Valentine Obienyem

Some Anambra people are fast getting distinguished as people who, like puppy dogs, delight in tearing and jeering at one another. The other day there was a public outcry against the activities of known hoodlums in Onitsha who specialized in harassing innocent citizens, rape and rapine. But the moment their excesses were decisively curtailed and peace was restored, those seeking ropes to hang Governor Peter Obi started shouting: ‘Attack on Ndi-Igbo!’ It was however heartwarming that the ultimate beneficiaries of the restoration of sanity in Onitsha glorified the Governor as an angel of light.  Offodile Syndrome could therefore be defined as that innate capacity of man to allow petty prejudices to affect his sense of judgement.

When you tell a person suffering from Offodile Syndrome that someone bought a new Nissan car, his disgruntled inside would make him grunt: ‘what is so special about Nissan when everybody is going for Range Rover’. Make the mistake of telling him that you were happy that somebody made distinction in his papers and he would quickly remind you that even Adam made distinction in clothing his nakedness. When such a person sees chaos coming, he wishes to amplify it.  

No doubt, the hottest debate in the newspapers recently was the debate prompted by an article written by Mallam Nasir El Rufai on Anambra State. I thank Igbo people for rising in unison to defend what was clearly an assault against them. With what is going on in the North today, it is baffling that a critic, real or fake, would look outside that clime to locate insecurity elsewhere.

Anybody who has been following development in Anambra State does not need a soothsayer to reveal to him that El Rufai is acting a well scripted drama. Recall that at the beginning of the year, a write up circulated on the net warning of impending media war against Gov. Peter Obi as part of the efforts to pitch him against the President, portray him as being far from what he preaches and generally disparage him in such a manner that he would lose control by the time his tenure would end. Some mistake him for other politicians who insist on foisting successors on the electorate, and so war to prevent him from so doing.

If you go to the net or read a recent backpage article in Thisday by Chudi Offodile, you will notice that writers of such pray unceasingly for misfortunes to befall the State because they delight in celebrating them. It is baffling that some people prefer evil to happen in their State because in the event of any good news, Mr. Peter Obi would be glorified. Offodile Syndrome!

Hon. Chudi Offodile is sadly in the aforementioned league. He is part of the old order that is fading away. He belongs to the tribe of old politicians who came into office through electoral robbery (he rigged and was removed by Hon. Osy Egwuatu) which Obi’s reform is sweeping away. In his piece, entitled Anambra: The Limits of Propaganda, he gave himself out as one of those who have been recruited with El Rufai to deal a lasting blow to Obi’s growing repute in Nigeria and beyond. He shamelessly signed out as a former member of the House of Representatives, when he was removed by the courts for rigging. What an example for the youth!

In the write up under reference, he sought to justify Mallam El Rufai’s thesis which well-meaning Anambra people, using facts and figures, have proved as incorrect. He merely succeeded in letting people into a practical understanding of his patent Syndrome.

“Peter Obi brought civility into governance in Anambra State at a time politics the State had degenerated to dangerous and unacceptable levels”, so declared Chudi Offodile. Yes, Peter is trying his best, but how can that civility be sustained when people like him, without qualms, allow their hotels to be used for anti-society acts that bring shame and opprobrium to the state, a good case being the repotted use o9f the Hotel for rigging? Would you count this as a patriotic act from one who wants the good of his state?

Chudi Offodile said Obi “engaged in needless propaganda, pursuit of Federal lucre”. I have maintained that Obi is a “disappointment” to many, who feel that the level of propaganda in the state does not match the projects on ground. Why should we not propagate his good work? Such will amount to an aspect of Offodile Syndrome; unnecessary bickering over good and noble things. As for pursuit of Federal Lucre, let me ask Offodile if it is Local Government lucre that Obi should pursue? Obi himself encourages our people to go after Federal goodies and bring them back to the State. That is dike in action. You cannot be dike by staying in the State as people like Offodile do and hanker after the state treasury. Even during his inglorious sojourn in the House of Representatives, he had so weak a wing for developmental flight, otherwise let him tell us a single thing he attracted to his Constituency. What Offodile is doing reminds me of those who criticized the governor for being close to the President of Nigeria. I have often asked them if he should rather be close to the President of ‘Wastelands’.

Among men of goodwill, one of the best things that have happened to Anambra is the good image she enjoys today. Because of what the state is today, Abuja has taken Obi into confidence. Anambra people are proud to see him on television routinely after each of the numerous meetings at Abuja. His presence at the centre ensures the state suffers no short circuits. If this is what Offodile calls Federal lucre, I prescribe an orientation for people like him on how to appreciate positive development. Before Obi, the presidents of the country did not reckon with Anambra State, but today, through Obi’s singular effort, the face of Anambra is renewed.

For the purpose of setting the records straight, the present Government did not claim it has asphalted over 500km of roads as Offodile said. As at the 19th day of June, 2012, Anambra State Government has asphalted over 600kms of roads. The records are there for everybody to see. Offodile is not an engineer to talk about qualities of roads; RCC, CCC, Nigercat among other reputable companies construct roads for the State. Now and then, the Governor tries to involve local contractors, especially those from Anambra State as a way of encouraging them. If he does not do this, who knows how people like Offodile would have called him names for ignoring Anambra people.  The Nigerian Society of Engineers were in the State and gave pass mark to the roads. It is a classical case of onye amaghi ihe o ga eji koo mmadu onu, o si ya na odi ihu ka nna ya (a person who does not see any valid point upon which to castigate somebody tells him that he resembles his father). The statistics on roads in Anambra are there for everybody to see.

