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Obi’s welfarist approach to governance

SOME  small things  are overlooked by many people but they are the things that really matter; the kernel of things.

Gov Peter Obi’s recent visit to secondary schools across Anambra State where he donated a part payment of N10m to each of the designated 200 schools may seem part of his job but to those who have been around in Anambra State since the present civilian setting, what Obi did  is simply amazing.

After the civil war, government took over mission schools and the result was a monumental decay of morals, leading to the heinous crimes we see today.

There is no gain-saying that today’s armed robbers and kidnappers are offshoots of that takeover. If the missions were allowed to keep their schools, for sure the circumstance would  be different today.

Obi, saw this and made history as the first governor in Nigeria to fully return schools to the missionary owners. He didn’t stop there.

He also dedicated millions yearly for their upkeep. Before then, he had  lavished the  schools with facilities and amenities such as  buses, boreholes, computers, generating sets, etc.

In addition to these, he has  now given them N10m each to prosecute priority projects. This is only half of the total of the N20m he promised.

The striking thing here is that the money he is lavishing on schools is money he could have used in servicing the thieving political class who do not care if Anambra burns as long as their nests are feathered.

Obi has largely ignored them and has had to endure their fight back which they have been doing by giving him a bad name. Thankfully however the masses know the truth.

When he was handing over schools to the missions, he announced the setting aside of a whopping N6b for the schools’ upkeep and significantly noted that only he knew how the money was saved and thus could have decided to ‘eat’ it alone or to service the politicians.

Indeed, if Obi had given half that sum to politicians, he would have been the most popular governor in Anambra’s history. This would habe been at the expense of the long suffering masses. Politicians will roll out the drums  for him whenever they see him. But he chose to toe the ‘unpopular’ line of ignoring politicians to favour the public.

This is why Obi has gained a legendary status as the governor who uses public money for public good. This is why the masses of the state returned him for a second term; the first in the state’s history. This is why he is the darling of the Church and the children’s favourite.

Thus, the joblessness of the political class has created room for the public to gain. Obi’s gestures to schools are indeed investments for tomorrow because the students are tomorrow’s leaders.

Obi has also brought the fear of God into governance. He is one of the few governors who  do not flirt; that goes to church regularly, including the challenge  of attending  morning masses.

By his  style, Obi is making the Church a partner in governance. He is a governor who truly loves his state and is making plans that would outlive  his regime; an unusual phenomenon in these parts where serving leaders do everything to make life difficult for their successors.

Despite  bringing government’s presence to every town,he still gives them palliative money every December so they can tackle   priority projects and boost security.

But beyond all these, Obi has facilitated the re-engineering of every sector in Anambra State. Moribund sectors like health, sports, commerce and industry, institutions of government, among others have all witnessed serious  intervention.

Under his administration, workers for the first time had secretariats which have enabled them to be in one place and work in comfort. Before now, to visit the various ministries was always a frustrating experience as they were scattered across many towns in the capital territory.

It was only Obi that saw the need to gather them in one place, thus the construction of common secretariats which are work  friendly.

Ever intent on improving workers’ welfare, he increased their salaries four times and lifted the embargo on promotion. Coming after his predecessor had told workers that promotion was not a right, one can only imagine how excited the workers were.

Under Obi retirees now get their emoluments  in time unlike years before when many died waiting to get their gratuities and pensions. It was also Obi who offset all the pension arrears of pensioners which had accumulated before he took over the reins of office.

Under his regime too, permanent secretaries began to have official cars for the first time in the state’s history.

The state’s tertiary institutions under Obi have not had it so good as all of them were accreditation, a status some of them lost in the pre-Obi era.

Thus, the Onitsha General hospital which lost its accreditation by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council regained it and in addition witnessed a massive refurbishment which included its having a kidney and dialysis centre.

The schools of midwifery and nursing at Obosi and Nkpor equally had a piece of Obi’s cake as the schools witnessed a great infrastructural transformation as well as accreditations.

The College of Agriculture at Mgbakwu which was abandoned for dead by previous regimes without an  iota of infrastructure was revived by Obi and today it looks like a higher institution with state-of-the-art administrative, classroom and hostel blocks and the students are happy.

A magnificent stadium will soon come up in Awka which will compare with Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu. This stadium which will be sited at the Old Awka Township Stadium will complement the already existing mini stadia at Onitsha North and South.

Mr. FRANCIS NWOSU, a public affairs analyst,  wrote from Enugu-Ukwu, Anambra State.


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