For Nigeria to succeed in the arduous task of nation building with sustainable wealth creation in 21st century, Nigeria needs men and women that comprehend and appreciate the complexity of the modern political economy in the emerging 21st century. Innovations, superb intellectuality, prudence and scientific breakthroughs are the hallmarks of greatness in the emerging 21st century.
Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, is a Nigerian politician that can be describe as a personality of a 21st century caliber that understands politics and economy, with a conscience grounded on private enterprise and enriched with an experience on public policy he derived as a former governor of Anambra State. He is an astute business executive and an intellectual politician of first order.
His public policy understanding, prowess and scope together with his experience as a business executive was vividly portrayed and embellished in his write up on the - Confronting the Challenges of Nation Building in Nigeria. His logicality and reasoning shows a serious mind and a dedicated citizenship that is willing to apply his best for the greater good of our country Nigeria.
I always maintained that nobody is born a patriot, for the love of God, country and family is a deliberate act. Again the greatest act of love anyone can show his country is to cherish it. A patriot is an enlighten and dedicated citizen that comprehends the social, political and economic interdependence of citizenship and country.
Obi elaborated in his write up that an economic disruption must not be used as a tool to vilify policy makers especially those of them that are dedicated to the progress of the country. He gave instance about the Russian currency weakening in value due to nosedive of oil price. He reiterated that Putin was not blamed but rather the people of Russia rallied around their leader. His words:
(L) Afripol's Emeka Chiakwelu , Peter Obi (R)
“For instance, the Russian Rubbles has lost over 40% of its value. About 11% of that 40% was lost on Tuesday last week alone. But the Russians are not blaming Putin, or calling its government names. They are rather holding together and struggling to come out of it stronger. Over 25,000 have been reported missing in Mexico the last 18 months or so, including 42 students killed and buried by gangsters. But the Mexicans are not blaming their government, or running their nation down in the media. Some 145 students were recently murdered in Pakistan by Talibans, but without the Pakistanis blaming their Prime Minister, or accusing their government of insensitivity. That is why Nigerians should give themselves a rap on the shoulder and say: “Hey, no one out there is coming to solve our problems for us, if we don’t solve them.”
Obi was making a valid point. It is not necessary to blame Nigerian leadership and policy makers for the falling oil price that has subsequently lessened the value of naira. The point is for all Nigerians to come together irrespective of their political views and philosophy to find ways and methodologies fend off the ramification of falling oil price and the further deterioration of naira as currency speculation surges.
Obi gave Nigeria wider understanding of the universality of the falling oil price and continuous weakening of currencies of oil producing nations. Obi elaborated further with the below commentary:
“Global oil prices have lost about 40% of its value since June. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and all oil producing countries are devising survival strategies, so Nigerians must stay together and support our president at a time like this; especially when he is working round the clock with his economic team to get things right. The nation is not even so badly hit today because we eventually listened the CME’s sustained call for savings at all levels. I recall having attended many meetings as then governor of Anambra, during which she reminded everyone that the price of oil could fall at any time and that we needed to boost national savings, presenting establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as another way of achieving targeted saving and long term investment. But the voice of the majority initially drowned her repeated pleas about saving for the rainy day. The louder chorus was “Let’s spend now! The rainy day is already here! In fact is already flooding!” Meanwhile, it was only drizzling at the time! Fortunately, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was set up after a long and has financed the Abuja-Kaduna rail, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, among other projects.”
Obi views on the issue of budgets and its constraints were impressive due to his understanding of the knots and bolts of fiscal budgets. It must be recognized that due to the nosedive of oil price, there must be some alterations and fiscal modifications on the budget. He gave a quantifiable credit to the Honorable Okonjo-Iweala , the minister of finance, for her financial prudence and expertise. He thanked President Jonathan and his economic team for their safeguard and sustenance of macroeconomic stability of Nigerian economy:
“The point being made here is that our challenges are as real as the government’s tackling of them. We must hold together as people and also thank God for the determination of Mr President and his Economic Management Team, to set the economy on a strong macro-economic footing.”
A grasp of knowledge of budgetary matters was highlighted. Obi’s commentary and analysis sound professorial with repository tinge, prudence and sophistication:
“The 2015 budget is also pegged on increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and diversifying the economy. It ties the expected increase in IGR to projected inputs into the economy, which would reflate local economies and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The FIRS is to increase IGR but not necessarily by increasing the taxes. It is blocking leakages and institutional weaknesses in tax administration and increasing the collection rates. Besides the official target of N1.98 trillion, the FIRS was given an additional target of N75 billion, which it overshot and declared N143 billion extra as at last month. This shows that the new collection target of additional $3 billion dollars in three years for FIRS announced by the CME is realisable, as its Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS, which targets a re-engineering and automating of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) core tax administration processes, will yield a seamless, integrated solution that incorporates international best practices for revenue administration with clear monitoring and evaluation systems.”
