DE-CONSTRUCTING OBIANO AT 60
On the 8th of August, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano turned 60. He has every right to roll out drums to celebrate it and he did just that. Even before the actual celebration, it was promoted for months by different media organisation. His INTERNET boys, notoriously known as e-rats, even made music out of it in their own restricted ways. Reliable sources from Anambra State talked about how contractors and all manner of persons were prompted to place adverts for him.
Did you read the newspapers of that day? His media aides, led by Mr. James Eze, tried in vain to co construct him using foreign materials. I say “foreign material”, because they used materials that are alien to him, by trying to ascribe to him everything that he is not. In this piece, what I tried to do is to deconstruct their thesis and arrive at a synthesis of the real Chief Willie Obiano.
I am undertaking the foregoing task because of my love for Chief Willie Obiano. I have followed him since he became Governor and had long concluded that if we do not extricate him from the grips of his media aides, who, realising that he drinks praises in one full gulp without sieving, ascribe everything he is not to him, he will end up a disaster to the State.
Writing under the title of Obiano at 60: Expanding the Frontiers of Excellence, his media aide, Mr. James Eze said: “Obiano who rode to power on the crest of popular votes.” In a democracy, the unfettered votes of the people are always popular, but it is disgusting that Obiano does not acknowledge that it was the former Governor, Mr. Peter Obi that almost single handed secured the seat for him. As at the time he was brought back from the USA, where he was said to be baby-sitting, Obiano was not known in Anambra State. The people of the State made it clear that votes for him were votes for Mr. Peter Obi's third term. Speaking on this, the usually straight-forward Anglican Bishop of Amichi, Most Rev. Dr. Ehprian Ikeakor said to Obiano: “This may not sound palatable to Your Excellency, but someone must tell our Governor the obvious truth. Your Excellency, Anambrarians did not vote for you, rather they voted for Mr. Peter Obi whose glaring achievements spoke for him, and is still speaking for him. We did not know you and what you stand for, but trusted that this man that Mr. Peter Obi is confident to present to Anambrarians to succeed him must be a performer.” Even today, he is perceived as doing badly, Mr. Peter Obi is getting the chunk of the blame. But the irony of it is that today, if you want Obiano to count you as his friend, go to him with anti-Obi's quips.
To make matters clearer about the scorn of Obi by Obiano and his tribe, James Eze, referring to Obi, wrote: “For instance, unlike his predecessor who had local government allocations to play with, Obiano is condemned to dream big dreams with lean resources.” Perhaps they pretend not to know that Mr. Peter Obi is one of the most popular politicians in Nigeria today. Goodness cannot be hidden!
One of the things that made him so was that he was the only Governor that did not borrow money in his 8 years in office. In spite out-performing other governors in all indices of development such that Anambra State is regarded as the State with best network of roads in Nigeria, he left N75 Billion Naira in cash and investment. Writing in the newspapers, the other day, Prof. Chinyere Okunna and Engr. Patrick Obi stated what he left clearly such that it merits restating here: “Understandably therefore, it is amazing that Peter Obi ended his tenure on a note never witnessed in Nigeria – leaving in the State coffers/custody N75 Billion comprising: *N27 Billion in stock and shares of quoted and unquoted companies (we hear this is valued at N40 Billion today, as one of the investments has quadrupled in value). *$156 Million (N25 Billion as at March 17th, 2014) in Foreign currency denominated bonds and cash, which are today about $170 million (we understand it is valued at about N40 Billion today).*N28 Billion Certified State/MDAs balances.”
I am constrained to state the foregoing because Obiano's aide said he had lean resources. He has to explain to the people of the State if a man who met 75 Billion in a country where others met debts running into hundreds of Billions is not lucky. Should he say he met lean resources? With 75 Billion Naira to play with, we are appalled that in spite of the public show, that beneath the façade is Anambra State swimming in debt today. Anambra contractors, who, as at the time Obi was the Governor was not owed on any certificate generated for projects executed, are presently owed over 80 Billion Naira. Today 90% of the projects inherited from Obi are either sold to companies of doubtful ownership or left abandoned. The last time he announced salary increase; he paid it for a month and gradually deducted the money until he started paying the old salary. Again he announced another 15% increase. We shall soon discover the trick this time around. Meanwhile, not many people are aware that Anambra State pays salary due to overdraft from Banks.
It is wrong to say that Obi had local Government money to play with. The fact is that unlike Obiano, Anambra State account was in red when Obi took over, with contractors owned even doing Dr. Chinwoke Mbanuju's era coming forward to be paid. Obi started from day one to husband Anambra's treasury. Even in his first six months, before he was impeached, he had already saved billions for the State. Though one blot in his government was delayed conduct of Local Government election, but the money meant for Local Government was used during his time to work in the local Governments. During his time, Local Governments constructed roads and embarked on major projects. It was during his time that many Local Governments in Anambra State got befitting secretariats such as Dunukofia, Onitsha North and South, Idemili, Awka North, Ihiala, among others. It was during his time that almost all local Government had Primary Health Centres. During his time, close to 40 Billion Naira was spent in liquidating arrears of pension and gratuities that compounded since 1999. During Obi's time, each town in Anambra State got security vehicle and 5 classroom block. Ironically, at that time, Local Government money was jointly managed. Today, all Obiano does is to release 1.5 Million Naira monthly to local Governments for projects. We cannot run a State by lies and attempts to hoodwink the people.
Relentlessly, Obiano's people tell us how he attracted 2.4 Billion Dollars to the State since he became Governor. It is good to note that Anambra State in less than 2 years under Obiano has signed over 30 Memoranda-of Understanding (MoU) with all manner of companies. After each signing ceremony, the company will pledge to invest some dollars in Anambra State. Even when those companies are yet to even visit Anambra state since the signing ceremony, Obiano's people bundle those amount they mentioned as foreign investment he attracted to the State. Who is fooling who? Let me give you an example of his foolery. As at the time he left, Mr. Peter Obi invested over 1 Billion Naira in Onitsha Hotel and Convention Centre. Since Obiano came, not one block was added to the building; instead it was sold to one Cardinal Developers. If Cardinal developers pledge to commit 2 Billion to the project, Obiano's people will go to town as investment attracted to the State.
In an attempt to dress Obiano in borrowed robes, his people always tell us that he liquidated 1.8 Billion Naira arrears of salaries owned Water Corporation people. This is another sample of grand attempt to swindle the public. In the matter of water corporation, Obi paid them some money and refused to pay them again challenging them to come up with a business plan on how to resuscitate the place. They went to court and had Anambra money which Obi attracted from ecological funds garnished. Today, no erosion work is going on any place in Anambra State. All Obiano does is to sing on the streets that he cleared the debt owned Anambra Water Corporation. This shows us the working of the man's mind.
“The three flyovers rising in concrete splendour in Awka are eternal monuments to the Obiano years.” This is how Obiano's people describe the most useless projects one is witnessing in one's life time. Obiano abandoned the Permanent site of the Chuwkemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, The Agulu Hotel, the Anambra's Three Arms Zone and many projects that impact on the people and embarked on building of three flyovers on a stretch of road that is less than 1 Kilometer and without traffic challenges. Does he think projects are constructed for show? As we speak, he has mounted his pictures and names all over the projects that are still far from completion. Ironically, the projects and a few in his Agulueri town are the only ones being funded now while other road projects are abandoned.
Things that happen about us should be appreciated for their instructive value. Last year when Obiano did his 59th year, almost all the contactors in the State placed adverts for him. During his 60th birthday, less than 2% of contractors in the State placed adverts for him. What does that portend? Though he still enjoyed over 80 different adverts, but it is worrisome that those adverts came from Anambra State Government, including his Executive, Personal, Special, Senior Special and other Assistants.
Eze, the media aide of Obiano is from Enugu State, I do not think he means good for Anambra State. While the man and those on his pay roll tell Obiano what he probably wants to hear, let all true lovers of Anambra State join hands to point his shortcomings to him for correction so that Anambra will be better. It is our duty to tell him that he has derailed. We must detest a governor that throes party without allowing people to enter with their phones, a Governor that dresses immaturely, a Governor that removes Plague of already commissioned projects, puts his name and re-commission them again, a Governor that appointed 90% of his Aguleri people as his aides, a Governor that produces and sponsors films to bring people down, a governor that hopes to govern by deception. We must join hands to rescue Anambra State that is adrift.
Written by Nadis Ezenwuzie.