November 6 is pregnant for Anambra State. The state, on that day, has a date with destiny. On November 6, the people of Anambra State, Home for All, will choose a successor to Governor Willie Obiano who is about to take his exit after serving for two successive and successful terms. November 6! Is it to be or not to be?
In the very recent times, the state has been a hotbed of unrests, much of which has been ascribed to activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) seeking a separate nation out of Nigeria.
The hitherto peaceful movement, which later escalated to altercations and use of vile words against politicians in the land, has practically assumed a lethal dimension. Now, the IPOB is insisting that there would be no election in Anambra State, which it referred to as part of Biafra land.
Since this declaration by IPOB or its allies, political rallies have always been targets of attack by gun men trying to disrupt the election. There have been killings and killings and killings in Anambra. Worrisome is that the task of distinguishing IPOB activities from the recklessness of politicians seeking to eliminate their opponents they feel have brighter chances at the polls has become herculean.
The Federal Government, through its attorney-general and justice minister, had threatened to impose a state-of- emergency on Anambra State if the disturbances continued, a situation that proves to be a very bitter pill to swallow, for the people of a state which, by available records, has kept the reputation of being the best managed among all the 36 states of the federation.
Anambra stuck so tight to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) since astute economist and businessman, Peter Obi, took office as governor on March 17, 2006, proceeding to serve two turbulent terms during which he suffered and survived an impeachment. The philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, became governor after a successful epic battle in the court for his mandate stolen by the then mega party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).Obi took Anambra to greater heights, stabilizing the economy of the state which, actually, had not obtained the status of an oil state by the time he was in charge.
He cleared unpaid salaries and pensions, and owed none until he left. He paid contractors promptly, built world class roads, not “china” ones, paid counterpart funds to several agencies that did projects in Anambra, brought the state’s dwindling educational status to the top such that the state now takes the lead in West African School Certificate Examinations and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations, among others.
We can go on and on reeling out the niceties for Anambra from the Obi governorship, all to the credit of APGA, a party that was nurtured by no less a person than the much loved defunct Biafran leader, the late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. And it has remained so with Anambra even eight years after Obi ceased to be governor.Obi’s magic wand was nothing other than a drastic cut-down on running costs of governance and a broadening of the state’s internally generated revenue base.He handed over to the present Gov. Obiano, his APGA mate and deputy governor, in a very neat manner, and promptly moved to the PDP, apparently for want of a broad based platform where he can propagate his principles of good governance for the benefit of the entire Nigeria.
Amazingly, Anambra has continued to be APGA’s only son, despite the party’s track record in governance. The party holds no other governorship seat than that of Anambra State. In the 2011 general elections, APGA clinched Imo through former Gov. Rochas Okorocha, who, characteristically, dumped the party much later and moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Another chance presented itself for the party to recover Imo in 2019, when voters waited anxiously for a good candidate to emerge as its flag-bearer. Again, the party hierarchy then chose money over power and bungled a chance to produce a brother for Anambra. The hawks, this time, are hovering over APGA’s lone child, ready to swoop on it as soon as the mother chick is off guard. The hawk collects the chick from mother hen, not to raise it but to feast on it. So must it not be with APGA’s Anambra.
Once off the bosom of this party that has cared for it all these golden years, Anambra will return to the dark ages, the era of godfatherism when state funds were frequently collected from powerless governors, stuffed at the back pockets and spent unscrupulously at club houses while the people wallowed in penury. No doubt, APGA has again presented a dependable candidate for the race. It remains to actualize it through the ballot box for more golden years in the future.
How the entire state is to get free of the present dilemma remains shrouded, though. Sandwiched between the devil and deep blue sea, leaders of Anambra must wake up to the reality that they have at hand a situation where a tsetse fly has perched on the scrotum. The elders should find a way to impress it upon the youthful Biafra activists that a state-of-emergency slammed on Anambra is quite unlikely to help the cause of Biafra.
Rather, it might sink the struggle further into the abyss. A status quo whereby APGA, the home-grown party of Ikemba, remains in control of Anambra could be more advantageous to both the people of the state and Biafra activists. How would it be easy to explain that the state-of-emergency deal is not the machinations of hawkish politicians who want the ever winning APGA out of the way so that they would have their field day on its best managed only child?Since Peter Obi happened to it, Anambra has been a shining symbol of good governance. It would be sad to find it buried in this huge cemetery of good governance that some of our politicians are building out of this country. Are they praying and working hard?
Dr. Odu can be reached via email email@example.com