Finally, this is my take on the Peter Obi’s conscience of greatness. Nigeria is now at a cross road of history making. If we do the right thing and work together as one people and eschew bitterness; Nigeria will sit on the front row of 21st century table of greatness. Despite the gyration of supply and demand of oil due to nosedive of oil price that has affected the value of naira. Nigeria stands a better chance in building a bulwark against the falling oil price due to diversification of the country’s GDP and her enhanced macroeconomics stability.
Every good thing has an end. It was just like yesterday that Governor Obi began his journey as the executive governor of Anambra State but on Monday March 17, he will bow out and hand over to another energetic and able gentleman Wilie Obiano.
"Time and tide waits for no man," as Geoffrey Chaucer correctly said. Eight years ran so fast and Governor Obi would bowed out of office with dignity and prestige that has been rarely seen or experienced by any politican since the formation of Anambra State. In making this fabulous history and achievement it is now on record in the chronicle and annals of Anambra history that Obi is the first and only governor in Anambra to have enjoyed two terms in the office. We hope that he will not be the last and that Willie Obiano will follow put.
The point of this article is not to write down the achievements of Governor Obi. These are the facts and the truth is that his achievements and accomplishments are numerous from provision of physical and social infrastructures to health facilities. His achievements covered the spectrum of human endeavors, propelling community upliftment.
What I am try to do is to explore his human quality and caring he brought to bear in his eight years of occupying the seat of the governorship of Anambra Stae. Obi cares for the people of Anambra and each time he carries the burden of the people. This is quite important that a leader feels and understand the pains his people are going through. Take for instance you see Obi administering medical vaccination to children he held in his hands as the mothers of those children stood in awe. He never separate or distance himself from the poor and less privileges citizens of the state.
One of the greatest tools a leader can posse is the ability to show empathy to his fellow human being. Obi never gives excuse to be away from the people. One thing that is outstanding about him is that all Anambrians are taken seriously as stakeholders contrarily to selected few and godfathers. When he celebrated his 50 years birthday, he did not throw an elaborate party for his friends and colleagues instead he celebrated his party in a remote primary school with children all around him.
OBI IS HUMBLE
Unlike most of our present leaders in Nigeria, whose commitments are inclined to expensive cars, designer clothes, watches, shoes and worldly accessories, Governor Obi is not imprisoned with vanity. He knows who he is and does not need expensive suits and accessories to express his profound intellectuality. As a governor he has an open door policy and he is accessible to both rich and poor provided that you are logical and focused.
OBI REACHES OUT
Pe' OKWUTE may be one of the smartest politicians in Nigeria. He is seasoned politician and he is a strategist. He knows when to make a move, when to talk, when to hold back and when to be quite. He understood the act of politics which ponderously rests on alliance and friendship. Peter Obi is an architect of concord based on mutual benefits and respect. Governor Obi orchestrated what maybe perhaps his greatest achievement: The reconciliation of Ndi-Igbo South east and minorities South south political zones.
SE and SS Reconciliation is a momumental Achievement
One of his greatest breakthrough was extending his hands of friendship to our brothers and sisters in South South political zone; when APGA supported President Goodluck Jonathan for his presidency and APGA did not file any presidential candidate. That was a great move and brought about the reconciliation between SE and SS. Enhance forth the friendship between President Jonathan and Governor Obi deepened and became a source of joy and tangible returns to SE and Anambra State in paricular.
Okwute Ndigbo distinguish himself from his contemporaries with hard work and commitment to a vision of achievements and the strive to restore the dignity of Ndi-Igbo. Governor Peter Obi feels and understands the heart beat of Ndi-Igbo
Yes, I knew him in Onitsha when we were growing up. Obi went to Christ the King College (CKC) with my brothers Damian Chiakwelu and Chuks Chiakwelu. Even at that time he has been showing leadership quality and was industrious. He always knows what he wants and God has abundantly blessed him.
Okwute Ndi-Igbo I wish you the best - Godspeed. Agu Igbo daalu !
The dramatic advent, in 2003, of Dr. Chris Ngige as Governor of Anambra State, under macabre circumstances that are now part of national political lore, brought to Anambra a revolution of sorts. In the end, in 2006, some roads had been built and, I dare say, built well. The Ngige regime truly opened the eyes of Anambrarians in more ways than physical accesses could attest. Under Ngige, the good people of Anambra began to objectively perceive the range of possibilities available to their aspirations. It took Ngige’s stint to summarily estimate our erstwhile disenfranchisement, to alert us to the shocking magnitude of it.
It is also to Ngige’s credit that teachers, civil servants and pensioners, for whom all hope had been lost, were paid in arrears and progressively. With the limited but pioneering road network, the geography of Anambra became compressed somewhat, enabling workers living in some distant places to make it to Awka in time. Nobody in his right mind could have expected more of the embattled repentant. Considering the time available to him, Ngige did a yeoman’s job, and that is a fact.
