By Ayo Thomas
FOLLOWING the emergence of candidates for the November 18 Anambra State governorship election, the battle for the occupation of Awka government house has now entered its critical stage where real issues of moving the state forward and money politics synonymous with the State electioneering process are, obviously, in stiff contention. Prior to the just concluded Primaries of the main Political Parties, the claim of candidates’ link to Godfathers’ overbearing influence and their dictates was discredited but the eventual emergence of the candidates clearly indicated a connection to some very wealthy sponsors. This development being a regular feature in Anambra Elections, is rather unfortunate and constitute a blight on the beauty of “Governorship Election” that may derail the State from the trajectory of development. This scenario clearly provides the people the choice between the interest of the desperate Multi-Billionaire Godfathers and the overall development of the State.
This is the dangerous bend that the people must negotiate carefully in the next election if it must remain focus in its bid to compete favourably with developed states like Lagos. This calls for extreme caution on the part of the people in making decisions based on unnecessary sentiments or on basis of peanuts waiting to be shared at the expense of the state overall development. Every keen observer of events in Anambra is fully aware that a trap of political hijack has been set to embarrass the incumbent who has taken governance far above expectation and closer to the people. This has set the state on the path of growth and economic prosperity; a situation that may lose the people from the claws of the political exploiters and by so doing set a new political template that will finally send the godfathers and political contractors into political oblivion.
The fact remains that since the people already have Governor Obiano whom they now know so well, even if his performance is yet to meet target expectations due to some unnecessary and deliberate distractions, the signals are obvious that the State is approaching a glorious socioeconomic destination. Hence the need to strongly appeal to the good people of the state to beware and watch out for the political wolves in sheepskin all out to squander the enormous developmental goodwill built by the incumbent administration. For the overall interest of the state, the people must, therefore, consider renewing Willie Obiano`s mandate to finish the job than taking the chance of losing the course of development now in order to attain something else that may look desirable, but not.
All over the world, the people are never sophisticated enough to know and understand the politics and politricks that goes on behind the scene but their collective destiny impact on them the right, the will and are duty-bound to assess, criticize and reveal any flaws, deficiencies, and shortcomings of any government. They also reserve the right to praise and appreciate notable achievements of any administration, therefore, since transparency and accountability is the hallmark of democracy and good governance, the people should use these tools to subject Governor Obiano’s administration to public assessment, scrutiny and constructive criticism without any bias or sentiment and weigh the options against their expectations and that of the money activated promises of others aspiring to occupy the Government House.
Consequent upon the above and for about 11years, APGA has been in power in Anambra state with its leadership in the hand of dedicated and humane Governor Obiano in the last 31/2years. Now that he is seeking a new mandate to consolidate his mission in bringing about the Anambra Socioeconomic development legacies modeled after the economic miracles of the Asian Tigers; the Israel, Anglo-Americans and Indians and Chinese, the citizens should carefully do a thorough evaluation of the incumbent administration of the APGA administration and Central to this is the need to reflect on how the state overall development program and the People have fared under the leadership of Governor Obiano and the prospects for a better deal in the next four years, if giving another opportunity to govern the people.
By implication, the people have the option to take the risk of returning the State to the inglorious past or progress on the development trajectory and visible record of achievements under the APGA administration of Governor Willie Obiano whose style of leadership has shown clear signals of promising socioeconomic advancement and sustainability. The administration may not have implemented all his plans due to ash economic and political situation and within the limits of the limited resources at his disposal, the administration’s aggregate performance within this period as encapsulated in his well-articulated strategy for building a private sector-driven economy with the goal of making the State a better choice as investment destination and hub for industrialization and commercial activities in a socially stable and business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities respectively is, very commendable by any standard or parameters of assessment.
To make life better and to reduce the impact of the recession on the citizenry consequent upon the national economic recession, Governor Obiano embarked on a four pronged strategic intervention program to cushion the negative impact on the livelihood of the People for tax reviews support to micro, small and medium enterprises; special social intervention program for low income households and in intervention in infrastructure-for- job creation. In addition to these, Governor Obiano also ordered the suspension of the Sale of consolidated emblems, hawkers’ daily permit, and wheel barrow tax as well as abolished levies in public primary and secondary schools.
