By Ifeanyi Afuba
With the Anambra governorship poll scheduled for November 2017, the state’s political road is already getting busy with all sorts of aspirants – dreamers, speculators and contenders to the seat of power. From the Anambra North Senatorial District, Obiano’s very zone, has come an unanimous adoption of his candidacy in March 2017 by the Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA), a non partisan consultative forum.
Despite this endorsement and many others, some aspirants are still prancing around. This has reminded desiring minds that one of the ways Nigeria’s career politicians have sought to exclude responsibility, accountability and service from political office was by selling the dummy that politics is a game.
Aside the soldier’s State House ambition, bitter politics and maladministration were at the root of the collapse of the first and second republics. Learning the costly lessons, Ndi Anambra seem resolved not to allow career politicians make a playground of political offices in the state anymore; especially the most important political office, the governorship.
Enter Willie Obiano, a man sought out by the delicate circumstances of the state. Here was a state recovering from decades of neglect and abuse; the foundations of development were just being laid and a period of consolidation was acutely needed. Ordinarily, Obiano’s past accomplishments stood him in good stead of meeting the challenges of his new task. But the inspiration to serve; the passion to make Anambra State great has further made a difference.
By several credible accounts, Obiano has, within the prevailing circumstances of his governorship, lived up to the estimation of leading Anambra towards the next level. From the church to communities; from the Zik Prize in Leadership (2015) to The Sun Governor of the Year (2015); from Vanguard Governor of the Year (2016) to Silverbird Man of the Year (2016); and from Chukwuma Soludo to Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina have come attestations of Obiano’s stellar stewardship. We may use the comment by Clifford Ndujihe in Vanguard, Friday, March 10, 2017 as the aggregate appraisal of Obiano’s performance. According to the analyst, the Anambra chief executive stands out for ‘keeping the economy of his State afloat in spite of the billowing winds of recession in the country, making giant strides in agriculture and provision of infrastructure.’ It is worthwhile to mention that for some others, Obiano’s strongest point is the fostering of high standards in the discharge of his mandate.
The recent endorsement of Governor Obiano for a second term of office by the Anambra North Peoples Assembly is another rating of his performance in the mould of the above and other assessments of the Obiano regime. It is instructive that these positive appraisals have largely come from apolitical sources independent of the Anambra State Government. It indicates that the Assembly’s choice of Obiano above other known aspirants from the north zone is well considered and consistent with mainstream view of his profile. The ANPA decision is also significant, coming from home territory where all the aspirants from the zone have some degree of leverage. For obvious reasons the Assembly is one body suitably qualified to make submissions on the credentials of the aspirants and what is in the best interest of the zone – which she has stated clearly.
There are at least two benefits of the intervention by ANPA in the state’s unfolding transition process. ANPA has issued a testimonial on Willie Obiano and we all know the importance of highly regarded referrals in the determination of roles – profile compatibility. Obiano is a public figure and the present and future health of Anambra State is an issue of legitimate public interest. The Assembly’s statement serves as both a public advisory and sharpening of the debate on Anambra’s transition. Insights and fresh perspectives emerge from informed debates. ANPA has not shut the door against other aspirants but enlightened us on the zonal perspective of the debate and their contribution will be useful in taking the discussion further.
But it must be added that this reward of the system is conditional on the merit of the input made by the actors. The onus is now on those who think they have superior logic on the subject to marshal them. Anambra State deserves the best brand of leadership that can be realised in the prevailing circumstance. Unfortunately, the trend from the class of gubernatorial hopefuls has been a celebration of ambition rather than enunciation of vision.
For all the fanfare and publicity blitz that has accompanied virtually every new declaration of interest in the governorship, we have not heard a word on how to reduce dependence on federal revenue allocation. We have not heard a word from them on how to finance infrastructural projects in the face of declining oil production and revenue. We have not heard a word on how to handle agitations for wage increase and on reducing cost of governance. There is as yet no word on practical steps to mitigate the unemployment situation. In the face of such conspicuous omissions by many a prattling aspirant, the value of ANPA’s intervention becomes even clearer.
There is a world of difference between the easy impressions we make of governance from outside and the reality that confronts us when we get inside. President Mohammadu Buhari confessed to members of the Senior Executive Course 38 of the NIPSS on Thursday, November3, 2016 that he ‘almost absconded’ from his mandate on meeting a depressed treasury. That should sober up our politicians who think that governance is going on a picnic.
In history, there comes a time in the life of a people when there emerges a protagonist who embodies the aspirations of the society. At that juncture, the interests of the protagonist and the community interweave. For us, Anambra is at that turning point today with the political journey of Willie Obiano.