Anambra before Ngige was virtually brain-dead. Even with the much vaunted intellectual and human abundance in the State, rogues had ruled the roost, until that mythical honour-among-thieves snapped, and Anambra’s salvation had to come via one of the most brazen, bizarre and diabolical phenomena in Nigeria’s troubled political history. Ngige nonetheless became our own Robin Hood; a veritable folk-hero. And when the pay-loaders, the earth movers and tar trucks started rolling, many rose as one and hailed "Onwa! Onwa!! Onwa!!!" Thus, Anambra condoned – nay - celebrated his abnormal path to power.
When the courts removed Ngige as Governor, I felt a loss. I could not help believing, in spite of my moral sense, that given time, Ngige could have sustained the driven momentum to other sectors of the social and economic life of Anambra. All one cared for was the development of Anambra; how or by whom seemed all but irrelevant.
There were doubters. I could not abide the myopic and mischievous denials of some people I knew, who insisted that Ngige’s achievement in the road construction sector was mostly restricted to his Idemmili area of the State. I got into numerous quarrels with Ngige-baiting friends.
While the anti-Ngige observation about the concentration of roads may be empirically probable, the truth is that the man had only three unsettled years. In any case, the critics simply blindly refused to note some of the strategically important roads Ngige laid in other parts of the State. I was able to drive from Nimo to Owerri, Imo State in just over an hour via the Awka Etiti-Ukpor-Ameke road. I could access the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway through either Ukpo, Awkuzu or Abagana. I was spoilt for choice there. Note, please, that I hail from a town where Ngige did not lay a single meter of road, or anything else for that matter! It did not prove that he “did nothing”.
Change of Guards
Then, enter Mr. Peter Obi in equally dramatic, if morally converse, circumstances. His coming fulfilled the Igbo article of faith that "O-ji ife nwata wenyie aka enu, aka lobe ya, o'wetue, nwata e'welu ife ya".
Mr. Obi immediately enunciated what he called the Anambra Integrated Development Scheme (ANIDS), which in a nutshell entailed detailed planning and multi-faceted roll-out of infrastructures - roads access, potable water, educational, health and economic structures - across the long-suffering State. His methods were intended to put an end to the long-standing, imposed ad hoc approach to development in Anambra.
Today (2011) Obi’s administration claims to have laid out 500 km of roads in its five years so far, rebuilt or equipped as many as 100 schools with computers, lab equipment, electric generators, buses; advanced the structures of the State University and the Teaching Hospital; built secretariats and business houses; upgraded hospitals and installed water supply in places, controlled erosion, etc. As Mr. Obi himself makes clear every chance he gets, it is yet work in progress.
What baffles me to no end however is that the government’s claims to infrastructural achievement meets with spirited and unrelenting denials from a certain strain of critics who unabashedly identify themselves as pro-Ngige. These Ngige elements seem possessed of holding the truncated shadow of Dr. Chris Ngige over the looming person of Mr. Peter Obi. In almost all cases, their criticism, strangely enough, tended to be aimed, not at imprudence but at frugality on the part of Governor Obi. I started to get the impression that Obi’s ‘crimes’ really border on the fact that he has not left the State treasury open to marauders.
Beyond the fact that Obi has built two roads and a bridge in my own community, as well as equip the secondary school with computers and electricity generating equipment (not seen since 1970!), I cannot say that that qualifies me to validate all of Obi’s claims. On the other hand, however, the fact that Obi's focus on multi-faceted, mainly rural, approach is not as emblematic as Ngige's erstwhile Appian preoccupation does not conclude the matter in favour of Ngige adherents.
I have observed with misgivings that pro-Ngige partisans single-mindedly insist that Obi’s achievement lags that of Ngige. They say that Obi’s claims are mere propaganda, no substance. To be sure, disingenuousness by incumbents is not unknown in Nigeria. But such deception is today easily shown up, what with the internet and independent information management capabilities. Until somebody is aggrieved enough to do an objective rebuttal of the Government’s claims, I cannot help but consider anti-Obi sentiments in this regard as ill-motivated.
If it can be verified that Mr. Obi in fact has achieved just half of his claims, I would be one proud Anambrarian indeed. That Anambra, under Obi, has scored a universal recognition for financial probity is a marvel in itself, in a State historically dogged by ‘godfathers’ and rogues. One has to wonder at the principled exertions and strength of character it takes to keep the desperate hyenas away from State funds.
What, in all earnestness, I am trying to do (with admittedly much difficulty) is show up the absurdity of the Ngige-Obi confrontation. It all sounds idle, even dangerous, especially reckoning the intellect and professional pedigree of the protagonists.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Executive Governor of Anambra State is, by the grace of God and will of the people, Peter Obi, not Chris Ngige (barring appellate court contrary decision, or force majeure). I think our Governor deserves the respect that is properly his, in the way and manner we criticise or oppose him. No one is anointed to hound the Governor in the noble, if contested, work he is trying to do for Anambra. And I think Dr. Ngige ought to distance himself from such roguish acts.
