DARLINGTON NWAUJU: THE SERVANT-LEADER AND WONDER BOY OF OMUMA POLITICS
As the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State further deepens her rebuilding process after what the party had suffered in the hands of internal and external enemies; there is a need to identify a few hands and heads that have stood firm and the new breed political actors that have emerged as structural pillars whose ultimate strength can carry the party, henceforth. This is where the personality of Comrade Darlington Nwauju strikes a chord.
Fast-rising minds are usually identified early and pointed out, so believers can start on time to rally around them. This is how it should be for Comrade Nwauju, a rising political actor indeed. This is the same way a political gladiator in the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, obviously awed by the outstanding and trailblazing performances in office and political prowess of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the then Governor of Rivers State, during the historic events that marked 2015 elections, christened the then governor as ‘The Wonder Boy’. A sobriquet that further drew attention to Amaechi’s gargantuan strides and superlative governance credentials. The succeeding paragraphs will be turning the spotlight on another exceptional performer, budding within the land and space of Omuma LGA of Rivers State.
Now, that the APC has commenced her round of Ward, LGA, State and National congresses, the curtain is gradually being drawn on the stint of all Caretaker Committee Officers of the Party. Expectedly, as is synonymous with the Biblical Parable of the Talents, the Party is at the threshold of stocktaking and commensurate rewards for those who have performed exceptionally. After all, it is common knowledge that “a labourer is worthy of his wages” and “the reward for hard work is more work.”
Rivers State APC passed through many battles, injuries and scares inflicted on her by known and unknown enemies before respite came to allow the Party inaugurate Caretaker Committees. This was done at the state level and quickly followed by that of the 23 LGA areas and 319 wards of Rivers State.
The period of hibernation had created hidden injuries especially insubordination and apathy down to outright capitulation. To be emphatic, various LGA organs of the party were practically on tenterhooks – basically sitting on a ticking time bomb with visible signs of imminent explosion. Not a few LGAs with envious voting and impressive population strength were locked in horns, in what they termed “leadership crisis”. The above situation was what the new CTCs met on ground.
One would not be wrong to then believe that it was for that particular sense of purpose that Comrade Nwauju, a hard-nosed believer, brilliant scholar, and crusader of good governance and social justice got the nod of Omuma APC leaders to assume the party chairmanship position of the party in the LGA, under a caretaker committee basis.
Nwauju, a trained Biochemist from the University of Port Harcourt, cut his teeth in the management of men and resources as a former Students Union leader. Famous for a rare kind
of audacity and impudence spiced with divine wisdom, he rose to political limelight after he stirred the hornet’s nest as far back as 2002, when he dared the Peter Odili administration and tried hard to unseat it. Many saw that administration as a dictatorship worse than the military and thus would not dare it. Dissenting voices were gagged either through financial inducement or physical intimidation but the lone voice of Nwauju was loudly heard crying in the wilderness. This messianic youthful gusto of his, to emancipate Rivers State from the firm grip of Odili’s maladministration and financial profligacy, was celebrated in homes within and outside Rivers State. Upon this demonstration of a political machismo of sorts, he earned the moniker “His Excellency” or “Governor” by friends and foes alike.
Ipso facto, hopes were high when he took over the reins of party leadership as Omuma LGA CTC Chairman on the 13th of December 2020. True lovers of democratic tenets within the party were thrown into celebration mood; being overjoyed by the prospects of a new APC in Omuma. Even though the hurdles before him were as enormous as they were daunting, Comrade Nwauju in his usual equanimity, bellied up to the bar and set out on a journey of repositioning the opposition APC in Omuma LGA. His mandate was clear: mend fences with aggrieved members, engender unity, and boost the membership drive of the party.
So, did Nwauju live up to the billing? A random assessment of his activities since assumption of office will give us a clue.
Exactly 10 days after his inauguration by the State CTC Chairman, Barr. Isaac Abott Ogbobula, on the 23rd of December 2020, Comrade Nwauju-led CTC emptied into the APC, scores of PDP decampees who were basking in the euphoria of his open-door policy and egalitarian treatment of all and sundry. By receiving them in a well attended ceremony in Eberi, Comrade Nwauju made it to the record books as the first amongst his counterparts to achieve that remarkable milestone.
The result-driven Omuma APC CTC Chairman, who is thoroughly schooled in the fine art of progressive leadership, understood quite early the merits of running an all-inclusive political system. Thus, he changed the narrative in the history of Omuma APC when, through wide consultations with party stakeholders and other opinion leaders within the party, inaugurated a 19-man Contact & Mobilisation Committee. That committee is vested with clear responsibilities of identifying aggrieved members within the party, wooing aggrieved politicians outside the APC with a view to widening her coastlines and upping the antes of APC membership figures across the 10 wards of Omuma. Of course, almost spontaneously, the result of this masterstroke began to yield impressive results, even to the consternation of the opposition PDP in Omuma.
