|AllAfrica News: Latest|
|All Africa, All the Time.|
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.
When Peter Obi was campaigning for the governorship election he created for himself an image of a business expert with the capacity to magically transform Anambra state hence Anambra people had a very high expectation, even when Ngige came in through the back door and was doing some good works people were still wishing that the person they gave the mandate should come and take them to the next level.
In March 2006 that dream came through and everybody celebrated the dawn of a new era for massive transformation and realization of the Anambra of our dreams. More than five years after he became governor the high expectations of Anambra people (that made Peter Obi to almost become a religion) have not been met. It is not that Peter Obi’s government has not recorded some notable achievements (especially in the area of rural development- currently about 6 bridges are at various stages of completion) but there is huge expectation gap which so far he has not been able to meet; but for Ngige Anambra people did not expect much from him hence he easily surpassed their expectations.
For example in the Education sector, during his campaign Peter Obi told us that Anambra school system will be transformed to the extent that even his kids will come back and school in Anambra state. Even though there is some piecemeal approach to rehabilitate some school buildings but till date there is no standard secondary school in Anambra state that is worthy of governor’s children; I am not demanding that his children should come back to school in Anambra but can the governor beat his chest today that there is one secondary school in Anambra he can send his own child to. I almost wept the day I saw the state of Anambra state University late last year. Please( for the sake of the children whom he preaches that he loves) let Anambra State Executive Council visit Gombe State University so that they can have an idea of how a state university should look like( Gombe is not an oil producing state hence no excuse of Gombe having more money). It did not take Gombe State government large percentage of their yearly budget to build the university; it only took vision, political will, modest cost of government contract and sincerity.
When Peter Obi came in 2006 he told us that Awka the state capital is an emerging slum, people were happy two years later when he announced that the master plan for Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha is ready; that he will transform these cities to standard cities that will be a model in Nigeria (people’s expectations went very high again), almost three years later there is nothing to show that any form of master plan is being implemented, buildings and shops are still being build indiscriminately in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi and none of these cities are illuminated at night.
Anytime I pass through Onitsha in the night(from 8pm) from Asaba it looks so deserted that it always seems as if the Biafran civil war was still on or that it just ended. Onitsha has not been able to achieve its full potential as a commercial hub because it functions only for 12 hours unlike other commercial cities that function for at least 18 hours; this is because there are no social infrastructures to support it to function up to 18 hours like a normal commercial city. This is same sad story for Nnewi that should be the manufacturing hub of Nigeria.
There is still no visible improvement in the social infrastructure of Awka the Anambra state capital, even the Awka stadium and the golf course projects have been abandoned despite the promise of this government to complete all ongoing projects since March 2006.
People always marvel at how Peter Obi (almost on a weekly basis) will pass through Enugu and sometimes Owerri, Asaba and even Umuahia and still be comfortable with the poor level of infrastructure in Awka. The only means of relaxation known in Awka is beer parlour (that is why an average male resident has pot belly- which is not healthy); there are no sports complexes, recreation parks, cinema etc
Till date there is no plan of fulfilling the promise made by Peter Obi to put Anambra state on tourism map by developing of Agulu Lake and Ogbunike Cave into major tourist sites in Nigeria. Also the Ikenga Hotel owned by the government in Awka has been left to rot away; government should have privatised it or concessioned it to private sector to manage (even Protea hotels manage smaller hotels than Ikenga Hotel).
I believe that three years that is left of his government is enough to make amends and be on the same page with Anambra people again; if His Excellency can take time off and do a self appraisal.
Ezomike Ikechukwu, Public Affairs Commentator Lagos Nigeria.
A popular English proverb, "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going" has become a bellwether to rate leadership but it looks like the governor of Anambra is a contrarian to the prevailing proverb. Recently His Excellency Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State was reported in the news that he wants to quit politics for good because his popularity is waning. The reported news has not been vetted or verified but if it’s a true story this may qualify as the lamest joke of the century. Why will a leader that was supposedly an emerging political figure quit as the polity gets hotter? Peter Obi’s brand that was marketed to Anambrians was rooted on commitment and felicity. Therefore the Peter Obi that wants to chicken out and metamorphosed into a cry baby was not the image of the governor that was propagated. Without a doubt the people of Anambra especially the voting public send a strong message to Governor Obi and his party APGA. A message of rejection at polling stations that made APGA to loss elections that it supposed to win. The showing was so poor that Governor Obi and his APGA were defeated at his own very market square of Anambra Central senatorial zone by ACN. The disappointment was so high among his well-wishers, political observers and friends because APGA do not need to make too much appeal to the people of the state to get their votes. Obi put up a gallant fight when his governorship mandate was stolen from him, many people of the state – young and old, rich and poor including farmers, market women and wine tappers accompanied him to court and he eventually secured his mandate. Even when he was wrongly impeached the people supported him and shown him their commitment by voting for him for the second term after the ordeal. If Obi is truly a committed leader he must stand up and be counted not running away. The vulnerabilities and problems of Obi are numerous as holes that riddled Swiss cheese and coupled to it the absence of Dim Ojukwu made him to carry the weight of APGA that ultimately broke the Carmel’s back. All his political opponents become more aggressive and the political intensity even more vicious as they notice the weakness of his administration and its vulnerabilities. Anatomy of his vulnerability commenced at a point when Peter obi‘s administration began to take a new shape and a new direction that was leading him away from the hearts of the people. His administration began to take the people for granted and all the promises he made to the people were gradually receding and the light of hope he once lighted grew dimmer and dimmer. Now instead of the governor attending to the local needs of the people he became infatuated with national politics at the expense of his people. The governor was elected by Anambra State citizens and not by the voters outside the contours and boundary of his state. The great American politician, late Speaker Tip O’ Neil used to say that are, "All politics are local" for "this phrase which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office." And failing to yield to this principle of common-sense, that's where the governor failed.
A popular English proverb, "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going" has become a bellwether to rate leadership but it looks like the governor of Anambra is a contrarian to the prevailing proverb. Recently His Excellency Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State was reported in the news that he wants to quit politics for good because his popularity is waning. The reported news has not been vetted or verified but if it’s a true story this may qualify as the lamest joke of the century.
Why will a leader that was supposedly an emerging political figure quit as the polity gets hotter? Peter Obi’s brand that was marketed to Anambrians was rooted on commitment and felicity. Therefore the Peter Obi that wants to chicken out and metamorphosed into a cry baby was not the image of the governor that was propagated.
Without a doubt the people of Anambra especially the voting public send a strong message to Governor Obi and his party APGA. A message of rejection at polling stations that made APGA to loss elections that it supposed to win. The showing was so poor that Governor Obi and his APGA were defeated at his own very market square of Anambra Central senatorial zone by ACN.
The disappointment was so high among his well-wishers, political observers and friends because APGA do not need to make too much appeal to the people of the state to get their votes. Obi put up a gallant fight when his governorship mandate was stolen from him, many people of the state – young and old, rich and poor including farmers, market women and wine tappers accompanied him to court and he eventually secured his mandate. Even when he was wrongly impeached the people supported him and shown him their commitment by voting for him for the second term after the ordeal. If Obi is truly a committed leader he must stand up and be counted not running away.
The vulnerabilities and problems of Obi are numerous as holes that riddled Swiss cheese and coupled to it the absence of Dim Ojukwu made him to carry the weight of APGA that ultimately broke the Carmel’s back. All his political opponents become more aggressive and the political intensity even more vicious as they notice the weakness of his administration and its vulnerabilities.
Anatomy of his vulnerability commenced at a point when Peter obi‘s administration began to take a new shape and a new direction that was leading him away from the hearts of the people. His administration began to take the people for granted and all the promises he made to the people were gradually receding and the light of hope he once lighted grew dimmer and dimmer.
Now instead of the governor attending to the local needs of the people he became infatuated with national politics at the expense of his people. The governor was elected by Anambra State citizens and not by the voters outside the contours and boundary of his state.
The great American politician, late Speaker Tip O’ Neil used to say that are, "All politics are local" for "this phrase which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office." And failing to yield to this principle of common-sense, that's where the governor failed.
American President John F. Kennedy once said, "Failure is an orphan, but victory has a thousand fathers," and with the recent concluded elections in Nigeria, this may be applicable to the Governor of Anambra State of whom the center of his political life may be falling apart. His party All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) did not perform to an expectation in his natural turf of Anambra State. Not only did the party not win any of the three senatorial zones in his state, APGA whom Peter Obi is the most visible and highest elected officer in the land could only win 13 out of the 32 seats in the state house of assembly.
People especially those who were keen observers of political trends in the state and in Nigeria were highly disappointed with lukewarm performance of Peter Obi’s APGA. Most of these people were putting the blame and misfortune of the party squarely on the feet of the governor. They alleged that he did not care for the welfare of the party and lately the wellbeing of Anambrarians, for he is waiting according to them, for the appropriate time to jump boat into another party preferably the ruling PDP.
But the right question must be asked before the right answer is rendered. Why did people of Anambra State deserted their beloved APGA and voted for another parties, not just voting for PDP but for ACN?
The speculation is that Governor Peter Obi and his party has disappointed the people with their stoic development blueprint and its erratic implementation. Anambra State deserves a serious attention not on pages of newspapers but on making affirmative differences in lives of the people of the state.
The entire Anambra real estate is poorly managed; people living in urban cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka are being overrun with debris and darkness. At nights the Anambra State becomes one big village thriving in darkness and devoid of functioning street lights.
Instead of talking to the people and finding out how to improve their lots and wellbeing, the government is busy wasting time and money on mass media and public relation. When the people feels neglected and nobody listen to them, they will have the last laugh on the ballot paper on the Election Day. Simply put, the people of Anambra State have rejected the government of Peter Obi and deserted his party at the polling stations because they felt neglected.
One thing we can learn from this development is the gallant and the big heart of Anambra voters. The voters are not ideologues but are pragmatic people who are willing to make a change when they deem necessary. The voters to their credit are not emotional on the grounds that they must vote for APGA because it is their ‘own’. The voters are so much matured politically that they voted for the individuals that will make a difference respective of the political parties.
As people commenced to have a negative perception of Governor Obi, they remembered another politician and a former governor that gave a decisive leadership, making them walk a little taller by building ample roads for them in dark period of political turbulence in the state. The man is Dr. Chris Ngige, he ran for senate on the platform of ACN, in spite of the negative campaign heaped on him, the voters came out and supported him and he won.
The point here is not to say that Peter Obi and APGA are finished politically in the state that cannot be a fair assessment. Hey! there was a time when Governor Peter Obi and his APGA was the darling of Anambra voters, and they can still turn around and makeup. But if there is a next time around the people must be taken more seriously and their loyalty and trust not taken for granted.
Governor Peter Obi must return to work of being an effective governor and shun the hunger to engage in national politics. One step after another, first get the job done and the accumulated achievement will speak for itself nationally.