By Nwafor Sunday
Hon. Arinzechukwu Awogu is a human right activist, a social critic, a die-hard Igbo emancipation crusader and a grassroot mobilizer.
He is a founding member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), having joined the party acclaimed to be Igbo party in its formative period in 2002 and offered his father’s house at Otumoye Street, Onitsha as meeting venue for APGA Odoakpu Ward 4 in 2002.
He ran for Ontisha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly in 2007 under Chief Chekwas Okorie’s faction of the party but lost out following Chief Chekwas Okorie’s defeat in court by the then faction led by Chief Victor Umeh.
He returned to his native Atani in Ogbaru council area and in 2014 contested the primary of APGA for Ogbaru 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly which was denied him.
He is currently the Senior Special Assistant to the governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano on political matters. In this interview he spoke on the chances of Chief Willie Obiano in the November election and the allegation that the governor abandoned projects in Ogbaru, his council area and perhaps where incidentally the PDP candidate, Mr. Oseloka Obaze comes from.
Why do you think Obiano deserves another term?
Simply put, because Gov. Willie Obiano has earned our trust and confidence. As incumbent, the readily yardstick that comes to mind is performance level which is in itself relative, relative in the sense that it presents different appeal to different people.
But looking at Gov. Willie Obiano’s performance in retrospect; especially when you juxtapose it with the first 4 years of previous administrations in the state, I find it reasuring to say that Gov. Obiano has performed exceptionally well in his 3 and half years in office and has equally fulfilled the primary responsibility of government which is the provision of security and seeing to the welfare of the people of Anambra state.
Section 14 Sub-section 2 (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and as contained in Chapter 2, under fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy says emphatically that: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government …” That basic aspect or requirement remained a puzzle in Anambra state but was solved by Gov. Willie Obiano.
He swept all forms of crime and criminality out of Anambra state and made the state conducive for businesses to thrive and for investors both indigenous and foreign to see Anambra as first choice destination in Nigeria which earned the governor accolades from event watchers and brought the state to the number one position in crime fighting.
And while the recession lasted, Anambra state never felt the bite of the economic meltdown simply because we have a governor that pays salaries promptly. Understandably, government (be it state or federal) is the highest employer of labour and when the worker gets his or her salary he or she heads to the market to buy needs and the payment of salary by Gov. Willie Obiano rubs off positively on the traders and down to the spectrum which was why the recession was not felt in the state coupled with the injection of N40 million directly to each of the 181 communities in the state in the choose your project initiative, which allows some quantum of raw cash to circulate within the communities.
And apart from payment of salaries, pensioners are also being paid and backlog of gratuities are being cleared by Gov. Willie Obiano, some of which dates back to three previous administrations.
These and many more are the reasons why we can not at this point afford to joke with the re-election of Gov. Willie Obiano. Ndi-Anambra understands the need to guard the security and welfare we now enjoy in Anambra state jealously and the only way to do that is by re-electing Gov. Willie Obiano come November 18th.
So it is not about me, Awogu, wishing that Gov. Obiano continues in office beyond 2018 but that of the desire of Ndi-Anambra who now sleeps with their two eyes closed and who wouldn’t want to go back to those days when they had to go to church to pass the night because it was certain that some folks would wallay them in their homes at night.
Our big men won’t want to go back to the dark days when they had to give their daughters hand in marriage in Abuja, Lagos and such other places because kidnappers were already awaiting their arrival. So the people of Anambra state are mindful of how Egypt was and are not willing to go back to Egypt.
Critics say he has not done much, can u cite some things to prove them wrong?
You see, what we do in our party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is not to fight, abuse or threaten malicious and deliberate lies peddlers; No! but engaging the Anambra voter with facts and naked truth of what we have done in 3 years and seven months with the mandate they gave to us.
And daily, we keep winning support and their ranks (negative critics) keep depleting. I think, what we need going forward is to speak more to the people and presenting our scorecard.
Let me refer to the concept of negative profiling and downright misinformation against our party and government by the desperate opposition as political hypothesis of Anambra state political logjam. And I would want to ask; for how long will the opposition in Anambra state relish in lies, whip up all sorts of sentiments, twist the truth all in a desperate bid to deceive and mislead the Anambra voter. What good will this attitude do to the future of Anambra state?
A state that has been rescued from the clutches of insecurity, underdevelopment and wanton destruction of lives and property by the sheer ingenuity and resolve of the trail blazing Governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano.
