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Where has Governor Willie Obiano Gone Wrong?

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Ever since the attentive world rose to its feet to applaud Governor Willie Obiano's virtuoso performance in 100 days in office, the dogs of war seem to have been let loose and they are baying for his innocent blood. Obiano and his beautiful wife have become the punching bag of miscreants on social media whose mercantile instincts mark out as cannon fodder in the hands of aggrieved and out-of-favour politicians. Every day, they concoct lies and tasteless falsehoods to nibble away at his soaring popularity among the long suffering people Anambra State who are beginning to finally see that indeed, Anambra can be better.

From all indications, the mission of the people who are sponsoring the endless calumny campaign against Obiano and his wife on social media is quite simple – to distract him from actualizing his dream of a new and better Anambra State and whittle down his rising profile as a promising leader of Ndigbo. They figured that with his squeaky clean technocratic background and soar away performance in just six months in office, he would dwarf so many wanna-be leaders if no muck was cast on him sooner than later. But what in concrete terms has Obiano done to earn their fear?

Close observers of Obiano's seven-month old administration can attest to the fact that for the first time in a long while, Anambra State is witnessing a structured approach to governance. Obiano's philosophy of governance is inclusive and open. Bringing his years in the commanding height of the private sector to bear on governance, Obiano had outlined his Vision and Mission in the government house from the outset. Right from the election campaign days, Obiano had told Ndi Anambra that his vision was for Anambra State to become the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities while his mission was to create a socially stable, business friendly environment that will attract both indigenes & foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in Anambra State. So, he knew where he was going and how to get there. Again, it may not be certain but it would seem that Obiano is probably the first governor of Anambra State to articulate a vision and mission statement that would guide him in office. The statements serve as a compass for focused leadership. At the moment, Oiano has done a good job of keeping his eyes on the prize. And that is why they are kicking…

Again, in full appreciation of the security nightmare that had bedeviled Anambra through the years, Obiano had divined that his leadership goals had no chance in hell if he failed to tackle the security challenges in the state. So, he went after the kidnappers, armed robbers and drug dealers who had made Anambra inhabitable with a figurative sharp knife. And what exactly did he do? Quite simple – he spent the Security Votes on providing security for Ndi Anambra; something that some past leaders either kept for themselves or shared with their godfathers. In three months, Obiano proved them wrong; cleansed Anambra of violent criminals and restored sleep to the eyes of the masses. And that is why they are kicking…

As a corollary to the success recorded in fighting criminals in Anambra State, Obiano's Vision and Mission Statements are being realized in less than six months of his administration. Anambra has become the new investment destination in West Africa. And once more, what exactly did he do? Again, quite simple – he set up an investment agency known as the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) and appointed some of Nigeria's most brilliant investment bankers to run it. ANSIPPA quickly knocked own the bureaucratic bottlenecks that discourage investors from moving into new territories and opened the state up for a candid assessment. It worked like magic. It all gradually began with the Coscharis Group who moved in with the Coched Farms Project. Then suddenly there was an influx as Joseph Agro Limited, Ekcel Farms, Grains & Silos Ltd, Cardinal Developers & Trust Ltd, all moved in with different sizes of investment portfolio, leaving the state a breath away from its projected $1.9bn investment inflow by the end of the last quarter of this year. From inception, Anambra never had it so good in such a short spate of time. And that is why they are kicking…

Again, leaning heavily on his technocratic background, Governor Obiano realized that for him to have enough money to fund what he calls the ENABLERS that support the Four Pillars of his administrative strategy, he could not continue to depend on the hand-downs from the federal government; that something had to be done in the area of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). So, from an inherited IGR of N500m, he doubled Anambra's Internally Generated Revenue in six months, bringing it to the threshold of N1bn. And what, in fact did he do? Anambra is home to some of Africa's largest markets with numerous motor parks that generate instant revenue. Anambra hosts quite a sizable chunk of Nigeria's manufacturing firms as well. Obiano simply opened bids for the parks and handed them over to competent hands, re-organized the various markets and opened an enlightenment campaign on the importance of tax compliance. The people began to see the use of the taxes they pay in keeping Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka clean and in the sudden return of sanity to Upper Iweka and they responded in kind. And that is why they are kicking…

Again, before Obiano's coming, Anambra had existed as an extremely fractious state. Its many illustrious citizens, some of whose private wealth surpass the GDP of some West African countries, had been polarized by the utter lack of cohesion at the center. The state needed a bridge-builder with deft social skills; someone who would climb down the moral high-horse to share a meal and a laugh with anybody. They found that in Obiano's natural gregariousness. Before long, all the hitherto disparate forces from the maverick billionaire Prince Engr Arthur Eze to Sir Emeka Offor and even opposition figures like Nicholas Ukachukwu as well as highly respected elder statesmen like Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Chuwkuemeka Ezeife, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe (Agbogidi) and solid entrepreneurs like Chief Cosmas Maduka, Emma Bishop Okonkwo, Dr Ernest Nnaemeka Azudialu-Obijesi, and Sir Daniel Chukwudozie among others have all found one reason or another to believe in Obiano's approach to governance. They have seen a consummate consensus builder who truly loves his people. And that's why they are kicking…

The final reason why they won't stop kicking is because they had told Ndi Anambra that Awka was beyond redemption; that Awka indigenes were anti-progress and had always stood in the way of plans to turn the town into a befitting capital of Nigeria's most distinctive state. But now that three flyovers are springing up at the same time and changing the landscape of Nigeria's most rustic state capital, they have come out kicking and punching. With the security votes that they could not spend to secure Anambra State, they have armed a band of youths that they could not employ and turned them loose on the social media. These men have made it a habit to incite the people against Obiano's seven-month old administration with brazen lies and photo-shopped images. Their solitary mission is to derail Obiano from the path of progress by keeping him busy fighting real and imagined enemies. And just in case you still don't get it, their vision is to ensure that Anambra remains at the rungs of underdevelopment; perpetually aspiring for greatness and never attaining it.

Unmoved by the wisdom of our fathers in couching the timeless philosophy of Egbe belu ugo belu, they see themselves as the political Sirius; the brightest star in earth's sky in whose company other planetary bodies pale into mere fireflies. And because Obiano's political star dared to rise so soon, they are desperate to dim it or at least cast a thick cloud across the face of the sky to shield its dazzle. And that is the tragic streak that has held Anambra State down for years. But will Ndi Anambra allow that? Time, as they say, will tell…

Eze writes from Ifite, Awka, Anambra State.
By James Eze ([email protected])

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of James Eze and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by James Eze