By Okechukwu Anarado
AS November 18 date for the gubernatorial poll in Anambra State approaches, the tempo and temper of political activities rise with every passing day. Every opposition party professing any kind of presence in Awka talks tough on wresting power from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Expectedly, however, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has assumed the epicentre of opposition in the state, having upstaged the People’s Democratic Party’s supremacy in the national political space.
Not one to gloss over the fixations of his party’s gains of the moment, Dr. Chris Ngige has jumped into the fray to characterize the opposition. Ngige easily passes for the face of APC in the South East. This and the implicit ceding of spokesperson by majority of the opposition groups to him emboldens Ngige to seek brazen radicalization, if not militarization, of opposition politics in the state; caring less about the imminent sour aftertaste. Though they find a common adversary in Chief Willie Obiano, the governor’s impressive development strides, and the subterfuge pervading the class of opposition candidates vitiate their aspirations.
The popular impression that the urge of these aspirants might just be to outstretch their political visibility, other than gain control of the statehouse, firms up by the day. With a bearing that smacks of disregard for the scathing attacks on his person and office, Gov. Willie Obiano flaunts the achievements of his administration in the past three years as fair and competitive bargains for re-election. He seems comfortable with the jubilant pulse of the citizens of the state whose freedom and safety he has profitably laboured to buy back from diverse crimes endemic in the state. Chief Obiano presents the substantial vibrancy of the state’s economy in the face of national economic repression. He is a proud governor of a state that has maintained elite performance in education, agriculture, health and other indices of good governance. Under him Anambra suddenly became a major player in agriculture, with brands like Anambra Rice, Ugu Anambra and Onubu Anambra (vegetables) hitting national and international limelight.
Anambra workers celebrate Gov Obiano as the most labour friendly governor countrywide because of his unsolicited welfare packages to them; his steadfastness in prompt payment of salaries; the 15% salary increase across board; his transportation scheme for them, etc; just as low income earners in parks, markets and streets, as well as commercial motorcyclists and tri-cyclists enjoy the governor’s humane economic stimulus in terms of reduced taxation. At the grassroots, the result of the Governor’s ‘N20m Community Choose Your Project Development Initiative’ spread across all the 182 communities in the state speaks volumes of Chief Obiano’s Man of the People’s persuasion. These acts ameliorate the pains of national recession, encourage sustainable economic growth and ensure systemic stability.
An incumbent who posts such credentials as Chief Obiano’s, and whose second term bid is antithetical to the dreams of all other aspirants, should expect no less hard knocks; particularly in Anambra State where reckless tantrums and mischief are liberally deployed in fierce gubernatorial contests. Here, no incumbent seems to do anything pleasing to his opponents. Dr. Chris Ngige (then of PDP and later of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN) and Chief Peter Obi (then of APGA) had mutual disrespect for each other while they reigned as governors. Despite Ngige’s momentary brilliant sparks and Obi’s enduring sterling achievements, they took turns in subtly and overtly calumniating each other.
Now as members of APC and PDP in Anambra State, both unconscionably take on Gov. Obiano, in a bid to pronounce him unelectable: an awkward demonstration of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ The lures of political power and the privileges of political influence now conspire to rob Anambra State of the peace APGA government has painstakingly groomed in the past eleven years.
The prime conspirators in this appear primarily fixated on plotting Gov. Obiano’s failure by sponsoring negative choruses on his administration. Given their determination, it will not be surprising if they stimulate disorder in the course of time, just to undermine Obiano’s most potent bargaining power: Security and safety of lives and property. It is observable that in politics when the subject of interest persistently tends more to awry defense of ego and personal interests than governance and society, service and lordship begin to slyly compete for favoured space in people’s consciousness.
This confusion and its resultant hurt spare no one in the long run. It will be a security oversight disregarding the seemingly war chants from vociferous South East APC chieftains thronging into Anambra with defiant avowals to overrun APGA howsoever. The Anambra electorate is getting restive and battle conscious. Signs of resistance are emerging as majority of Anambra citizens condemn the effrontery in the influx of failed political opportunists from other Eastern parts latching on to APC to disrupt the state’s surefooted lead in development east of the Niger.
As a home-grown party that has entrenched itself in Anambra, APGA underscores the Igbo spirit of resilience and survival. Ndi-Anambra are therefore known to be passionate in their defense of APGA government for giving stout expressions to their passions for industry and safety. It is a common belief that Chief Willie Obiano holds the template for greater Anambra, having made Anambra the safest and most investment friendly state in Nigeria within a short span of three years. The risk of recycling politicians with either questionable antecedents or vague vision in corporate administration is total and does not sound bankable to Anambra people.
Given the overwhelming support APGA and Gov. Obiano enjoy from the citizens and residents of Anambra State, and the anxiety over probable underhand influences from Abuja in the coming election, November 18, 2017 boldly challenges the integrity of Independent National Election Commission, INEC, as a disinterested umpire. It challenges the Presidency as a dispassionate arbiter. Also on trial will be the groups of national and international election monitors whose informed views are expected to add value to the process. Without doubts the international community will be on hand to judge our democracy.
Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu