March 17, 2006 is a historic date in Nigeria for a number of reasons. With the inauguration of the government of Mr Peter Obi in Anambra State on this day, the advance of fascism under the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency was curtailed and vent given to the people’s democratic will.
This singular development broke the regimented pattern of so – called general elections, leaving in its wake, diversity – sensitive electoral calendar. The validation of Obi’s mandate from the April 19, 2003 governorship election further boosted multi party system in Nigeria. If APGA founded just four years earlier could soon assume control of a state government, this was perfect tonic for other fledgling parties to persevere and become relevant.
For the people of Anambra State, the day ushered in an era of peace and civil rule as the new regime effectively cancelled out the forces that had warred over a stolen mandate for close to three years. And following from this new order, a journey of economic reconstruction began in earnest.
The contract between the people and the incoming government was clear to both sides. Anambra State was sadly caught up in the throes of underdevelopment, neglect and misrule.
The potential leadership and followership both envisioned a season of social reconstruction as the path to recreating Anambra State, which understanding had led to Obi’s victory at the poll. Peter Obi met Anambra on the brink of a failed state when he assumed office in 2006.
Between 2003 and 2006, Anambra State was a war zone with two factions of the PDP battling for retention of Obi’s mandate. Several state of emergency plots were hatched, leading to the burning of the state’s few public infrastructure in November 2004. Investors and donor agencies had taken flight from the state.
As at 2006, no public school in the state had equipped and functional laboratory; no government-owned health institution had professional accreditation. The state university was a glorified primary school with a barren Igbariam campus existing only in name. Pensioners were owed accumulated arrears of 22 months pension while permanent secretaries and magistrates lacked official cars.
It was time to give vent to the vision of a mission but as it sometimes happens, the excitement of expectations could blur reality. For Obi the philosopher, you could not set out to restore a failed system using the same approaches and tools that led to its collapse in the first place. Nor could you hope to cure a troubled medical condition without the body experiencing some pains or inconvenience.
A salvage operation was to be done but perhaps, even more importantly; it had to de done systematically. With a business background, Obi would set forth his objectives and goals with clear targets and time frame. Reasonable space was to be devoted to planning.
And there the bubble burst. The roadside expectation of loud politics and showy leadership was not forthcoming from Obi who did not see grandstanding as a substitute for the serious work of governance. Development had to rank above populism for every government worth its name and especially for a state like Anambra whose condition was desperate.
The mistaken impression that road construction was the mark of an action government was deep seated and not surprisingly, the clamour for roads, roads and more roads rent the air. Would Obi accede to this emotional view of governance albeit with strong promise of political capital to be made out of it? This was a tempting and easy way out for a politician thinking of the next election.
At this point, the words of Mahatma Gandhi must have rung in Obi’s mind. In his characteristic simple but powerful reflections, the social crusader had advocated: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ It was elementary that the much desired transformation of Anambra could not be accomplished, could not even commence without setting the priorities right. Though more demanding, a coordinated stimulation of the various sub-sectors would eventually provide the impetus for Anambra’s transformation.
What to do? Obi stuck to his vision. What was the sense of the entire struggle if it boiled down to just playing to the gallery? Seen from another perspective, a society’s God – given resources were not only for the present generation. Future generations too had a stake and right to a meaningful heritage. In adopting the longer but ultimately more rewarding development approach to governance, Obi was not oblivious of the political implications. It would foster opposition from the elite and grassroots alike.
But displaying uncommon courage of conviction and applying strict fiscal policies as well as prioritization of societal needs, the Obi administration succeeded in laying the foundation for Anambra State’s transformation. By 2010, Anambra had become a destination point of investors marked out by good governance and improved socio – economic infrastructure. A pointer to the success of Governor Obi’s mission would be found in his re-election in 2010. It is noteworthy that in so doing, he became the first governor of Anambra State to win a second tenure mandate since the time of the second republic.
Of course, not everyone was impressed by the strides of the administration and there are still dissenting voices to this day. Acknowledging the relevance of the criticisms against his performance, Obi, the long distance runner had in his inauguration speech on March 17, 2010, taken up the challenge this way. ‘There are some people who may still not agree with our policies and decisions.
