IN 2002, when Mr. Peter Obi threw his towel into the political arena of Anambra State, many wondered what prompted the gentle and soft-spoken young man to dare the political jungle of the state.
Not even the knowledge of the profoundly deep pocket of Mr. Obi could explain his will to wade into the murky waters of politics, particularly the brand that Anambra State traded; for then the state was at the height of its political hemorrhage.
At that time, Mr. Obi might not be the wealthiest Anambra man, but even his detractors would not deny him privileged membership of the select wealthy who understand the mores and lures of riches amidst the ambience of comfort and luxury. But having conquered every tendency of material deprivation early in life, Mr. Obi willingly opted for a modest and unassuming life. Invariably, this choice freed him from the weight of excess luggage which consciousness of his mega material worth would have laid on his shoulders.
Realising that a decadent society spares neither the rich nor the poor, and having seen through the hollow politics of the gladiators in his state of Anambra, Mr. Obi set sail for service to correct the errors bedeviling the institutions of government among his people. Being a developmental economist, he sought to strike a balance between the needs of Ndi-Anambra and the capacity of their resources to meet those needs.
Though he had been engaged in splashes of philanthropic outreach to individuals and institutions, such assistance could hardly impact well enough on the greater majority of the people who were weighed down by the effect of poor planning which was the hallmark of past administrations. He therefore needed to explore the possibilities of engendering a systemic change towards comprehensive transformation of the state and her people.
His decision to participate in the unruliness that characterised the politics of that moment astounded Mr. Obi’s numerous admirers in the business world. As one wondered if Mr. Obi was mindful of the weighty challenge this task meant, not a few of those who knew him well were bewildered over the cost of the choice he made.
‘How could Peter put aside the high profile and cerebral boardroom politics, where he has not only excelled but has the future looking even better, and choose rather to wallow in the intrigues and uncertainties of the politics of public governance, where everyone is a claimant to expertise?’ But wonder as people did, Mr. Obi was set for the plunge.
In 2002, Anambra could rightly be tagged a failing state; and between 2003 and 2006, when the Peoples Democratic Party spuriously installed and sustained Dr. Chris Ngige as governor, the state experienced an abysmal free-fall as the brigandry spared none. The brazen abduction of Governor Chris Ngige heightened what Governor Obi often describes as ‘the lunatics taking over the asylum’.
There was palpable fear since the vulnerability of the number one citizen to the rascality of charlatans availed everyone no respite. All sorts of men fronting the presidency paraded their army of unruly youths who unleashed mayhem without scruples at the prompting of their local warlords. And those ‘civilian generals’ made sure that none had peace. Despair loomed while the people only took recourse to God in prayers.
That was Anambra State before the emergence of Mr. Peter Obi as governor. This tells the enormity of work that needed to be done to clear the Augean stables of the savage political culture that became the norm in the State. Mr. Obi dared the herculean task; and like Heracles, liberally deployed courage, self confidence, brilliance, iron-cast will and physical strength in striking a reconnect with the civility that is congruous with the plausible heritage of the state. He was propelled more by the zeal to reinvent the lost glory of Ndi-Anambra than by the glamour and lures the office might hold.
This passion has continued to translate to the physical transformation of the entire landscape of Anambra State. It has reinvented functional value system among Ndi-Anambra.
Regardless of whatever angle from where anyone might decide to evaluate Governor Obi’s administration, it is beyond doubt that it has made unprecedented impact in simultaneously developing every sector of the state’s interest. The government has revived the education sector by massive reconstruction and equipping of schools, thereby providing the enablement for effective learning.
By this act, functional growth of society is ensured. The youths have ceased to be wayward and restive because they are now gainfully engaged in legitimate and profitable pursuits. Governor Obi has school visitations as one of his cardinal concerns. Not only do the visits guarantee uplift in the infrastructural status of the schools, his warm interactions with the pupils and students in the schools enliven, ennoble as well as embolden the children to see themselves as veritable leaders of tomorrow. They are therefore urged to work hard to ensure the fruition of their dreams.
In every sector, the octopus-like Anambra Integrated Development Strategy, ANIDS, which drives the multi-sectorial simultaneous development of the state is visibly touching the lives of the people. A fair look at the economy of the state presents a very healthy bill comparable to none in the states of the Federation.
Despite the many projects of the government (completed and on-going), Anambra still meets her financial obligations without owing any institution. While before now, the state government had no viable investment anywhere, today both the state and its local governments have huge and secured investments in thriving industries and business concerns.
Mr. OKECHUKWU ANARADO, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.