By James Uzodinma
THE indices of good governance are universal. Like we know the characteristics of good students, good wives, good husbands, good schools and the like, it is easy to know the features of good governance. The essence of government is rendering service to the citizenry through the provision of social amenities, infrastructure, an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and people to earn a living, among others. It is not about showmanship, power play or flaunting of the perquisites of office. When government does well, the people benefit and so acknowledge. The Holy writ asserts that when the righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.
Majority of Nigerians are suffering because they are yet to experience good governance. On balance, governance in Nigeria has largely alternated between mediocrity and sheer idiocy. The virus of bad governance plaguing the centre is affecting most of the states. Indeed, many of the State governors do not understand or appreciate the dynamics of governance. Any leader intent on leaving a positive mark must realise that leadership is about service to the people.
Not too long ago, we had an exemplary leadership in Anambra State that took the State many notches up the ladder of development to become the talk of the town. Because of how Anambrarians valued that leader, Mr. Peter Obi, they listened to him when he requested them to vote for the present governor. When the likes of the Anglican Bishop of Amichi, Most Revd. Ephriam Ikeakor reminded Governor Obiano that he was doing Obi’s third term, Anambrarians knew what he meant.
Today, we are back on the campaign trail for the governorship election in Anambra State. It is majorly Governor Willie Obiano’s golden opportunity to tell the people of Anambra State what he has done with their mandate in almost four years. His handlers seem oblivious of this hard fact, but it is our duty to tell them that Obiano’s re-election campaign does not need much talking. The hawker of a new product can boldly declare to potential buyers that the product is a panacea for a wide range of ailments, and they fall for it and patronise him. After the product has been tested, the marketing strategy has to change as the people will buy it on account of its proven potency and utility.
Willie Obiano has been governor for almost four years. He started on a very sound footing of being bequeathed over N100 billion and backed by a House of Assembly dominated by his political party. At a time several other states owed salaries, banks and contractors, Anambra State was admirably debt-free. Thus not encumbered, Governor Obiano had no reason not to succeed; indeed, to excel beyond his predecessors. Daily, we see Obiano’s people trumpeting his achievements from the roof-tops; with the dubious refrain: “Willie is Working”. Such has been the frenzy and deception that even privately-owned projects hoisted the “Willie is Working” sign posts. As Anambra prepares for the polls, many people and groups are asking Obiano to give account of his stewardship as Governor. Sadly, he has remained mute on that critical issue. To date, he has not honoured different debates organised by different reputable organisations for the gubernatorial candidates.
Official records reveal that from April 2014 to September 2017, the Obiano administration received a total of N470 billion from various sources. The breakdown includes: N49 billion cash left by the Obi administration (which details have been confirmed publicly by the relevant banks); N188 billion in statutory allocations; N109 billion in Local Government funds; N63 billion from Internally-Generated Revenue; and N60 billion borrowed from international and local sources. What really has Obiano done with all these funds?, the people and development experts have continued to ask and wonder. He has abandoned several critical projects initiated by his predecessor, which include the Three Arms Zone, Awka Shopping Mall, Agulu Hotel and Nnewi Shopping Mall.
The people of Anambra State also want to know how much Governor Obiano collects as Security Vote monthly. Though members of Anambra State House of Assembly have made the figure public, Obiano has remained mute. Obiano has made wild claims a trade mark of his administration that has made the State a laughing stock. Among others, he announced to an excited nation that he had exported N5 million British Pounds worth of Ugu, (pumpkin) leaves. Not done, he also boasted that he had earlier exported Onugbu (Bitter Leaves) and had confirmed orders to export 10,000,000 tubers of yam. Till date, the combined efforts of concerned indigenes of the 27 Local Government Areas of the State have not identified the fields where these vegetables were/are cultivated. Since he did not reveal the export of a second consignment of Ugu or Onugbu, Anambra people are wondering if the orders were a one-off transaction. Before the shock of the Ugu, Onugbu and Yam tales wore off, Governor Obiano declared that Anambra State is now a net exporter of rice and has the capacity to supply eggs to the South-East geo-political zone.
One can imagine the amazement of concerned Anambrarians when Obiano also claimed that he had attracted US$7.5 billion investments to Anambra State. The sectoral components and locations of the supposed investments are not even known to Obiano’s aides. All they know is that their principal has signed over 100 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), with only three currently active. Who says we do not have a problem in Government House?
Most Anambrarians argue against Obiano second term because of his classic display of nepotism. Apart from having over 50 per cent people from Aguleri among his over 1,000 aides, he, without compunction, evacuated 50 per cent of the energy (power supply) meant for Awka to Aguleri – leaving the State capital in perpetual darkness. Even as his aides use ‘recession’ to excuse his non-performance, work is on going at the giant stadium in Aguleri, which, interestingly, he relocated from the state capital, Awka.
Anambra people have many sore points against Governor Obiano. He may have dodged the debates to which he was duly invited to outline his achievements to date, but the people will determine whether he is a failure or success in governance. The verdict of history has never wavered on a level playing field.
*Mr. Uzodinma, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.