In reaction to Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s uninformed piece on Anambra State entitled: Anambra: Budget of Misplaced Priorities, many people have written by way of further comments on the subject. Quite unusual of the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi did a rejoinder himself; he sought to correct a misrepresentation of his State. Beyond just telling us that Anambra State has adopted the Millennium Development Goals as its vision, Obi explained that Anambra Integrated development Strategy (ANIDS) is a vehicle for achieving the vision. The Governor took the goals one after the other and clearly showed what the state is doing. At the end of the piece, even skeptics were convinced that his Government is focused and is driven by plan encapsulated in novel methods that are working towards achieving set goals.
At the end of the day, and going by what Obi has done in Anambra State, the question on all lips is: ‘Why does he still have apposition?’ The answer is simple: ‘Obi met a State that was in the jaws of lions. Naturally, to retrieve anything from the lions’ jaws will surely entail collateral damage and injuries on any person who so dares embark on such a hazardous enterprises.
Today, with Governor Obi bearing the scars of all the instruments used in the battle for the soul of Anambra State, one can say that he has done well. The loosing vocal minority are like the evil spirit, legion, that Christ cast out from a man’s body that entered into a swine and caused damage. This minority have been frustrated in the State, and like legion, they are determined to cause maximum damage on their way out.
Today, in Anambra, Obi has not been forgiven by many who consider him an “outsider”, who, not only wrestled power from them, but seems determined to alienate them from Anambra politics by growing a new crop of dedicated political who would forever bench the failed politicians of old. This failed lot have sworn that this ‘dangerous’ move by Obi must be stopped at all cost. This I submit explains the level of opposition massed against the Governor.
Anambra has therefore become a State where people deliberately pretend not to know the truth as they pursue some wild and elusive dream. Otherwise, why should somebody like Mr. Chudi Offodile, from Awka, deny Obi the credit of doing anything on health, when a Teaching Hospital built from the scratch stands before him in his home town! Obi erected about 20 new buildings in that complex, equipped the hospital and ensured its accreditation by the relevant professional medical bodies; yet Offodile’s lamentation that nothing is happening around him.
In his own piece entitled “Anambra: Further comments on Obi’s misplaced Priorities, one Dr. Chidozie Emenuaga was at it too. Though he pretended to be objective, he ended up showing his true colours. My first reaction on reading him was: ‘Ah, where is this Emenuga coming from?’ A little check however revealed him as once a Personal Assistant to Prof. Charles Soludo when he was the Governor of the Central Bank. It was easy to establish a nexus here: the write up by Mallam El-Rufai was the reproduction of a lecture delivered by Soludo himself on the 3rd of May, 2012 at the faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka with little input by Rufai. During the public presentation of Uche Ezechukwu’s book on Ojukwu, Soludo’s only comment was about the imaginary poverty in Anambra State. Emenuga was Soludo’s Personal Assistant, while the newspapers reported that the Barnhill Hotel partly owned by Mr. Chudi Offodile was actually used to rig election for the PDP, when Soludo was their governorship candidate in Anambra State.
Now to some points raised by Soludo’s Assistant and the mallam that: “The point that Governor Obi and other Anambra people should swallow is that the condition of Anambra State has become such a national and international concern that ‘outsiders’ can no longer be shut out from proffering solutions”. This is at best intellectual dishonesty. I challenge Emenuga to tell us what El-Rufai did at a time Anambra State was really in pathetic condition. At a time when their principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo ensured that Anambra State was a butt of dinner jollity. At that time, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju could not even see the President, while in the full glee of the world Obasanjo agreed that Dr. Chris Ngige was rigged into office. Is it now Obi has restored sanity, peace and progress to the State that somebody should talk of “the condition of Anambra State?”
I share what Emenuga said about Philosophy. Let one go on and add that it was not in vain that it was regarded as Regina Scientiarum (the Queen of the Sciences) In fact when you enquire into the history of civilization, you will discover that the epochal liberation of man from barbarism was more the achievements of philosophers.
Philosophy is good because it awakens in man the need for critical thinking. However, if what Emenuaga was trying to say is that Obi as a philosopher should have performed better, he is wrong. I challenge him to tell us one Governor that is doing better than him with the available resources? There is no sector in which Obi has not done better than his predecessors.
Emenuga gleefully echoed El-Rufai’s view on the poor IGR base of the State and submitted that “only Lagos, Kano and a few other non-oil producing states are not as valuable as Anambra. If he were sincere, he should have named two more states that do not fall within his vulnerable ranking. He knows he may not get any beyond Lagos and Kano. But like a typical home opposition, Anambra must be used as an example. I cannot accuse him of criticizing what he did not understand, because it was evidently out of mischief. Since Obi advent, Anambra’s IGR may not have reached its optimum, but it has continued to increase. Obi says that he has enough money to pay salary for even a year should nothing come from the centre.
In 6 years Obi has invested over 10 Billion Naira for Anambra State in promising businesses and yet he is doing nothing to improve Anambra’s IGR Base. If all the companies, SABmiller, Orient Petroleum , Innoson Motors, Juhel, etc he is supporting or attracting to Anambra pay taxes, would it not improve the IGR base? Surely Emenuga’s understanding of IGR is still within the base category of collecting stallage fees and all that.
Coming out more pungently to showcase his real motive, Emenuaga asked: “What are the good works a visitor will see in Anambra State? Peer Review? King Solomon of Israel did not publicize his good works before Queen of Sheba heard of it and embarked on a trip to Jerusalem to see for herself”. If everything Solomon did should be glorified, I advice Emenuga to get 700 concubines for himself. In a State where people like Emenuaga deny what exists, what will happen if such are not shown to the world? In fact, the antics of people like him call on the Governor to re-double whatever he does to showcase his work. I think Emenuga should rather not concern himself about false claims.
In saying that the only solution to poverty and unemployment in Anambra State is to expand economic activities in the State and create enabling environment for the private sector to flourish, Emenuga left many more confused than enlightened. In the past 6 years, economic activities in the State have been expanding. Consequently Bank branches have more than doubled, industries are coming up, hotels grew from about 4 to over 30, and development partners that were not in the State are all here. Emenuga, what do you mean?
To show you what Emenuaga set out to do, he denied any development taking place in his part of the State. Even the road he referred to – Igbo-Ukwu – Uga – Umunze – Owerre-Ezukala road was completed by Governor Obi. He does not know that this Government has completely rebuilt the Umunze Cottage Hospital, constructed the longest Bridge – Odor – in his area, did the Ufuma – Enugwu road, is doing Ajalli- Aguluezechukwu road. In his part of the State, there is no town that did not benefit from a new classroom of five blocks. Most schools for the first time benefited from library, buses, internet, boreholes etc.
Judging from what Obi has done and the recognition that has come his way, it will not be easy to distort the truth here. Thisday best Governor on Financial Prudence; Champion Most Trustworthy Governor; Thisday 4th most performing Governor; a Governor heading a State acclaimed by the Nigerian Senate as Most Stable; a Governor Debt Management Office acclaimed as leading the least indebted State; a Governor The Federal Ministry of Works acclaimed his State as having the best network of roads; a Governor who is beloved by International community/development partners, a Governor who enjoys warm relationship with the Federal Government, cannot by any stretch of imagination be called a failure.
In his long and tortuous journey in politics, we must accept that Obi has driven lunatics away from Anambra State, clipped the wings of predatory politicians eying the State treasury, prevented those who saw themselves as readymade to govern Anambra State from succeeding. But even if he turns Anambra into an Eldorado, this tribe of critics must see him as a failure. Too bad! Too tragic!
Dr. Amos Onyedika, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka