OBI SOARS AT 50 (1)
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state is 50 years old this July just as the state he presides over its affairs would be celebrating its 20th anniversary in August. Arguably he is one of the most widely reported governors in Nigeria today. His ascension to power was a narrative of ardent struggle, stirring interest across the board.
Aside the laborious but inspiring exertions, was his unusual ability to sustain the office he won amidst an array of intimidating opposition. The variant perceptions of the man as tough, shrewd and a compassionate administrator, depending however, on which divide the observer is coming from and the degree of his grasp, is redolent of those efforts.
He has been variously described as thorough, deliberate and a reformer with a belying mien. One writer once called him a long distant runner who bequeaths his society with enduring landmark achievements without necessarily attracting publicity. Analyzing him further he said Obi administration has achieved more than others without a wink of publicity. Though there are those who disagree with this notion, citing his austere approach to governance as disagreeable.
Among this group are politicians who feel alienated from the hub of government activities. They consider it strange that the wheel of governance can run for as long as it has without their snaffling control. Unfortunately Obi is averse to such control and appears not in a hurry to reverse himself. His government's decision to pursue populist programme at the expense of this group interest is not without its cost. Today the popularity of the administration is compromised and whittled down.
Not long ago I listened to the Governor recount his encounter with some of this group at a gathering in Onitsha. One cannot but conclude that the not-so-impressive publicity that slaps the administration on occasion has its root in this interplay of interests. The Governor told of how he was asked to scale down his development efforts so as to satiate the needs of this group. The reality of a failed interest against a background of years of exploitation thus became a major problem. Drawing the battle line the group now sees Obi's administration as being on sufferance. Though there is no application of force, but the combatants are unfazed in their quest to frustrate the administration.
If today the administration's performance fails to generate popular acclaim it is not for lack of result because it drips with it. Those who pick holes in the development efforts of the government do not do so out of concern for public good but for reasons of self. An administration that has seen to the building of hospitals, schools, roads and bridges, judiciary, transport system, fortifies security, tackles environmental challenges cannot be called a non-performer.
But detractors have a bag full of reasons why the administration would not be rated high. The outcome of the April elections where APGA did not win the senatorial becomes a reference point. Those who must calumniate the administration cite the failure of the party to win all the seats in the parliamentary elections as a sign of unpopularity. But the question is since when has election result become the sole determinant of performance and or popularity? The saying that examination is not a true test of knowledge could not be more apt in this circumstance. Anybody who uses that election to determine the man and or his popularity would be committing incurable faux pas.
What happened in that election is a function of unfettered democracy where everybody voted for the candidate of their choice. Nobody was circumscribed. Contrary to the inimical practice of winner-takes-all mentality, Obi must be commended for guaranteeing a level playing ground. Democracy can only thrive in such situation where the run of victory is not determined by the government in power.
•Ejike Anyaduba wrote from Abatete
Obi soars at 50 (2)
By a long chalk it is better to allow people to express themselves, electing candidates of their choice across party lines than a forced victory. Surprisingly Chud Uchegbu while writing on back page of Champion Newspaper of Wednesday June 22, 2011, said 'If Obi has been able to master the art of politics these past years, there is no how candidates backed by him during the general elections would have lost in the way and manner they did'. Sound reasoning but what Uchegbu failed to realize is that many a master of the art have lost elections long before Obi. Winston Churchill of Britain did not conclude World War 11, Clement Attlee did. Churchill lost re-election to his deputy Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party who alongside Harry Truman, Marshal Stalin and French President concluded the war. It wasn't until early fifties when Churchill again emerged. Closer home these men have lost elections at one time or the other, Zik, Awolowo, Nwobodo, Rimi, among others.
But it can be understood why men fret over issues like this which might hardly elicit attention elsewhere. The man has made a name for himself even before his involvement in politics. The manner he took the reins of governance and what he has made of it also generates a lot of interest. Even with the loss of the senatorial election there is still an abiding air of approval for Governor Obi. The masses of the state still see him as a hard worker, a planner and an urbane politician.
The Obi administration has made outstanding progress in the improvement of life in the state. His multi sector approach to development has seen to the transformation of moribund sectors. Of particular interest is the building of four major bridges in the state. One is already completed while work is going on the other three as well as some box culverts. When these bridges are completed, areas hitherto inaccessible would be open to traffic. These bridges are the Otuku Bridge linking Umueze Anam and Nmiata, Ebenebe Bridge linking the town with Awba Ofemili, Urum, Ugbene, Obibia Bridge linking Okpuno and Mgbakwu and the Odor Bridge linking Awgbu and Amopkala. The latter is the longest bridge, at 165metre long, to be constructed by any administration in the state. On completion of the remaining three, unqualified access would be given to areas hitherto inaccessible.
The fact that Obi's administration does not enjoy the approval of certain group of people does not suggest unpopularity. Neither does failure to win all the senatorial seats. The one pervading evil about criticism is that when done without recourse to facts it fails altogether. 'The successful teacher is no longer on a height; pumping knowledge at high pressure into passive receptacles…he is a senior student anxious to help his juniors' (William Osler, Canadian Physician). Obi is fifty this month and has more time on the seat to receive inputs on how to better the lot of the state. His administration is eclectic and well disposed to listen to dispassionate criticisms so long as such will help to move the state forward.
Ejike Anyaduba wrote from Abatete