— 13th March 2018
By Chuks Iloegbunam
Although the world hardly knows this, the Willie Obiano administration is currently in more exciting times than during the political barnstorming that culminated in his reelection. All the meetings, all the workshops, all the strategy sessions, all the commissioned studies since initiated are aimed at one thing: LEGACY! Governor Willie Obiano currently dreams, talks, walks and exudes legacy! That is why Anambra State is on a pivotal date with history, the threshold of a new dawn. That dawn begins on St. Patrick’s Day – March 17, 2018 – when Chief Obiano will mount the rostrum at Awka’s Ekwueme Square, to take for the repeated, momentous occasion both the Oath of Office and the Oath of Allegiance, to mark the commencement of his second and final term of governorship.
This article is not intended to steal the Anambra State Governor’s thunder. No. He will himself articulate in his inaugural address the plans, procedures, programmes and purposes that will propel Ndi Anambra as a blessed people set apart for peace, plenty and progress, an entity whose motto of “Light of the Nation” duly and wholly becomes it. But, because the odd snippets are allowed, it must be recalled that Governor Obiano had given his word that he aimed to have established by the end of his eighth year in office a new, thriving Anambra State thriving – with or without statutory appropriations from Abuja. It is apposite also to discuss afresh the Umueri Airport City or Aerotropolis.
When the instruments for the construction of the Umueri Airport were initialed last year, the governor promised that it would be open for business in three years, to mark the distinction between those who dreamt and the plethora of others whose dreams were, in essence, no more than wishful thinking. The Umueri Airport will be the first of its kind anywhere south of the Sahara, moving both passengers and cargoes, serving as a centre for the repair and servicing of aircraft, and operating as a refueling station for local and international airplanes and airliners. The airport city will generate direct jobs by the hundreds and indirect ones by the thousands. That is the notion of the aerotropolis. That is one of the legacy projects schemed to come to fruition during Governor Obiano’s second term.
Without question, a genuine political leader intent on imbuing his area of jurisdiction with self-reliance could do with all possible support. Such a leader must have all hands on deck, and all the constituents pulling in one direction. That was the political engineering Governor Obiano accomplished after the result of the November 18, 2017, gubernatorial election showed that he had defeated his opponents by a landslide, winning overwhelmingly in all the 21 local government areas of the state.
Such a comprehensive victory often afflicted the shallow-minded with delusions of divinity. Yet, Obiano disdained triumphalism. Rather, with a passionate plea on his lips, he reached out to all those that fought the election against him, visiting them in their homes, and granting them audience at the Government Lodge. Come, he said to one and all, let us join hands and build a better Anambra that we all will proudly call home, a new society that posterity will be even prouder to call homeland.
If people examined Anambra State today, they would discover that the acerbity that characterised much of the election campaigns has given way to a fresh vista of reason and dialogue.
The childish scuffles of partisanship have been replaced by the maturity of statesmanship. It is thanks to Obiano’s perspicacity that, of the mindset of every key Anambra political player today, the experiential benefits of the passage of time in St. Paul’s letter (1 Corinthians 13:11) can be cited: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
The childishness of partisanship has been overtaken by a maturity seeking to generally move Anambra forward. This latter-day maturity will play out in many departments, one of which deserves a mention. Nationally speaking, Anambra currently enjoys preeminence in educational standards – from primary through secondary to tertiary levels. But, for Governor Obiano, the primacy in this sector represents only a clarion call for consolidation. Reports on commissioned studies by education experts have reached the governor’s desk.
The implementation of their recommendations commences on inauguration morning, to ensure better and adequate staffing of teaching personnel, their constant retraining, and increased incentives for those working in backwaters and others teaching special subjects. This will ensure that Anambra, where Governor Obiano, decreed and executed the demolition of the so-called examination “miracle centres,” will remain numero uno in education – the fundamental pedestal for development.
Outside the strategic field of education, there is a tactical realm crying for speedy attention. The Federal Government owes Anambra State a whopping N43.8 billion in refunds for federal roads repaired and constructed by the Obiano administration. This gargantuan debt is years old. Seeing no reason for the dramatic, Governor Obiano has never gone out, loudhailer in hand, demanding the refund.
He has continued to use the quiet, diplomatic approach, although most other states similarly owed have since smiled to various banks. All voices, especially those of Anambra’s political class of nascent maturity, must now team as one to ask Abuja to, please, pay up. Fate has dealt Obiano the card of directing his people’s affairs; the debt settlement will add resonance to the truism that Willie Is Working!