Victor Umeh: A political juggernaut at 59

By Dr. Duru Akachukwu

Born on 19th July 1962, Senator (Dr) Victor Umeh is a man of destiny. An accomplished Estate Surveyor and Valuer, his foray into politics in 1998 when General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s military government lifted ban on partisan politics was a turning point in his life.

A founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State and its State Treasurer in 1999, Senator Umeh resigned his position in 2001 and joined other progressives to form the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which he served as the pioneer National Vice Chairman South East when the party was registered by INEC on 22nd June 2002. He was elected National Treasurer on 10th January 2003, at APGA first national convention in Abuja, and acting national chairman on 15th December 2004, by the National Working Committee (NWC) which was ratified by the National Executive Committee (NEC) on 11th January 2005 in Abuja, and confirmed by the second national convention in December 2006 in Enugu.

Umeh’s tenure as the APGA national chairman was the golden era of the party. The party won two governorship elections in Anambra and Imo States, two senatorial seats in Imo and Anambra States, several House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly seats in Anambra, Imo, Bayelsa and Taraba States, numerous Local Government chairmen and councillors, produced two speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Anambra and Imo, some members of the party were appointed ambassadors including the wife of the late APGA National Leader, Iyom Bianca Ojukwu. Umeh’s administration moved the party from strength to strength, victory to victory and glory to glory with a mission and determination to win the entire South East and beyond. APGA became the beautiful bride of Nigerian politics and the third leg in the nation’s formidable political tripod.

A political juggernaut, generalissimo and defender of APGA mandates since 2003 general election, Sir Victor Umeh is at the forefront along with other party leaders, members and supporters in Anambra State to ensure APGA’s victory in the 6th November 2021, gubernatorial election, a seat the party has retained since 17th March 2006, when Peter Obi was sworn-in as the first governor of the State produced by the party and was succeeded by the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano in March 2014. Anambra State has been APGA stronghold since June 2002 it was registered. Political pundits are of the firm view that the party will retain the State considering the ongoing developmental strides by APGA governments since March 2006.

Dr Victor Umeh was recently appointed the Chairman, APGA Peace/Reconciliation and National Outreach Committee with His Excellency Emeka Sibeudu as Secretary. The 12-member Committee was constituted and sworn-in by the party’s National leader and Chairman, Board of Trustees, His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano with the mandate to reconcile aggrieved members of the party/resolve any lingering problems in the party in any Local Government so that APGA can approach the November 6th Election as a very strong united party; to engage in wider stakeholders outreach to build a formidable coalition across State for the party, among other measures that would help the party to succeed.

A man of indefatigable endeavour with enormous political sagacity, Umeh said the Committee would approach aggrieved members with utmost humility and seek their understanding, and bring back peace and unity of purpose to the party as there is no alternative to APGA being in government of Anambra State.

“l want to assure the people of Anambra State in particular that APGA is still the most stable party in this State and all those things that had endeared the party to them remains intact,” Umeh asserted. The Committee swung into action immediately as time is of the essence.

As Director General of Dr Willie Obiano’s reelection campaign in 2017, Umeh’s political savvy and strategy combined with Governor Obiano’s progressive people-oriented governance, and hard work of APGA members and supporters led to the resounding victory of the party in what has come to be known as 21/21, a landslide victory in all the 21 Local Government Areas in Anambra State.
Political analysts strongly believe that feat will be repeated in the 6th November gubernatorial election. Ohamadike is a paragon of patriotism. In the words of the late APGA National Leader, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, “The might of a Warrior is tested only in battle … I salute your tenacity, your courage and resilience, APGA has always known what has now become widely acknowledged … Congratulation to the hardest working party Chairman in the Federation,” Dim Ojukwu declared in an advertorial in the Sun newspaper of 17th March 2010, eulogizing Umeh’s political acumen that helped to secure Peter Obi’s reelection and would be deployed to win the forthcoming gubernatorial poll in the State.

Fondly called the Field Marshall of APGA politics, Umeh has weathered massive political storms in his bid to protect, sustain and advance the party’s electoral fortunes and won over 40 lawsuits to keep APGA united and relevant in Nigerian political horizon. He is optimistic that his peace committee will resolve all issues in the spirit of APGA’s motto: “Be Your Brother’s Keeper”.

“Our promise is that we shall do everything humanly possible to bring back peace and unity of purpose to this party so that we can approach the election as on family. We want to reach-out to all our party members, irrespective of their situations and bring them back to the party because we want to be together and focused on the primary objective of achieving victory for the party. We have done it severally in the past, we want to continue doing so for the good of our people,” Senator Umeh stressed.

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, ” Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Umeh’s character was tested with several offices and positions he held including two term APGA national chairman, member 2014 national political conference and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He distinguished himself in these positions and many others too numerous to mention. He also received several awards, chieftaincy titles including Ohamadike, Agulu by His Royal Highness, Igwe Innocent Obodoako and the entire Agulu Community on 30th December 2006; was conferred with the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by former President Goodluck Jonathan in appreciation of his efforts in helping to deepen democracy and rule of law in Nigeria; and a Catholic Papal Knight of St. Sylvester.

A compassionate leader and philanthropist, Ohamadike has empowered numerous youths and women in Anambra State in particular and the nation in general. He executed several projects in all the communities in Anambra Central Senatorial District as a way of giving back to the society and delivering dividends of democracy to them. Umeh’s signature projects and empowerment programme in Anambra Central in particular will be remembered for decades as footprints of a visionary, purposeful, dynamic, pragmatic, progressive and transformational leader with a milk of human kindness for his people.

It was Bill Gates who said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” The ever growing number of indigent students Umeh offered scholarship from primary school to the university, some have obtained their doctorate degrees, stands him out as a leader to watch in Nigerian politics. God has greatly used him to turnaround the destinies of young people and prepare them for future leadership. This is the hallmark of greatness.

Indeed, he is a man of the people and happily married to Lady Chinenye Umeh, a perfect soulmate. They are blessed with seven children. For this bright star from the East of the Niger, it is a new dawn in life and destiny.

Happy birthday, the people’s leader and master strategist.

Dr Akachukwu, a public affairs analyst sent this tribute from Awka, Anambra State

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