To Fast-track rapid economic development and inclusive growth, Governor Obiano has effectively intervened in key sectors like Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Trade and Commerce, Industrialization and logistics without diminishing special focus and attention on enablers like the security, health, education, transportation, women and children’s welfare, youth empowerment, road infrastructure, water and sanitation, environment, housing and urban development etc. The administration has demonstrated a rare courage in setting the tone for the much desired stimulation of the State Economy in his belief in strong institutions which led to the establishment of statutory governmental agencies like Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, (ANSIPPA) to drive, boost and protect the state’s public private partnerships investment; Anambra Small Business Agency, (ASBA) which has already disbursed microcredit with single digit interest rates; Awka Capital Territory Development Authority, (ACTDA); Anambra State Market Agency, (ASMA), and other such agencies designed to oversee vital aspects of developmental governance that would thrive beyond the bounds and limitations of the Obiano administration.
This in addition to the “Community Choose Your Project Initiative”, made available to delineated 181 communities in the state to show government commitment to serving the people, is indeed, commendable. By implications, communities now have a strong voice to determine the direction of government interventions in their affairs and by so doing create an opportunity to fully integrate the people into all developmental imperatives in the state.
On Education, the Chief Obiano has shown a high level of disposition to improved students’ learning condition and Teachers general wellbeing, motivation and schools infrastructural upgrade. In recent times, the state has continued to tower high in education and has succeeded in maintaining top positions in academic performances in WAEC/NECO examinations and international competition.
Several classroom blocks have been built and many others renovated and equipped with state of the art laboratory equipments; potable water provided in schools, and many Girls’ Schools securely fenced. Also faith based schools have not been left out in the goodwill by Governor Obiano who has provided and encouraged improvements in Education standards through disbursement of funds to faith-based schools to pursue qualitative Education for the school going Children.
Today, Anambra State remained viable in the face of Economic recession in spite of its non-oil revenue earning status because of the governor’s prudent management of resources and his belief in the liberalized process of doing business in the state. The fact that Anambra State is among the three states in Nigeria that are not losing sleep over workers’ salaries goes to show his sincerity and management skills and is enough to appreciate him. As a labour-friendly governor, Chief Obiano also shown a lot of goodwill and favorable disposition towards the welfare of workers in the State with prompt payment of salaries, pensions and leave allowances regularly as at when due. It is therefore not surprising to note that his humane disposition to workers welfare earned him the popular nickname, ‘bank Alert Governor’ just because workers receive their payment alert promptly every month.”
Today, it not surprising to note that his enviable level of performance has earned him the automatic support of the entire workforce in the state including the students, youths, women, farmers, traders and traditional rulers who have endorsed his second term bid as a result of the significant impact of his style of governance, the creativity and innovativeness he has brought into service delivery to the good people of the State.
No doubt, all the achievements of Governor Obiano wouldn’t have been possible in an atmosphere of corruption, crisis, chaos, disorder and insecurity. This is because, he has kept faith with the corrupt-free and unambiguous transformational agenda of his administration to develop the state and consolidate its current fourth position after Lagos, Porthacourt and Abuja as well as move up to become the Nation’s 2nd largest Economy. In the spirit of running a corrupt free administration in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s zero tolerance for corruption, the Governor has distinguish himself in this regard as no one can lay any claim to any missing Government money under any disguise.
Today, while security have been restored and Political radicalism is now of the past, Anambra is now ranked among the safest state in Nigeria to live and do business without any form of intimidation and violence unlike before where the State was notorious for violent kidnappings and all kinds of crime.
It is on record that, Chief Obiano’s administration has been able to address critical issues of security and crime rate in the state has reduced drastically to its barest minimum. His collaboration, partnership and cooperation with the security agencies like the State Police, the Military formations, State Security service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp have been enhanced through huge Donations to ensure adequate policing and effective surveillance of the state to safeguard lives and property, track criminals and burst crime in various hideouts.
With the soaring retinue of high profile supporters appreciating the Anambra State Development project under Governor Obiano ranging from Industrialists/manufacturers, Political key players, Elder statesmen, eminent persons, former National political/public office holders, Notable international personalities, top religious leaders, members of the labour, market, transport, Student and Youth etc., it is just expedient to remind Anambrarians that the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERG-P) of the Buahri Administration has found a worthy partner in Governor Willie Obiano and his series of development initiatives that his administration is implementing to set the state on path of socioeconomic transformation into the “Real light of the Nation”.
While he is better equipped to do more and serve the people selflessly, renewal of Gov. Obiano’s mandate will, no doubt, make Anambra shine and take its place as the Pride of the Nation; let’s give him the chance to accomplish his mission.
Long Anambra State, Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria
Ayo Thomas, a Public affairs Commentator and Lead Advocate, Civil Leadership Association of Nigeria (CLEAN), sent this piece from Ibadan, Oyo State