I am quite sure that there are imperfections in Obi’s programmes, especially in the overall quality of some of the structures he has executed. I only advocate constructive criticism or opposition. A virile, pointed opposition can only be to the benefit of Anambra. The State after all does not belong to Mr. Peter Obi, less still to Dr. Chris Ngige. It behoves Ngige therefore to see that he does not in any way constitute himself a dissembler, or an “alternative” Executive Governor, but conduct himself as is required of any good citizen. Ngige as Governor of Anambra State is past tense until and unless he wins an election to the position.
One thing is incontrovertible: Peter Obi has brought to Anambra a stability and civilisation that were, to our collective shame, heretofore lacking in the governance of the State. This may not sound spectacular, and Obi may not build Anambra into the 25th Century with ANIDS, but he would have, at the very least, laid a sound moral and structural foundation for governance and rural empowerment in Anambra State.
Given the esteem which Dr. Ngige has enjoyed, and given his extant aspiration to Government House, I find it counter-productive, even unethical, that he should be the totem of mindless distractions to the Executive Governor of Anambra State. If the good doctor allows his name to be associated with rabble-rousing, he may sooner find out how fleeting this thing called ‘popularity’ can be. On the face of it, no one stands to lose in confrontation but Ngige. While Obi will have only to await the verdict of history, Ngige could have demystified his intrigued popularity and squandered his goodwill, for what they were worth.
The supporters of Ngige seem to confer upon him a messianic status. I sincerely hope that that is not how the feisty doctor sees himself. I have heard some people say that he ‘saved’ Anambra. As ridiculous as it sounds, they never tire of bandying it. Ngige owes the good people of Anambra an eternal debt of gratitude. Given the auspicious blend of circumstances and providence, Ngige, in his incurred distress, had thrown himself into the bosom of Anambra and was received as a repentant prodigal. Anambra forgave and adopted and protected him. At another time, another place, he could have as easily been stoned as a common criminal. But, as the great Ndigbo say, the enemy of my enemy is my ally.
Comparisons between the two consecutive regimes are reckless, and not in Ngige’s favour. Since roads are the only common denominator between the two of them, it is easy enough to tape out the lengths of roads constructed by the respective regimes and, if prudence is a parameter as well, tag up the respective cost per kilometer of them. As for works in the Health, Sanitary, Water, Educational and Business sectors, Obi would have to be judged independently of Ngige. How can any sane person compare 150 km of roads built by Ngige with ubiquitous works in health, education, agriculture, erosion control, government infrastructures, electrification ...embarked by Obi? Would it not amount to counting up oranges and coconuts together?
In conversations I have had with some of these pro-Ngige clansmen, I discern that perhaps what they mean by that Obi “has done nothing” is that Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi have remained eye-sores. These are supposed to be the “faces” of our State. Asii na, ana e’li oma-iru nwata tupuu e’lie ife o’ji naka. Very true. And I quite niggle at the sorry sights of Onitsha and Awka. I would personally have loved nothing better if these main towns were uplifted, all things being equal.
Since, however, one must choose, I would rather have rural roads access to my town and others, running water, upgrade of our schools and local health centre, etc. If Obi’s claims of achievement are even just nearly true, no one should assume that he is done yet. The reasonable assumption would be that he would get to the facades of Onitsha and Awka in good time. In fact, he has just announced a programme for restructuring Nnewi – our industrial centre.
As I write, I cannot say as I know what Ngige’s vision for Anambra is. After all, the doctor is a strong contender for the Governorship after Obi. I think his “supporters” should be advancing his thinking on the development of Anambra rather than indulge in futile Obi-baiting rhetoric. The Ngige camp act as if their man is averse to a planned, integrated approach to developing Anambra; as if Ngige is merely a compulsive road builder. I am sure Dr. Ngige must have his dream for a greater Anambra. Well, then, what is it?!
With the vehemence of the raging controversy, one is given to think that should Ngige become Governor again, he would spitefully discard Obi’s theoretically laudable and indispensable integrated approach to development, in favour of constructing roads, more roads and still more roads, until we would have many layers of pavement piled upon another. Give Dr. Ngige a break! The man must be good for more than mere road contracts.
As one recent, blatant anti-Obi article seemed to imply, God and the Pope, upon whose wings Peter Obi rode to his multiple victories, have fled his corner. Nothing is farther from the truth; to some sensitive ears it might smack of sacrilege. God and the Pope are, always will be, on the side of piety over diabolism, prudence over profligacy, humaneness over irascibility, couthiness over rascality, humility over prima donna-ism.
Bear this in mind also: Ngige, if given another chance, would not have the same motivations that drove his limited achievement in roads, as he had in his quondam gubernatorial stint. This time, we hope, he would be coming through the front door, without the pack of wolves he had had the misfortune of running with, at his tail.
I sincerely hope that Anambra is not unwittingly heading toward another debilitating bout of geo-political Dichotomy, on account of two illustrious but non-indispensable personalities.
