Obiano’s Inaugural Speech & Our Inaugural Advice On Other Areas Of Social Importance (Part Four)
(Onitsha Nigeria, 23rd day of March, 2014)-This is the concluding part of our informed and unbiased pieces of advice to the newly sworn in governor of Anambra State, Southeast of Nigeria, Mr. Willie Maduabuchukwu Obiano. It is recalled that the part one of this public statement was released on 18th day of March, 2014; part two on 19/03/2014 and part three on 21/03/2014. These informed and unbiased pieces of advice are part of constructive and strategic engagement advocacy program of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, designed to promote democracy and good governance in Nigeria, especially in Anambra State and Southeast.
The beneficiary public office holders are those who derived their electoral mandates from living votes freely given by majority at polling centers on the basis of their zeal to serve and not to be served. The major beneficiary of this advocacy program is the out-gone government of Anambra State, headed by Chief Peter Obi. The program is strongly premised on our strong belief that human rights and civil liberties including press freedom and independence of socio-political opinions fare much better under a credibly and popularly instituted government. Good governance, which is propelled by the former, is a collective curer of human rights abuses. In other words, where there is no popularly instituted government, room for good governance becomes too infinitesimal and where good governance is found wanting, human rights abuses become the entrenched norm. Democracy, good governance and human rights are triplets.
Other Areas Of Social Importance:
Human & Material Capital Import: The policy of engaging the diasporan Anambrarians, initiated by the out-gone Obi administration, geared towards attracting their talents and resources for collective development and benefit of the State, should be continued. This critical engagement area can be in the form of 'diasporan domestic investments', 'mental academic contributions' through e-educational resources or sabbatical means, 'medical missions', 'social enterprises supports' or 'hard currency remittances'. To ensure this, enabling environment including adequate security and safety and socially coherent and compatible policies should be provided at all times. Good relationship with international development partners and donor agencies should be solidified on the basis of trust and confidence.
Health & Education: Owing to the fact that by injecting billions of naira worth of Anambra public funds into numerous missionary hospitals and schools, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) is initiated. This makes the residents of the State co-owners of such schools and hospitals and beneficiaries of their 'PPP' services. To this effect, the government of Mr. Willie Obiano must not lose sight of such huge public investments by his predecessor, Mr. Gregory Peter Obi. It is sad to observe that the beneficiary missionary hospitals have continued to charge patients exorbitantly and inhumanely. Patients who go to such hospitals for child delivery including those who deliver through major operations and those who suffer from terminal sicknesses such as tuberculosis, leprosy and cancer usually pay through their nose in such hospitals; likewise those undergoing minor and major surgeries. Even typhoid and malaria fever patients and their likes are not exempted. Similar scenario plays out in numerous missionary schools that benefited from multi-billion naira largesse from the Government and People of Anambra State. The Willie Obiano administration's urgent intervention is needed in this respect. Charging of such prohibitive and exorbitant fees should be halved and publicly checkmated.
Public Equipment Given To Public & Missionary Schools: There is need for the new government of Mr. Willie Obiano to check, from time to time, the records of all pieces of equipment given to all public and missionary schools in the State. The sets of equipment found to be prone to diversion and possible stealing are thousands of laptop computers, buses, power generators and expensive lab experimental materials. During our recent undercover tour of some schools, it was discovered that donated equipment like laptops were not found in the schools' libraries. Our further findings indicated that 'they were kept in the principals' houses for security reasons'. Our fear is that such public equipment may most likely 'disappear' from such principals' houses. Henceforth, it is our advice that all public equipment so given must be serially numbered, marked and documented. Vehicles donated must be given government plate numbers and other public identities.
City Roads & Maintenance: Granted that Anambra has one of the best, if not the best network of link roads in Nigeria, it is important to point out that many street roads in the State direly need to be attended to. The best way to attend to them is not skeletal attention to some of them but holistic approach using 'LOT' formula in road construction industry. The 'LOT' formula could literally mean 'dividing all the street roads into 'Lot A', 'Lot B', etc with the aim of reconstructing them simultaneously using 'phases'. This approach is direly needed in cities like Fegge, Nkutaku, Okpoko, Iyiowa Odekpe Layout, Onwuasoanya Layout, Awada, Nkwelle Ezunaka, Odoakpu, Woliwo Layout, Omagba Phases 1 & 2, Nsugbe 33 Layout, Inland Town, Odume Layout, Ugwuagba Layout, Owerre Aja Layout, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Ihiala and Awka. This approach was successfully used in Nnewi, parts of Omagba Phase 1 and Habour Industrial Layout by the celebrated administration of Chief Peter Obi. Attention should also be given to road maintenance in the State. The State road network should be maintained at all times by the Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency so as to safeguard their lifespan and save public costs.
Environmental Waste & Management: One major challenge facing the present and past governments in Anambra State is lack of, or poor maintenance culture and improper enforcement of sanitary and traffic rules. It is a truism that Anambra State has not arrived environmentally. This is one of the areas the out-gone Obi's administration failed woefully. It is sad to observe that 80% of gutters and drainages in the State are blocked and filled with environmental waste materials. Another public menace or nuisance in the State is street or roadside trading and loading and offloading at the center of street, inter-city and inter-State roads. Effective environmental cleanliness and management must be devised by the new government of Mr. Willie Obiano. This includes engaging the 21 elected Local Government Chairmen in the State on sound environmental cleanliness and management including charging them with the responsibility of periodic clearing all gutters and drainages in their areas and enforcing anti roadside and street trading as well as loading and offloading at unapproved road spots including center of the roads. Of particular concern is defacing by roadside traders of the Ojukwu Gateway at the Bridgehead, Onitsha and Onitsha Upper Iweka. All the gutters and drainages in the area are blocked with garbage by the said traders trading in the area. If nothing is done to clear the said gutters before the full commencement of the rainy season, the multi-billionaire newly reconstructed roads in the area will be washed away by flood.
Revenue Touts & Militant Youth Entities: One of the social disasters trailing the November 16, 2013 governorship poll in Anambra State is the springing up of countless militant extortionist youth entities in various parts of the State particularly in Onitsha zone. These killer youth entities go by names like 'Ukwu-Aziza', 'Ukwu-Otosi', 'Fegge Youth', 'Obosi Youth', 'Okpoko Youth', 'Onitsha/Otu Youth', 'Ndi-Machine Youth', 'Ogbaru Youth', 'MASSOB' 'Igbo Youth', 'Oba Youth', 'Igbo-Ukwu Youth', 'Awka Youth', 'Nkwelle Youth', 'Nsugbe Youth' 'Umu Iyoo Youth', to mention but few. There are also others set up by various market leaderships as well as malicious political appointees in the State. They are all armed with dangerous weapons capable of causing death and injury. Our records show that they are backed by malicious and extortionist traditional rulers, presidents general of town unions, leaderships of landlords associations, vigilante groups' commanders, public office holders and other malicious big citizens. These malicious backers demand and receive daily monetary returns from them at maliciously agreed sums.
Their stock in trade is criminal enrichment including summary and duress extortions. Their victims are traders trading within the State and others who visit the State for business transactions and private engagements. They operate in clusters and can easily be found at motor parks and garages, markets' surroundings, traders' warehouse locations and major roads' spots including Niger Street, Sokoto Road, Bida Road, Iweka Road, Ojukwu Gateway, Atani and Obodoukwu Roads, Upper Iweka, Ochanja, Bridgehead, Obosi and Nkpor Old Motor Spare Parts, Nkpor New Parts and Tyre and Ogbaru Relief Markets' environs. Offloading of a 20ft container at Fegge summarily attracts N15, 000 to N20, 000 with or without merciless beatings. Same thing goes for replacement of any damaged fixture or clearing of residential extreta or erection of a stall or residential building. A bag of rice or cloth bought at Onitsha Main Market or Ochanja or Ogbaru Relief Markets summarily attracts N500.00 to N600.00, which is paid under duress at five or six extortion spots.
This menace is one of the issues giving Anambra residents and other visitors to the State sleepless night. An effective taming of the scourge by the new administration of Chief Willie Obiano will shore up his popularity among the State residents and endear him to their hearts.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety
Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk