By Collins Obibi
NOW that Mr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State is the running mate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 general elections, it is necessary to address the group of South East governors who complained about his emergence. Only three of the five states in the South East have PDP governors, namely Ebonyi – Chief Dave Umahi, Abia – Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and Enugu – Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
First, the leadership of Ohanaeze must be commended for the timely intervention in overruling the three governors and their group that met in Enugu, so also the team of Igbo professional across the globe and others who expressed outrage and placed a disclaimer on the governors’ statement and its insinuations. It is pertinent to remind the governors that the position they hold is a public trust, a mandate the people gave them to represent their will, aspirations and interests. They must, therefore, at all times be seen to be working to achieve this.
In expressing their feelings on the choice of Obi, the governors did not show sensitivity to the wishes of the people nor introspection. They neither showed circumspection nor discretion, hence the opprobrium that has trailed their stand. Perhaps, their statement would have appealed even if a little if they had added that despite the fact that they were not consulted before the appointment, Obi is an illustrious son of South East and that they welcome his election.
It is vital to remind the governors that since creation, there is what is called legacy which every being is entitled to leave at the end of every assignment and generally after life. Obi had that opportunity not too long ago just as they do today. What Obi made of it is his sales mark today, and love him or hate him, you cannot re-write history. Though it was tough for Obi to claim the mandate Anambra people gave him at the polls in 2011, he came into governance with sincerity of purpose.
He was very innovative, prudent and wise. He proved that he merited his towering credentials. He created a template for good governance in Anambra, nay in the administration of any state in the country. Out of office, he has carried on with candour even though once a while courting controversy in the murky political waters of the State. The governors inclusive, there are a few personalities in the South East, indeed in many parts of the country today who can match Obi’s credentials. Little wonder his selection has elicited excitement and generous approval country wide, and is seen as part of the initial sagacious moves of Atiku to be in strong contention for the presidency. Obi’s interest and talent are in areas most beneficial to Nigeria today.
If there is any part of the country that needs government imprint, it is the South East. Often, people mistake the relatively high educational standard of the people of the zone and enlightenment as high level of development. In terms of infrastructure, industry, security, name it, the zone tags behind. This is a wakeup call to the governors of states in the zone, also to the Federal government.
Reports of activities of state governments in the zone are of mixed feelings. The three PDP governors are in the first four years tenure, thus they have time to match Peter Obi’s legacy if they care. In Ebonyi, Umahi who is the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and who read the infamous statement is said to be investing impressively in infrastructure. He is building roads and bridges to lift up the agrarian state. Somehow, just as in the days of Dr. Sam Egwu, Ebonyi now receives positive highlights. But in terms of carrying communities along in designing programmes and projects more needs to be done. The quality of the roads being built can also be enhanced.
Enugu presents a similar picture. Ugwuanyi is also investing in infrastructure and is receiving accolades. He is said to be a silent performer and a peaceful administrator. Abia needs more work any day. Aba will always task the ingenuity and resource management of any administration in the state, so also the rural areas. Road infrastructure, refuse disposal, security are major areas of concern. What Ikpeazu who is from the zone has done so far is like scratching the problem. Given the strategic importance and affection of the people to Aba, its development will always form major assessment indices of any government in the state.
Since the coming of Peter Obi, Anambra has been blessed with good governors. Yes the manifesto of the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance is there, but the quality of the dramatis personae is key to the successes and progress the state has recorded in the past 12 years. The commitment and drive of the present governor, Chief Willie Obiano are worthy assets. Without shouting hoax, the administration has continued on the path of good governance, effectively tackling the security challenges, increasing the economic and investment profile and general administration in the state. And for a reward Obiano barely a year ago won in all the 21 council areas of the state for a second term.
Compare these with Imo State where the governor Rochas Okorocha is rounding off an eight year tenure. He is of the All Progressive Congress, APC. Consciously or unconsciously of late, the state is always in the news for the wrong reasons. Okorocha started in 2011 by rolling bulldozers to Orlu and Okigwe two other major towns in the state outside the capital Owerri. Frankly, he constructed some roads, but unfortunately none is surviving his tenure because of their quality. My worry is that the first set of roads that started failing less than a year after their construction are of the same quality with any other built in the past seven years of his administration.
What legacy is he leaving in Imo? Erecting of statue of corrupt African leaders in Owerri at great cost in a state where public servants are owed arrears of salaries, pensioners are not paid and markets are being demolished. A legacy of umu Imo brandishing cudgels and attacking one another at Eagles Square Abuja, 733 kilometres from the state over a party post with the governor seated there at the national convention of APC; and people from the other 35 states appealing to them to sheath the sword and resolve their differences amicably.
By the time Okorcha finishes his tenure in 2019 his zone, Orlu would have produced governor for 16 years (Achike Udenwa – eight years, Rochas Olorocha eight years) Okigwe zone four years ( Ikedi Ohakim), Owerri zone (None). Yet, Okorocha insists that his son-in-law from his zone must be the next governor, not for reasons of competence, character, love by people, but to protect his interest, thus orchestrating political tension never experienced in Imo before.
Legacy, legacy, Peter Obi has built it and must continue to reap the reward. He is a son in whom the South East, indeed all Nigerians are well pleased.
- Obibi, is a media professional