It might surprise some watchers of Anambra State politics to begin to read about Governor Peter Obi’s monument; and for the less endowed in the white man’s language, particularly those of them resident in Anambra State, passion might run wild in defense of the Governor’s current mandate. While the first group might merely be confounded by the speed of time, the second just would not see their Governor and his Government as issues that are at the threshold of history – at the verge of being permanently reported in the past. Why talk of a monument whose making is unfolding still? There is yet a third interest-class; cynics who would bite, claw and shout in efforts to attain their sworn conclusions to emasculate the novel patterns adorning the political space of Anambra State. ‘What monument?’, they would ask. But in all of these dispositions, the reality of passing time and its compelling dictates in sifting the bedrock of history prevails.
Before the end of March, 2014, Governor Peter Obi would have served Anambra State the maximum statutorily allowable period of eight years, representing two terms of four years each. This is an uncommon privilege unprecedented in the State where the political landscape is replete with ‘men and women of timber and calibre’, who in deference to their high sounding (many a time bizarre) aliases, very often jump into a fray merely for the satisfaction of drawing blood. Even in fights they could neither sustain nor win.
Having taken a token look at the peculiarities of Mr. Obi’s Anambra, one begins to appreciate better the value of the Governor’s resilience, doggedness, ruggedness too. How else would one explain Mr. Obi’s stubborn resistance of the monster that President Obasanjo’s the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) foisted on and sought to perpetuate in Anambra State? Indeed, the PDP nausea, exemplified by the stolen mandate, seemed a blessing for Ndigbo as it exposed the post war conspiracy of clannish pretenders who not only sought to subdue Ndigbo physically but to kill their spirit. Even ‘in the very before’ of the totem of Igbo consciousness (apologies to Chika Okpala, Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo Alias 4.30) the people’s mandate was stolen by impostors to the people’s cause.
What would have been left of Ndigbo if Mr. Obi failed to lead the battle for the rescue of the heartland of the Igbo nation? The Governor’s clear headedness, his sublime understanding of the character of the deprivation and his utmost commitment to resistance, made the unyielding Ikemba of blessed memory to declare uncommon support for a young man whom he identified as fighting hegemony against an endangered nation. Mr. Obi stood, fought and conquered the marauding bunch whose resolve was a systematic emasculation of Ndigbo, using Anambra State as a pilot scheme. This early struggle signaled the relevance of Mr. Obi among Ndigbo; added to this is his seminal managing of human and material resources both in governance of Anambra State and in other spheres of leadership wherever duty calls.
Having served Anambra State for over six of an eight years stretch, and judging from the transparent structure of his government, Governor Obi’s scorecard could be reviewed with reasonable degree of accuracy. The indices for measuring success or failure are located in the responsibilities of government and to what extent government fulfills or neglects such duties.
Anambra State is one of the States in Nigeria that hardly go without press reportage. Its prominence derives from its huge pull of human resources and the inputs of Ndi-Anambra, dead or living, in the making and sustenance of the country. But for a greater part of Anambra’s 21 years as a political entity, it recorded greater negative publicity owing to loss of direction among the crop of leaders that ran its affairs. This deviation manifested in the collapse of the system while very few individuals got so robust they could sustain parallel structures that mocked the institution of government. That was why the ‘Eselus’ for instance could boast of installing what served as government in the state between 2003 and 2006, just as the ‘Offors’ did, years earlier.
While the strains over the ownership of government raged, the entire gamut of the responsibilities of the state went prostrate: education was abandoned, the health sector was comatose; there was comprehensive infrastructural decay and unrest of every kind marked the sociopolitical clime of the state. It remained largely so until the unprecedented judiciary intervention that nullified the celebration of absurdities and declared Mr. Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the authentic governor of the state in March, 2006. From the date of that epochal declaration till date, Anambra State, under Governor Obi, has persisted in its march to recover the lost years and firmly situate itself among the comity of states with both vibrant economy and civilised polity. Pointers to this growth are identifiable in the resuscitation of all the sectors of the State’s economy through the vehicle of Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS), which ensures a comprehensive and effective design, budget and implementation of simultaneous development in all sectors of the state’s economy.
The health sector for instance now has some government as well as private owned hospitals and institutions accredited by relevant censor organisations. Onitsha General Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala; Anambra State School of Nursing and Midwifery, Npor; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu; Iyi-Enu Hospital, Ogidi and Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha are representational of such interventions in the health sector. The construction and inauguration of Anambra State University Teaching Hospital, Awka, is also a phenomenal entry in the credential of Governor Obi’s government.
The Civil Service has its own gains from the current government of the state. Apart from workers’ increased pay package which compares favourably with what obtains in some rich states, an imposing new State Secretariat (Chief Jerome Udoji State Secretariat) which today represents the pride of Anambra State workers, stands to the credit of this administration which conceived, constructed, equipped and effectively put it to use. Today, the operations of government are run from a single pool of ministries which makes for speed and efficiency. Today, government ministries have necessary enablement like vehicles for optimal performance.
The education sector too has recorded enormous gains from the present State Government. Both primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state have variously benefited from the commitment of the government to sanitise the sector in a bid to preserving the future of the society. Over one hundred and fifty secondary schools have received brand new buses; many more schools have received computers and internet facilities, water boreholes, power generating set, sports equipment and many other items to enhance acquisition of knowledge. School buildings have been reconstructed, new buildings erected and school compounds fenced. Missionary schools forcefully acquired from the owners have been returned to their original owners with grants to facilitate the rehabilitation of dilapidated structures.
If today one seeks the monument of Mr. Peter Obi in Anambra, the new look Anambra State where reputable donor agencies jostle to identify with the success story of Mr. Peter Obi’s administration beckons.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu