EMEKA NZE takes a look at governance in Anambra from its first civilian governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, down to the outgoing governor, Chief Willie Obiano. Amongst them, Peter Obi remains spectacular but will Godson Okoye’s ‘Shape Agenda’ up the ante of development in the state?
It was a massive relief for the people of present Anambra state when they were separated from the old Anambra state comprising the present day Enugu state and some part of Ebonyi.
In 1990, the military junta headed by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida came to the rescue in an act of state creation that freed Anambra from the union variously seen as ‘suffocating’ and unable to allow for the enterprise the Anambra people have come to be known.
To an average Anambra citizen, that act by military fiat was a welcome development, described as more of liberation from a wedlock that made their aspiration to the leadership of their former state a pipe dream because of the intimidating population of northern part of the old state whose unwillingness at all times to cooperate due to perceived threat from the southern part.
One of the indigenes of of the present day Anambra state said the euphoria of the state creation reflected mightily in their response to the invitation of the people to support the new state by its pioneer military administrator, Colonel Robert Akonobi.
Sadly, the joy of the people was shortlived after Akonobi as the chain of events that followed soon after, reduced the state to a laughing stock.
From the election of its first civilian governor, the revered Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who the same military gave the boot even before he could finish the tour of the new state, to what many has described as the “better-forgotten four years” of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, to the almost three years of “illegal occupation” of Anambra governorship seat by Dr. Chris Ngige, who some erroneously refer to as a former governor of the state contrary to the position of the law, it has been one unfortunate development after another.
The state became known more as a place where funds for developmental projects ended up in a private pockets without apology and a place where government and public officials spent more time swearing to oaths of loyalty and allegiance to both known and unknown god fathers, overtly and covertly.
That was the lot of the state until the arrival of Mr Peter Obi, nicknamed “The rock”, who in eight years redefined governance in the state and by the same token set a standard with which good governance should be measured in the entire country.
Under Obi, Anambra, the state that embodies everything that defines the Igboman`s “yes we can” spirit, got its swagger back.
Ex Governor Obi’s excellent performance is evidenced by a look at the best ten students in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examination and the West African Examination Certificate (WAEC) and its sister National Examination Council (NECO).
Under Governor Obi the depleting fortunes of the state in education and indeed other spheres, once again soared. Fortunately, his successor, Chief Willie Obiano now in the saddle has continued largely with the policies of the Peter Obi administration even when he fell in short supply of the financial discipline and managerial wizardry of his predescessor.
Obiano now in the final lap of his tenure and the state is once more on the march, searching for a worthy successor, willing to continue with or even up the ante or tempo of human and infrastructural development in the state.
To the Anambra citizens, there is an ongoing search for a true spirited Anambra administrator who like in the campaign lyrics of Chief M.K.O Abiola of blessed memory, should be ‘our man.’
Many of the citizens of the state are in agreement that that man or woman must embody Anambra in spirit and in truth. The consensus among the citizens is that Obiano’s successor must be Anambra not only in spirit but in practice. They agree that his or her agenda must be clear for the people to see, understand and believe in.
Ogbuefi Chibuzor Onyia, a consultant and newspaper publisher from the state said, “The vision and mission must be clear enough and laced in understandable and believable language, measurable by a people who have been politically wisened by those years of good governance under Peter Obi, to know deceit or hollow promise when they see one.”
According to him, Barr. Godson Okoye`s idea of how to run the state which is in bed with Dr. Michael Okpara`s pragmatic approach to governance and infrastructural transformation of the defunct eastern region in the first republic, fits more into what the state needs now. Looking at his holistic approach to the development of the state as encapsulated in his ‘Shape Agenda’, reminds everybody of Dr. Okpara`s strides that made the eatern regional economy of that era to be adjudged the fastest growing economy in the third world.
But the general concern is that implementing such a detailed development plan however needs the total cooperation of the people who must see the said plan as theirs.
“That is why he has designed a very clear pathway that will ultimately lead to the people being the deciders of who leads them as opposed to the practice of the past where a godfather or a collection of few of them, installs a governor and daily breath hot air down his neck. This strategy is designed to make the people, the owners of the Governor and his government.
“His Shape Agenda details his plan of action in those sectors that are central to the transformation of the state to the dream of our forebears. The state that was once inhabited by Sir L.P. Ojukwu and his son, Emeka, Alex Ekwueme, Chuba Okadigbo, the great Zik of Africa, Augustine Ilodibe, Dan Ubajaka to mention but a few and is still being today inhabited by Emeka Anyaoku, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Mbazulike Amaechi, Innocent Chukwuma, Peter Obi amongst other big boys, deserves no less. A peep into his Shape Agenda, his blueprint on security, health, agriculture , power, and education, clearly show a development destination that is driven by current economic realities.
“There is no doubt that anybody aspiring to any leadership position in the 21st century must have that ability to at all times, think out of the box. The business of building and managing a modern and technology-enabled 21st century economy of a state like Anambra, is not a tea party.
It is also a common belief that as the era of dangling mini bags of rice and salt to the electorate to earn votes has since taken flight, Barr. Godson Okoye`s 21st century-compliant style of politics makes him highly prepared and is thereforere commended.”