ANAMBRA State governor, Mr. Peter Obi has charged Nigerians to seek divine intervention to tackle the various challenges confronting the country.
Speaking at an inter-denominational church service to mark the 53rd Independence anniversary of the country at Women Development Centre, Awka, Governor Obi regretted that Nigerians have failed the country in the way they attend to issues concerning their country.
According to him, in spite the huge resources that abound in the country, majority of Nigerians were still living in abject poverty, while the privileged few have been exploiting and amassing wealth.
He also lamented that some of the people in positions of authority have not shown commitment in seeking the face of God because of their unbridled and blind quest for money.
The governor said the Independence anniversary celebration was opportunity for sober reflection to identify the short-comings and chart a new course for a brighter future.
The state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Bishop Ephraim Ndife, while thanking God for preserving the country, commended Governor Obi for giving the state focused and purposeful leadership and touching many lives since he mounted the saddle.
Bishop Ndife enjoined people of the State to pray for a successful election that would produce credible and dedicated leader to pilot the affairs of the State. In a homily, Reverend Father Peter Akaenyi of Awka Cathedral Diocese, who noted the high level of instability in some parts of the country, observed that over sixty percent of Nigerians were still illiterate and more than that were unemployed.
Reverend Father Akaenyi who described government as God’s way to maintain public good and direct affairs of men, urged those in position of authority to imbibe strong and impeccable moral character.
He said the State had been transformed under Governor Peter Obi as God had used the Governor to show that good governance and dedicated leadership was possible in the State
Former governor of Anambra State and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, has alleged that there is nothing on ground to justify the over N2 trillion the Governor Peter Obi administration has received in the last seven and half years.
Ngige, who spoke in Awka, the Anambra State capital yesterday, said such huge amount of money received by the state within the period under review was simply frittered away as there is nothing tangible on the ground to show for it.
He added that for 34 months, he (Ngige) was in the saddle as governor of the state and did not receive up to N100 billion, including all receipts from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and counter-part funding.
According to Ngige, the Obi administration has denied ever collecting such an amount in revenue to the state, yet it has woefully failed to publish its account for the scrutiny of Anambra people since it came into being.
“The few things I put in here have vanished. In everything I did in Anambra State, I did not spend up to N100 billion including all my receivables from Federation Account and IGR. The Government of Anambra State as at today has collected up to N2trillion. They are saying it is a lie, I said publish your account, your IGR, receivables from counterpart funding from all agencies, world Bank, DFID, UNICEF, WHO. Publish all account receivables,” Ngige said.
He cited the example of 50 percent counterpart funding for building of classroom blocks for primary and junior secondary schools in the state in conjunction with Federal Government which he said over N17billion had been paid before he left office but allegedly, nothing to show about the project today. “Rather, the Governor Peter Obi Government has been beating its chest for providing computer sets to schools with leaking roofs,” he said.
Ngige also took a swipe at the health sector in the state, saying it had collapsed under Peter Obi’s administration, also stressing that the Onitsha General Hospital was the only one that took him 24months to secure its accreditation as governor, which he said Obi has lost the accreditation.
He said, there is no other hospital that has been given accreditation as most of the consultants, doctors, nurses and other health professionals employed have left, apart from the 13 months strike embarked upon by doctors in public hospitals in the state.
“Since I left, the government of Obi has not employed nurses apart from the 350, I employed, ” he said, adding that the same thing goes for teachers who he said were never employed under Obi.
Ngige said the scenario was not different from the tertiary institutions in Anambra State, especially the state University at Uli, which he said, he fought to get accreditation for 18 courses but today has lost accreditation of 20 courses.
“I got professors, I employed them and I was ready to pay and I paid. You don’t make a good soup without paying. Today as we speak, 20 of those courses have lost accreditation. The 23 percent that has been done by the Obi administration is not enough. They are trying but their best is not enough”.
Ngige said that all these things do not add up to the Anambra of his dream, and emphasised that he joined the race to change the fortunes of the people of the state and lift them out of what he called their present bondage.
Across board on the political turf, there seems to be a conscious reconciliation of deep-seated animosity amongst key political players on the turf. Coming from a series of peace meetings by President Goodluck Jonathan at the weekend to mend the cracks, both in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the polity in general, the make-up, Monday, between Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, whose chairmanship of the party was upheld recently by a court of competence may signify a promising turn of what to come next.
Umeh has been in the thick of a huge political storm in APGA, especially his long drawn battle- both legal and political- with Obi, a situation that almost eroded the hard earned status created for the party before the demise of the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Obviously, Ojukwu had handed over APGA as a strong political platform through which his kinsmen of Igbo extraction could unite and jointly push their hopes, aspirations and grievances to the national level. But less than a year after his death, the party had been engulfed in protracted personality crisis.
The undercurrents were so potent that they polarised the party along the lines of Umeh and Obi factions. What followed soon was the battle for the soul of the party as both strived to control the chairmanship seat.
