By Ike Chidolue
THOSE who study medicine and become medical doctors are generally expected to be conservative and calm in every situation. In fact, medical doctors are not supposed to be moved and shaken at the sight of the dead?
However, Dr. Tony Nwoye has refused to go with that narrative. He has combined the compassion of a pastor with the diligence of a medical doctor to address the challenges that confront those around him.
From when he entered the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, as a medical student he began to demonstrate the knack for fighting injustice and oppression as he always rallied in defense of the underdog.
Through this he continues to give the impression of a man whose core belief was to always fight to change things for the better within his environment. This selfless fight led him to the pinnacle of student leadership at the University of Nigeria to become the speaker of the Student’s Union parliament, and later, as the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS. It was indeed a battle of ideas and deep personal sacrifices, which cost him a lot, simply to bring excellence into societal relationship.
His activism at the UNN expectedly led to a complicated relationship with the school authorities. Sometimes it was difficult and sometimes it was cordial. As a students union leader his demands for justice and for students rights were sometimes viewed with hostility by the authorities.
However, the departure point seemed to be when the authorities, especially the then Vice-Chancellor of the school, Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefoh, caught Comrade Nwoye’s vision to fight cultism.
Tony’s role in fighting cultism and formation of student cells to identify cults in the campus became a turning point in the relationship between the Students Union as led by Tony and the university authorities.
It is noteworthy that the news of what Tony did in UNN soon got to the ears of the then governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, who invited him to also help fight cultism in the state-owned Benue State University that was at that time ravaged by cult activities. He was especially commended for his actions by both the UNN and authorities of the Benue State University.
Is it not an irony that about 15 years after his commendable role in stopping cultism and gangster activities in Nigerian universities that Tony would be accused of being a cultist himself by some politicians who want to score cheap political points?
Tony I suspect would have been bemused by these insinuations that can be compared with saying that the Pope is not a Catholic!
One great thing about Tony is that he keeps faith with any struggle he believes in and identifies with, and this is usually at great personal cost to him. His resilience in any battle, gives him victory at the end. His keeping faith with every idea he believes and stands with, and not betraying anybody or causes he identifies with, saw him becoming the youngest state chairman of a major national political party in Nigeria! During his stewardship as the party chairman, and against all odds, including the highly unpredictable political landmines in Anambra State politics, Tony at such a tender age, when nobody gave him a chance, led the party to a resounding victory against an incumbent government of APGA by clearing the entire senatorial seats, House of Representative seats and an overwhelming majority of the State House of Assembly seats! All the elections he won stood the judicial test and only the governorship was not returned, as the Supreme Court said in its judgment that the tenure of the incumbent had not expired.
Nwoye’s resilience and strength cannot be in doubt! All his election victories, including his current seat as the House of Representative member, have always been as the underdog, as an opposition to the status quo! Nwoye has the character, the intelligence, the resilience, the youthfulness, and the vision required in building the Anambra of the future!
This present political battle to save the heart and soul of Anambra State is necessitated by his customary quest to change things for the better, whenever the society is drifting astray.
Governor Willie Obiano’s report card can clearly testify how he has performed with respect to the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, now the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Index. We all are aware that the MDG/SDG aims amongst other benchmarks, to lift as many people in the society as possible out of poverty and degradation.
Obiano refuses to identify with it. But Tony without the apparatus of government using his position as a member of the House of Representatives has done much to push his people out of poverty.
It is most painful to see the sharp decline in the state since all the SDGs achievements and index covering Education, Primary Healthcare delivery, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, etc, were handed over to Gov Obiano. Anambra State which was formerly ranked as number one in Nigeria in the index, have now drifted down to number seven and except this is immediately stopped, we shall continue along this slippery slope to nowhere. This is why Nwoye is in this race: to arrest the drift, reverse the trend, make the required changes and investments and make Anambra State greater than it has ever been!
The momentum of the youths for Tony today is because they have seen someone of their generation with an attitude to change the narrative concerning their state for the good. The elderly too also see him as a compassionate and humble person with the heart to give honour to whom honour is due. The majority of Anambarians who have seen or perceived what Tony has done as a member of the House of Representatives are determined to ensure that what he did for his constituents in Anambra East/West is replicated in the whole state with him as their governor.