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Obiano and Anambra’s interesting politics, By Casmir Igbokwe

By News Express on 28/06/2017

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•Casmir Igbokwe.
•Casmir Igbokwe.

Dr Chris Ngige was harassed, embarrassed and kidnapped. That was when he was the Governor of Anambra State in 2003. Today, he is a minister of the federal republic and a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He sure wants to come back to the Governor’s Lodge in Awka, someday. 

It is not certain if Ngige will contest this year. What is certain though is that there will be tension, intrigues, and brickbats as Anambrarians go to the polls to elect a new governor in November this year.

The incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, wants a second term. Naturally, his supporters want us to believe that he has done marvellously well. The signature tune is Willie is working.

In different parts of Anambra, the Willie is working billboards stare at people. You will see it on buses, on roads, on bridges and so on. Each time I travel home, I see the one at Igboukwu, in Aguata Local Government Area of the state. It is strategically mounted at the spot where the road is very bad. The road has been and continues to be a nightmare to motorists. What the government did was to heap some red sand on the road to make it a bit motorable, hence, the Willie is working billboard.

But, is Willie really working? His acolytes believe he is a miracle worker. They cite the three flyover bridges at Awka, as an example. Sited on a federal road, the bridges have some decorations which have also elicited some chest-beating and thumbs-up in some quarters.  

Recently, the governor inaugurated Anambra City Airport project at Umueri. According to him, the over $2 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) and the take-over of Agulu Lake Hotel Resort by Golden Tulip group is a thing of pride.  

I have not forgotten the ugu and onugbu revenue stream. The state government claims that the export of these vegetables has yielded millions of dollars to the state. Even yam and rice are also said to be a big source of revenue to the state. 

The state government also prides itself as one of the states where workers are not owed salaries. At this year’s May Day, the governor enthused that he was able to pay workers, even in this period of recession when many states owe arrears of salaries. In appreciation, the workers reportedly endorsed him for a second term in office.  

Even the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, is not left out in this endorsement galore. The Professor looked at all the perceived beautiful things Obiano is doing in the state and felt he should be allowed to complete his second term.  

Soludo said: “There will be vacancy at Government House after the next four years, and anyone can contest. In the meantime, the Working Willie as our Chief Servant can continue to serve and lead Anambra, as a truly emerging start-up state, while we, the people, collectively support and drive the investment boom.”

Although critics say Soludo endorsed Obiano because the governor promised to hand over to him after his tenure and also grant his community, Umueze Isuofia, a.k.a. Isuanioma, an autonomous status, there have been some other endorsements from some citizens of the state.

One of them is Osodieme, Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano. As the name implies, she has been helping her husband manage the affairs of the state. When I saw the banners bearing her picture and that of her husband waving to people in strategic locations in Anambra last December, I concluded that Willie, indeed, is a lucky man.

If you think Osodieme’s endorsement is a non-issue, remember that not all wives support their husbands in political adventures. Aisha Buhari comes to mind here. Sometime last year, Mrs Buhari said she would not campaign for her husband’s return to Aso Rock, if the man failed to change from some of his perceived bad policies. This prompted the famous President’s statement that his wife belongs to his kitchen, living room and the other room.

In terms of security, the governor has also received applause. He consolidated on his immediate predecessor’s efforts to rout kidnappers out of Anambra. The state is relatively peaceful now and people can move about without fear.

In the area of infrastructure, more needs to be done. Many roads in Anambra are dilapidating. I was in the state during Easter and early June this year. What I saw of the roads is not encouraging. The road leading to Tansi International College, Okpuno-Awka, for instance, is in a terrible state. But instead of concentrating to repair these roads and build new ones, the government is building bridges on a federal road where they are not needed.

The Awka-Onitsha Road where the three flyover bridges are mounted is in a serious state of disrepair. The money used in building and decorating the bridges could have been better utilised in repairing that road. Some critics have described them as monuments of cement. Although the cost, which some insiders have estimated at N15 billion, is not certain, the bridges are said to be cracking. The government has even restricted articulated vehicles from plying the bridge.

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) calls it decorative and cosmetic governance. The group averred: “In Obiano’s flyovers located at Amawbia, Akwata and Arroma junctions, all in Awka, cracks have set in from the foundation level in several parts of the bridge, and there is the danger of the bridge collapsing anytime owing to poor construction… We are seeing street lights in various parts of the state and road sweepers across the major highways of Awka and Onitsha. These are quite commendable and we sing in unison too in CLO that ‘Willie is working’. But after seeing street lights and sweepers but you cannot access your home, because of failed road portions and mounds of refuse heaps, it becomes a serious anticlimax.”

 The governor also needs to do something about his perceived profligacy. The CLO estimated that “about N560 million was allegedly expended in the anniversary jamboree in the midst of several abandoned projects dotting different parts of the state. While the CLO is not in any way opposed to celebration and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the state, the ostentation with which certain things are done by the present administration is obscene, and calls to question the administration’s regard for modesty and prudence.”

The questions are: How much was actually spent on the anniversary celebration of the state recently? Is it true that the governor wasted millions of the state’s hard-earned money to sponsor over 100 people to the United States to celebrate his daughter’s graduation? Is it true that the costs of some projects like the bridges are over-inflated? Is it true that millions of naira is spent on champagnes in Government House?

Government, at all levels, must be transparent and accountable to the people. Genuine answers to the above posers by the Obiano administration will help in giving him strong immunity against the plots of the opposition, including Ngige and his APC. We shall come up with more interventions as the election date draws near.

•Casmir Igbokwe, Editor-in-Chief of The Union newspaper, is an Anambra indigene resident in Lagos.

Source News Express

Posted 28/06/2017 6:50:22 PM


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