The Government of Peter Obi always prides itself as the most prudent in Nigeria, so says Offodile. This is incorrect. It is those that deal with him, one way or the other, who say so. In 2009, he won Thisday prize for the Most Prudent Governor in Nigeria. On the 18th of June, Governor Adams Oshiomhole invited the Governor to commission some of the projects he executed. Speaking during the event, Oshiomhole said he decided to invite him because both of them shared the same qualities of prudence in the management of resources.  At the 2012 World Bank Spring meeting, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala introduced him to the World Bank Chief as one of the most prudent Governors in Nigeria. I say this to let Offodile know that his fame has gone International, beyond their pettiness. The incompetent thinks he can only grow by pulling others down.

I challenge Offodile to compare what Obi did on education, health, Agriculture, environment, water with what past governors of the state did in those sectors.

Offodile criticized commissioning of boreholes, immunization programmes and giving grants to schools as not befitting a Governor. He also frowned at Obi’s saving culture. This incestous analysis, in a world where lack of savings is one of the reasons for economic recession. Somebody says we should not save? Even animals do not indulge all their urges; they save. Even squirrels and ants do. As far as Offodile is concerned, visiting schools and paying attention to immunization are infradig for a governor.  It is a pity that he does not know at his level that promoting immunization culture is one of the most fundamental in the general health of the people globally.  As a primary 4 pupil, I was part of the school children who stood and waved to Alhaji Shehu Shagari when his motorcade passed along my primary school. The inspiration I drew from that has not quite left me. One of the greatest things Obi does today, which people like Offodile have not understood is visiting primary and secondary schools. Such visits have long lasting psychological effects on children. I think it was President Clinton who dreamt of being an American President when President Kennedy visited his school.

Obi says he attracted Innoson and SABmiller. Why should this give Offodile high blood pressure? Obi laid the foundation for Innoson Motors and not Innoson Motorcycle and invited the President to commission it. Yes, Obi attracted SABMiller and some other companies. If they are angry with those who have built their facilities in the State, what would they not do to prevent those coming to the State.  The Global Chief Executive of SABMiller, Mr. Graham Mackay, made it clear that they came to Anambra on the insistence of Obi and because of the presence of a strong government in the state. I like Offodile to deny that it was not Obi that attracted development partners in the State.

One thing unique about Obi is investing for Anambra State. Today, Anambra State has invested over N4 Billion in Orient petroleum and N2 Billion in SABMiller. Why is he so callously passionate about other corporations that invested in the Company rather than being happy over Anambra’s investment? This is typical pessimistic outlook in life.

Next International is one of the many companies the Governor was part of before he became Governor. The Offodiles would want them to close shop because Obi is the Governor of Anambra State.  Next started from Onitsha and still retains Onitsha as its head office. In essence, it has investments there. Obi has not told Anambra people not to invest outside Anambra, but to remember Anambra when investing. Obi has verifiable investments outside this country.

Pretending to care for the State, Offodile lamented lack of airport, stadium and good public school. He talked about Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital as only referral hospital in the state. Obviously, he is not aware that Anambra State Teaching Hospital located in his home town has started operations. But will it be above him to turn blind eyes to such things because Obi made them possible? He must surely pretend not to know that no health institution was accredited in Anambra until Obi reinvented that sector. He does not understand that the reason for return of schools to original owners with grant of N6 Billion is to restore quality. He does not understand that support to church hospitals to the tune of N3 Billion is one of the processes towards restoring quality.

To show you how mischievous Offodile is, he said Obi claimed to have done 77 bridges. Thisday on its own (31/05/12) reported on page 7, line 7 that Obi has built 77 bridges. However it corrected itself in the same write up, line 14, to read 20 bridges. Today, other bridges have been flagged off, bringing it to 22 – see Thisday of 15th June, 2012, page 12D, line 4 of paragraph 5, with the names of some of the bridges. A clever person would have avoided giving himself up by chosen the figure of 77 simply to arouse the feeling of “Where are the bridges” from the people.

He said Obi did not build any school, when he built five classroom blocks in each town in Anambra State. The one for Awka, his home town, is at Community Secondary School, Nkwelle Awka. Obi is putting N6 billion in schools, and somebody has the absence of mind to say he has not built any school. Must we make fools of ourselves for love of blind criticisms? From Obi has not built any school, Offodile told us he built 4000 classrooms, what a contradiction! To him, the pattern of building schools, visiting schools, handing over computers to them and finally handing them over to Churches is evidence of incoherence. Well, he knows what he means, Obi has said from inception that he set up the Ministry of planning that helped generate the short, medium and long term plans for Anambra. Some of those things he did not understand fall into short, medium or long term plans for the restoration of glory to Schools. Part of the long term plan, which is return of schools to their owners, is even backed by law. So what exactly is Offodile saying?

On the issue of Onitsha Hotel and Convention Centre, one is a bit happy that Offodile appears to know a little about what Obi is doing. He mentioned two contractors over the project. He should have gone ahead to tell us their quotations. I thought at certain age and with certain level of exposure some of us ought to have overgrown selective biases?

As to the base map and Structure plans, Ofodile should better tell Anambra people why they did not do all that until Obi came in. This is a necessary question. He should also not border himself with the Governor’s Lodge and office Obi plans to build, because he did not have people like him in mind. After him, only those who know about governance will become Governors in this State.

Offodile piece is scandalous. He proved he wrote out of frustration because of the state of affairs in Anambra, where godfathers and professional politicians are all angry, because it is not business as usual. They have a failed Hotel in Awka, now inhabited by prostitutes. He is advised to go and rehabilitate the place and leave governance for those who have the capacity to lead.

Obienyem wrote this piece from Awka.



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