The power play eventually led to Umeh’s sack from the party after a midnight convention held by the Obi faction. And so, Chief Maxi Okwu was named the new chairman. But this was not left unchallenged by Umeh who maintained that he was the authentic chairman of the party, a declaration he supported with a sustained legal battle.
While many Igbos who considered the party as theirs were disenchanted by the crisis, Obi and his aides were fingered as the brain it. Some considered the action of the governor as political betrayal of his race and also against Umeh whom they contended brought him to political limelight.
Whilst the battle lasted, contrary to popular beliefs, Obi had categorically stated that Umeh had no hand in his emergence as governor, both during his first and second terms. The governor's Chief Press Secretary, Mike Udah, said at different times that “Umeh contributed nothing to the election of Obi the first and the second term.”
However, political analysts traced the war of attrition to period after the April 2011 general election when APGA did not win any of the three senatorial seats in Anambra State. Though it shared the seats in both the House of Representatives seats and the state House of Assembly with such parties as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and other parties, stakeholders had begun to toy with the idea of restructuring APGA. They planned to make it a national party. That idea, they reckoned, would see to the removal of Umeh.
The crisis that followed was explosive. It no doubt gave birth to damning consequences for APGA and the politics of Anambra State. In the heat of the controversy, Umeh described one of his traducers, Nwobu-Alor as “an old man that should be removed from office," adding, “Why is it that after I have secured the party for a second term, they now say I am incompetent.”
He maintained that his quest was to save APGA from its antagonists, adding that the genesis of the rift is traceable to the fact that he had been fighting for local government elections to be conducted in Anambra, which he said some people did not want. This, of course, divided the party on the ongoing merger of political parties on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), which was eventually registered on Wednesday.
While Umeh had been initially schemed out of reckoning following a court declaration, a Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu later nullified the High Court judgment. To observers, therefore, it was the judgment that finally put to rest, perhaps, the protracted ego contest between the duo of him and Obi.
The interesting thing is that while many had waited to watch Obi execute his succession plan at the expiration of his tenure in 2014, the news of the reconciliation was deemed timely, not only to party supporters but also the Igbos who see APGA as their political signature in national polity.
Also for Obi and Umeh, they see the court pronouncement as an opportunity make up and end their self-ignited leadership crisis that has threatened the status of the party.
As Obi and Umeh emerged from the Anambra State council Executive meeting chamber on Monday, after a long meeting at the governor’s office for several hours, they declared that they have decided to sheathe their swords for the unity and stability of their party. And jointly, they regretted the consequences of the crisis on the party and vowed that vsuch would not occur again.
"The crisis will never come up again. Anambra State is an APGA state and it will remain so. We will defend it with everything. We will go out with everything during the coming election and win," Obi said as he assured party loyalists that end of the crisis will bring victory for them.
On his part, Umeh said: “I have come to crystalise the various meetings we have had in recent time and to declare to the whole world that the APGA crisis has come to an end."
To him, the resolution of the crisis is a new dawn for APGA, which he said was an indivisible party that will remain very strong and united, promising to continue to work harmoniously with the governor to reposition the party.
“Like brothers, we will continue to resolve all outstanding differences. I am sure that the late Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu will be very happy today. He is in heaven and I know that what he had left in our hands will remain safe and strong. We have conquered the devil."
SHOLA OYEYIPO writes for THISDAY
In the letter Governor Obi wrote:
“I wish to respectfully bring to your due attention a very disturbing development that has vast national security and political implications. Last September and again on 24 July 2013, the Lagos State Government contrived inexplicable reasons to round up Nigerians, whom they alleged were Anambra indigenes (most of whom the SSS report shows clearly are not from Anambra State) and forcefully deported them to Anambra State, dumping them, as it were, in the commercial city of Onitsha (see attached SSS report).
“This latest callous act, in which Lagos State did not even bother to consult with Anambra State authorities, before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra State, is illegal, unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian Constitution.
“Your Excellency, no amount of offence committed by these people, even if deemed extremely criminal, would justify or warrant such cruel action by a state authority and in a democracy. Even refugees are protected by the law. Furthermore, the extant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution states: ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part, thereof, and no citizen shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.’
“Sir, forced deportation such as this, which Lagos State seems to be making a norm in addressing its domestic challenges are egregious, and calls into question the validity of Nigeria and its federating components. Such acts violate human decency, the rule of law and constitutionally-ordered liberties.
Naturally, I have the obligation to protect the interest and welfare of all Nigerians resident in Anambra State, irrespective of their states of origin and I would be left no option other than reciprocity or reprisal. I will, however, put any such reaction in abeyance until Your Excellency has had the opportunity to address our concerns," he concluded.
