Many are of the view that with Prof. Soludo’s victory at the last governorship election in Anambra State, continuity of the robust and pragmatic leadership of the incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano is assured as most of its policies and programmes will be retained. Chief C. U. Mbaji, popularly known as Ide Oha of Achina, and Chairman/CEO Lake Petroleum Ltd, in this discourse noted that ndi Anambra’ll witness more purposeful, progressive and dynamic administration. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:
Sir, why do you envisage more progressive and dynamic leadership under the in-coming administration? What’re those factors for these more advances in governance that will install much brighter future for ndi Anambra?
Well, a cursory look, examination of the progress made so far by the present Obiano administration shows that much developments have been recorded since its inception in March 17, 2014. Developments are seen in virtually all sectors of the economy; in agriculture where we’ve witnessed many innovations that are gradually but successfully paving way for a shift from subsistent to mechanised farming even in the rural areas of the state resulting in the influx of multi-national fully mechanised farms to the state and export of agric products.
In education sector, our students and teachers have achieved great feats locally and internationally. In industrialisation and commerce, we’ve seen unprecedented development with government lending great support to SMEs, the bedrock of industrialisation of any country.
In the ease of doing business, government has given incentives to investors to enable them break even no matter how dire the economic circumstance, as well as in security where government/unparalled security architecture has created a peaceful environment conducive for business, the general prevailing nation-wide insecurity notwithstanding.
For seven and half years plus this administration’s been on board, we have noticed with pleasure the swift manner it responds to the needs of the people, its positive reactions during emergencies like the oil tanker inferno in Onitsha, and fire outbreak in Ihiala market, the latest of such disasters.
Government’s swift response is applauded by all. We’re also aware of the harmonious relationship between this government and its workforce, the labour force, the engine room of any administration. It’s so cordial that workers even awarded the chief executive, Governor Obiano, the Most Labour Friendly Governor Award.
This gesture is quite significant because it’s quite contributory to the numerous successes recorded by this administration at a time when many governments in the country are at logger heads with their labour force with some owing their workers up to six-seven months arrears of salaries under the preset harsh economic condition.
There’re just a few of the sectors. When we appraise the efforts government has made, the great achievements it has recorded in infrastructure, another key sector in socio-economic development, no one will be in doubt on the giant strides of this very administration. Look at an administration preparing to give way for another with ample opportunity to rest on its oars but instead of relaxing, its officials are showing more concern, more seriousness in governance.
You see more legacy projects going on as the International Airport is quite completed, the 10,000 capacity sitter conference hall and the stadium going on simultaneously, nearing completion. Many governments at their twilight call it quits and begin squandering whatever funds are remaining but the Obiano administration sees it as a duty to work relentlessly, executing more projects, caring for the less privileged and providing for a good beginning for the in-coming government.
Then to the answer to your question proper; I will call the rapport between the Obiano, and the Soludo-in-coming administrations as a synergy. This is made possible because both administrations are of the same party. I understand this fact.
See, there could be a situation where the in-coming administration is opposed to the present leadership and be at logger heads with it. In this very circumstance, acrimony, rife, division, misunderstanding set in. Both don’t see each other face to face.
Then there will be problem. Even the hand over exercise will not be amicably done. Now when the new administration is inaugurated, it’ll definitely stand on a shaky foundation. In Anambra State today, it’s not so.
I may say that the in-coming government is an offshoot of the present government and this is success itself because here, there’s already co-operation. Little wonder Governor Obiano said that the Soludo administration will even “do better than his”. This is why I maintain that ndi Anambra will witness a more progressive, purposeful and dynamic leadership.
It will start on a sound footing. The out-going Obiano administration will place it on a better stead as it will stand on the solid foundation already laid by the present leadership. In fact, this alone is another plus for ndi Anambra. They wanted a smooth handover.
That’s why I think they voted massively (19/21) for Soludo. So with what I’ll call a condusive environment, the in-coming administration will be in a position to take off properly without any hitch, with all the necessary support from this out-going regime.
Look at most of the states that are devoid of such harmonious relationships between the out-going and in-coming administration. Both administrations didn’t find it easy. In most cases, governance is stalled for months; at times for a year or so and the citizenry suffer.
This is why we hammer on the need, the significance of a free and fair election. The last gubernatorial election in Anambra was free, fair and credible and I commend Nigerian authorities and INEC for letting it be so. So as from March, 2022, when the Obiano administration hands over to Soludo government, surely there must be continuity of good governance and our people will benefit.
What are your assessments of the governor-elect, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo?
I have no doubt in my mind that Prof. Soludo will deliver. The people’ve said it and practicalised it by voting massively, in fact, overwhelming for him at the last governorship polls – one of the most keenly contested elections ever had in this country.
It’s said the voice of the people is the voice of God. If you consider the wide margin with which he bit other contenders, you’ll see without any equivocation that ndi Anambra see something in him. To my own understanding, when he was the number one at the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), he discharged himself creditably.
His innovations in the banking system bear testimony to his ability to administer the affairs of Anambra State well. I understand he’s headed many economic committees locally and internationally and that the reports of these committees have freed many countries from their economic woes. This is the type of person Anambra needs to succeed Governor Obiano and I’m happy ndi Anambra recognised him.
You remember I have said it earlier in this type of discourse that leaders are born, not made. They are endowed with those exceptional, unique attributes of right vision, doggedness, assiduity and selflessness, especially selflessness. No greedy person can be a good leader. Whatever they do, they strive to do it to the best of their knowledge. I think Prof. Soludo succinctly fits into this category. In fact, Anambra is in for a better tomorrow with the last election.
The last Anambra State governorship election was held under tense atmosphere with thousand of security men here and there to forestall violence still the electorates trooped out in their numbers to vote. What’s your take here?
This action by voters simply proves how serious, determined ndi Anambra are to cast their votes. It demonstrates the bravery of Igbo people especially when they’re ready to do something. Everyone knows how tense the voting period was. In fact, many thought the election will be postponed.
But against all odds, they came in their numbers to vote. I was told we had 35000 police men and 20,000 Civil Defence in Anambra for security during the polls. I’ve forgotten the number of army personnel. A feeble mind would have discarded his vote and locked himself indoors but this wasn’t the case.
Men and women, young and old, all came out for the exercise, and they defied the pressure of heavy security to cast their votes and wait, no matter how long it took to ensure the ballots were counted.
This further demonstrates the great resolve of not only ndi Anambra and the Igbos, but Nigerians in general to ensure that elections in this country are not messed up again. Nigerians’ve vowed to stopp rigging. See the electronic transmission of results and the National Assembly. See what played out.
The people wanted electronic transmission and when the law makers injected a clause to block it, Nigerians refused. At last, the legislators bowed to the wishes of the people who voted them to power. It reversed.
In democracy, power belongs to the people. I understand the electoral bill has been passed and sent for the President’s assent and I assure you that he’ll sign it soon. When this is done, the people’s wish at the polls becomes supreme, and rigging will be terminated finally and true participatory democracy will be at work. Nigerians are getting it and very soon, the wishes of the people will prevail in all elections.
As we wait for the president’s assent to the electoral bill, what words have you for Nigerians, especially the youths for future elections?
Election is one of the pillars in a democratic setting. Once it’s conducted freely, fairly and creditably, suitable candidates emerge with government that is beneficial to the majority of the people. In fact, election is the hallmark of democracy. In advanced economies, the process is conducted successfully- no rigging, no manipulations and the electorates are happy.
Here in Nigeria, we’re gradually achieving that standard. This last Anambra election is an example. The people saw the one they voted for victorious. This is how elections should be. When voters cast their votes, the votes will count.
Our youths, in fact, Nigerian youths in general should emulate the patience and quiet conduct of Anambra electorates during last governorship polls. Elections shouldn’t come with violence, maiming, killings, ballot box snatching or burning. In a true election, contenders see it as a game and whoever wins is congratulated by the losers. Even in campaigns that precede the polls, issues should be discussed and manifestos explained to the people.
There should not be campaigns of calumny or character assassination. Our youths must imbibe this attribute of peace during campaigns and elections, and they should avoid all acts capable of instigating violence. We must borrow a leaf from that woman who in spite of the present hard time, shunned monetary inducement during last Anambra election. I’m happy our governor, Chief Obiano rewarded her handsomely. This’ll be a great lesson to many.
We must understand the implication of selling our conscience by voting for the highest bidder. We will note that whoever bought our votes to win elections must work to recover the funds he expended. Here in Anambra, our youths are generally dogged, industrious and resilient. They can never be classified as lazy people. They should engage themselves into various businesses to earn a living. If they’re gainfully employed, I don’t think a contender could buy them over during elections.