The peaceful nature of the November 18 polls in Anambra State and the unprecedented landslide victory by the governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano, have continued to attract reactions. The chairman, Post Primary Schools Service Commission (PPSSC), Awka, Lady Joy Ulasi, in her reaction, described the victory as resounding. She spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA on events and qualities that contributed to Governor Obiano’s great victory. Excerpts.
On the election
“Permit me first of all to congratulate, felicitate with the governor for attaining this landslide victory. It was sweeping, it was overwhelming, it was unprecedented in the annals of politics and elections in this country. Infact, I say, kudos. I say bravo to His Excellency, Governor Obiano. This election was the most keenly contested guber election in this country with 37 contenders in the race and people – the electorate turned up. I think Nigerians are beginning to realize the importance of exercising their franchise in matters like this. The voters showed very keen interest and they came out en masse, in large numbers to vote. Then on the generally peaceful nature of the election, one thing is clear. Anambra State since the inception of the Obiano administration has been generally peaceful, in fact crime-free. You know Anambra is adjudged the safest state in Nigeria. Right on assumption of duty in March, 2014, as the state’s helms man, Governor Obiano introduced a unique security Blueprint, the Joint Security Network involving all cadres of security personnel. They quickly put in place an unprecedented security system which sent criminals, including kidnappers packing from the state. All criminals, including pick-pockets were on the run. And heavy blow was dealt on those who remained behind. Now during the guber election, Anambra has over 26,000 security personnel. This number excludes the army, the civil defence, and the vigilante. With the crime-free nature of the state, those security operatives knew before coming that Anambra has no room for criminals or even violence, and they behaved themselves. The citizens are used to being peaceful and going about their normal business without molestations by hoodlums who as I said earlier have all fled the state. Even the politicians themselves knew that Anambra under Obiano’s watch, has no place for touts, thugs and bandits. And without being told, everyone behaved himself. The election was orderly because the citizens are used to doing things in an orderly manner. What I’m trying to explain here is that it will be unnecessary causing trouble, creating problem in a state like Anambra which you know is peaceful, orderly, crime free and you know this even before coming for the election. So the Obiano administration had already set the pace here, instilled peace and discipline in the state. And under the present peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, you don’t need to fight, intimidate or bully anybody or prove, show that you are a thug or a tout. The calm and serene atmosphere in the state will tell you to behave yourself. Again, you remember the caliber of persons brought in to conduct the election. Men and women of integrity, academics, professors and doctors from the University of Cross River State. These are ladies and gentlemen who have no time for falsification, alteration, mutilation of results. They have good name and do not want it to be soiled. They conducted the election in accordance with the electoral rules to the extent that where they had doubts in the votes, say, where there were reports of intimidation, falsification, alteration or even over voting, they immediately invalidated whatever results that emanate from there, not minding whose ox is gored. This particular action helped to douse tension, and eliminate violence and irresponsible behaviours.
Thanks to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mohammed, who borrowed a leaf from his predecessor, Prof. Atahiru Jega, by engaging the services of academics in the conduct of elections in Nigeria. So from what I have said, you can see why the election was not only peaceful but free, fair, credible and transparent. You know the mere site of these academics will put those who came to manipulate the votes on the run. The Vice Chancellor of the University, a Professor, was the State Returning Officer, and Returning Officers from LGAs were all professors. One action of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, in withdrawing Governor Obiano’s security aides would have smeared the election but for the timely intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, who displayed that great act of statesmanship by immediately ordering for the restoration of those aides, and this was quickly done. This singular act of the President gave the governor and ndi Anambra hope and courage. It made us and the entire Ndigbo believe that we belong. And Governor Obiano immediately reciprocated this President’s kind gesture by going to Aso Rock, to Abuja, to visit and thank him – another corresponding act of statesmanship.”
On the landslide victory
Right from the onset of his administration, Governor Obiano with his team, set up goals, articulated good programmes and policies that will enable his government impact positively on the masses. With right focus, he set up his four developmental pillars, Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil and Gas, and their Enablers. With these as the basis of his administration, he embarked on the development of various sectors of the economy. His joint Security Network instilled peace and discipline, chased away criminals and allowed business to flourish in an atmosphere of peace. Then he embarked on such projects that will better the lives of the people. His giant strides in various sectors of the economy are commendable. First, he set up business support agencies like the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA) and Anambra Capital Territory Development Authority (ACCTDA) and their work is excellent. ANISPPA attracts local and foreign investors; ASBA funds Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); you know SMEs constitute the catalyst for self-reliance and industrialization. And ACTDA sees to the beauty of the capital territory i.e. Awka and environs, and ensures they are orderly, no wrong parking of vehicles, no blockage of gutters, no indiscriminate erection of houses etc.
In the agric sector, we see an unprecedented revolution with the sector re-focused towards commercialization, moved away from subsistent to mechanical farming and our youth see it now as a worthwhile venture, and many multinational agric farms like the Josan Farms, Excel Farms, Coscharis Farms, Redemption Agro Industries and Lynden Farms, to mention but a few, have been established, employing hundreds of thousands of our youths. And with the export of agric products like vegetables, fruits, yams, the state is gaining the much needed foreign exchange. You remember this sector was hitherto the mainstay of the nation’s economy before the advent of oil.
In infrastructure and industrialization, a lot has been achieved. New roads are constructed and dilapidated ones rehabilitated. Small and Medium Enterprises are being set up across the state with the support of Anambra Business Agency which funds the businesses; we have the shoe industry in Ogbunike, the Interfact Beverages in Onitsha, and in Education, the Obiano administration’s intervention and its giant strides have created, given an enabling environment conducive for effective teaching and learning and the effects of this are evidenced in the exceptional performances of our students in such examinations like WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and GCE, and in international debates where they came out tops. In this state, workers and pensioners receive their salaries and pensions respectively as and when due when majority of the states’ civil servants are owed upto 7-9 months salary arrears. In addition, the workers receive their allowances and other incentives especially during festivities like this season. Again, this administration has put in place buses that take them to and from their offices and this is almost free of charge. Think of these services in a country in recession like ours. And of course you know of the crime free nature of the state. Since the inception of this administration on March 17, 2014, the state citizenry sleep with their two eyes closed. The most notorious upper Iweka Onitsha is now free and even turned to a recreational arena; No more criminals, robbers, car snatchers, pick pockets etc. And traders themselves go about their business without
fear. I think Ndi Anambra are happy with the Obiano administration and that’s what they showed by voting so massively for the governor that he got 21/21 in the historic November 18 governorship polls. This is a no-mean-feat, if you take a critical view of the above, a cursory look at the workings of the Obiano government, its value-driven leadership and development-oriented administration, as well as its humane approach to issues and unshakable commitment to the welfare and security of the citizenry, you can see that the administration has endeared the governor to many including the rural dwellers who equally feel its positive impact. Even the Community Choose Your Project Initiative is another robust policy and innovation in governance that impacted positively on the masses in many ways. Communities choose projects of their choice and execute same; government only finances and supervises to ensure they are correctly done. I spent time here to explain why the governor got the votes that returned him for the second term.
On good qualities of Obiano’s administration
This administration’s giant strides are exemplary. Infact its robust intervention has engendered quality service delivery in all the sectors. Governor Obiano’s humane approach to leadership has created cordial relationship between his government and the governed. The governor’s collaboration with development partners has brought unprecedented development in vital sectors like Agriculture, Education, Industrialization and Tourism. And the great progress made in the agric sector has brought a new awakening in the state, employing thousands of youths and stemming their exodus to other states. The recession not withstanding, Anambra has the lowest poverty level. Infact, Governor Obiano has restored public confidence in governance. And the present government believes that human capital development is pivotal to national development and is showing this in practical terms. It sees training and retraining as recipe for quality and efficiency. The Obiano administration places high premium on the fundamental interest of the citizenry and works in close harmony and unity with him. This government has one unique feature, that of re-directing the state natural resources to priority areas, and it sees the culture of integrity and accountability as vital for efficient result in governance. From what is on ground in Anambra State now and by every index of development, one can boldly state categorically that Governor Obiano has performed creditably and that Anambra State is on the threshold of rapid socio-economic advancement, providing quality infrastructure, unlocking its investment potentials and stimulating socio-economic activities as well as carrying a solid foundation for a better tomorrow. Infact all these have direct positive bearing on the well being of the people, to build a new Anambra State where the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the masses are realized.
Now believe it or not, if this governorship poll is conducted again, once, twice or even ten times, and it is conducted credibly, Governor Obiano would win again and again. Reason! Because of good governance, because his administration cares for the masses. Under the present economic down turn taking its toll in many countries with mass unemployment, huge job cuts, hyperinflation, chronic liquidity shortages and poor Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and with white collar job almost extinct, Anambra State is moving forward with government fulfilling all its obligation. In fact the masses are happy. The workers are happy, more youths gain – employment and I advise those yet to be employed to queue into the governments agric blue print – security is assured and business activities are going on without interference by hoodlums.
Advise to ndi Anambra
I call on all citizens of the state to give unflinching support to the present administration to enable it succeed, in fact to do more than it did in the first tenure. We have to honour our obligations, pay our taxes, levies and support the government whenever necessary. I call those in leadership positions to see integrity as the supreme quality of leadership, to do their best. No good work goes unrewarded. Obiano won overwhelmly, resoundingly, because his administration did well. The era of money bags and godfatherism in politics in Anambra and indeed Nigeria is over. Hard work is the watch word. And we, the citizenry have to pray for those in authority. Leadership comes from God. And prayer is the key.
God bless His Excellency Governor Willie Mmaduaburochukwu Obiano (Akpokuedike).
God bless Anambra State
God bless Nigeria.