On Saturday, March 17, 2018, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State will be sworn in for a second term in office having overwhelmingly won the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial election. The electoral victory is not only a confirmation of his achievements in the last four years but has also placed on his shoulders a historic responsibility. The event will mark the beginning of Obiano’s journey towards consolidation of his legacies after an impressive first half.
The taking of the oath of office and that of allegiance is a mandatory requirement of section 185, subsection 1&2 of the 1999 constitution (as amended). As a solemn and divine event, it acts as a contract between him and the people. The import and seriousness of the ceremony is underscored in the Holy Scripture. The Bible in the book of Numbers, Chapter 30 verse 2 states “when a man voweth a vow unto the Lord, or sweareth an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth”. So before Ndi Anambra, family, friends and well wishers the governor is expected to renew his pledge made four years ago to “create a socially stable, business friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in Anambra State”.
As the governor prepares to begin his tenure, it is expedient to take a cursory look at some of his achievements. Development, it has been said, is a continuum and unending. At best it’s incremental. This is why each political leadership grapples with different challenges and priorities. However, a political leadership that has its eyes on history focuses on projects that have the greatest impact on the lives of the people. These are what people like Professor Chukwuma Soludo calls ‘signature or Iroko projects’. The governor must have had this at the back of his mind when he enunciated his blueprint, which comprises of four main pillars and about fifteen enablers. The administration has no doubt made enormous impact on areas like education, health, investment, agriculture, infrastructure, community development and most importantly security. The governor has publicly promised to set the pitch of development higher in this second coming. To that extent the tempo of activities has, since re-election, been more than an uptick in the positive ring. It is expected that in the intervening days the deepening of institutions of government will be done to enable the governor to begin to fulfill the many promises he made during the campaigns.
With the unparalled effort in security which triggered uncommon development in almost all the sectors of the economy, the Obiano administration has set about to consolidate not just the gains in governance in the state, but the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the party that has graciously indulged Ndi Anambra with integrated development in the last twelve years. With a missionary zeal, the governor is expected to take the political message of APGA to other states particularly the southeast states. Repositioning the party aside swelling its chances of winning elections will augur for replication of its many achievements and the planting of the APGA philosophy of fraternity in other states. For a decade and more, the party had dominated politics in Anambra and was within an ace of replicating the magic in the southeast, especially Imo state, when the effort was truncated. Winning Imo state was an effort made possible by the party’s mass appeal. But no sooner was the victory achieved than it was betrayed by unguided politics. The quest for personal glory and the erroneous impression that the interest of the people is better served in a bigger party conspired to liquidate the effort at expansion. At great many cost to public good the party was caused to shrink in size. Its fledgling influence was not only allowed to suffer impious decline, but a concerted effort was made to nip what was left of it off the political firmament of the entire southeast.
Sadly, past efforts at resuscitating the party could not yield much not so much because APGA could not reinvent its appeal, but there was no conscious effort to expand. The government in Anambra at the time was shy of making further effort at capturing new grounds either because it was enmeshed in leadership tussle with the national executives of the party or there was insufficient funds to drive its programme. Those who thought the party could replicate the feat of the All Congress of Nigeria (ACN) under the leadership of the wily, but indefatigable, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu in Lagos were disappointed. The party held on to Anambra and made no further progress.
However, since Governor Obiano’s re-election there are signs that the status quo will change. He has shown interest in expanding the reaches of the party. So far nothing suggests he will act any less than Tinubu in ensuring that APGA takes effective control in the southeast and beyond. He had worked hard to give the people dividends of democracy by changing the security architecture of the state, reinvented agriculture, attracted enormous investments, sustained development in education, boosted effort in health delivery, reordered infrastructure and delivered development to communities according to their choice etc. It is difficult to imagine he will be smug with merely leading a government and a party that cannot make effort to break new grounds in the next four years. It is a mark of his leadership style, which abhors micromanagement of ideas that before and after his re-election there has been an influx into APGA. As a matter of fact, the 21/21 victory can be said to be possible because not a few persons exerted themselves for him. And no day has passed since the re-election that people do not take up membership of APGA. The party has become a brand that is sought by all. What remains is its ability to manage well the subtle interests as may exist in various states when offering tickets for elections. Once that is achieved, APGA will soar higher in the coming election.
To effectively consolidate on the many gains of the administration, governor Obiano having identified his baskets of value offerings should pursue their implementation with an unwavering commitment and tenacious determination. No doubt when fully implemented like the improved security architecture, investments, agriculture, education, health, Umueri airport city project, communities-choose-your-projects initiative among others will have transformational impact on the lives of Ndi Anambra and become an enduring legacy of the administration. When this is done, the governor would have finished strong and well.
Onyima, a former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Anambra State.