By Eric Elezuo
A diplomat to the core, Henry Oseloka Obaze entered the governorship race as the favourite for two main reasons. First, he has the backing of one of the most achieved governor the state has ever produced, Mr. Peter Obi, and secondly, his track records speak volumes and go before him.
A former member of the present administration of Governor Willie Obiano, Obaze supposedly left the administration when he noticed that things were falling apart, and those at the very head of affairs could no longer listen to reason. He left to keep his honour even when it was obvious that keeping quiet and remaining in office will pay him more, albeit dubiously. Many have seen him as a man of honour.
A seasoned diplomat, Obaze clinched the Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket after defeating Ifeanyi Ubah, Stella Oduah and a host of others. His credentials are mindblowing.
Born on 9th April, 1955 in Ogidi, Nigeria, he is a native of Ochuche Umuodu, in the Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State. Obaze is married to Dr. Ofunne Omo Obaze a Physician, and they are blessed with children. A widely traveled man, he has visited sixty-five (65) countries. He is an avid sportsman and soccer enthusiast; he reviews books and arts as a hobby.
Obaze studied Political Science and International Relations and holds a Master of Arts in Political Science (M.A.) from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE (1980); and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science (B.S.) from Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE (1979). He also holds a of Certificate in Diplomacy from the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy, Nigeria (1983); Certificate in Peacekeeping and Preventive Diplomacy, from the UNITAR/International Peace Academy Course, Burg Schlaining, Austria (1996); Certificate in Early Warning and Preventive Measures, from the UN System Staff College, Turin, Italy (1999); and a Certificate in Facilitation of Dialogue Processes and Mediation Efforts, from the Folke Bennadotte Academy, Sandon, Sweden (2007).
Obaze is a former United Nations official (1991-2012) and also a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service (1982-1991). A seasoned international civil servant, diplomat, strategic policy advisor and administrator. Obaze was appointed to the United Nations Secretariat by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar Javier on 1 March 1991, as a Political Affairs Officer in the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs (PSCA) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Obaze was a member of the United Nations Interdepartmental and Inter-Agency Task Force that drafted and negotiated the UN-AU Declaration, which was signed in November 2006. He was involved in the conceptualization, drafting and finalizing various strategic policy papers and reports of the Secretary-General to the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council. He has worked on the African and Europeans dossiers and most notably, on Angola, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Georgia.
A widely travelled person, Obaze is touted to be the next governor of Anambra because he has promised to bring in all the experiences of many years in foreign lands, and make things work in Anambra.
“What we bring to the table are lessons learned and best practices. All that people like me say is that we shall look up to those organizations and model our own after theirs by making sure that workers are treated with fairness, compassion and the respect they deserve as people that contribute to the generation of the wealth of a nation,” he said.
This fact proves that there is a possibility that Anambra workers may be in for the best of times considering that the Obaze has been to many places in the world, and is a fountain of experience which he intends bringing to the table.
Again, Obaze has promised that instead of the paltry rice given to workers at the end of the year, he will be paying 13th month to add to their disposable income.
“If you want to appreciate civil servants and decide you want one bag of rice, pay it to them as 13th month salary; that will add to their disposable income,” he said.
Again, Oseloka is not placing ambition or parochial interest over the Anambra people as he has declared that when elected, he will not seek second in office.
”Well North/South, I have said it that I will run only for four years, because we campaigned for the governorship to come to the North for eight years, Obiano became the beneficiary because he’s from the North. Those of us who campaigned and insisted that they should allow us to complete the remaining four years, no questions asked.”
Obaze is also bent on ensuring that Anambra State, which has been declared as the 10th oil producing state in Nigeria begins to get its derivation. He noted that even Lagos which was just declared the 11th has started earning their derivation. His plan is to create a synergy with representatives of the state in the ASSEMBLIES to make it happen.
On education, Obaze intends to go back to statuesque as laid down by UNESCO. Hear him:
“Now, the standard for education as a basis for running government is set by UNESCO that 26 per cent of your budget must go to education. I’ve even gone further to say that we must meet that threshold. As we speak, only two states in the federation have met that threshold – Kwara and Sokoto. In my own case, I’ve gone further to say that on that 26 per cent, we will reserve 10 percent to support parochial schools because at the end of the day, it’s our children that go there.”
There are so much good tidings awaiting the average Anambra person should Oseloka Obaze becomes the governor. November 18 beckons!