ANAMBRA AND A GOVERNOR'S PASSION
'When the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.' – Marcus Antonius
Great speeches, just like great ideas and great acts, attain independent lives souring beyond the confines of time and space which on the other hand limit their originators. The relevance of such phenomena is confirmed by the frequency of man's recourse to them in the course of time. The emotion so aptly captured by Marcus Antonius in Julius Caesar while emboldening the Roman plebeians on the sanctity of informed reasoning remains green centuries after the speech, hence its adoption in the context of this piece.
For some weeks running, Nigeria has been traumatised by the menace of malignant water which besiege and sack neighbourhoods with no threat spared on lives and properties. Indeed lives have been lost and princely properties either swept off or laid waste by rampaging flood. The situation elicits sadness as those affected lay abandoned and helpless while the devastation seeks new victims. Many travelers have had tastes of the bitter pill, being either cut off by failed roads and bridges or caught up in surging water. None in this entanglement fails to resign to fate while looking up to the government for succour. It has been pains, ruins and emptiness in the hearts of victims while the physical environment bows too in submission.
Signs are that Anambra State, east of the Niger, seems to be experiencing an overflow of the sadness dotting the route of the uncontrolled spread of the mighty River Niger in conspiracy with the Omambala, the Ezu and many other large bodies of water in the state. The gory scene has not been witnessed before in the communities as not even the oldest of men in the affected communities have any faint memory of such mishap among them. Majority of the communities in Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelu Local Government Councils are submerged in water. Some parts of Awka North Local Government Council and parts of Onitsha also suffer heavy flooding. And the hope of an immediate recess hangs loose, as the water would not stop surging into new grounds.
While these calamities on man and materials are bemoaned, the capacity of leaders to rise to the daunting challenges of leadership is here scaled. Given the impromptu nature of the hazards, none (victims and leaders alike) had the luxury of a programmed window-dressing for political posturing. The nature of it all caught everyone in their true elements. It is in the light of this that one makes a critique of Governor Peter Obi's response towards alleviating the pains of his people in the flood-ravaged parts of Anambra State.
Though Mr. Obi is widely recognised as an astute administrator of human as well as material resources, the nature and magnitude of the present disaster reveals yet another angle of the Governor's philosophy in service. If the subject were normal happening, one would have readily placed it in ANIDS (Anambra Integrated Development Strategy) scale, and therefore would have been able to evaluate its compliant degree within that framework. But it is an unusual phenomenon and so stretches the resourcefulness, the ingenuity and the physical strength of the Governor whose selfless and undiluted zeal to identify with his people, particularly in times of adversity, is unprecedented.
If Governor Obi's passion for ameliorating the pains of the traumatised took him to far away Haiti where he provided succour and canvassed for assistance from governments and peoples of the world when that Island was ravaged by earthquake about two years ago, his commitment towards Ndi-Anambra in the flood induced difficulties of today shows clearer the essence of the Governor's postulation that 'unless politicians begin to see politics as a vocation that calls one to service, society would remain vulnerable to the deceit of men whose voracious tastes and avarice would continue to stall the course of cilvilisation.' Governor Obi has proved himself an exponent of politics for the development and wellbeing of his people. Watching him wade through deep flood in search of his people submerged in water in many of the affected communities tells the story of commitment in leadership. Where most leaders would at best send their aides, Obi would rather confront the crises himself preferring his aides attend to less challenging tasks.
It is worthy of note that since this flood disaster set in, the seat of Government in Anambra has literally shifted from Awka to the submerged Local Government Councils where the Governor leads the Government team and other concerned individuals and groups in providing relief items to the numerous inmates in the multiple Refugee Camps set up by the State Government. The act of being physically present to feel the pulse of the distressed people has a dual relevance of further inflaming the Governor's passion to do even more to alleviate the people's pains; it also affords the people psychological relief knowing that their Governor identifies with them.
The situation in Anambra where residential houses, including upstairs, industrial estates, vast areas of cultivated farmlands, markets, schools, churches, hospitals, roads and bridges are submerged in water terrifies still as there seem to be no ready clue as to how much longer both the Government and the people of the State would contend with the challenges attendant to the disaster that flooding has visited on the State and its people.
It is hoped that public spirited persons, organisations and indeed the Federal Government would heed the entreaties of Anambra State Government and make haste to bring relief to the displaced persons whose hope of survival hinges on such interventions.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu