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Anambra: Obiano’s five years of failed promises

By Pamela Eboh, Awka on 24/03/2019

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•Governor Obiano
•Governor Obiano

There is a popular saying that a promise is a debt but that statement appears to be vague in the political arena as most promises given by politicians during electioneering campaigns end up in the dump. Suffice to say that most promises made by politicians are only empty statements mostly done to water the ground and curry favour from the electorate.

Like every other state, Anambra State has had its fair share of those unfulfilled promises since the rebirth of democracy in Nigeria. Some promises are, no doubt, borne out of political expediency of tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear-and-get-their-votes, some caused by pressure to satisfy political god-fathers and minstrels, while some others are borne out of selfishness on the part of the leader in question.

Like every other political figure that has blazed the trail of Anambra political jungle, Governor Willie Obiano came on board from the banking industry with his own unique portfolio and backlog of promises.

On assumption of office, he presented a clean persona of an American returnee with the magic wand to turn Anambra State into the Dubai of Africa. Part of his road map to achieving that goal was the construction of three fly over bridges along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway, improving on power generation so the state could have constant power supply, street lights, cargo airport, making Anambra State an oil-producing state, and lately providing shuttle buses to replace motorbike (Okada), security (nightlife), attracting high caliber investors to come to invest in the state, etc.

With five years on the political journey and with only three years left to hand over the baton, the question one may ask is: Has Obiano lived up to his promises? According to a political analyst, Emmanuel Nwobi, the governor has done too little to compare with what his predecessor, Peter Obi, achieved.

Nwobi said: “We expected him to up the ante, but he could not do that.

“Out of the many promises he made, only the flyover bridges, street lights and improved security of lives can be said to have been achieved.

“What exactly has Obiano done apart from the three flyover bridges which to me are not necessary? If you talk of adding beauty to the road, well that can fly but other than that, it’s simply a monument of cement. What’s the need of building a flyover bridge that big lorries cannot ply. Then you talk of the terrible grid-lock it causes at Aroma end on a daily basis.

“It would have even been better if the money spent in building those flyover bridges was used to construct a new and bigger market to relocate the Eke Awka market. The location of that market needs to be looked into, it is a mess and hawkers now use half of the road to display their wares, making that area impassable majority of the time,” he stated.

Though the flyover bridges was a project promised and delivered in the nick of time, same cannot be said for the cargo airport Umueri and the improved power supply in the capital city. Despite the media and photo album hype, the cargo airport project remains a project only on signboards. The location for the airport remains a ghost of itself after the initial clearing of the area. Feelers have it that as much as the governor wants to get the airport up and running, that transport owners have prevailed on him not to go ahead with the project as it would adversely affect their business.

According to an inside source who spoke to News Express on the condition of anonymity, “His Excellency has a listening ear and there are people he cannot afford not to listen to. A lot of big shots came to him as soon as he made that pronouncement that he was going to build a cargo airport in the state. Based on those visits, he soft-pedaled but there’s no way he can come out to say that to Anambra people. The same thing happened in the event of the ban of Okada (commercial motorcyclists). Motorcycle dealers ran to him to drop the idea to avoid the crash of their means of livelihood. That was exactly why Okada was not banned in some parts of the state like Nnewi, Ekwulobia, etc.”

But on the contrary, former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, during the debate for Anambra State governorship election in 2017, described the airport project as a subterfuge, saying that there is no way an airport can be built in the state. Chidoka said: “I totally disagree with the airport proposal. Anambra does not need an airport for $2.2 billion when the Federal Government used $500 million to build four terminals.

“How can the Federal Government borrow $400 million from China and put its own $100 million to build four terminals with repayment of $12.5 million every quarter and Anambra government alone invited the Chinese to build airport project for $2.2 billion. How much will it be paying at that amount?

“How much does Lagos International Airport cost us? What we will do is to build a small airport and grow it organically. An airport is a runway, not terminal building or cargo shed.”

He said the airport project needed basic infrastructure, which was necessary to enable the facility to grow according to market forces.

Chidoka added: “The whole passenger flow in Nigeria’s airport is between five and six million passengers annually. What will be the share of Anambra from that traffic?

“Heathrow Airport grew from terminal one to terminal two and now terminal five. There is no traffic study for the proposed airport; no passengers data too. They said it will be a cargo airport and fuel dump. Where is the fuel and refining capacity for Jet A1 here?

“Let us come down from this high horse. There is no five-star hotel in the whole of South East zone because the economy has not supported it. Why telling us then that you want to build a five-star hotel in Aguleri Airport?”

News Express reports that in April 2017, Governor Obiano flagged off the Anambra International Cargo Airport Project for the cost of $2.2 billion. During the flag-off ceremony, the Governor touted the airport as one that will stand the test of time. He boasted that it would not just be an airport, but an airport city project (Aerodrome) as it would feature a fuel dump for airplanes and plane maintenance section.

His words: “This means that planes around Nigeria will stop over for refueling and maintenance at Umueri here.

“The project will attract at least 5,000 direct and indirect jobs for Ndi Anambra, and the good thing is that it is financed by a Chinese company, Sinoking. It will also feature a 5-Star hotel, too.

Obiano gave a 24 months duration for the completion of the airport but with few days to April and two days down the line, there is no sign of an airport project going on anywhere neither is there any lying anywhere, waiting to be commissioned for use. For the improved power supply, it was learnt that it was clandestinely moved to the governor’s country home where the villagers are allegedly said to be enjoying steady power supply.

Obiano has severally hailed himself as the lion in the jungle; the only governor that has garnered several awards both home and abroad for standing out among the rest, but like rain which falls and dries out in no time, awards come and go but legacies stand the test of time.

Apart from the ecstatic view of the Enugu/Onitsha expressway and the street lights that adorn the city at night, the expectations of Anambrarians was that Obiano would give a face lift to some ageing roads in the state, but rather a mere palliative approach was deployed to fix the roads to the detriment of road users as the patch wears out in no time. Most of the roads in the state are suffering the wear and tear of flood and erosion menace and cannot possibly be saved by mere repair.

Leadership is like a race that only time and service can determine the place of the leader long after he/she is gone. While some are utterly tucked in the bag of history after they have left the corridors of power, others remain as role models in the sands of time for generations to come.

While some political pundits are of the view that Obiano deserves backhand ovation, some say he broke the grounds and impressed.

But, only time can define his place in the political chessboard of Anambra politics.

Source News Express

Posted 24/03/2019 09:47:52 AM





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