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Gov Obiano Deepening APGA’s Tradition of Good Governance

Okechukwu Anarado

It has been proven that the survival of a people is dependent upon their crucial interpretation of their experiences; the plain encounters meaning less. The choices people make therefore define the temper of their narrative. The evolution of Anambra State from various degrees of the objectionable fiefdom of its early years, through the trudge of self discovery in its later years, to the genial polity it exemplifies today, speaks of the shades of the citizens’ response to the nuances of the state’s politics over time. Baring the immodesty in limiting hindsight, it just might be apposite to put aside the shallow governmental experiments of the military Commanders-in-Chief who both decreed the birth of Anambra State in 1991 and dictated the turns its infancy took until the Fourth Republic in 1999.

Like with the creation of Anambra State in 1991, palpable excitement filled the state’s geopolitical space when the Fourth Republic was announced; but again, the enthusiasm soon fizzled out with the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party’s leadership to address the needs of the people. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s failed government (1999 – 2003) was wholly consequent upon his party’s weird demands on him. The avarice among a crop of indigenous PDP chieftains, with the brash connivance of the Presidency, sealed the hapless governor’s fate as a failure. So it was: the first experience of Fourth Republic democracy in Anambra was abysmally disappointing and intensely repulsive. This perhaps necessitated prompt revulsion among Igbo leaders who, irrespective of conflicting party affiliations, acted in agreement with George William Rutler’s creed that a people should ‘be able to acknowledge … one thing which should become … one intuitive gift by which they become vernacular inhabitants of a long culture.’ The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, emerged as a veritable medium positioned to deliver committed homegrown governance of self development in the context of the challenging union Nigeria meant. This sublime drive compelled APGA-support, albeit covertly, from the likes of Chuba Okadigbo whose foresightedness was not beclouded by the comforts the ruling party offered them.

The All Progressive Grand Alliance under the supreme Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, readily provided the platform and the voice. Ndi-Anambra and the leadership of APGA, guided by the fiery and indefatigable national officer who became the National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, stoutly resisted the ruling party’s electoral effrontery which sought to silence the relevance of the state electorate. Indeed the belief that APGA overran the South-East was rife; unfortunately though, the belief could only take flesh in Anambra.

APGA’s victory broke the hegemonic stranglehold that had estranged the sanctuary-holding of Ndigbo even in the confines of their geopolitical space. Anambra State has since then maintained a lead-picture of an Igbo state in its true struggle to prove the ingenuity of Igbos amidst progressive national divisive threats and dwindling national cake. Chief Peter Obi’s eight year APGA government in Anambra (17th March 2006 to March 2014) released the latent development energies in the state and its people. These were duly captured in Anambra Integrated Development Strategy which gave the state an impressive reckoning among performing states in the country. Thus were APGA’s structure and tradition of good governance founded in Anambra State. This eighth year root has blossomed under the watch of Governor Willie Obiano whose crucial roles as the Chairman of Board of Trustees of APGA and the National Leader of the party combine to demand first rate performance in state governance and party grooming. Little wonder the prevailing impressive development strides in Anambra, and APGA’s expanding territory notable in its electoral successes beyond its traditional South-East stronghold.

Irrespective of the efforts of the opposition to negate the Governor Obiano’s development strides, his achievements in less than three years of heading Anambra affairs favorably challenge whatever claims any other might lay to good state governance within a similar time frame. As an accountant of great repute, an auditor of impeccable bearing, a revered banker, a development economist and a renowned administrator with a charitable heart, Chief Obiano reserves the liberty and boldness to dream big dreams and be critically creative. He effectively combines conceptualization of lofty ideas with eagerness and ability to transform such thoughts to fruition. But for copious expressions of these capabilities, Chief Obiano could not have effectively done a security mapping of Anambra State in the first month of his administration which enabled him identify crime flash points and other tendencies that fed criminality in the state. Availing himself of the relevant statistics, Obiano dug in to fight crime. And since then he has continued to live ahead of erstwhile official speculations on crime fighting in the state. The result of this is steady improvement in the safety indices of lives and property in Anambra State. The enviable tag of ‘Safest State in Nigeria,’ which Anambra earned shortly after Obiano took charge, hangs on still. The opposition seeks to shoot down this fact, even though its membership largely includes beneficiaries of the former beneficent presidency and a select few who now enjoy choice privileges of the present, who therefore should be most appreciative of the premium safety the state offers them. The crime free festivities of 2016 Christmas in Anambra State were most remarkable and instructive.

Again of note are the well appointed three flyovers adorning the landscape of Awka metropolis, the very strategic bridge across Omambala River leading to the oil fields at Ezi-Agulu-Otu - the longest bridge done by any state government South-East of the Niger, and so many other roads either linking built up communities or leading to agricultural and industrial layouts. Indeed apart from Obiano’s outstanding achievements in his four cardinal pillars of economic development plan of Agriculture (mechanized and commercial), Industrialization, Oil and Gas, and Trade and Commerce, his effective deployment of the economic enablers of Security, Health, Education, Road Infrastructure, Youth and Women Empowerment, Power Generation etc has continued to spell gross growth and stability of the state’s economy.

Obiano’s harsh critics merely engage in their trade because of their bizarre choice to mind less the litany of good governance pointers adorning the state. Not the prompt payments of workers’ salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities; not the unsolicited 15% increase of workers’ salary across board; not the recession reliefs in terms of the economic stimulus policy of the administration; not the increasing prizes Anambra students and teachers continue to win in national and international competitions; and of course not the government’s stiff regulation against unacceptable levies and random charges in public schools tell the Anambra story well enough. To the critics, Obiano must go so they might gamble with some selfish possibilities any other might offer them.

In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘Prophecy requires memory,’ just as George Santayana posits that ‘Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness … and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetuated. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it … This is the condition of children and barbarians, in whom instinct has learned nothing from experience.’

Let no one’s impudent arrogance lure him into thinking himself a kingdom, just for the privilege of once bearing the crown; let no man arrogate mankind to himself for the simple reason of being a privileged male character of expansive wealth and influence: both kingdom and mankind are more accommodating phenomena than some individuals would wish. As the 2017 Anambra gubernatorial poll inches in, Ndi-Anambra should be conscious of the ‘all chiefs no Indian mentality’ of the cult of money bags already masquerading afield to bleed the state. The citizens, in their wakefulness, should heed Achebe’s admonition that ‘the time has come when we must assume responsibility for our problems and our situation and resist the temptation to blame other people.’

The bountiful gains of Chief Willie Obiano’s vision and mission even in the face of daunting national/global economic calamity commend him to Ndi-Anambra for reelection to enable him further the frontiers of good governance in line with the APGA heritage he bears. No other that might be in the race enjoys the endorsement of eternal spirit of Ndi-Anambra as much as Chief Willie Obiano.

Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu

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