Obi And Obiano’s Politics Of Past Achievements And Present Failures: A Dangerous Signal To 18th November Governorship Election
(Intersociety, Onitsha Nigeria: 21st October 2017)-It is deeply regrettable that with only 28 days before the conduct of all-important Anambra Governorship Election scheduled for 18th November 2017, the leading politicians and political office holders in the State have deliberately refused to speak to over seven million residents of the State and the 2.15m certified voters in understandable language tailored in electoral value.
The electoral value language being demanded to be plainly spoken to Anambra People is divided into two and expected from fresh contestants and the incumbent. That expected from the incumbent by Anambra electorates is: who I am again, (2) why I am seeking for your votes for another term and what I did with your first votes/electoral mandate; and (3) what I am going to do with your fresh mandate if given. That expected from each of fresh contestants is: (1) who I am, (2) why I am seeking for your votes and (3) what I will do with your votes or electoral mandate if given.
Shockingly, what has come to dominate the political space, utterances and campaigns of the State political gladiators is the politics of past achievements and present failures. We make bold to say that the raging politics of past achievements and present failures as 2017 Governorship campaign slogans has taken a dangerous dimension and posed a dangerous signal to the 18th November 2017 Governorship Poll.
As the mainstream rights CSO and long standing core stakeholder in Anambra Democracy and Governance Accountability dating back to late 1990s and early 2000s through the then Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (Anambra CLO) and CODEGG Coalition; we shall never sit by and watch a she goat give birth in tethers That is to say that we shall never sit by and allow traders or electoral bidders of the State treasury to continuously ride and play on the collective intelligence of the Anambra People for the sole purpose of destroying the State through loot and plunder.
That is to say that the leadership of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law as an offshoot of Anambra CLO and CODEGG Coalition of the 2000s is solidly grounded with facts and figures (corporate pedigree) in matters of Anambra Democracy and Good Governance and their opposites. All the antics of Anambra political actors are rested and clipped on our palms. We are also not neophytes when it comes to Anambra’s social terrains and political gamesmanship.
The purpose of this statement, therefore, is in furtherance and commencement of fulfillment of our earlier promise through our recent joint statement with SBCHROs to strategically and technically guide the People of Anambra State throughout this all important Governorship campaign period, especially as it concerns gubernatorial campaign slogans, sayings and promises of the leading governorship candidates including the incumbent.
This advocacy promise of ours has become extremely necessary following the recent antics of political actors and public office holders in Anambra State who steadily cash in on public gullibility and mental vulnerability among the State adult population especially the trading population; to congregate and aggregate their election campaigns and government actions in deceit, falsehood and propaganda. The despicable actions of these political actors and public office holders in the State are also strongly aided by artificially created economic hardship including mass poverty and hunger which have forced youth segment of the State population to exchange their future and destiny with few naira notes originated from siphoned and stashed funds from the State coffers.
Among the educated population, the political actors have cashed in on entrenched cyber virus or cyber brain dead (synchronous and asynchronous chat culture), which has dangerously robbed the supposedly “enlightened population” of mental depth and analytical mindset in matters of critical public nature and discourse. Through the massive deployment and use of “internet warriors” or “social media info-warriors”, the malicious political actors in Anambra State also run riot on people’s psyches and infested them with virus of hyped and simulated government achievements found only on procured visual and audio visual news screens and bulletins or sponsored newspaper pages.
Totality of these is the reason behind our recent resolute advocacy promise to Anambra People to neutralize such “infectious lies” steadily told and dished out by the State political actors and public office holders. We have specifically chosen to revisit the principles of government as continuum and no vacuum. This is in relation to recent noises of the camps of former Governor Peter Obi and present Governor William M. Obiano especially as they concern “inheritance of N127B contractual debts” and “over N75B worth of cash and investment” left for the State by the past Obi Administration.
Where Obi’s Camp Got It Wrong: It is no longer contestable or in doubt at communal, State, national, regional and international levels as regards the achievements in office of former Governor Peter Obi when he held sway as the Court-declared democratically elected Governor of Anambra State (2006-2014).
It is also unarguable or indubitable that Peter Obi is known today, respected and cerebrated widely not as “a knight of the Catholic Church or a son of Onitsha NADO Supermarket founder, or a brother of a Catholic Reverend Sister and Revered Father or a former young billionaire entrepreneur and Chairman/Shareholder of several quoted companies including leading commercial banks. The said earned respect by Obi today is solely because of his outstanding performance in office as the Governor of Anambra State by strictly using public funds for public good and leveling up with input and output legitimacy or peopling governance.
However, these remarkable achievements of the former Governor are under a serious threat of teething virus of politicization and over-sensational self pontification. The achievements should not have neared or tailored in electioneering politicization and dirty water of Anambra politics especially at this point in time. This is where the former Governor got it wrong and stood reprimanded. Over politicization of such remarkable achievements by Obi’s camp is also a canonization in disguise the present failures of the Obiano’s Administration.
Where Obiano’s Camp Got It Wrong: The recent claims by the Obiano Administration of inheriting “over N127B contractual debts mostly from 101 hurriedly awarded road contracts from former Gov Peter Obi Administration” is totally condemned. It is also a clear indication of the fact that Anambra State has gone back to its sorry state of pre 2006. To the extent that a sitting governor elected by the popular votes of the people does not know the fundamental foundation and workings of a civil government is a tragedy of alarming proportion.
For the purpose of putting the records straight, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige as the illegitimate Governor of Anambra State for three years (2003-2006) was sacked by the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal in March 2006. He left office leaving N13B cash in the State coffers which included N9.5B worth of unpaid contract debts for various COMPLETED public projects in the State. The Court declared illegal Administration of Gov Chris Ngige also left several uncompleted road contracts at primary and middle stages of completion worth tens of billions of naira. Among them were Awka Zik Avenue Road in Awka and Umunze-Umuchu-Amesi-Uga-Ezinifite-Igboukwu Road in Aguata LGA.
The Administration of Gov Peter Obi verified the completed projects of the Nigige regime and effected the payment of contractors’ unpaid arrears. The then new Administration also took over all the virgin road contracts and those already at middle and terminal stages of completion. There were also mounting civil and public service unpaid remunerations or arrears of the then serving and retired State and LGA workforce with many dating back to 1992; totaling over N30B. These arrears were substantially, if not fully cleared as at the time Governor Peter Obi’s tenure was ending in March 2014.
Earlier in November 2006, barely eight months after his assumption of office, Governor Obi was illegitimately impeached and his deputy Dame Virgy Etiaba took over. When Gov Peter Obi came back from impeachment in February 2007 vide Enugu Appeal Court Division’s verdict, he inherited a new bulk of newly awarded road contracts especially in Nnewi area. The Obi Administration undertook the responsibility to continue and complete them before awarding new ones.
It even got to a point where the Obi Administration was accused of not “constructing a single road of its own”; earning the former Gov a sarcastic name: “Ada Obi” (i.e. not a man of his own). The former Gov’s political opponents took the advantage of that to lay claims to all the roads inherited from past Administration, but continued and completed by his Administration; yet the Obi Administration stood its ground and completed all the valuable road projects awarded by its predecessor before embarking on awarding and completing its own. This is secret behind the “Obi road revolution in Anambra State” till date; an enviable feat now upturned and darkened by the present Administration.
Government as a continuum was also clearly seen in neighboring Delta State where Governor Ifeanyi Okowa publicly disclosed shortly after his swearing in early June 2015 that “he inherited N535B worth of completed and uncompleted contractual projects’ debts” from former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. Delta State as at 2015 was also credited by the DMO with local and foreign debts of over N200B, yet Governor Okowa is still the Governor of the State till date. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State inherited over $1.16B foreign debts and over N300B local debts from former Govs Bola Tinubu and Raji Fashola; yet he is still the Gov of Lagos State till date. This is just to name but few.
The further claims by the Gov/ Government of Anambra State of “spending N44B to complete 51 out of 101 Obi awarded roads” are not scientifically and factually grounded. Facts, they say, do not lie. As at today, 21st October 2017, Onitsha Zone wears no reflection of the Obiano’s claims or new road projects by his Administration since mid 2014. Apart from less than half a kilometer Nkutaku Street in Okpoko (Ogbaru), the Ogbaru Industrial Extension Road project behind former Power Mike Stadium; started by the Obi Administration is still abandoned; despite advancing completion when abandoned.
Others are Duruzor Street Road in Iyiowa Layout (Ogbaru). Governor Obiano had during his maiden visit to the Layout in April/May 2014 as part of his LGA familiarization tour told the people of the layout that “since Okwute has awarded and completed Ihitenansa/Abazuonu/Ibekwe/Acha/Madonna Church Road in one year (March 2013-March 2014), I am adding this one (Duruzor)”. That Street Road is left un-worked till date. Also the Iyiowa Market Square/Acha Street extension; added by Gov Obi in October 2013 during his last inspection tour of the named completed Road above is left un-worked till date; likewise the all important Atani-Ozubulu Road, which was nearing completion but abandoned by the Obiano Administration till date.
The all important Onitsha Main Market is totally cut off from Niger Street Road and adjoining Niger Bridgehead. As we write, Niger Street Road is a no go area. Okwei Street Road near the Onitsha Main Market was awarded by the Obi Administration and was at advanced stage of completion before it was abandoned till date. The Ochanja Market –Zik’s Avenue Road Junction in Onitsha South is presently eaten up by gullies and the center of same has been converted into trading arena. Port Harcourt Road has failed; likewise the Ede and the Obodoukwu Roads in Okpoko (Ogbaru). About Ilo-Okoye and People’s Club abandoned Road project (a cluster of four street roads interconnected) located in Odume Layout, Obosi? What about Nkeje abandoned Road project? The all important Road was almost completed by the Obi Administration; remaining a connecting bridge before it was virtually abandoned. This is just to mention but few.
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]
Chinwe Umeche, Esq.
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Email: [email protected]