An open letter to the Anambra electorate
I would have loved to communicate to you verbally if I had the choice. But I know how busy everybody is in this period of economic recesssion hence this letter. It is my prayer that you find time to read it through, believing that in the end you will be able to appreciate why Governor Willie Obiano deserves your vote in the November 18 governorship election in the state.
It is not so much for any outstanding physical attributes of his which are lacking in the other candidates. No, not at all! It is also not because he is possessed of any ingenuity that pales the other candidates’ in comparison. Hardly the case! Like the rest he has no claim to any feat that will make him excel in that office without your support.
However, unlike the others he is not a newcomer on the job. He has acquired sufficient knowledge, enough, to afford him a clearer vision on statecraft. Fair enough, he has not disappointed in the three and half years he has borne the responsibilities of the office. If nothing else, he was able to make the country-wide temporary economic decline almost a mirage in the state. More than that, he has also brought security. This, you must agree with me, gives him a competitive edge over the others.
This is not to say that others would perform any less if they had the opportunity. But the times are grave and do not encourage any manner of trial. The consequence, without much emphasis, would be a dice with death. Being differently constituted and of varied political affiliation, it is difficult to expect hundred percent support for the governor. However, his re-election offers the state relative advantage. One, it presents the South and Central senatorial districts quicker access to power. Two, it ensures seamless transition, conserves funds and sustains rather than disrupt development. Three and perhaps the greatest advantage is that it will deepen the existing security structure and have it entrench in the state.
Often we take the security of life and property in the state for granted. But you and I know that is a good deal of disservice judging from where we were coming from. There is no denying the fact that security is the greatest gift a state can give her citizens. To gamble away this gift out of partinsanship is like cutting off one’s nose to spite the face. History will be most unkind with such indiscretion. You probably have heard (perhaps a deliberate effort to diminish the governor) that kidnap was no longer fashionable as at the time Obiano emerged. As inane as the assertion the peddlers have continued to live in denial of what has earned the state official reputation of one of the safest states in Nigeria. But before you must sacrifice this experience on the altar of partisanship and then run along with the lie, note how devastating the crime has been in other states. Just last week a Catholic priest was kidnapped and murdered in Orlu area of Imo state. This is one out of many of such stories told everywhere. Even Lagos with her rising profile as one of the foremost states in Nigeria is not spared the menace. To underscore the weight of the crime, kidnap was made a capital offence in the state. You will agree with me that all the achievements of the state in virtually every sector of the economy would have come in vain had the Obiano government played the security game by ear. Engaging the criminals early in the administration through structured plan greatly conduced to the peace and development in the state today.
You still recall the ravages of crime in the state. How costly it was to everybody. How lack of proper planning in tackling the menace brought about militarization of the state. Unarguably, the introduction of the unorthodox security outfit, the Bakassi, brought about proliferation of small arms in the state. The direct effect of which was the inglorious abduction of the then governor and burning of our patrimonial inheritance. Following from there were cases of mindless armed robberies and kidnaps. In fact, some of the buildings along Zik Avenue, Awka, like D.C Erinne in St. Paul University directly opposite G.T.C still bear imprints of bullets. Needless to say that hostage-taking was almost endemic in the state until recently.
The experiences of the dark days, you must agree with me, are still within living memory and unworthy of reliving. To guard against possible relapse I thought it wise to let you into the confession of a Bakassi operative at a church in Lagos. After reading through the confession I presume you would see reason why our state should be protected from relieving the odious experience. Read on!
Sometimes in 2003, at one of the Pentecostal churches in Lagos, a plain looking young man, without the usual aura of a new convert, sauntered to the podium to give a testimony. Shorn of histrionics associated with such exercise he mounted the dais. Staid and exuding no contrition befitting the confession he was to make he declared his guilt and seemed purged of them.
For a congregation accustomed to a pattern of declaiming testimonies, his approach was at odds with set standard. Those already glued to the pews on account of previous testimonies were surprised as he rambled on without mentioning that he was delivered from any demonic spirit or even divorced from sexual grip of a succubus. He probably has other worries to shrive himself before the high priest for penance and possible absolution.
As he began, after a short canticle, the congregation squirmed in their pews. The discomfort grew as he gave details of his gory exploits in Anambra state. The man was a security operative - a member of the defunct Bakassi boys - that held Anambra state in their palm for close to four years. He told the congregation how he coordinated the business of arresting and killing of suspected criminals and their accomplices; the gory details of how each and every victim was dispatched. The high point of his confession was the arrest and killing of the alleged kingpin of the criminal ring. How the man was arrested after several failed attempts; whisked away to Ochanja road intersection in Onitsha, and slaughtered in public glare. By his account, the man’s arrest was subject to interplay of spiritual forces that snapped in their favour. He was quick to add, however, that the group’s invincibility derived from being sworn to about seven deities, and ably led by a powerful, but physically challenged spiritualist.
The Bakassi, he said, forbade killing a victim, especially one seen as spiritually strong anywhere except at a road junction. The reason he gave was that the spirit of such violently dispatched victim would exact vengeance if death was procured in a house or on a straight road. But that no matter how vengeful a spirit, it gets confused wending its way through a maze of an intersection to exact punishment. There was palpable silence in the hall as everybody was in rapt attention. The Bakassi, even under the pain of death he said, never violated this instruction.
The confession mirrored the decay in Anambra state at the dawn of this democracy. It is instructive to note that the amorphous security group had before the Anambra experience achieved reasonable popularity in the control of crime in Aba, Abia state.
What this means is that we must be particular in endorsing a candidate who is minded to keep the state ahead of others in security and development. It is my prayer and hope that you would be bold enough to acknowledge the truth, stand with security and vote for Obiano.