The fundamental role of government, which is without doubt the most important function of government, is the protection of life and property. Anambra State’s center of normality is being swept away and distorted by insecurity. The adverse effect of this phenomenon contributed immensely to the retardation of economic growth in both urban and rural areas of Anambra State. Capital flight, poor harnessing of human capital and dwindling of home coming of Anambra Diasporas can all be attributed to insecurity in the state.
To liquidate the ugly head of kidnapping and armed robbery in Anambra State, the massive unemployment must be tackled head-on by Governor Peter Obi. The government of Anambra State should generate jobs by itself to fight against apathy and hopelessness among the youths that led them to criminal enterprise.
There are many positive developments and good news coming from Anambra State. The leader of Nigeria, President Good luck Jonathan was in Anambra State to commission new industries including Orient Petroleum, SABMiller brewery and Onitsha Inland water port.
Governor Obi deserved some credits for facilitating the process and by making sure that these industries came to fruition. There are criticisms to be made but this article is not about that, for I am more interested in finding the ways to elevate standard of living in Anambra State and to slow down joblessness among our youths. There is time and season for everything but for now let us finish the job at hand, which is to find ways to provide jobs to the people of the state especially the youths.
The new industries in the state will surely make a difference by providing jobs to the people. Notwithstanding, the new jobs will not change the picture of unemployment in the state nor absolutely reverse the state of unemployment among the youths. Without doubt, it is a down payment and a foundation to build on. With same spirit of revitalization, new ideas and breakthrough can be lunched to make a real dent on joblessness in Anambra State. Therefore kudos must go to those that are working for a new reality in the state including the responsible citizens of the state, business community and Governor Obi.
The stubborn truth is that unemployment among the Anambra youths is overwhelming. Those in the age bracket of 18-27 years have it real bad. I do not have any credible statistics to back up my assertions but my wild guess is that unemployment among the youths should be over 60 percent. When those that returned back to school for advance degrees as a result of unemployment are factor in, the number will be probably higher.
And here lies the major problem of Anambra State - the high and massive unemployment including underemployment among the youths do spur and became the gate way to petty crimes that eventually led to kidnapping, highway robbery and massive insecurity in Anambra State. Therefore this is not the time to fold our hands and continue to pray for manna to fall from the sky. God help those that help themselves.
Governor Peter Obi must take the bull by its horns and raise some revenues to create jobs for the youths. With the recent admission of Anambra as an oil producing states, more revenue allocations will be coming to the coffins of the state. The types of jobs that the government can create more quickly are as follows:
a) Environmental Enforcement Officers (‘Refuse Police’)
b) Traffic Wardens
c) Building Inspectors and Code Enforcement Officers
The job responsibility of the Environmental Enforcement Officer or ‘Refuse Police’ is to enhance and protect the environmental and ecosystem integrity of Anambra Sate. They will be parading on foots and bicycles looking out for those that are throwing rubbish and wastes on the street and into the storm drains. The officers will safeguard the refuse disposal containers and enforce the proper discharge of refuse. They will visit numerous auto repair workshops in Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi and others making sure that stores are kept clean and spent oil are kept with best management practice and disposed properly.
Traffic Wardens will be helping the police to make sure that traffic rules and regulations are maintained and obeyed. Traffic Warders can be of great important especially in rural areas and places were the presences of traffic law enforcement officers are limited.
Building Inspectors and Code Enforcement Officers will be inspecting buildings in urban areas and making sure that the houses are kept clean and maintained to the standard of the original building plans. In most cases especially in Onitsha houses are left deteriorated and paints become worn out. To make Onitsha a tourist destination, the building codes must be maintained.
The main intention for calling for these jobs to be created is to uplift the quality of life of the youths thereby occupying their idle minds and bodies. You know that “Idle mind is devil’s workshop”. The idea is to give the youths less time to dabble into criminal enterprise. We cannot be naïve to believe that these jobs or any jobs for that matter will eradicate crime in a society. But by providing these jobs, the government will fulfill its own portion of social contract thereby compelling the people to live up to the responsibilities of citizenship.
This is not time to argue and critic these proposals to death. Of course in capitalistic society government does not necessarily create jobs but government makes the environment for job creation to thrive and propitious by having a conducive economic landscape. By offering youths these job opportunities, the government is laying the foundation for the economy to thrive when insecurity and criminality are minimized.
"Facts speak louder than statistics"
- Mr. Justice Streatfield (1950)
In the war of words, "the first casualty is the truth," for when the numbers are pliable and shaded to accomplish a specific purpose, then observers and stakeholders must not look to the other side.
The recent article written by Nasir Ahmed El Rufai headlined: ANAMBRA'S BUDGET OF MISPLACED PRIORITIES, would have still made its point without conjuring half-baked statistics on Anambra State. But the writer could not hold back the temptation of justifying his point of view without hard numbers to make it credible and acceptable. The point must be clearly made that all Nigerians in our diverse country have the constitutional rights to express their views through articles, press releases and speeches but they are not entitled to misrepresenting facts.
