Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo is a household name in the political firmament of Nigeria. Jim, as he is fondly called, belongs to who is who in Nigeria and in those good old days when things were what they used to be, when lizards were few and far between, in the second republic, Jim played the politics of beauty, elegance, charisma, flamboyance and yet superlative performance. He was the governor of the old Anambra State for four years, between 1980 and 1983, under the then opposition party, led my Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Great Zik of Africa, the then NPP. Jim was a star of a governor; he was a charismatic leader and commanded the love and absolute acceptance of the people. He was the cynosure of all eyes and often appeared in his immaculate white safari, his fashion signature, with matching white shoes and brandished a white handkerchief which he would fly into the sky and fan the embers of cheers and pleasurable ululations of joy and acceptance from the audience.
Most of the educational institutions in Enugu State were founded by Jim. He indeed achieved many projects too numerous to mention in all sectors of the state’s economy. The projects were as numerous as sand upon seashore. His rural development strides can only be compared to what Governor Ugwuanyi is doing in the rural areas, especially in the area of rural electrification projects which Jim wrought in many communities in the then Anambra State. So, when Chief Jim Nwobodo left office, he had continued to wield enormous goodwill and respect of the people of old Anambra State and Nigeria, for he was one of the best governors of his days, ranking with Chief Solomon Lar of Plateau State, Abubakar Rimi of Kano State and Sam Mbakwe of the old Imo State. Even up untill the creation of the old and new Enugu State, Jim’s political capital had not waned. So, it was natural that under the Abacha Military regime, Jim was appointed the minister of youths and sports and he brought his charm to bear on the performance of Nigeria in sports tournaments. He was in charge when in 1996 Nigeria won the Olympic gold medal in football, defeating Brazil and Argentina in the finales. So, during the transition to democratic rule, he not only contested for the presidency but also had the senatorial seat reserved for him and when he could not make good his presidential aspiration, as Obasanjo emerged the candidate of the PDP,Jim returned to pick the senatorial ticket of the party and this was made possible by the love and goodwill of the people. Jim won the senatorial seat of Enugu East Senatorial Zone and was going to emerge the Senate President, for he was the choice of his colleagues, but for the executive meddlesomeness with the affairs of the then Senate. Chief Nwobodo did not stop at that;he also endorsed the candidature of Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani who emerged the candidate of the PDP and assisted him to victory at the polls as the governor of Enugu State in 1999.
Chief Nwobodo has maintained his iconic profile, even after he had left the senate. He has continued to play the role of a father figure, a statesman, not only in Enugu State but also in Nigeria. Jim’s political pedigree is heroic and also has international acclamation.
In the present administration of His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Chief Nwobodo has continued to play the role of the statesman that he is and His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, recognizes him as such and has continues to reverence and honour the great Octogenarian sage, an embodiment of wisdom, knowledge and experience, an uncommon asset and blessing to the people of Enugu State. This has paid off and contributes to the many developmental strides and successes of the Ugwuanyi administration.
Concerning the present political discourse on zoning of the governorship race, Enugu State treasures the advice of Chief Nwobodo, for according to Chinua Achebe in his Arrow of God, he who built a homestead before another can boast of more broken utensils. While Chief Nwobodo as an individual may have his personal predilections, his objective advice as a statesman may among other considerations form the decision of the candidate who would emerge as the flag bearer of the PDP, a credible candidate of Enugu East Senatorial District extraction who will consolidate and build on the many legacies of the Ugwuanyi administration.
It is, therefore, no doubt that Enugu State is blessed with the elder-statesman whom God has preserved even at such a time like this to continue to offer his much needed and useful advice towards the progress of Enugu State. Long live Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, the statesman par excellence.
Bibian Anekwe News added ; “Good leadership is always human. It takes time and energy. It is hard work, which is why good leadership is so special when we find it.”
By Reuben Onyishi. (Ugoachataberu)