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Musings on the Andy Uba challenge

By Uchenna Nwankwo

FOR too long, the incumbent Peter Obi administration in Anambra State has bombarded us with signposts of his supposed achievement in office, reeling out the number of kilometre of state roads it has tarred, the public toilets it has built, etc. But an in-depth analysis of Obi’s performance, however, shows alarming deficiencies in the most important areas.

Surely, a development strategy or agenda that has not created a single job in four years, and has not been able to arrest the alarming decline in industrial and agricultural output of the state, indeed, the virtual collapse of the real sector, and has not elevated the people’s morale, sense of purpose, psyche and outlook in any tangible manner cannot be adjudged successful. It certainly calls for a rethink.

Graduate unemployment in Anambra State is over 80 per cent and rising. This should be contrasted with the figure for the South West which shows graduate unemployment to be less than five per cent. Exodus of quality manpower from Anambra State is still on the increase, leaving the state desolate and without endearing economic foundations. Thus, apathy and hopelessness remain the lot of many in the state.

Even the task of providing basic infrastructure which seems to be the singular focus of the state government is tackled rather perfunctorily and uninspiringly. Supply of potable water is an aberration in many parts of the state. Public schools and educational facilities are dilapidated and unattractive, forcing parents to patronise the emergent private schools and educational institutions outside the state.

The major urban centres of Anambra State, Onitsha and Awka, are really dead cities in dire need of surgical urban renewal schemes. Nnewi has grown organically into an unattractive urban slum. Indeed, the entire state, especially the Onitsha-Awka-Ekwulobia-Nnewi-Onitsha quadrangle is fast turning into one huge urban jungle and slum settlement. Talk of development!

The truth of the matter is that Anambra State is in total decline, with gully erosion washing away many communities. The security situation in the state is of course another source of worry. The police in the state operate more like an occupation army.

The South East has progressively been turned into the country’s newest minority, with the least representation in the National Assembly. Yar’Adua may wisely have returned the 49 oil wells seized from Imo and Abia states, but has the Federal Government returned the over three decades of confiscated revenue that accrued from the oil wells to the affected states?

The oil and gas resources in Anambra State were embargoed from exploitation and declared strategic national reserve by a capricious Federal Government intent on denying Anambra State in dire need of the oil revenue. But for years now, the oil resource in the Ogbaru/Idemili basin of Anambra state is being tapped from across the River Niger as Delta State oil, just to short-change  Anambra State and keep her down and poverty-stricken, and of course  ensure that life in the state is brutish and short.

These are weighty issues that affect the very life and wellbeing of the people; issues that are so strategic we cannot afford to ignore them and continue to prattle only about internal physical development effort.

One can go on and on. But what actually agitates the mind is that in the face of all these provocations and humiliation, all that Peter Obi’s development strategy speaks of is the business of erecting basic infrastructure, to the exclusion of strategic initiatives that the ugly situation calls for. Surely, Obi’s restrictive dim approach cannot represent the vision of the founding fathers of the APGA party which he pretends to be leading in the state.

Little wonder he abandoned the party and ran a one-man government these past four years only to come round at this eleventh hour to “embrace” it and use same as a political vehicle to seek re-election. Of course, I should know the intendments of the founding fathers of APGA. I was not only a founding member of the party, I and Prof Ben Obumselu wrote the Manifesto of the party. Actually, I only assisted the venerable Prof in doing the job. But the moment the likes of Peter Obi and Ojukwu hijacked APGA, united as it were by the proverbial cash-nexus, I promptly resigned from the party in January 2003.

Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu has himself intoned his hope and wish that Ndigbo will in his life-time be saved from the quagmire they were led into. Good talk! But will this lofty objective be accomplished merely by tarring roads and building public toilets, or by sustaining Peter Obi’s dog-in-the-manger government? Clearly, it is either that Peter Obi does not understand the issues raised above or he is too scared of the ‘cabal’ to raise a whimper, or both.  Obi, remains in the good books of the cabal.

That is the kind of man they made governor!! And of course Ojukwu, the so-called champion of Igbo freedom and resurgence, is supporting him and wants Obi to remain Governor of Anambra state!!! Well, Andy Uba has thrown his hat into the ring and has promised to address the pertinent issues raised above  if elected governor. That is the Andy Uba challenge! Why don’t we give him a chance?

Mr. Nwankwo, writes from Lagos.www.movup-nigeria.org


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