Successive weeks of aggressive membership drive and sustained troubleshooting to boost the confidence of aggrieved party men and women saw the figures of Omuma APC membership strength leap in geometric progression.
Also of great concern to the Nwauju’s CTC is effecting attitudinal change in the younger generation of Progressives, whose political mentality seem eroded by the persisting bickering, mudslinging, mindless horse-trading, and dog-eat-dog tendencies dotting the political landscape of Rivers State. To achieve this noble objective, the CTC launched the Students’ Wing of Contact/Mobilisation to groom and cater for the political interests of emerging leaders of Omuma extraction in tertiary institutions across the country.
Of course, the launching of an Operation Catch Them Young campaign on the campuses of our tertiary institutions by Comrade Nwauju was expected to record mind-blowing results for the APC, hinged on the clear fact that the student community is his primary constituency and forte. And true to fact, it actually was a huge, successful, and thoughtful venture embarked upon on behalf of the party. By sheer hindsight, even a doubting Thomas will readily agree that the newly elected Students Union Government president of the University of Port Harcourt, Comrade Gift Ubabuike, is a product of this lauable initiative.
It is also on record that Omuma indigenes and residents witnessed a new wave of political awareness, when Comrade Nwauju and his team stormed the popular Ahia-Nkwor with the APC gospel. Commercial activities literally came to a grinding halt as excited buyers and traders scrambled over one another to receive the Next Level doctrine, as pontificated by Comrade Nwauju. The inroad recorded by that Ahia-Nkwor outreach soon paid off. This time around, hundreds of decampees were received into the party from Wards 3, 4 and 9 in a quick succession that left the ruling PDP in the area jittery and gasping for breath.
Sometime in 2020, while still grappling with the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, Omuma motorists and motorcyclists, popularly called Okada Riders, were overwhelmed with admiration for the APC when Comrade Nwauju and other supporters of APC, in utter execution of Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) and humanitarian service, embarked on a massive distribution of face masks, hand sanitizers and other COVID-19 precautionary kits to them. Also not spared in that act of benevolence were the officers of Nigeria Police Force deployed to the Divisional Police station at Eberi-Omuma as they got same materials in their dozens.
Now, it is instructive to note that in an era when party loyalty is weighed on a scale of patience, perseverance and discipline, the Omuma APC CTC led by Comrade Nwauju shattered the glass ceiling with the mobilisation of hundreds of party faithfuls who waited patiently without any form of inducement for a record of 12hrs to receive the leader of the Party, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON, who was billed to arrive Omuma in a whistle-stop Thank You Visit but couldn’t beat his tight schedule to it. Much later, Amaechi arrived Omuma that fateful night bewildered; straight into the waiting arms and frenzy of a mammoth crowd in an unprecedented demonstration of loyalty never witnessed in recent times within Rivers political sphere.
Strategic planning on a medium or long-term basis is an attribute common to foresighted leaders. Perhaps armed with this knowledge and the aphorism of “a stitch in time saves nine,” he had months ago, in measured steps, set up a committee to oversee the recently commenced Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise. Not willing to leave any stone unturned in his quest for garnering a monolithic voting population towards a landslide victory for the APC in 2023, Comrade Nwauju set up a Strategy/Planning Committee for this singular purpose. So far, the Committee has recorded bold marks by coming up with a blueprint that will make the APC in Omuma a party to beat in the forthcoming polls through massive mobilization like never before.
It will be difficult to actually evaluate the gains of Comrade Nwauju-led CTC, as each passing day reveals a new success story after another. At present, over 200 decampees from Ofeh in Ward 6 have been harvested and waiting for official reception into the APC fold.
Nwauju superintends a reign where Ward Chairmen in Omuma are openly attesting to enjoying a smooth-working relationship with him. Under his watch, records show that funds and resources meant for party activities are maximally utilized and prudently managed.
These giant strides and several others make him stand out and tall in the comity of APC LGA CTC Chairmen in Rivers State, nay Nigeria.
This man, who is not deficient in admirable political savvy, has continuously proved cynics and skeptics wrong by wading through murky waters unscathed; bringing to bank edibles of various kinds. The irrefragable fact is that the diplomacy, transparency and infectious humility seamlessly employed by the media-friendly APC CTC Chairman of Omuma glaringly proves to be his area of strength.
His efforts have launched Omuma LGA onto the board of national reckoning and political spotlight. It was little surprising therefore when two major national TV stations aired the Membership Registration/Revalidation Exercise launch in Omuma LGA, including the historic Thank You Visit of the Transportation Minister some months ago. Indeed, the eloquent but soft-spoken Comrade Nwauju has surpassed the target set for him in a short space of eight months and raised the bar in grassroots politicking.
For Rivers APC to succeed Governor Nyesom Wike in 2023, one thing is crystal clear: more skilled hands like that of Comrade Darlington Nwauju should be on deck to steer the ship of the Progressives to victory.
Comrade Sunny Andy Dimkpa, a concerned partyman, writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.