Speaks on Gov. Willie Obano, Anambra Guber election
By Emeka Mamah
Today, we conclude the interview with former APGA chairman, Chief Victor Umeh. Excerpts:
Willie Obiano was among the governors who won Governor of the Year award because of what he has done for the people like freeing Anambra state from kidnappers and other violent crimes but his efforts are not being recognised in some areas of the state
This is politics for you. Governor Willie Obiano has done exceedingly well in three years in office. I am in a position to give you the history because I have been involved in the politics of that state for the past 18 years since 1998 till now going to 19 years. So, I can tell you how things were at various times since 1999 in Anambra State.
There is no governor the state has had from 1999 that has done half of what Obiano has done in three years in of his first term in office. Obi’s first four years were marred by great political instability.
He was impeached, removed from office, we brought him back; election was conducted, Andy Ubah went in for 17 days and the Supreme Court removed him. Obi returned, worked with a very aggressive opposition so he was mumbling to use the right words in his first four years. He was struggling to do one or two things.
Things were really difficult. It was in Obi’s second term when APGA took over the House of Assembly that he was able to do so much. His last four years were the golden time for Anambra State.
By that time Jega had come in, conducted the 2011 general elections and APGA was able to win majority of the seats in the House of Assembly and complementing the executive arm of government Obi was in charge of, he made a giant leap in governance including the return of schools to missions, built roads.
So it became a golden era. His first four years were marred with political instability so he achieved so little or nothing. That was why his second term election was difficult. It took Ojukwu’s desperation to ask the people of Anambra State to vote for Obi as his last wish because he was weak.
In rallies Ojukwu cried out that Anambra people should do this for him as his last wish and he would start with an emotion laden voice to say it and people would be moved to tears. He would say, Look at me, I don’t know, you may not see me again.
This is my last wish, do this for me. So, Obi was taken into his second term not because of his record of any wonderful performance in office but in answer to the clarion call by the late sage, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimagwu Ojukwu that that should be the last thing our people should do for him. So, if it was by his achievements in office, Ojukwu would not be crying, asking for support for him.
Putting it in context with Obiano’s three years in office, I can tell you that the governor has done exceedingly well. Comparatively, his three years in office is far better than four years in office of his predecessors. I am from the state and I know what he has done.
It is therefore not surprising to me that he has cleared all the awards in Nigeria since 2015 December. He has a galaxy of awards and something you would take away from this is that it is not for nothing that he is winning all these.
He has done very well in the area of security, Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria today. Before he mounted the saddle, Anambra was known for violent kidnappings and all kinds of crime. That is the way to size somebody who is stepping into governance. Then in the areas of infrastructural development, agricultural revolution, industrialisation, youth empowerment, he has done so much. The state capital has been transformed.
If you pass through Awka now you’ll be happy. The major highway running through Awka is a delight to move through with three flyovers that were all built within a record time. He is very ambitious too. Just on 11th of April, he flagged off the international cargo airport city at Umueri in the state in partnership with multi- national groups, financial group, Chinese and other investors. They are building a $2 billion airport city at Umueri, where we shall have international air cargo operations and with other allied developments within petroleum, they are building a refinery.
It is going to be built on the basis of build, operate, manage and transfer so the investors that are there the Chinese and the other multi -national groups that are going to bring this money are very serious. So, by the time he does a second term in office you would see that nobody would dare to compare his time in office in eight years with the previous ones. I now come to reflect your comment that his achievements are not reflected in the comments of people.
He is going to face an election in November this year. If the opposition agrees that he has done well, what are they going to do in that election? They must continue to say that he has failed for them to do propaganda and come to take part in that election but our people are taking stocks. There are so many innovations he has brought into governance.
He introduced choose your community scheme where every community no matter how small you are; you choose a project that would cost N20 million by yourselves, then we will make available the money then you build the project. He has done the first phase. Some chose town halls some chose water, some chose schools and so many things, markets and all kinds of things were chosen by various communities according to their needs.
Government made available N20 million each to these communities and they were able to execute these projects now he has launched the second phase. Another N20 million. We know the people who want to take power in the state and what they have done in the past and we know they cannot be different today or in the future, so let nobody deceive you. This election is going to be won by governor Obiano and APGA. The success story in Anambra state today is possible because of APGA. APGA has a character that is very unique and that character is what enables whoever becomes the governor to be allowed to govern in accordance to his own programmes and designs. We have never interfered in governance.
When Obi was governor in Anambra state, he was a maximum governor. We never interfered. The only place we disagreed was on this issue of local government administration. Since Obiano had been in power, APGA people have been in the local government system except for the past six months and he has replaced them now with transition committees preparatory to conduct local government elections. By next year he would do another election so that there is sustained effort to get things working well. In the life of Anambra state, it has been glorious because APGA took over governance in 2006.
That is about 11 years now without break. We know the experience we had when PDP was in charge. Ngige was kidnapped as a governor. So today, Obiano is working. You can hardly hear that he is quarrelling with any stakeholder like me. Before, the governance in Anambra state was about creating power cells which you must lubricate for you to function.
If you don’t lubricate the power cells, they would continue to create instability in the state. APGA does not have that culture. Even when our members are not getting the best of their desires, they remain patient, making sacrifice for the good of the state. I know that the noise being made today about Obiano not being popular with people, those things are misplaced. I can assure you that the people of Anambra state are happy with the government. Of course, not everybody will behave the same way. Obiano is somebody who had gone through the organised private sector. He was in the banking sector.
He is a CharteredAccountant. He drives government policies to deliver results. Obiano is not somebody who can come and wash your feet and then later stab you at the back. He is not somebody who can come and not be himself and keep doing the wrong things behind. Once you see him, you will always see him the way he is and many people have seen that and they are happy with him. If you are governor and you attend all the funerals, all the social events and you visit every home, the important thing in the end is what did you deliver for the common good of the people? That is the truth and he is doing his utmost best; he reaches out to people.
When the PDP collapsed in 2015 I heaved a sigh of relief because PDP held the south east of Nigeria on the neck between 1999 and 2015. I was certain that the south east never saw good elections within the period because the PDP had the penchant for foisting electoral fraud on the people to the extent that even when the people of the south west and the north and the south -south would be celebrating democracy, the south east people never saw credible election. PDP knew how to manipulate the system, using federal might, appropriate agencies to rig the elections and people would be helpless.