However, let me assure them while we may not solve all the problems overnight or achieve 100 per cent result, we shall continue to put in 100 per cent effort.’ Again, while the critics have their say on the omissions of the regime in this second tenure, records show that more towns have been provided with potable water; all the 177 communities in the state are funded to undertake community policing; erosion menace is being tackled in different parts of the state; urban planning and housing is being addressed while education, health and road construction continue to receive priority attention. As Governor Obi begins the last lap of the journey, indications are that he is resolved not to be a lame duck Governor to the very end.
It is heart – warming to observe that the Governor has redoubled his efforts to serve Anambra State well at a time some expect to find him tired out and slowing down. Some think this has to do with the desire to achieve electoral victory for a preferred successor candidate.
That itself is still a legitimate ambition. However, going by antecedents, there can be no doubt that Obi continues to be driven by the performance target approach to governance – by which he seeks to achieve defined results within a given time frame. No less interesting is that the government’s spending at this time has not been on frivolities as is usually the case with expiring governments here.
Consider that the Anambra State 2013 budget significantly provides for N70.895 billion capital expenditure and N39.999 billion recurrent expenditure. It would be to the benefit of Anambra State if these progressive tendencies are sustained in the next dispensation.
Afuba is based in Nimo, Anambra State, Nigeria.
"In immediate fulfillment of his promise to make security of lives and property the priority of his Government in 2013 as contained in his New Year broadcast, Gov. Obi yesterday presented 3 armoured and 50 patrol vehicles to the Police at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, making it over 350 he has so far presented to security organizations in the State.
During the presentation, Obi said that other security agencies would receive theirs and assured the Police of the continued support from Anambra State. He says: “May I reassure the Inspector General of Police and the entire Police that Anambra State will continue to work with them for the security of the State and the country at large. We enjoin all Nigerians to do same.” Explaining the reason for the gesture, Obi said it was out of his belief that the State needed security to sustain her achievements and record even more, which will not be possible in the atmosphere of insecurity.
Earlier, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, who said he was in the State to appraise security situation, received the keys to the vehicles from the Governor Obi. He thanked him for his commitment to security saying that each time the Governor visited him in Abuja, it must be on how to improve the security of his people. He said he was also happy on coming to Anambra because the State had remained an example of how other states ought to support security agencies for the good of the country. He also commended Obi for his contributions to the re-positioning of the police through his membership of the Police Funding Committee." - Isaac Umunna, •Publisher, NEWS EXPRESS
Picture Credit: News Express
Enacting a law is not panacea to the environmental problems of Onitsha
There is a growing awareness and awakening brewing in the consciousness of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State with regards to the disposal of waste and refuse in his state especially in the commercial city of Onitsha. A while ago Governor Obi during his visit to Onitsha to inspect the drainage system promised to work with the legislature to enact laws for the regulation and disposal of trash and solid waste. The governor observed that occupants and inhabitants of Onitsha continue to dump trash into the utters after the trash were removed.
Governor Peter Obi from his perspective was disappointed with the people that were dumping trash into the drainage system and therefore believed that making laws will solve the problem. Obi failed to understand that the people do not have a place to safely dispose the generated trash therefore they resorted to littering and dumping wastes at the most convenient place which happened to be the storm water conveyance and gutters. To make laws is a good thing but it should be the secondary development; for efficient and concerted collection and disposal of refuse should precede enacting of laws and regulations.
To achieve a neat ambiance with the ditches and gutters free of littering and debris, a comprehensive solid waste collection and disposal must be in place. The total and elaborate collection, disposal and the importantly recycling must be efficiently planned and implemented. The collection and disposal of solid waste is not a reluctant and once in a while venture. It is a continuous process that involves the citizenry participation and administration supervision. One cannot expect the people to store garbage in their houses when there are no provision of disposal public trash containers and dumpsters for them to dispose the accumulated refuse.
Onitsha drainage Picture credit: Dr. Okenwa R. Nwosu's WIEF
The governor appears to be in a hurry to fix a problem that cannot be solved with laws without first of all doing the right thing by setting up a modern infrastructure and technical-know-how to combat the problem of littering and trash disposal. The primary action needed to be taken by the governor is to make sure that trashes are collect frequently at a stipulated interval with greatest priority to environmentally safe disposal of the waste.
