Rejoinder: How Governor Willie Obiano Rules Anambra State

By Willie Is Working

I imagine the general enthusiasm in Anambra's political and governance climate will permit no discerning reader of to take seriously a recent absurdity, pushed forth as investigative report on September 7th, in which the person and government of Willie Obiano was portrayed as wasteful. Yet it might not be out of place to invite Elombah to explain the blog's obsession with Willie Obiano and his government.

What might a 6-month old administration have committed against Elombah to warrant such a sustained campaign of hate and traducement? No day passes without Elombah regaling its visitors with at least a version of falsehood in governor Obiano's government. It has assumed commonplace status and must have been boring the site's readers to a pop. One is therefore forced to wonder if Elombah's only idea of blogging is simply to taint Willie Obiano and run down his government.

Now, let's be clear. The Willie Obiano I know is a stickler for having political leaders operate in absolute transparency. Trained and immersed in full knowledge of the modus in a modern civil society, Willie Obiano lives and leads the accountability campaign. Which is why, as one who is knowledgeable about the internal workings of the current Anambra state government, I have watched appointees wonder about Willie's insistence on knowing how every kobo from the state treasury is expended. The banks where the state funds are domiciled will attest to this: Willie Obiano extracts super value for every dime that must be spent.

It doesn't excite me that I'm devoting time and intellect to respond to an offering that evidently lacked both truth and finesse. The report, titled How Governor Willie Obiano Rules Anambra State, was neither given adequate investigative time nor presented with care for even the most basic knowledge of the English language. For instance, I am sad that I'm responding to a report in which ''sow'' was used repeatedly to mean 'making of clothes'. It's infra dig the class and knowledge depth of governor Obiano and those around him to join issues with a reporter or journalist who cannot differentiate between ''sew'' and ''sow'', yet for the sake of putting the records straight, I will go ahead and comment on some of the allegations in the said report.

The report claimed that governor Obiano procured the passage of supplementary budget with bribes of N10 million doled out to each legislator. This is not true. The very honourable Anambra legislators do not need to be bribed to perform their constitutional duties. Except – and this will be absurd - the creators of the report expected Obiano and his legislators to daily go up in arms just to entertain those whose idea of a working democracy is to see legislators and the executive suspend governance to perpetually bicker on issues of negligible weight. It is equally worth mentioning that governor Obiano set out, from day one, to set in motion a smooth working relationship with the state House of Assembly by paying them a courtesy visit just a day after his inauguration.

On the appropriateness or otherwise of a supplementary budget, it might be worth recalling also that former governor Peter Obi, in the twilight of his administration, awarded lots of contracts. And in keeping to his promise to both his predecessor and Ndi Anambra, Willie Obiano does not want to abandon any one of those projects, knowing that Ndi Anambra deserve policy consistency for accelerated growth.

The incoherent assemblage of words on security votes deserves no response really, because security vote comes from the Federal Government and has never been subject to legislative oversight. One therefore wonders where the creators of the report pulled that one from.

The allegation on chartered plane is plain ridiculous. First is that governor Willie is not comfortable flying. And when he does, it's always with lots of propping-up by his governance team. Yet in any case, the governor has had to use private jets offered by wealthy well-meaning Anambra indigenes in moments he had the need for speed. And these occasions are quite few, even numerable. We all know that Anambra has no airport, and the two closest airports to the state are those of Asaba and Enugu. Air travellers know that these two airports do not have much traffic and so operate limited frequency of flights. This is different from what is obtainable in bigger airports like Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt. The governor, when an urgent need to travel arises, usually calls on any of Anambra's illustrious sons of means to help out with their jets. And like I earlier said, such moments are numerable. The state government has not made one payment to any private jet operator anywhere in this country.

They say governor Obiano has purchased 8 bullet-proof cars in less than 6 months in office. Actually, governor Obiano never purchased even one. Again, the peddlers of this falsehood can go ahead and produce proofs. But there are bullet-proof cars, purchased by former governor Peter Obi. We were all at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka on the day of inauguration of governor Obiano when Mr Peter Obi told the world that he bought bullet-proof cars for governor Obiano. For those who weren't there, all major national dailies reported it. Here's what Mr Peter Obi said; ''From here, Obiano is driving to Governor's Office in bullet-proof car. I'm leaving and my job is finished. Anambra has returned to what it used to be. I am going back to my house.'' Just an effortless google search will throw up these lines that essentially rubbish these claims.

That says it all. Governor Obiano has no need for additional bullet-proof cars. He did not buy any. He inherited them from his predecessor. They belong to the state. And, maybe it should equally be emphasized, that they are not eight in number.

The hotel a governor sleeps in should not be a problem, ordinarily, except that Elombah's obsession for governor Willie Obiano is not ordinary; it's a compulsion which quite borders on the extraordinary. But again I will try to explain this. The governor stays in any available hotel in Abuja: Hilton, Protea, Chelsea, Rockview. Anyone. He has even lodged in lower hotels. It's just a function of which is available at the time he arrives Abuja. But importantly, whenever he lodges in Hilton, he pays the price for the same space in Protea. There's a subsisting arrangement with the management of Hilton on this. The assumption that the governor pays N500,000 per night to sleep in Hilton is false and should be ignored.

Of all the fiction published as facts, perhaps the most tastelessly puerile was the narrative that the aides of Obiano's wife dropped her off at Asaba airport and then drove off to Lagos to pick her up and continue to chauffer her in Lagos. Does Elombah know there's an Anambra State liaison office in Lagos with personnel who cater to the needs of state officials when they arrive from Anambra? And wouldn't it be foolish to expect the aides to arrive Lagos before Mrs Obiano who was flying while the aides drove? Asaba to Lagos by air is, at most, one hour. Asaba to Lagos by road is, at least, five hours. Is Elombah suggesting that Mrs Obiano arrived Lagos and sat in the airport waiting for at least four additional hours, when the aides would arrive from Asaba, before she went to attend to the business for which she went to Lagos?

But again these questions would have made sense to the reporter who seeks the truth. The search for truth isn't particularly a venture fancied by the mischievous. At the core of Elombah's quasi investigative foray is to discredit Obiano and strive to dampen the enthusiasm of a public already animated by the governor's clearly defined pathway to outstanding leadership.

It is this lack of regard for the truth that convinced Elombah to write that Willie Obiano flies in foreign designers to – wait for it! - sew his clothes and make his shoes! I consider this the peak of the desperation. Whoever exercises editorial control on Elombah has little regard for the future of the platform. Because, as a Nigerian, when you allow your media outlet to insinuate that foreign designers are needed to make APGA ankara or the local men's wear popularly called ''Senator'' in all parts of Igboland, then your reasoning must court questioning from thinking heads. Why would Obiano need foreign designers? What does he wear? Suits. Ankara and native wears of other fabrics. Of these three, Obiano has not had any need for suits in the last six months. Do we need to remind Elombah that Willie retired as an executive director in a bank after over 20 years? Does it need to be stated that the official dress code in every Nigerian bank is suit? Do I need to inform Elombah that Willie Obiano, even before emerging the APGA flag bearer had enough suits that'd last him a lifetime? And should he suddenly desire any foreign made suit, they are in every shop in Nigeria. Obiano's tailors come from Anambra and Aba. Even in my Umunnachi here, there are tailors who make good clothes. They make native wears for him. If he desires new suits, there are great tailors in Aba who make suits even for bankers of today. So where's this foreign designers story emanating from?

The report claimed that Obiano pays Victor Umeh N40 million per month. Interestingly, it said ''As [sic] last week on this medium, Obiano currently pays Chief Umeh 40 million Naira monthly...''

The payment was – or is - made on their medium, the Elombah medium. That did not happen with the governor. It clearly was initiated and concluded on the Elombah blog. It might then be worth asking; can the medium which propagated this come up with proofs?

Now that Elombah's heap of untruths has been demolished, it's time to leave him with my sincere advice: cease from slinging additional mud! They won't stick!

Criticisms are essential parts of participatory democracy and should be encouraged as they help in deepening governance. But a criticism has to first proceed from the side of truth before it can court the attention of the leader at whom it is directed. Elombah's horde of investigative wonders are all falsehood and will mar any future prospect of taking servings from that platform seriously. And in an era where the openness of social media should help in transforming governance, Elombah's sharp descent into the muddy depths of partisanship is, to say the least, unfortunate.

Chikwado Odunukwe lives in Umunnachi, Anambra state.

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