By Louis Ejikeme
NO doubt there is mounting political tension in the land as Anambra State prepares to hold its governorship election come February next year. The flurry of political activity in the State is such that making permutations at this early stage is quite difficult.
The staggering number of candidates in the race to Government House, Awka and their force of commitment to unseat the incumbent underscores the fractious politics of the State.
For a number as large as the Biblical three score and ten to scramble for the governorship position, supposedly held in trust with this rare determination is indeed worrisome.
Note that to procure forms alone, just to stand for primaries, cost an aspirant between three to five million naira.This money varies according to parties. For aspirants in PDP, the stakes is a lot higher and win or lose such investment is lost without grudges.
To further accentuate the desperation of those who want to take Obiâ€™s job, a tinge of violence was covertly infused into the whole drama of the governorship race. Before the current reprieve in the State brought about by the deployment of some batches of Police Mobile Force, a whiff of political violence has begun to suffuse the environment with crimes too violent to pass unnoticed.
Not even the efforts of the State Government at providing security patrol vehicles and equipment to all the arms of security operatives, including the local vigilantes, nor the peaceful disposition of the Obi administration to unwarranted provocative attacks, could stem the tide of violence. Rather the contrived security lapse endured until the new Inspector General of Police Ogbonnaya Onovo had to intervene personally.
The expectations of the organised criminals were that sustained criminal activities would bring about public outcry and cause civil disobedience that would consume Obiâ€™s second term ambition.
Before the crisis would be put in check, the administration would have lost ample time and enough goodwill necessary to challenge those who must govern the State willy-nilly. Fortunately for the administration, the scheme petered out before it could achieve the desired effect.
However, certain questions have since continued to assail no less a diligent mind. Why would all these forces aggregate now that the State is making appreciable progress in terms of development? What wrong has Obi done that even INEC seemed determined to bring to naught the painstaking effort the State is making towards great rebirth?
Is Obi guilty of non-performance as charged? What actually is the bone of contention that certain invidious schemes would be employed just to edge him out?Â Whose interests would the anointed candidate serve if sprung to power on a flawed election?
What spectacular achievement would he wrought that cannot wait till 2014? We may never know all the answers to all the questions, but we may be hardly in error of judgment by two per cent if we return a verdict of crass opportunism on the part of those involved.
As embarrassing as the turn out of this army of candidates for the office is, so is the timing. No sane mind would not be perturbed by this sudden awakening of interest to save the State from itself, since the same State once edged onto the precipice with palpable fears of keeling over without intervention from the so-called elite.
NotÂ Â a voice was raised in condemnation. None was raised in a whimper, since the threat affected no selfish interest of theirs.
For a proper understanding of the real situation certain facts would suffice. That Peter Obi administration is just everything Mbadinujuâ€™s was not is a fact.
That it towers higher than the other administrations before it in terms of credibility, delivery and commitment is also a fact. That the current rush by that great number of candidates is an expression of frustration in the emerging new order.
Again the question is, if the administration has got it all right why have the oppositions failed to simmer down? In order to determine Obiâ€™s culpability in the whole exercise we shall seek recourse to what in literature is called stream of consciousness.
It all began way back in 1999, when in a moment of careless indiscretion the State elected Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju to preside over its affairs as Governor. Unfortunately, that era in the history of the State has come to be known as one of its sorest points as the ship of the State sailed a rudderless barque.
Inspired by that need to halt the directionless PDP government characterised by impunity and ineptitude, Obi contested the 2003 governorship election under APGA and won. He was, however, denied victory by the hawks in the State with the active connivance of the abrasive PDP-controlled Federal Government.
After about three years of tortuous legal battle, Obi recaptured his mandate only to lose it again to unconstitutional impeachment by the PDP-dominated House of Assembly.
His victorious return from impeachment was short-lived as it suffered yet another set-back with the sham gubernatorial election of 2007 which shut him out of contest. Of course, he went to court again and emerged victorious as he would in many more other battles that followed.
Note that in all these victories were victims with their retinue of hangers-on who go about in their well starched traditional outfits with frightening appellations like stake-holders, godfathers, elite and so on. Stupefied by the unusual defeats suffered in the hands of the one they rarely reckoned with as one of their own, some went away and sulked.
Others after blushing with shame still managed to come back with bogus schemes on how to continue the liquidation of the treasury but were disappointed as Obi asked them to seek meaningful employment elsewhere. He went further to plug all loopholes from where the State loses its meager income.
He did not stop there; monies paid to some privileged citizens of the State for doing nothing were equally reviewed as he put a stop to popping of wines, partying and unrestrained revelries in Government Lodge. With this Obi actually got a handful as the camp of the opposition swelled unceasingly.
As a consequence, the refrain that Obi does not carry anybody along began to gain currency even in the face of commendable achievements. To put a lie to this claim, the administration has constructed close to 400kms of roads within the extremities of the State.
Remarkable among them are the Umueze – Nmiata Anam road, Omor-Anaku -Ifite Ogwari-Omasi road, Amansea-Ebenbe-Awba-Ofemili-Ugbene-Ugbenu road, Enugwu-Abo-Ufuma road, Oye Nimo-Abacha road, Obeledu-Akweze-Aguluzoigbo-Oraeri road, Ojoto-Uno-Ojoto-Obofia road otherwise known as Mmili john road and the Lilu-Eke Ututu market in Orlu areaÂ of Imo State still under construction just to mention a few.
Other sectors are not spared developments in concrete terms.
Hitherto moribund health sector has life breath into it by building of new hospitals, renovating old ones and having accreditation secured for them while the exceptionally palatial Amaku teaching hospital nears completion.
The giant strides in education are made manifest in over one hundred primary and secondary schools renovated and equipped with appurtenances of basic learning.
While efforts in the tertiary institutions are not just visible in Mgbakwu College of Agriculture with eight new buildings already fixed butÂ both campuses of the Anambra State University of Uli and Igbariam had several facultiesÂ constructed by the Obi administration as many more are on-going.
A check around the State would show that Obi has carried the long-denied masses along the part of sustainable development in obvious negation of that claim of shutting out people from his government. Of course, those who complain most are the ones denied unmerited access to the State treasury.
This he had to do so that the new Secretariat would be built, Odor Bridge constructed as well as a Bridge built across the stubborn Ogborji River.
It may be fashionable for some to employ falsehood as an instrument of campaign, nevertheless the bar of competition has been raised higher by Obiâ€™s achievements in the State.
All that is required is for the umpire to be fair as that contest would be between the grateful masses and the aggrieved elite.
Mr. Ejikeme, a commentator on public issues, writes from Lagos.