Anambra State has hit a consensus on the matter, notwithstanding the few loudspeakers blaring stridently. It all started from deep doubts. People had asked, Willie Who? People wondered what a non-career politician would bring to the table of governance. Some thought they had been sold the short end of the stick. But, within months, the doubts began to disappear. The man selling abada cloth inside the Onitsha main market soon discovered to his delight that true leaders are born not made. He did his sales, locked up at nightfall, got back home to dinner and sound sleep, returned to his stall the following morning, to see that it hadn’t been plundered. The primary school teacher quickly discarded the longstanding belief that her reward was in heaven. She received her salary promptly. If she got posted to some remote school in rural Anambra, her salary was upped by a significant 25 percent. The same bonus was hers if she taught science subjects or mathematics or Igbo. When she exchanged her chalk for retirement, her entitlements – gratuity and pension – promptly followed as a matter of course.
These are some of the reasons why, today, the chorus in Anambra State is that Willie Obiano Is Fit To Continue with his good work. In three sharp years Ndi Anambra have seen at the helm of their affairs a compassionate leader, a listening administrator, a dependable ally, and an empathetic son with hands outstretched in order that his people would stand, not to fall. Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo summed it up graphically: “If it isn’t broke, why mend it?” The market associations, the town unions, the professionals, the students, the religious, the laity, all-comers have since queued in, chanting, “You can’t change a winning team!”
But, in every 12, there is a Judas. Anambra’s judases are on the Internet, spewing falsehood. Despite the high decibels of their din, they constitute a miserable minority of frustrated losers and would-be political failures. One Governor-sponsor of the rabble came from a South East State and announced that they were set to “capture” Anambra State. Why did the villain view the electoral process through the prism of violence? This is a man that owes his state retirees 24 months in unpaid pensions! Does he intend to capture Anambra and deliver it to the throes of work without pay and retirement without benefits? Ndi Anambra know that a recent State-by-State survey of payment of salaries threw up Anambra as one of only five states that owed no arrears. Ndi Anambra are unlikely to forget this on election morning.
The Internet prowlers called one of their sponsors an “industrialist”. Yet, people are yet to set their eyes on any of his fabulous industries. There’s no record of any employees on the man’s payroll. It is not even certain that he ever paid any taxes in Anambra. But he wants to capture Anambra State! One man whose governorship was sacked by the courts for illegitimacy reared his head to promise a destruction of the Awka flyovers once they captured power! He also vowed to dissuade the Federal authorities from refunding the N43 billion committed into Federal roads by the Obiano administration. Such are the characters eyeing Anambra’s Government House!
A recent article by Ejike Anyaduba entitled The humanity of the Obiano administration underscores why Governor Obiano is set to continue with governing Anambra State: “If the Obiano government is standing on a pinnacle today it is not because it fixed security of the state hitherto in a whirl. It is not because it gave the state’s infrastructure that existed in outline some uplift. It is not because it resuscitated investments, which had hit the nadir. It is not because it boosted agriculture until then in active decline. It is not because it gave healthcare a shot in the arm and sustains the progress in education. No, not in the least! It is because, in addition to all these, the government has shored up effort in the intangible sector.”
The intangible sector refers to Governor Obiano foregoing salary and emoluments for the upkeep of society’s less privileged. It refers to the sanatorium he built to giving a meaning to the lives of the sick and wretched of the earth. It refers to scores of prisoners who, on completion of their terms, received N1 million each to start life on a fresh, clean slate. It refers to the disabled who are automatically employed in the State’s Civil Service. It refers to limbless folks issued with prosthetics. In short, it is all about running government with a human face.
On Election Day, Ndi Anambra will turn their eyes from the noisemakers that prefer to remain numb and dumb even as the leaders of their political parties have issued a three-month ultimatum for Ndigbo to quit northern Nigeria.