By Marcel Manafa
Dateline 1986 – Irone Street, Aguda, Lagos
He walked into his small parlour, with a swaggering saunter, his left hand in his trouser pocket. Music, with moderate decibel, dished out from the small sound system. Three close friends and I were complimenting the sweet groove with bottles of beer.
‘Marcy, ibiago’ (have you come)?
‘Willie, iga ejikwa egwu gbuo madu ebaa (you will kill somebody with music here o).
He immediately stopped the music, flipped through his collection and brought out a video and inserted inside the player.
‘This is my latest collection of specially mixed current video jams from MTV’, he said gleefully and sat down with a beer while we were thrilled as the system churned out soul and disco music videos from the masters of the time.
Dateline 1996 – Gbagada, Lagos
He walked into his big parlour, with a swaggering saunter, his left hand in his trouser pocket. Makossa music, with massive decibel issuing forth from the massive hi-tech integrated sound system and the sitting room was filled with close friends complimenting the sweet groove and regaling themselves with choice wine and spirit.
‘Marcy, ibiago (have you come)?
‘Willie, iga ejikwa Makossa gbuo madu ebaa (you will kill somebody with makossa here o).
He stopped the VCD that was playing, flipped through his collection and brought out another VCD and slotted it inside the player.
‘This is the latest Soukus sent to me by my friends in Zaire. By the way, there is soukus and there is rumba but you guys call all of them Makossa which is wrong’.
He laughed and sat down to sip his red wine and educate us on the ‘makossa’ music while we were thrilled by videos from the masters of the time.
Different group of people normally troop in to seek one favour or the other and Willie never turned any away. He would oblige all and usually warn them sternly to ‘make sure you use the funds judiciously or I’ll not give you audience next time’.
Dateline 2014 – Aguleri, Anambra
He walked into his massive parlour, with a regal saunter, left hand in his trouser pocket. Channels TV news was being beamed from the massive hi-tech integrated sound system and the sitting room was filled with close friends and political associates, discussing the latest political events.
‘Marcy, ibiago (have you come)? Kedu maka Mama (how’s Mama)?’
What would have changed in the man Willie? Nothing perhaps except that….
He has moved from his small flat in Aguda through his private house in Gbagada and to his palatial home in Aguleri.
He has moved from playing soul, disco, Soukus to listening to Channels and CNN.
He has moved from driving his small car to being driven in a convoy of vehicles with security aides.
What has remained unchanged in the man Willie?
He still has the cumber hairstyle.
He still walks with great swag.
He still puts his left hand in his trouser pocket
He is still the Willie we all know who loves to have friends and relatives come around to gorge on culinary delight and have robust conversation.
He is the same wonderfully jovial Willie who loves a great deal of banter.
He is the same classy Willie who likes and can afford the good things in life.
He is still the extremely hard working and tireless Willie who likes things done to perfection.
One early morning, I went to visit him at his Aguleri lodge and met his security aides panting and sweating profusely. I asked them if they had been chasing some people. They replied they went jogging with His Excellency. I laughed and went inside. I saw Governor Willie Obiano in his white shorts sitting coolly, with legs crossed, sipping water and watching Sunrise daily on Channels. ‘Ah Marcy kedu?’ he asked calmly. I responded and excused myself and went outside again. I met the 5 aides still panting and I asked one of them again who they went jogging with and he gave me the same answer….His Excellency! I was bemused and wondered if Willie Obiano has a clone because the Willie I saw inside was too calm for someone who had just finished jogging. What bundle of energy! A great man with awesome physical and mental articulation and energy.
This is the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief (Dr) Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano, in a nutshell.
He keeps everyone on their toes and detests laziness with a passion.
As he may seriously chastise you, for any unprofessional conduct, he can never bring himself to sack you. He will threaten to do so but he will never sack you unless the act bothers on serious betrayal of trust or treachery.
For the avoidance of doubt Chief Willie Obiano built his splendid home in Aguleri more than 13 years ago, so that he can avail his town the use of the auditorium for social functions.
He didn’t build it because he was aspiring to run for the governorship of Anambra state. It is not often said but Obiano is a wealthy man. Wealth he nurtured over 30 years as a prudent investment manager. He doesn’t need any one’s money to support his lifestyle as he has been supporting it for well over 30 years.
He is a stickler to accountability. He had an unblemished professional track record which cannot change now he is in public office.
His generosity, which knows no bound, can be attested to by many. The urge to always want to help out is intrinsic and not propelled by egotistic or political undertones.
He had never said no to funding a good cause, humanitarian programme or any religious edifice and has contributed to the development of many churches in Nigeria.
He is a well known apologist of culture and tradition and has a lot of cultural artefacts adorning his homes. He takes joy in explaining the history or background of each one to visiting friends.
His predilection for taking charge of social events, organised in his Aguleri lodge, to ensure that everyone is content is equally reflected in his passion for excellence in discharging state duties.
He is a master of the stick and carrot approach to effective leadership.
He can be harsh in reprimanding an error in performance but can assuage the anger with a good joke. By then correction would have been effected. He can ring you up as late as 3am to apologise for being harsh while proffering a good advice to stimulate a sound sleep.
He does not condone attitudinal or professional mediocrity.
Truth is that Governor Obiano is a gem that has accumulated political dust since taking up public office. The glitter in the gem may not be seen by those that don’t know him well or those that have refused to know him but clean the dust a little and you’ll be overwhelmed by the glitter in the man.
One very strong point about him is that he is very resolute and wonderfully stubborn that no amount of intimidation will derail him from a good course.
He strongly believes that his ascendancy to the governorship position of the state was divine and no force on earth can cause him to abandon the task of leading the masses who voted for him in the hope of making Anambra State the number one state in the country.
He is not infallible. He makes mistakes like every mortal being.
He has his indulgences, like any other mortal because as his name says……… madu aburo Chukwu (no one is God).
This is Chief (Dr) Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano (Akpokuodike Aguleri, Odogwu Omambala and Otunba Atayese of Ilemeso-Ekiti) – the Executive Digital Governor of Anambra State.
By Marcel Manafa