"Trash receptacles will be strategically placed to ensure that the public is given ample opportunity to dispose of litter. Messages will be stenciled on the trash barrels to enlighten the public on how to properly dispose of litter. This will help to ensure that trash is removed before runoff; wind or birds move it to the drainage channel. Trash containers are to be emptied at a minimum of once a week. All collected trash and debris will to be hauled to an approved landfill by licensed solid waste disposal vehicles. Vehicles used to haul the debris shall have a sealed bottom to prevent leaks or seepage, and the trash materials shall be covered while the load is in transit. All personnel will be instructed the correct procedure for trash disposal."
Onitsha for a start must have a modern landfill and storage area that will consist of a major recycling process and procedure to minimize the quantity of waste to be stored subsequently in a landfill. A well managed landfill will guarantee that citizens of Onitsha in particular and Anambra State in general will not dump their waste in the drainage conveyance and gutters. A functioning landfill is needed in Onitsha in order to curtail littering, if not closed the chapter of debris and refuse exposure to storm water and storm drains.
Awareness and education must be apparent as the building blocks of safe environment and efficient solid waste disposal in Anambra State and Nigeria. The citizens must understand the significance of clean environment, which is to enhance the health well being of the people and to eliminate both air and water borne diseases. Governor Obi and Anambra State legislators can enact all the environmental laws they desire but without infrastructures, best management practice and environmental awareness the laws will not make any difference.
President Goodluck Jonathan in Anambra State
Anambra State and its people including Governor Obi are making the preparation and putting the finishing touch to receive the August visitor, His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan on his official visit to the state. The people of the state will come out in mass numbers to receive and show Anambra hospitality to the president. Without doubt, the people of the state and its government are solidly in support of the president and his progressive policies. While ago the governors of south eastern Nigeria and stakeholders congregated at Enugu and wholeheartedly endorsed President Jonathan for another four years.
Anambra State has a lot to be proud of and as it’s truly the -light of the nation. The state and its people have contributed immensely in the making of Nigeria and are in the vanguard of Nigeria’s actualization. The great sons and daughters of Anambra State have continued to make Nigeria proud and great. The one shining example was the role played by the late Rt. Honourabe Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in struggle to free Nigerians from colonialism and ushered the country into the oasis of freedom and liberty.
Even to the present day illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra State including those at home and Diasporas have not rested on their laurels but used every opportunity to make Nigeria better and greater. The Honorable Chinua Achebe, an Anambrian and one of the greatest novelist of our time continues to speak out on issues that are relevant to the people of Anambra state and indeed Nigeria.
With the availability of ample human capital in Anambra State, there are also numerous problems confronting the state. This is where Governor Peter Obi comes in and he will have the ear of the president of Nigeria with this official visit. First and foremost, the provision of security is not adequate to confront the menace of kidnapping. The problem of kidnapping is among the major problems confronting the state. The government of Anambra State may not appreciate the depth of the problem but kidnapping is a clog in the progress of the state.
Anambra State business community especially the tourism industry is bearing the brunt of kidnapping that have gone rampant in the state. Anambra citizens residing outside the state are reluctant to journey home as fear of being kidnapped becomes overwhelmingly probable and real. The citizens of Anambra State in Diasporas especially those in North America and Europe are not returning to the state in a record numbers. The state is losing out because money and resources are not flowing freely into Anambra State.
Governor Obi will dialogue with the president and solicit for a help in providing adequate security to protect lives and property in the state. After all, the most important function of a government is the protection of life and property. President Jonathan is a progressive and compassionate leader; he will come to the aid of the government and people of Anambra State on this calamity they are experiencing.
Another major problem is the issue of unemployment among the youths. The young men and women are the most important human resources needed for growth and development. In a capitalist economy government do not necessarily create jobs but they do create conducive environment that enable job creation to be possible and sustainable. President Jonathan’s visit to the state can be a source of relief and the beginning of something great and spectacular for the Anambra state and indeed Nigeria.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.