta on of the people.

These are leaders who have since accepted the wisdom in the

saying by Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indian independence

movement, that “the best way to find yourself is to lose

yourself in the service of others.” Since he took the oath of

office to lead Anambra State on March 17 last year, Chief Willie

Obiano has worked his way to this small tribe of leaders; the

merchants of hope.

Now, anyone who watched the joyous tears of some of the 25

th

prisoners he granted amnesty to mark Nigeria's 55

Independence anniversary on television the other day would

not consider this ar cle another praise song. Truth be told; we

have seen state pardons of convicts before. But we have not

heard of prisoners given amnesty in one hand and N1m in

another, to help them repossess their lives. And that is exactly

what Governor Willie Obiano has done. One of the prisoners

who could muster enough self-possession to express himself,

was full of praises to the governor for giving him a chance to

live again. Others were so astounded they lost use of their

tongues.

Earlier in an address to mark the Independence Anniversary,

Governor Obiano had mounted a compelling rhetoric on hope;

arguing that Nigeria is bigger than all her challenges and that

he had no doubt that the sun would rise on Nigeria someday

soon. “Although the price of oil is s ll down in the

interna onal market, our hopes shall not fall. Though

insurgents and violent criminals s ll prowl the land, our

dreams shall never die. Although we may not always agree

with each other, the basis of our union shall withstand the test

of unity,” he had declared to a rousing applause at the Alex

Ekwueme Square. He had also explained that it was along with

this new vista of hope that he had decided to give hope to

some Nigerians who needed it most by exercising his

preroga ve of mercy in gran ng amnesty to the 25 prisoners.

The only convict who could muster enough composure to talk

simply blurted, “My heart is full of joy. I cannot express it. Only

God knows how I feel.” In his fragmented speech, it was

evident that he was glad to have his life back again. And that is

what leadership at its best should do; give life back to the

people. It is not enough to preach hope. It is more profound to

GIVE hope and Willie Obiano has amply demonstrated this

with that unprecedented gesture.

Interes ngly, the independence anniversary gesture is just one

of several li le acts of kindness that have con nued to

humanize the face of Willie Obiano's leadership in Anambra

State. A few weeks earlier, Governor Obiano had touched lives

differently. He had invited the widows and survivors of the

twelve men who were slain by Boko Haram in Mubi, Taraba

State in January last year and handed scholarships to their

children. These were people who had been forgo en since

that dastardly act that plunged the whole of Adazi Nnukwu and

the en re state into mourning. But Obiano has given the

children of these innocent vic ms a second chance. He also

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