The point here is not to defend Governor Peter obi, for he has the resources, infrastructures and capable hands that can do that for him. But when facts about Anambra State are misconstrued and misplaced, those of us that cherish Anambra State and appreciate the facts will not be left with any other alternative but to speak out.
Nasir El Rufai, in his most recent article on Peter Obi and Anambra State, did not provide us with credible references or scholarly sources that validate the statistics he utilized. However, it was not difficult to find out his source which is National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The only problem was that he did not completely use all the numbers; some numbers he chose to skip and others he made malleable.
It will be logical to give a brief explanation of the role played by NBS in the country’s economic landscape. It is the country's statistical agency that was set up by Federal government of Nigeria to collect micro/macro-economic data of the country. NBS collects and documents indices on inflation, economic growth, food and commodity prices, with regards to changes in the market place, in the effort of determining the wellbeing of the nation.
Governor Obi (left) Mallam El Rufai (right)
Dr. Yemi Kale is the Statistician General of the Federation and Chief Executive of NBS. “NBS came into being with the merger of the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) and the National Data Bank (NDB). The creation was part of the implementation of the Statistical Master Plan (SMP), a program document of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).” These statistics collected by NBS are used by policy makers and bureaucrats for making economic and financial decisions.
The merger of these entities took place to give the nation an elite “statistical agency for all the three tiers of Government. NBS is expected to coordinate statistical operations of the National Statistical System in the production of official statistics for all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State Statistical Agencies (SSAs) and Local Government Councils (LGCs).” NBS may not be perfect but it is progressively getting better.
When Mallam El Rufai wrote: “Unemployment rate in Anambra is among the highest in the South-east zone, at 21.3 percent, it is higher than the national average of 21.1 percent." But According to NBS, Anambra state unemployment value stood at 12.2% and currently, Anambra State has the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria.
The question that is begging for an answer is where did El Rufai find his data? Is it from same National NBS or somewhere else?
His article on Anambra State was quite interesting but misleading, not because of what he wrote but for things he chose to omit and for the numbers he utilized to make his point. One thing he failed to do was to differentiate between the governor and Anambra state, for he interchangeably made Governor Peter Obi and Anambra State appears as one entity. A governor is the chief executive officer of state and a politician; therefore the citizens of the state should be respected.
One could constructively criticize the governor’s administration without the people of the state feeling belittle or insulted. By going out of his way to make Anambra State appear worst than it actuality is, reveals that the article is not being logical and serves an alternative agenda.
The below paragraph reinforces the point and drives home the idea that El Rufai is castigating the people of Anambra state with pliant statistics:
"The incidence of poverty in the state is very high – actually disappointing. The South-east has a food poor incidence of 41.0 percent of which 60.9 percent is absolutely poor, while 66.5 percent is relatively poor and 56.8 percent live under a dollar a day. Anambra has a poverty index of 22.8 per cent, the third highest in the zone, and shares the sixth lowest position in Nigeria with Rivers State which also has 22.8 percent. About 47.6 percent of the state’s population is core poor, 45.0 percent is moderately poor and only 7.4 percent of the state’s population is classified as none poor. Income inequality as measured by changes in Gini co-efficient between 2003 and 2010 increased slightly by 7.6 percent against 18.1 percent for Ebonyi and Enugu States 7.5 per cent increase."
According to NBS, absolutely poverty for the South-east is 58.7 percent not 60.9 per cent as El Rufai suggested in the article.
“Anambra is the eighth most populated state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the second most densely populated state in Nigeria after Lagos State” and not ninth as the article claimed.
Anambra State is by no means the poorest state in Nigeria, another indication of a thriving business activity was buttressed by the large percentage of mobile phones access in the state. Technology Times reported in 2011 that "among the states in Nigeria, Anambra has the highest percentage of people with access to mobile phones at 95.1 per cent and nearly 60 per cent of them own the devices" according to the survey report by NBS indicating that “at least 9 in every 10 persons who reside in the state are likely to have access to a mobile phone.”
On Anambra State resources, El Rufai wrote that "Anambra State is not much endowed with mineral resources and the few known to exist are not exploited."
But that is not the case; “Anambra is rich in natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, ceramic and has an almost 100 percent arable soil.”
“In 2006, a foundation laying ceremony for the first Nigerian private refinery, Orient Petroleum Refinery (OPR) was made in the Nsugbe-Umuleri area. The Orient Petroleum Resource Ltd, (OPRL) owners of OPR, was licensed in June 2002, by the Federal Government to construct a private refinery with a 55,000 bc/d capacity. Furthermore, Anambra state is a state that has many other resources in terms of agro-based activities like fishery and farming, as well as land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry.”
The article should have concentrated more on its preamble which was to dissect the respective allocations of resources to different sectors of the economy instead of stretching itself too thin and running a fast one with the numbers.
Nasir Ahmed El Rufai is an intellectual but on writing on Anambra State, his intellectuality was eclipsed with a noticeable and unremarkable omission of vital statistics.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Analyst and Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization.