By Uzonna Ononye
After my last attempt at speaking my mind on Anambra state and the political gladiators that have dominated affairs lately, I was pushed to ponder further by a few of the reactions which sought to know my view on the tussle for the chief executive of the state.
It was an easy conclusion for many who see any view that expose presumed flaws in anyone who is perceived not to share close alliance with the governor as endorsement of the incumbent. In like manner, views that demand accountability and scrutinise the activities of those entrusted with the common good of the people, are usually considered ‘paid for’ by the opposition. And so, it is not a popular thinking that one can be objectively neutral.
In that sense, it will amount to pouring water on a rock, if I preach about my objectivity and non-allied disposition as a public observer. I will therefore proceed wirh a few points, to present the outcome of my thought on what could prompt or compel me to cast a vote for the second term of Willie Obiano as governor of Anambra state. This is irrespective of all the political drama playing out at the moment, after all, the name of the game is politics.
By March 2014, Anambra state had crawled to the top spot as the state where kidnapping was the most thriving business. Most Anambra citizens who leave abroad swore never to return home again as those who dared leave trumatised, that is if they are lucky enough not to be victims. Bad as it was, many helpless citizens began to adjust to the situation. One of the signs was that traditional marriages where the couple are both from Anambra, held in Lagos, Abuja and even Port Harcourt instead of the bride’s hometown. This was seen as an abomination before then.
Many people will not forget in a haste what Upper Iweka, the Eastern Gateway use to be. Robbery in broad-day-light was rampant and security agencies watched helplessly. Arriving Onitsha once the sun sets could be likened to suicide. But all that was then. Today, Upper Iweka has been literarily cleaned up and miscreants who pose threat to life and legitimate businesses cleared from the area.
As one who is an ‘outsider’ to the government in power, I may not have the details of the strategy adopted by the state government but I see a closer collaboration with citizens in ensuring that communities are safe. I see a partnership that transcends rhetoric existing between government and security agencies. I am not aware how much the state government has spent on security but I can attest to the results, so who cares. In recent times, Anambra has never been this safe and low in criminalities.
What security brings to the table can never be over emphasised. Social, economic and political activities can only thrive where protection of lives and property receive the right premium. And when the reverse becomes the case, your guess is as good as the person sitting next to you.
Governor Willie Obiano and his team gave a massive face-lift to Anambra state. It may have been the intention of previous administrations, but none was able to make driving into Anambra state from the Niger bridge so much fun. Today, the beautiful smooth road, though being threatened by erosion as some spots, and the street lights bring lots of pride to citizens.
Should that be counted as an achievement in a world where cars are beginning to drive itself in some climes and little children, through research and scientific experiments are finding alternatives to almost everything the world had known? No, if you want to be academic. Yes, for those who prefer to be realistic with an eye on our peculiar environment.
A drive today, through the state capital leaves one whose mind is void of partisan affiliation and sentiment with a nostalgic taste of wasted years. There was a time when Awka was not just disorganised, but abandoned too. Successive government never cared to give the state a befitting seat of power. So far, there is a lot yet to be done, but certainly, Governor Obiano has taken the state capital off from the dejected state he met it.
I have read and heard people condemn the over-head drive ways at three major spots on the Enugu Onitsha expressway. Some say they were poorly designed and recklessly constructed. I also have heard the view that the bridges were not needed in the first place. As subjective as those views are, it will be an abnormality for everyone to cheer and clap when development comes to the people because there are those whose wellbeing is dependent on backwardness hence the saying that “ani adiro nma bu ulu ndi nze”.
The state government has within these three years, also embarked on a few other major projects but one is of more interest to me and that is the Iyiora Anam Bridge. One hundred and eighty metres which cost the state about N10bn. The real value of the bridge is that it connected communities that never had any link and yet in the same state. The existence of this bridge has also given Anambra state a stronger grip on the oil deposits within its territories.
INNOVATION IN GOVERNANCE:
Unlike what obtains in the past, where the state government squander the wealth of the state on a local government area or a few communities, Gov. Obiano brought an innovation that has never been seen. The ‘do it yourself’ projects where each of the 177 communities in the state identify their area of need and receive N20m from the state government for execution is remarkable.
What this has done is ensuring that no community, no matter how small, is neglected in the spread of people interest projects. A community may decide to build a health centre, while another furnish and equip school laboratories. It all depends on the need and foresight of the community.
Even in pursuing its own ideas, the state government sustained the arrangement where missions manage their schools with funds that come from the state. This programme birthed by the Peter Obi administration, despite its flaws, perhaps turned around the educational fortunes of the state. In the past 5 years, Anambra has remained at the top grade of performance in WAEC and NECO in Nigeria.
GATHERING OF THE HAWKS:
Between 2003 and 2006, Anambra state and indeed its citizens were subjected to terror unknown. Killings, arson and wanton destruction of the state were brashly carried out by ‘men of yesteryears’. They installed the state governor, they controlled all aspects of governance and politics, They decided who lives and who dies, they made merry at the detriment of the people. But when they failed to agree on who gets what, the citizens who never partook in their loot were denied the luxury of sleeping with both eyes closed.
The climax was that the chief security officer of the state was kidnapped, thereby demonstrating the height of disregard for decency and low value for life. All that mattered to them was themselves.
No one should make excuses for any one of them. The foot soldiers who walked the streets without shame and conscience, had the approval from the Presidency. It was the cover provided by those of them close to then Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo, that emboldened the blood thirsty monsters that swore to permanent enmity with any good things, to destroy the state.
Now, same characters are beginning to gather again. Because they cannot survive without clinging to power, they are converging from all corners, on the platform of the APC. I hear they have boasted and beaten their chest that Anambra must be conquered.
Truth is that APC as a party has not been fair to Anambra state and the Igbo nation at large. Herdsmen roam and kill people in their sleep all over the place and the security agencies go docile. But when unarmed and innocent people gather in a school field to pray for divine intervention in their situation, they are killed with bullets purchased with their taxes. No one sang a dirge, no flag was lowered simply because they were Igbos.
Because PDP which had always posed as the alternative party is panting for breath, the only realistic option is to give all the support to Gov. Willie Obiano in order to preserve what is left of our dignity.
I am not preaching the gospel that APGA is THE Igbo party. Though its founders began with that mission in mind, failure to manage its internal friction, propelled by avarice and lust for power, triggered the self-destruct button. The implication is that the party had continued to under achieve its potentials ever since.
One of the unfortunate realities of our political development is that competence of individuals seeking public office is usually considered after the first question of ‘where does he come from?’ is answered. That does not erode the gospel of zoning of any value. Perhaps, it provides a bit of stability to the polity.
As it concerns Anambra state, the shift of power to the north prior to the 2013 governorship election, which was championed by the former governor, Peter Obi, enjoyed a near unanimous approval. Four years after, common sense demands that Anambra North should be encouraged to complete the second term which is the full life cycle for an executive office as provided by the constitution.
If Anambra north deserves any consideration through the principle of zoning, the right thing to do is for the incumbent, who according to the voice of the people through the ballot was the best choice from the zone four years ago, to complete the second term. Anything else will either be unfair and unjust or a time bomb that may explode on the face of everyone in the next four years.
Already, there are not less than six persons from Anambra north aspiring to become governor after Willie Obiano. Some of them are ‘failing career politicians’; men who all their lives have always been contesting but never won any election. Trusting such men to do one term and walk away will amount to wishful thinking. I was told of a particular aspirant, positioning himself for the third attempt, who told a group he was wooing for support that he will be governor for only one term. This is the kind of promise that the best of men cleansed of greed and desperation still fail to keep. Needless thinking of those naturally driven by lust for power.
It is therefore my conviction that if zoning will remain part of issues being discussed before any election, particularly this governorship election, Willie Obiano, as a representative of Anambra north, should be supported by all to complete the second term because:
1. It will not be fair for the same people that planted the LET’S GO NORTH seed some months back to turn around and cut the tree just as it began to provide shade for the people.
2. No Nigerian politician deserves to be trusted when he says one term is enough for me. So in order to avoid creating crisis that may consume all of us in future, the incumbent should complete the second term.
The conclusion of the matter is that the administration of Chief Willie Obiano has achieved more than many people ever expected, and so should be allowed to continue. There are some areas in need of improvement no doubt, but putting all the factors together, in my view, he deserves another term.
Uzonna Ononye is the Head of News and Political Editor at Silverbird Television, Lagos
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