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A governor and his awards

HIS coming to power was everything but smooth. The challenges, though contrived, presuppose that his ability to perform in office would be dulled by many years wasted while trying to validate a stolen mandate; or at best circuitous, since the factors that aided the criminal denials are not known to have abated. However, the limiting factors are gradually yielding to the subtlety of the governor’s strategy.
The determination of the Peter Obi administration in Anambra State to leave the State better than he met it has brought both the State and himself to some reckoning. The story of Anambra, its journey to statehood, is told today in glowing expletives because of the commitment of the administration to the Anambra project. His easy glide to success in the discharge of the office has shown traits of statecraft never bettered in the history of that State. His simultaneous development of the State without laying debts upon its future is a measure of administrative prowess.

But what shall we index to the administration in terms of achievements such as to elicit many awards within so short a period? What did it chalk up in terms of development that since 2007, when the Sun newspaper conferred on Mr. Obi, ‘Man of the Year’ benefit, other awards had followed without let?

Ordinarily, this should not be of any consequence at all, at least for a state that had produced many greats, had past administrations worked hard to uphold the principles of its creation since 199. But unfortunately the state was allowed to falter at every turn, sinking to a level where nobody honoured any scruple in trifling with its collective bargain; where victory sanctified usurpation; where political profiteers laid siege on the apparatus of government while impunity reigned supreme.

Expectedly, the State fell to an insufficient standing where it could not compete with other states, even in areas where it had once blazed a trail.

Those Anambrarians whose opinions mattered in difficult situations became taciturn overnight, preferring nocturnal bacchanalia in the Governor’s Lodge to speaking up in condemnation. The elite smugly ensconced, did nothing to save the state from itself. But for the strong disapproval expressed by the like of the erudite scholar, Professor Chinua Achebe and the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the state was left to lurch in lawlessness. In time, the surging impunity peaked with the abduction of the governor, leaving everybody confused as the state grappled with negative press.

However, all that have passed and the state has since moved on with the coming of the Obi administration and its development formula called the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy, (ANIDS). Designed by the administration to cater for the development needs of the state, ANIDS plans as well as appropriates the meagre resources of the state for simultaneous execution of projects in all sectors of the state economy.

As the administration exerted efforts through this formula, the state gradually moved up the ladder of recognition. Consequently, it has played host to various organisations and agencies, both within and outside the country.

For the Governor’s integrated approach to development, the Sun newspapers again gave him a “merit award” in December of 2009. Not given to unnecessary showmanship, the Governor reportedly assured those present in the quiet gathering where the event took place, that he would sustain efforts until the state meets its set target.

Other awards had followed afterwards. The Red Cross conferred on him the most worthy governor in Nigeria while naming him ambassador to Haiti. This is not without the Governor’s effort in building a brand new office for the society by the Central Police Station, Amawbia, while also donating a new bus. Cisco, the world giant in information technology, awarded him the Best Governor in Nigeria on information and communication technology.

This was on account of provision of Cisco academy in the 21 local government areas in the state on a level not known to any African state. For Onno Ruhl, the Country Director of the World Bank, the Obi administration has shown governance and capacity building in the state, hence the World Bank partners with the state in strategic projects development.

This is particularly note worthy, because apart from the fact that Mr. Ruhl was in the state for on-the-spot assessment, the World Bank was formerly in the state but had to leave in haste when it was certain the state could not get its act together. The same bank has found an enabling environment in the state and is currently partnering with the state government on many strategic projects development. Again, the state was voted some months back, as the best educationally-friendly state in the South East zone, winning as a consequence a princely sum of N100  million .
For a state which could not pay its workers’ salaries not long ago to advance this far, is no mean feat. Truth be told, if an administration could not pay even salaries of workers, of what other benefit could it be to the citizens of that state? Today salaries are not only paid as and when due, those whose promotions were stalled with strong reprimand that promotion is not a right, have had their promotions granted.  Note that such thing as the issue of salaries no longer poses any more problems to workers in the state.
The state has gone beyond that to bring development closer to the people. It can boast of having the best road network in the southeast zone. These roads traverse the entire three senatorial zones of the state, opening up erstwhile neglected hinterlands. The entire state can be accessed in a couple of minutes with minimal difficulty.
The state is currently revitalizing its educational system by renovating, equipping and computerizing both primary, secondary and of course its tertiary institutions.
Its healthcare has witnessed tremendous improvement with the building and renovation of government hospitals in the state. Amaku general hospital has been upgraded to a teaching hospital with modern buildings and equipment already in place just as Ekwulobia, Umueri, Umunze, Umuchu etc had their hospitals either built from the scratch or renovated. In fact, no sector was left unattended explaining why the awards have consistently varied.
The administration often receives commendations for its efforts in providing the state with its first secretariat complex which comes in three phases. For providing the state with two mini stadia at Onitsha North and South local councils, a stock exchange in the same Onitsha, many blocks of building at the State University in Igbariam, a long bridge at odor linking Awgbu and Amaokpala, various water schemes etc these awards were not misplaced. The vehicle of development in the state will surely not decelerate to a crawl again. And hopefully any successor will pick up from where he will stop just as he picked the road construction from his predecessor while blazing trail in many others.

Mr. Anyaduba, a commentator on national issues, writes from Lagos.

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