On the 17th of March, 2018, Governor Willie Obiano took the oath of office for the second time as the Governor of Anambra State. This followed his success in the polls during the gubernatorial election held in Anambra State on the 18th of November, 2017. That election that brought the Governor in for the second time was keenly contested. And that he won 21/21 (as they say in Anambra to signify that he led in all the 21 Local Governments of the State) remains a surprise not only to his friends and enemies but also to himself. Immediately, after that election, Governor Obiano took a well-deserved leave outside Anambra State. I am sure that part of what he did during the leave was to marvel at his own survival of the fierce challenge he faced on his way to occupy the Government House, Awka, for the second time.
Prior to the election, Obiano’s opponents boasted openly of their connection within the Nigerian political circle, of their political sagacity, their experience at the grassroots, their knowledge of Anambra, and of their passion and love for Anambra. They spoke as if Obiano lacked all these. Lucky Obiano, the voters were not moved. They stood by him exactly when he needed them most. By voting him for the second time even over the preferred candidate of his former friend and benefactor, Peter Obi, the most beloved former Governor of the State, the Anambra voters unequivocally made him a factor in Anambra State.
Wise democratic leaders do not take such a faith of the people for granted. When they assume office, they view the political platform as stage to reciprocate the kind gesture extended to them by the people who voted them in. They work for the people with joy and thanksgiving. They dedicate their time to serving them and to meeting their needs. This is what I expect Obiano to do.
In Africa, governments do not just exist to ensure peaceful change in society, as famously advocated by Harold Laski. African governments are expected to build roads, construct railways, employ people, cloth them and even feed them. One of the planks upon which Obiano hinged his campaign as he fought to return to the Government House, Awka, was his famed revolution in Agriculture, especially in ugu and rice production. It is instructive to inform the governor that his revolution Agricultural revolution has not fed the people. The last time we heard of the Anambra ugu, we were shown cartons of ugu being prepared for export.
Personally, I feel that something is wrong with a system that attempts to export what it needs to other people. Charity they say begins at home. If Obiano continues with his revolution in agriculture, it will be wiser concentrate on the home (Nigerian) markets to drive down the price and make food more available to the people than to have one’s eyes fixed only on foreign exchange as if it is more important than the people. Ndi Anambra have not had enough ugu for their own consumption. And when they do, it behoves the state to extend the same ugu to other Nigerian states in dire need of the vegetables. It does not speak well of the government to rush immediately to export what you have not gotten enough.
Like the ugu, like the Anambra rice. During the Christmas, and against common sense, I proudly bought the Anambra rice in Awka at the price of N17,000 per bag while the imported brands sold at N18, 000. Governor Obiano should know that Anambra rice is not a success story if it cannot be sold at a far cheaper rate than the imported rice in every part of Nigeria. I do not know the economic calculation that raised the cost of Anambra rice to N17,000 in the market when Lagos State, after heavy transportation cost of taking its rice from the farm in Kebbi to Lagos sells the Lagos rice at N12, 000. Anambra rice without such transportation cost and other logistics should sell far lower than this. The economic calculations that peg the price at N17, 000 is faulty.
I am writing this because part of what the electorates expect their leaders to do in Africa is to put food on their tables. To them, leadership fails when food is priced way beyond the capacity of the masses to feed themselves. Besides the stomach infrastructure, Governor Willie Obiano should also look at the state of some of Anambra roads. A number of roads started by his predecessor remain uncompleted. We, the Anambra voters, want Obiano to complete those roads. When we elected him for the first time on the mantra of continuity, it was because of our belief that continuity entails continuing with works on those roads.