In commemoration of Gov. Willie M. Obiano’s 64th birthday, today, I serve a piece I wrote and published earlier in this column, ahead of the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial election which the governor won in all 21 local councils of Anambra State. The thrust of the essay is an intellectual introspection of the person, passion and policy predilections of the man and his peculiar approach to issues, especially, political ones. Excerpt:
WHY anybody would opt to play glib on the feats of Willie Maduabuchukwu Obiano as Anambra State governor still baffles me but how am I sure I am right?
Therefore, in tandem with Socrates’ aphorism that “wisdom begins in wonder,” I have decided to examine my own head. I chose to ponder Obiano’s reign so far with the aim of arriving at a clear conclusion backed by evidences, open and hidden.
Monday, October 2, 2017 being the day of Gov. Obiano’s commencement of his campaign for a second four-year term in office underscores a landmark in Anambra State’s politics.
The kick-off at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka is remarkable in many ways that go far beyond politics. This is because it re-establishes the immense merit in clear focus in pro-people governance and re-corroborates the wisdom in the governor’s statement that he “came prepared” for the job.
As he re-articulates his mission for Anambra people and recounts the records he has garnered so far – an endeavour which has yielded multiple tangible and intrinsic dividends – the gains of that his prior preparation and pursuance of the plan with clear focus offer students of politics a lot to study.
Like a master conductor who knows his way through the world of legends, Gov. Obiano has made a hearty symphony orchestra of his opus for Anambra people. He has, within the past three and half years launched the state far beyond the imaginations of his forerunners.
More so, he has walked the path of leadership with the tact of an internally stable hermit and calmly achieved feats with an unusual ease and candour that is the hallmark of a natural leader.
But most notable is the intangible social treasures that his style has brought in the forms of soothing calm and unprecedented economic growth to a land that seemed synonymous with political bickering, perennial caucus rows, campus cult-rivalries uploaded into state governance, faith-based divisions, distracting court cases and general schism.
Nobody can convince even a nincompoop that the struggle for power and position in Anambra has been clement or sane. It has been weirdo all along and we cannot hide it. As the ancient Roman poet, Horace (56 – 8 B.C) wrote. “It is the false shame of fools to try and conceal wounds that have not healed.”
Indeed, no matter how we try, we cannot hide the fact that Anambra’s is a troubled polity. Rocked by the perennial onslaught of thousands of millionaires, nay billionaires with bursting ego and ever-charged financial alertness, the state is bound to ever witness an avalanche of political upheavals.
More so, it has a robustly republican and enterprising populace that largely does not need anybody’s meal to stave off hunger. Anambra is as engaging as a tensed thriller, any day.
Therefore, whenever election campaign periods come, the partisanship in political developments fire up like molten at melting temperature.
But surprisingly, we have less than two months to the November 18, 2017 gubernatorial election and Anambra state is calm and peaceful.
The tension that many enemies of Anambra expected is contained. Somebody made this possible, and God is using him to make a clear statement that Anambra cannot degenerate to what her foes wish her to be.
Gov. Obiano’s declaration of his intention to run again for the State House should provoke deep rumination of what he brings on board. A prime factor many wise ones will ponder is how he calmed down the various theatres of tension as well as the several harbingers of crime and havock to tame a hitherto volatile state.
The wise will easily remember how grim life was and how poor the state was postured to be not very long ago even to the discomfort of prospective investors. It was scary to the extent that one weather-beaten piece of clothing that neither encountered the laundry nor the pressing-board-iron hung on many public servants’ body for weeks.
Workers starved through months without wages as retirees struggled, ailed and many died without their valedictory emoluments – pensions and gratuities. Things were presented as extremely dire and non-pleasant that even government-to-populace relationship was harsh, mercantile, transactional and Machiavellian.
Even when Anambra State walked into the rich league of oil-holding states as the state capital and urban centres were left to look like ghost towns which scared away prospective investors.
Without straining their facilities, the politically sagacious will, on beholding the governor’s announcement of his intent to continue in office, note how he has devoted himself keenly to the job of transforming Anambra State radically despite an acrimonious clime that was created around him from inception on March 17, 2014. They will spot the sanity and control he exuded even when affronted.
In the maxim of the 19th century American writer and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone”. Hence those who appreciate noble leadership qualities ( who are many in Anambra) would note how Dr. Obiano repeatedly received a plethora of clear beckons to fight-to-finish and provocations which his predecessors would have devoted real steam and raw energy to but opted to ignore them.
Committed to leaving behind a legacy of peace, bliss and being a leader of all Anambra people, he kept mute when slandered; avoided rage when maligned and concentrated on working hard even when detractors were hell bent on fraying him to frenzy.
Even when traducers in their well-hatched plot mocked and tagged him a non-politician in order to draw him out and get him in their ring, he chose not to dissipate energy and the scarce resources of Anambra on the inanities of mundane politicking.
He focused on the economy and state-building. At his political expense he ensured that the people had incentives to go to work daily; did well in their trades notwithstanding nationwide recession, and farmed to put food on their families’ tables.
At the risk of coming across as apolitical and too altruistic, he concentrated on using the security votes which his predecessors, in their era, guarded like hidden troves of gold and diamond. He chose to really work on security and development of the state. The result is awesome.
In a land where sleeping with closed eyes was a rare development as brigands and kidnappers had field day to the extent that for over a decade sons and daughters of the land fled their country homes and businesses people now talk and roam freely, forgetting quickly that many were forced to take their aged parents out of the state in fear of people who would abduct them for money or silence them for holding opposing political views.
The fact that ndi Anambra now shuttle between their homes and diaspora bases at will distinguishes Obiano’s tenure. Those who understand what this development portends now praise the governor for transforming Anambra to a sane, safe state within a short span of time.
An impressed son of Anambra, Omenyi Nibo once disclosed that hitherto, he hardly returned home if had no ‘truck load’ of paid mobile police men but currently he visits regularly and feels free. Like many, he wonders how it happened.
But the answer is simple – the governor places priority on the safety and wellbeing of Anambra people. He always said wants “ndi Anambra to always feel at home… and motivated to bring their investments home.” That is one major thrust of his ‘Akulueuno’ (bring your wealth home) philosophy.
This is also a secret behind the magical attraction of N8 billion (and still counting) investments to the state by his government through his novel establishment, Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA).
The same pro-people’s welfare demeanour informed his commitment to Agriculture for food sufficiency and agro-business buoyance. Same goes for his creation of the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA), through which financial incentives and loans are given to cottage start-ups and citizens in order to keep them in business.
It is equally this mindset that made the governor to make Anambra the first in Nigeria to evolve an economic recession stimulus for the citizens in 2016. These and several ingenuous economic development initiatives of his government which comprise the novel all Anambra community’s infrastructural development project that executed N20 million worth of facilities in all the towns established Obiano’s emotional and economic intelligence in governance.
The N20 million community development project which other peer states have already began to copy, for example spread cash liquidity and a thitherto inexistent feeling of belonging to all parts of the 21 local councils of Anambra.
Upon appraising these, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor, the first class professor of Economics, Chukwuma Soludo, remarked that “Anambra is lucky,” at this time of general economic gloom, “to have a governor who understands economic issues.”
Soludo’s successor as CBN Governor, the frontline banker, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, current Emir of Kano, reiterated same comment recently and wished that other states have what Anambra has.
As Chief Obiano declares to run again those who recall Jimmy Johnson’s inspirational word that “the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra,” would spot the extraordinary leader in the governor who never pretends or poses as a tin god or political godfather. He cherishes his being one of us who emerged from an everyday Anambra home.
The son of a basic school teacher and a fish trader, who by dint of brain, toil and resolute quest for the top of his career rose to the pinnacle of his banking profession ensures he is ever attuned to the populace in his policies and politics but never fails to bring all his learning and experiences to bear in shaping the state to a better land, ready for the challenges of the future.
In line with the understanding that the future belongs to a people who are adequately prepared for the knowledge-based economy and intellectual robustness, he breeds a state with lesser preoccupation on mundane interests like raw natural resources, rent taking and less durable physical facilities.
He commits heavily to boasting education standard, improving healthcare, ease-of-doing-business, social justice delivery, merit in appointments, fair play and freedom of expression because all these factors will determine the great societies of tomorrow.
He also never fails in paying workers, pensioners and contractors while cancelling double taxation of the very lowly market men and women such as wheelbarrow, hawking and some odious taxes. Yet he did not descend to molly-cuddling of criminals, demagogy and cheap populism like some leaders who are not firm in character but harbour such passion for people tendencies would.