Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State
By Arinze Chukwudimma
13 days to the Anambra election, the electorate are bracing up for a battle of Titanic proportions. Not only is there a star-studded line-up of heavyweight candidates for the poll, each of whom is truly distinguished in his own right, there is the obvious desperation of the APC- led federal government to “capture” the state which, against all odds, has remained the one true bastion of Emeka Ojukwu’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). To further complicate the situation, there is in addition the widely reported iron determination of a former governor of the state to teach the incumbent, Willie Obiano, the lesson of his lifetime, over issues arising from Obiano’s Campaigns and subsequent election in 2013.
The said former governor is reported to be fighting tooth and nail to ensure that his protégé unseats Obiano.
In all, five candidates command attention: Dr Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Chief Oseloka Obaze of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) Osita Chidoka of the United People’s Party (UPP); and the sitting governor, Willie Obiano, of APGA.
While each of the candidates brings credible antecedents, the odds appear to favour Obiano.
The reasons are compelling:
- Regular, prompt, payment of salaries and pensions. This has earned Obiano the popular sobriquet, “The Alert Governor”, among Anambrarians, especially, workers and pensioners. While it is true that salaries and pensions have generally been paid in the state from the time (in office) of Dr Ngige, yet at no time since the creation of the state in 1991 had salaries and pensions been paid within the month, regularly; the bank alerts going out before the month actually runs out. What could be more re-assuring! What could be more impressive of a government? Especially coming at a time when several states are either paying half salaries or not at all for months on end, despite repeated federal bailouts.
To argue, as another candidate recently did, that it did not matter when payment was made so long as there was a monthly cycle is, to put it very mildly, simply absurd. It is in fact most revealing of the moral depth or otherwise of some of our public office seekers.
- Construction of the first – ever flyover bridges at three highly strategic, accident-prone crossings along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway that bisects Awka in two;
- Building bridges of friendship and inclusiveness among communities and groups previously mercilessly marginalized, ostensibly for “daring” to vote out – of – line or being critical;
- The broad acceptance among Anambrarians of the zoning principle in the selection of governorship aspirants, with the concomitant willing acceptance that Anambra North has the prerogative for the next four years. The Anambra electorate understand that only an Obiano victory would preserve this gentleman’s agreement, the governor having been in the saddle for one term already;
- The governor’s giant strides in agriculture, education and industry. For the first time in living memory there are reports in respectable quarters of Anambra vegetables selling in Europe! While Anambra Rice emanating chiefly from the Coscharis Farms in Anaku and elsewhere generated intense interest among Anambrarians all over Nigeria. This has had the salutary effect of generating strong interest among Ndi Anambra in agricultural production. It has the potential for a quiet, green revolution in the state.
In education, Anambra under Obiano has prospered. This is borne out by the performance of the state at both the WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations in recent years. Indeed, a few weeks ago, news was widely carried of a teacher at the Central School, Abagana, Anambra State,. Mr Okodo, emerging the overall best teacher in Nigeria and thus winning the Presidential Prize of a Nissan Car.
The provision of a “chopper” for the State Police Command, as well as formal understanding with the Cattle Fulani on their herding activities both have contributed to solidifying peace and security in the state.
While the privileges of incumbency do not necessarily always guarantee victory for a candidate, the advantages derivable therefrom must not be underestimated. This is more so where the sitting candidate has not been adjudged a veritable failure, or considered guilty of a catastrophic faux pas. To the contrary, this governor has been the recipient of many awards for creditable performance in office that other contestants verily have an uphill task proving to the Anambra electorate that the governor is a misfit in office, has not performed and hence needs to be changed.
It is to the eternal credit of the man that he has resolutely stood by APGA, the party that made him, and the one party that the ethno-nationalistic Igbo man / woman still identifies as their own and as the one surviving legacy of Odumegwu Ojukwu. Obiano cuts the image of a truly principled politician who would not readily trade his first love for some new attractions, which is the stock-in-trade of a great many Nigerian politicians who seem to think that the voters are nit-wits; that we must vote for them, their unprincipled opportunism notwithstanding.
There is much more in favour of the sitting governor.
But this analysis is predicated on the uncertain assumption that the actual conduct of the election would be free, fair and credible, and collation/presentation of the results free of rascality. Given the stakes involved, our electoral history and INEC’s recent prevarications, this may just prove to be too tall an order!.