By Okey Onyeachonam
While it may be very early in the day to draw conclusions on the factors that would define Obiano’s tenure as Governor of Anambra State, skeptics of his abilities in government have reasoned that first week activities are not enough yardstick to determine his grasp of the flow and ebb of bureaucracy.
On the other hand, there is cause for optimism amongst those who know and believe in his ability at surmounting the odds. Some political pundits have surmised that the carnival-like inauguration of Governor Obiano and the seamless pace of activities in Awka Government House since then are signs of good things to come.
Governor Willie Obiano’s first week in office started on a high note after the Monday 17,th March 2014 colourful inauguration and handover ceremony at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka. The next day, the new Governor appeared at his desk in Government House and commenced work in earnest.
His first major assignment was the first Executive Council meeting, and thereafter, he appointed three principal officers and observed their swearing-in.
The officers include: Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Oseloka Obaze; Chief of Staff, Professor Joseph Asike and the Principal Secretary, Mr. Willie Nwokoye. While the SSG was retained at his post from the previous administration, the two others came armed with experience from the ivory tower and the private sector respectively.
Unfortunately, as often seen in these climes, allusions are already being made in some quarters to the fact that the Governor, Secretary to the State Government and the Speaker are all from Anambra North Senatorial District.
But then, it is a fact that the exigencies of delivering good governance outweigh parochial considerations in situations that were not necessarily created by the new Governor. Whereas the SSG was retained; the Speaker has been functioning as elected in that capacity. Thankfully, as would be expected of a focused technocrat, Governor Obiano marched-on unperturbed to the next assignment.
Next stop was a meeting with members of the Anambra State House of Assembly where he set the tone for a mutually respectful partnership that will bring great benefits to Anambra State.
Addressing the lawmakers, Governor Obiano said, “long before I began to take political leadership seriously, I had always known that any democracy without a strong parliament is a farce! I have known that the legislature is the true backbone of democracy and the single most important repository of the sovereign will of the people.”
Preaching the message of respect for separation of powers and checks and balances, the Governor observed at a meeting with Judges on Wednesday 19th March, 2014 that since “our country’s recent return to democracy, nowhere has the Judiciary played its role as the last hope of the common man as it has done in Anambra State.
As Obiano puts it: “Anambra’s great history with the courts does not only underscore the importance of your role in our developing society; it also shows that Ndi Anambra are increasingly becoming aware that their grievances can always be fully addressed in a court of law. This is a sign of growth. We have turned 360 degrees from where we once were to where we must be.”
The Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Peter Umeadi later took the Governor round the Judiciary and High Court complex to take stock of structures and facilities that need rehabilitation and replacement with a view to assisting in quick dispensation of Justice.
Same day, Governor Obiano inaugurated the Agriculture Committee and charged them to create agricultural revolution in Anambra State. The terms of reference for the Committee include amongst other tasks: To prepare the agriculture blueprint for Anambra; prepare funding and financing model for agriculture; carry out any research necessary for the assignment; determine the current output of each of the target crops; map the state to determine areas where specific crops can be grown for optimum yield, determine gaps in the production of each of the four target areas: rice, maize, cassava and poultry farming.
To underscore the importance of peace and security in the 189 communities in Anambra State, Governor Obiano fast-tracked consultation meetings with the Royal fathers and the Anambra Council of Elders. He told the Traditional Rulers and the Elders Council, “as custodians of our culture and tradition; leaders of thought and elders in communities, you have a big role to play in setting the ethical and moral tone for Ndi Anambra and Ndigbo in general.
We have set out on this journey to return Anambra State to a well-deserved glorious path, but we can hardly make any progress if we do not win with the people. So, I expect you at various levels in your respective communities to continue to play the role of mobilizing the critical mass of our people to accept our programmes and projects.”
In the same vein, the Governor charged the leadership of the Association of Anambra State Town Unions (ASATU), made up of the Presidents General of the 189 communities in Anambra; “my administration is sparing no effort in the fight against the criminal elements that have changed the reputation of our cities. It is high time we give RED CARDs to criminals in Anambra State and that is where you come-in.
As leaders of our town unions, you must always stand up for what is right in our society, you must devis a mechanism for identifying the bad eggs living among you, while we are creating better jobs for those willing to work.” Obiano warned the ASATU to avoid the niggling friction between them and the traditional rulers, and assured that his administration will work hard to eliminate the friction and build understanding that will preserve the peace in Anambra State.
Just when some felt that the Governor should pause for break from the busy schedule of consultations and project meetings,Obiano, showed signs of a strong leader when he threatened to penalize contractors and consultants handling government projects some of whom were suspected to be doing a shoddy job.
Addressing a large group of local and foreign contractors and consultants at the Conference Hall of Government House, Awka, Obiano threatened to terminate the job of any contractor found to be performing below expectation. He declared that his relationship with consultants would be based strictly on performance.
Earlier, the Governor assured Development partners that the cordial relationship they had with his predecessor will be sustained. He promised to work assiduously and more responsively, grow and strengthen collaborations and make it easier for donor interventions in Anambra to serve as critical building blocks to achieving the State’s development needs.
So far, Governor Obiano appears not to have broken stride all week and there is no indication that the style would change pretty soon.
Given the scale of progress recorded during the week, there is every reason to believe that the man is indeed cut-out to not just to fulfill his electioneering campaign pledge but is ready to surpass a legacy of performance left by his predecessor.