Governor Peter Obi: How not to rule a state

By Odenigbo Chidi Anyaeche
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By Odenigbo Chidi Anyaeche
It is now apparent, indeed very apparent to any serious observer of Nigerian affairs that present day democracy is failing or has failed depending on what side of the divide one is operating from. Body of evidence on the ground says it all; hence I will not dwell further on this statement of fact.

Experts of, whom there are many in Nigeria are proffering divergent opinions as why this is so, despite a perceived promising start to the 4th Republic: from corruption, to ethnic divide, to sectarian differences, to military intervention in politics. Yes, all these have a role to play, it is a culmination of all these factors that are leading to the collapse of the 4th republic to SOME EXTENT. I have emphasized SOME EXTENT for these factors are not the main cause of present day problems in Nigeria. The main cause of the problem is that most of the leaders are not prepared, not cerebrally equipped for the high offices they are now occupying. They found themselves there by pure chance, by non-quantitative speculation, by a poke in the dark and that is why besides eroding the treasuries of their respective ministries, states or parastatals, they have nothing to offer. That is why a state governor will go to the press to mouth off that carrying out statutory functions like paying staff salaries or equipping hospitals is an achievement. That is why a state governor will spend state resources in advertorials to say that paying contributory pensions to pensioners or supplying photo-copying machines to civil servants is an achievement.

That is why Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state Nigeria is telling the whole world that not clearing refuse in his state is an achievement. That is why he is equally shouting to high heavens that not providing portable drinking water to his state is an achievement. That is why failure of health-care provision in his state is an achievement. That is why failure to tackle the menace caused by erosion in his state is an achievement. And that is why not tarring the roads in my (our) neighbourhood is a massive achievement on his side. That is why failure of his political party, APGA in recent polls is an achievement.

Readers, asking – where am I coming from? This is where I am coming from and getting to. According to an article in ThisDay newspaper of May 20, 2009 titled: “Obi – God And Anambra People Will Determine My Fate.” Which, has not been refuted by Governor Obi and his camp to date, the Governor was quoted thus in the said publication:

“Last year the State House of Assembly approved for me to borrow 12.8 billion in the budget of 2008. When I presented the budget of 2009 we remained the only state within our sub-region without a debt of one kobo to the banks. Rather, we closed the year with over N10 billion in credit”.

Two serious flaws bordering on imbecility on the part of Governor Obi emanates from the above statement credited to him. These flaws lend credence to my assertion earlier on in this article that the principal reason for the failings (and failure) of the 4th Republic is due to the fact: “that most of the leaders are not prepared, not cerebrally equipped for the high offices they are now occupying.”

The first flaw being his budget impasse with members of the state house of assembly in approving his budget for the fiscal year 2008 in, which all hell was let loose and the state ground to a still, for amongst other things, the honourable members of the house rejection of his request for a loan of 12.8 billion naira, from perhaps, his much beloved Fidelity Bank, when he could not account for what projects the loan was for and its repayment schedule. After blackmailing and intimidating all and sundry, the loan was approved for him only for Governor Obi to now tell the whole world that; after all, he did not need the loan. So why did he request for it and for what project(s) in the first place? This indicates that he does not understand the rudiments of a budgetary process, period. Because he is not cerebrally equipped for the office he is occupying at present.

The second flaw in his statement above; that he closed the 2008 fiscal year with 10 billion naira in credit, for a Nigerian state, is the hallmark of an economic and political cretin. Indigenes of Anambra state have no access to portable drinking water, functional refuse disposal is non existent, roads are in parlous conditions state-wide (please visit my home-town, Ukpor), the menace of erosion has destroyed some towns like Nanka and Oko to name a few, the state university has no website or electricity, healthcare workers went on strike with its attendant consequences on the citizenry due to non payment of allowances. The to-do list in the state is a mile long and Governor Obi in his infinite wisdom is boasting that due to his prudent management of resources that Okeke, Okafor, Okonkwo and Okoro should be drinking Typhoid infested water in 21st Century Nigeria. That his principal city, Onitsha and his state capital, Awka should remain the dirtiest cities in Nigeria. That the roads in my beloved home town, Ukpor shall remain parlous. That Anambra state should remain undeveloped.

The essence of good and responsible leadership is to provide a conducive environment for the citizenry and not to return 10 billion naira to the treasury (If that is true anyway). Would it not have been ideal for Governor Obi rather than return the 10 billion naira to the treasury to use the money to better his state; the reason he was elected in the first instance. I do not see any sense in this action of his, when lots needs to be done in Anambra state like providing portable drinking water for a start (portable drinking water does not exist anywhere in the state) or tarring all the roads in my beloved home-town, Ukpor. Hence the title of this article.