I can assure you that the stand-point (morbid criticism) of our traducers is not based on Gov. Willie Obiano’s performance but regrettably based on bitterness/annoyance of perceived non-patronage of their individual selves by the government of Gov. Willie Obiano.
You are aware of the N7billion demand, they don’t want him to pay salaries anymore, they don’t want him to continue to fund security, they don’t want him to develop the state beyond what they left off; but he said no. To put your question into perspective, the achievement of any government or administration is summed-up in its performance (result). And may we be reminded that this administration is relatively three years and seven months old and not seven (7) years or eight (8) years old; and operating in a time of excruciating general economic cast-down where we receive less than 35% of what the immediate past administration was getting from monthly federal allocations.
Yet, we are all witnesses to the litany of Gov. Willie Obiano’s achievements in security, investments in agriculture, education, healthcare, public infrastructure, workers’ welfare, industrialization, public utility and human capacity building among others in Anambra state.
The story of Anambra state has long changed since the inception of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration with the provision of effective security of lives and property to the people of the state, attracting investments worth over 4 billion US dollars, renovation of our schools and improving the standards of education in the state, prompt payment of workers’ salaries and increasing same not minding the economic challenges, infrastructural development, prudent management of resources and achievement of maximum output with minimum input – a product of Gov. Obiano’s doctrine of “doing more with less.”
Road infrastructure and beautification of our cities are visible effects of Gov. Willie Obiano’s sterling achievements. Everywhere in Anambra state is lit up in ecstasy; from Awka to Onitsha to Nnewi and others, the skyline is lit up in rapture. Gov. Willie Obiano is running riot with massive road construction in the hinterlands, there is the provision of N40m to each of the 181 communities to execute whichever project that suits them.
Our markets are wearing new look because of the infrastructures the governor is putting in all the markets in the state, our hospitals are refurbished and made functional. Ambulances and fire trucks are common sights in the state now for rapid response to emergencies.
Hospitality industry is booming in Anambra state and people now have longer hours to do their business owing to adequate security and availability of street lighting system. We can only but ask Gov. Willie Obiano to keep doing the good work.
I challenge the narrow minds, the traducers, the grandstanders and the pessimists alike not to a debate, because debate is academic, it’s hypothetical, it is surmisal in nature; but to a road-show-where seeing is believing.
Where they will be face to face with roads, bridges and other infrastructures built by Gov. Willie Obiano, where they will have a feel of sense of airtight security, where the billions of dollars investments in agriculture, education, healthcare, human capacity building will stare them in the face, where public utilities are more than ever before in Anambra state being made to serve humanity, where workers’ welfare is a top priority and pensioners are made to live happily again.
I make bold to say that Gov. Willie Obiano has spun the nylon yarn, he has reserved no ounce of energy in replicating the famous Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew’s Midas touch in Anambra state; Awka is now a world class city from a glorified capital it used to be before Gov.
Willie Obiano came to office. Thus, 2018 presents NO VACANCY in Awka Government House, which supports my argument that the former Secretary to Anambra State Government, who coincidentally is from my local government, Ogbaru, should wait till when next it beckons on Anambra North Zone to produce governor because Gov. Willie Obiano who is the holder of Anambra North mandate is unrivalled and as such will amount to effort in futility trying to unseat him.
Again, the Anambra South Zone are no fools, they know that Gov. Willie Obiano’s victory is the surest way of power shifting to their zone in 4 years, other candidates will make the zone’s dream a longer wait which they are not prepared to stomach.
Your Ogbaru people complain more that Obiano left their road untouched what do you tell them?
I don’t think that is correct. Fair enough, when people talk and deliberately spread falsehood, rather than reply them you should sympathize with them for their ignorance.
The people of Ogbaru local government area have every cause to stay glued to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government under the leadership of Gov. Willie Obiano, the party whose government is remembering Ogbaru people in very many positive ways.
A number of road projects have been built and commissioned in Ogbaru by Gov. Willie Obiano with many still at various impressive stages. The Abazuonu Street road and Acha by Madonna Catholic Street road, all in Iyiowa Odekpe, Ogbaru council area, were asphalted and completed
by the governor in the spirit of continuity. Ossomala-Umunankwo-Mputu-Ogwuaniocha road has progressed with much speed. The GMO by Ogbuagwu-Ngbuka-Amazu road is on going same with Ossomala-Akiliogidi-Obeagwe-Ogwuikpele road.
So it is not correct when people who in the last 24 months have not visited home sit in distant lands and say that the governor abandoned Ogbaru roads. Agreed that there are huge infrastructural deficit in Ogbaru which is as a result of the neglect of the area by past administrations of which the government of Chief Willie Obiano is addressing and as such it will be preposterous to say that Gov. Obiano is not doing anything for Ogbaru people, those holding such erroneous impressions are not sincere to themselves and to the good people of Ogbaru. One of the very first places where Gov. Willie Obiano took off his sterling fangs was Ogbaru.
There used to be a refuse dump with almost five story building height at Okpoko which has been there since after the civil war, the governor has since evacuated the refuse and on it today, sits a Health centre, a Town hall and Secondary and Primary schools (Unity Secondary school and Okpoko Community Primary school 1-14) with newly built structures.
The Sakamori drain that collects nearly 75% of all rainwater from Onitsha, Awada, Obosi, Okpoko and environs (and empties into the River Niger through Idemili water channel) that was blocked leading to flood water submerging homes in Okpoko was dredged by Gov. Willie Obiano and the project is still ongoing.
Those who speak ill of Gov. Willie Obiano in Ogbaru are economical with the truth for obvious interest and they also forgot or deliberately chose to ignore the fact that our own Ogbaru people occupied the best positions Ogbaru people may never have at a go for a long time to come in the immediate past administration.
If they have feelings for Ogbaru and the roads in Ogbaru as they now claim, why did they not push for the roads to be completed and many more built? Remember that we had a defacto-governor with so much power and influence who was from Ogbaru under former Gov. Peter Obi’s administration. We had another who was the Secretary to the State Government, who was the life-wire of the state, whose words and demands were “a must done” under the same administration.
With the duo serving at the same time and in such commanding heights in that government one would have expected Ogbaru to be like London, but what did they do?
So why attack and run down Gov. Obiano that is building the road from Ossomala to Ogwu-Aniocha, from Ossomala to Ogwuikpele, from GMO by Ogbuagu to Owerri road and more are still coming. Ogbaru people are grateful people and we are grateful to Gov. Obiano for doing for Ogbaru what Ogbaru sons could not use their prime positions in the last administration to do or attract to Ogbaru.
The same Gov. Obiano is at work in all the 16 communities in Ogbaru with the N40million projects per community which Ogbaru is the greatest beneficiary of. As big as Nnewi and Ihiala are, they have only N40million each; but Ogbaru alone has a whopping N640million to play around with. Gov. Willie Obiano is doing well for Ogbaru and Ogbaru will vote for him.
I urge those saying that Gov. Obiano abandoned Ogbaru roads to go to Ossomala-Ogwuaniocha road, Ossomala to Ogwuikpele road and GMO by Ogbuagu to Owerri road and see what Gov. Obiano is doing there. Don’t stay far away and talk, come home and see for yourself. Ogbaru obviously will not be stampeded into voting because someone lives next door.
Ogbaru people will vote because there is conviction and part of the conviction is that we can now since after the civil war sleep with our two eyes closed in Anambra state and that Gov. Willie Obiano has been fair to Ogbaru people. Don’t forget that Gov. Willie Obiano employed more Ogbaru people into his government than any previous government in the state.
In Ogbaru, the governor is taking education to anywhere Ogbaru children could be found. Ogbaru is an agrarian community and most farmers prefer to live in their farms because of distance which are mostly located on the islands and far away camps and have over time grown to become settlements on their own.
When you go to such islands in Ogbaru, we call it Agwe, you will see how education has been taken to the inhabitants by building schools for the children of the farmers and fishermen there and sending teachers to the place to teach them.
So what the governor did was to craft a policy that takes school infrastructure to the islands and camps instead of the children having to take pains and risk everyday to cross the River Niger to and fro with its resultant consequences.
It is also important that we appreciate the muddy and spongy nature of our tarian. The amount of resources expended on one road in Ogbaru could do 3 same number of kilometres elsewhere. But our tarian makes us who we are and it’s no excuse to deny Ogbaru the much needed development.
While we are hopeful that contractors handling Ossomala-Ogwuikpele, GMO-Ogbuagwu-Ngbuka-Amazu roads and others will speed up work on the roads now that the rains have subsided, we will not fall for those who were in office for 8 years but could not do or complete the said roads and now desperately wanting to use the state of those roads to confuse Ogbaru people.
Gov. Willie Obiano is continuing with his sustained approach to opening up Ogbaru hinterland and the next 4 years will be crucial to his aggressive push on the many needs of Ogbaru people and fulfilling them. Certainly! It hasn’t been this good for Ndi-Ogbaru and November 18th will see the people of Ogbaru troop out in their numbers to show their support and preference for Gov. Willie Obiano as against any other candidate.