For Immediate Release
Washington, DC, March 16, 2014:
Congratulations to the people of Anambra State, as they march forward into a new administration under Governor-elect William Obiano.
This new administration owes the people of Anambra substantial dividends, for enabling a smooth transition, via the ballot box; the new administration must rapidly roll out great developmental initiatives from day one.
In all fairness to the outgoing administration of Governor Peter Obi, Obi has laid a thorough foundation for financial discipline across the state government, as well as a tremendous legacy of humble public service.
Humility was, and had been in short supply in Anambra State before Governor Peter Obi, partly as a result of the money-driven politics of the state, and also the overriding culture of “wealth at all costs” doctrine in Anambra.
Turning on the Light in the “Light of the Nation”
Anambra has produced excellence in the past, and in many respects, has indeed demonstrated been the “Light of the Nation” per the state’s vehicle insignia. In many cases; Anambra has led Nigeria in innovation, industry, and public service. Azikiwe’s contributions toward Nigeria’s independence, stands as a permanent testimony in the history of Nigeria.
Other Anambra born and bred luminaries have continued to blaze trails in Nigerian & West African commerce and industry; including the founder of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (Sir Louis Ojukwu etc). Others include pioneers who put Africa on the literary map (C. Achebe, C.Ekwensi, C. Adichie, O. Ndibe, etc); to industrialists who succeeded against all odds, in industries that even National governments in Africa could not fathom their way-Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motor Manufacturing. Thus, this state grooms leaders of men and industry.
However, the politics of this state before Peter Obi, was a totally treacherous business, thus relegating the state to the backwater of socio-economic and community development. We hope this state east of the Niger is about to awake from its reckless political and leadership stupor.
Anambra Must Let Go of the “Wealth at All Costs” Syndrome
The “Wealth at all Costs” cultural syndrome, is the bane and undoing of Anambra. This cultural defect has led many an Anambra youth, to try their hands at a host of nefarious activities; from contraband smuggling; to kidnapping; to armed robbery; to political thuggery; to murder for hire; all in order to be counted among the wealthy; and perhaps take a Red-Cap title in Anambra (this applies to their cousins in Imo State as well).
It is an undisputed fact that Anambra youth are found in far-flung places around the world; chasing wealth, and getting into all manner of trouble, in order to build Mansions, acquire SUVS’, or take Red-Cap titles in Anambra. Some of these wealth-hungry youth, have been known to lose their lives in the pursuit of elusive wealth, or commit suicide in the process; because they feel they have failed, and are embarrassed to return to Anambra with empty hands. The Anambra society is merciless in its psychological torture of youth who are deemed to be failures, and the whole society is guilty.
I have not seen the above psychology anywhere else, in my travels and assessment of cultures across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and even other cultures in Africa. Therefore, Governor-elect Obiano, and the state Ministry of Education, must address this ill; through a revision of the state’s educational curriculum, starting from kindergarten.
Some “Civics” and model citizenship doctrine must be taught to Anambra youth; in order to sanitize the state’s psyche, for the youth that will lead this state in the future. If not, a bandit could become governor of this state in the future.
This socio-cultural syndrome of “Wealth at all Costs” must be exorcised from the Anambra youth, starting with a revised educational curriculum that derides ill-gotten wealth. Youth must be thought that everyone in society must not be a millionaire or billionaire in other to enjoy status and respect in their environs.
Pursuing Even-Handed Infrastructure Development
In my previous role in public service, as a Commissioner in the state of Maryland, United States; I had the opportunity to assist in creating a 10-year development plan for my jurisdiction. Our development plan targets the entire jurisdiction and not just where we received the largest bloc of votes; or where the Chief Executive was born and raised. In implementing public projects, we zero our service delivery to cities or towns with recognized deficiencies in infrastructure and or community development, or economic empowerment needs.
The resulting effect is that as our programs lift cities, or towns, or communities, with recognized deficiencies; we now create positive impact for the whole jurisdiction, and by extension the whole state. The development plan then leads to a robust tax base; and prosperity for the whole state; because all capable hands are contributing productively to the welfare of the whole state.
Therefore, Governor-elect Obiano must aggressively pursue a development agenda that focuses on where the needs are, from Umuoji, to Nanka, to Aguata, to Ogbaru, and other towns in Anambra.
The Eye-Sores at Awka, Onitsha, and Other Places
To be frank in this matter; Awka is an embarrassment as the capital of “the Light of The Nation.” Onitsha also needs a massive face-lift, especially in regard to waste management and street décor (lighting and other attributes that befit the foremost commercial city in West Africa). I trust that the Governor has been to other environments even in Africa, to compare. If the Governor-elect cannot find an example, let him visit the nearby city of Calabar in Southern Nigeria, where the virtues of a decent environment has been inculcated in the peoples psyche.
We expect to see major strides in the first 90 days of the Governor’s administration, because the outgoing Governor Peter Obi, has laid a solid foundation and financial discipline for the state. Obiano only has to ride on Peter Obi’s foundation, and move the “Light of The Nation” to where it should be, as example to other States in Nigeria.
By S. Okey Mbonu
S. Okey Mbonu is the current Executive Director of the Washington, DC based Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC), web: www.nigerian-americancouncil.org. Mbonu is also a former Commissioner for Housing & Community Development in suburban Maryland, United States.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) 1701 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 300, NW Washington, DC 20006 Web: www.nigerian-americancouncil.org Tel: 202 379-2848