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OBI: DON'T BE A 'LAME DUCK'

By NBF News

Obi: Don't be a 'lame duck'
By Dan Onwukwe
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
For the purpose of self-satisfaction, almost every elected politician will want to have the maximum opportunity to revalidate a mandate given by the people through the ballot box. In other words, winning an election is a huge joy to every politician, but winning a position twice, in quick succession, particularly in a state like Anambra which has (permit my choice of words) become a cemetery of sorts to many office seeking governors, is like getting prophet Elijah's double portion. It's joy unlimited. But what the 'receiver' does with the 'inheritance' is up to him.

Baring any hinge event - unexpected happening between now and early tomorrow to scuttle his inauguration - Governor Peter Obi will be sworn in about noon tomorrow in Awka for a second term in office. While his supporters would pray that none of this happens, his critics, (and they are many), would wish that the inauguration could be put on hold, at least, temporarily.

It is important to note that since Obi was declared winner in the February 6 governorship poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thereby making him the first sitting governor of the state to achieve such feat, some of those who contested the election with him and lost have not given up the fight. Every conceivable tricks in the books have been put in place to make sure that the inauguration, no matter how low-key it may be, doesn't take place.

Dr Chris Ngige, who soared in adversity as governor and was later sacked from office by the Election Petitions Tribunal, had already filed his petition against Obi and INEC. Ngige is asking for a run-off between him and Obi, claiming that Obi didn't meet all the constitutional requirements needed to win outright. Perhaps the most intriguing twist in the tail is yet again, the jester in the ring, one Chief Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo. Chief Okonkwo who has tried albeit in vain for three years as Obi's 'tormentor-in-chief' has filed a suit before a Federal High court in Awka asking it to 'restrain the governor, his agents, or any body or persons, from setting up or constituting any committee whatsoever called, from preparing or inaugurating any ceremony tomorrow, March 17. He also wants the court to stop any judicial officer from administering oath of office and allegiance on the governor.

Will the court oblige him? Okonkwo, it must be noted with a sneeze, is the same man whom the Supreme Court in 2007 used the most vile and acerbic language to describe his conduct regarding his previous failed attempts to scuttle Obi's first term mandate. The apex court had derided him as a 'common crook,' a man not fit to live in a decent society' and only deserving a 'place in the jungle among animals.' But this has not disturbed Okonkwo, perhaps valorous stories are not his virtues. I have always maintained each time this man's name comes up like a lightning rod in the air, the need to keep tab on him. Reason: he could be the visible hand in the crowd of invisible hands in the divisive politics of Anamabra State.

However, while Okonkwo's antics may be both disruptive and distracting strokes, it is no excuse for Obi to lose sight of his agenda as his second term begins tomorrow. Putting people first must take priority attention. It must be pursued with passion.

Often, some politicians once they secure second term in office, they begin to see the mandate given by the people as inconsequential. They begin to see New Deal as no deal. They get stuck in the old mindset. They begin to blame their own failures on perceived enemies. But they have simply failed to do their job. That's when the Lame duck virus sets in.

If life can be likened to a marathon and politics the test of it, Obi has seen it all in four years. Fair enough, in the last four years, it must be said, Obi remains one of the very few governors in the country who have rewritten the book on the uses of government as a human enterprise. Despite the numerous challenges that he had, many believed he delivered on his first tenure promises of quality leadership, education, road construction and rehabilitation, commerce and industry, urban developments and perhaps most significantly, prompt payment of salaries of civil servants. Undoubtedly, these are crucial areas Nigerians have been urging their governments to help them solve but only few have delivered on these promises.

Beginning tomorrow, till the next 1408 days, Gov Obi must start to change the mindset of the people, and make each and everyone realise that he or she has a personal, moral responsibility to make things happen. A vision says nothing if there are no followership.

Therefore, each message espoused, and measure taken to actualise it must be carefully thought through. In that connection, Obi must ensure that his second term agenda resonates with the people. First, is to quickly get down to the business of why people 'hire' governors to do: making decisions. He must have self-imposed deadline for delivering every promise contained in his campaign manifesto.

This has become necessary because the dynamics of public office and the expectations of the people have become demandingly high. For me, the Anambra Obi inherited four years ago was like inheriting a mansion from a drunk uncle. It was a nice edifice but the roof was falling in and there is, figuratively speaking, no money in the bank. Obi may have fixed the 'roof' and money back in the vaults, he must in his second term decisively resolve the role of government in the lives of the people. This, he must do by proving that government is neither the enemy nor the solution per se, but the instrument to give the people the tool and condition to make the most of their own lives.

Secondly, Obi must replace rhetorics with reality in social policy. You see, many times, those in power have not been able to prove to the people that government action can indeed make a big difference. Creative thinking is the key. Looking at the broader picture, I guess Anambra residents want to see their state where security of lives and property is guaranteed, a state buzzing with life, an environment sparkling with cleanliness, a state generally exuding vitality.

This requires the governor to be hyper-sensitive to the potential nexus between what the people want and what they desire. I am aware of what the governor says he will do in his second term. These include massive water scheme, Independent Power Project (IPP), 4,000 secondary school blocks, construction of the permanent site of the state university at Igbariam, Ozobulu Industrial Park as well as the Shopping Mall, a project in collaboration with LG Electronics. Few will disagree that these are not noble projects. But Obi must hold the people together, work in a bipartisanship with the state legislature. Failure in government often begins when a politician begins to confuse his own destiny with that of the state.

The unchangeable truth is that a leader succeeds when he connects with the aspirations of the people and makes it his own agenda. With no future election to worry about ,Obi must start early to determine how history will judge him. This will inexorably depend on the kind of legacy he wants to leave behind. He must build on the vision that tomorrow can be better than today. Second term is a moment of rare opportunity to make amends and advance better causes for public good. That's the holiness of a second mandate, because when people vote, they expect the person they voted for to address the central problems that concern them - not necessarily one with all the answers - but at least one with a realistic approach that gives a promise of succeeding.

Last week in this column, I wrote on the demands and demandingness of the office of the Minister of Information and Communications currently occupied by Prof Dora Akunyili. My focus was on her recent comments on the health of President Umaru Yar'Adua. I commended her efforts and achievements in public office. But, I urged her to RESIGN.

Since last week, many people who claimed to be her 'friends,' and working for her cause have threatened to deal with me. Did I take them serious? My life is in God's hand. Just for the public to know.