By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Governor Wille Obaino of Anambra State
Anambra State holds a special place in the annals of Nigeria. The pre-eminent founding father of the nation, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, is an esteemed Anambra ancestor. The Head of State of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, came from the selfsame Anambra State.
Other notables include: the first Vice-Chancellor of University College, Ibadan, Prof Kenneth Onwuka Dike, the foremost economist Pius Okigbo, “the father of African literature” Chinua Achebe, the saint-to-be Blessed Cyprian Tansi, the nearly-Pope Cardinal Francis Arinze, the young revelation Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie… The list of Anambra heavy-hitters is well-nigh unbeatable. To govern such a state of course demands extra-ordinary astuteness. Governor Willie Obiano understands the dizzying level of expectations.
Obiano’s linkage with the icons of Anambra State is exemplified by his reaction to the recent demise of former Vice-President Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme thus: “His Excellency Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was my father, my mentor, my counsellor, my advocate, my motivator and the gentle voice of wisdom I could not ignore.
“We had an amazing father-and-son relationship that made me look forward to his private visits and his attendance of almost all our major events. His sagely presence was a silent stabilizer in the turbulent sea that is the politics of our dear state. Umu nnem, in Ekwueme’s death, we have lost the soul of the season. We have lost a foremost thinker and philosopher, a visionary leader, a pragmatic statesman and more importantly, the BEACON of modern Nigeria. Ndi Anambra, our loss is immense. But so is our heritage.
“Yes, Nna anyi Ekwueme left us a proud heritage. So, rather than grieve and mourn over his passage, I urge you all to celebrate the life and times of a man who came clearly ahead of his time and did his very best to make Nigeria a better place for everyone.”
There’s little need iterating that Obiano and Ekwueme did not belong to the same political party. Even as Ekwueme was a founding father of the PDP while Obiano belonged to APGA, the Governr displayed uncommon relationship with the sage. In moving Anambra State forward, differences in political parties did not count.
In his first term, Obiano came to governance amply prepared. According to him, “The strategic thrust of my administration is anchored on what I call The Four Pillars of Development, namely – Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade & Commerce and Oil and Gas (AITO). These Four Pillars are firmly supported by what I call the 12 Enablers without which every effort to develop the Pillars would have been in vain. The Enablers are made up of fundamentals like Security, Education, Healthcare, Power Generation, the Environment, Finance, Social & Civil Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Hospitality & Tourism, Transportation, Water & Sanitation and Youth and Sports. The Enablers are the basic spadework we must do to lay a solid foundation for the pillars to stand.” He stayed steadfast to his ideals quite remarkably.
Late ex-Vice President Alex Ekwueme
Time was when kidnapping was all the rage in the state such that many Anambra families stopped returning home for Christmas, funerals, marriage rites etc. The security is now duly restored and business is now thriving. Night life has returned, and Awka now has a street known as Las Vegas for the fun therein all night long.
In a time most of the state governors were in debt of months of salaries, Obiano actually increased the salaries of workers by 15 percent! As the workers started getting bank alerts after the salary increase the workers nicknamed Obiano “The Alert Governor”.
The export of agricultural produce is an ongoing revolution. Obiano does not mince words on his agriculture drive as he stresses: “In agriculture, the state is doing very well and has attained self-sufficiency in rice production. We consume 320,000 metric tonnes and now we produce 375,000 metric tonnes per annum, from 80,000 metric tonnes when we assumed office.”
The increasing numbers of companies investing in the state and grand boost in tourism have upped the ante in what governance ought to be. The ultra-modern Umueri Airport now under construction is the coveted icing on the Anambra cake.
It is against this background that when Obiano made history by winning all the 21 local governments in the last gubernatorial elections none of his co-contestants bothered to go to court over the polls. He is thus paused to be sworn-in to do his second term, to wit, the home straight, to use the lingo of athletics.
It is incumbent on Governor Obiano not to rest on his oars because his work in Anambra will definitely shoot him up a notch on the national stage. In the words of Obiano, “What I want to leave behind as my legacy when I leave office after eight years is to ensure that Anambra State is self-sufficient in its revenue sources so that we will not have to be waiting for Abuja to run the affairs of governance.”
Even the erstwhile cynics now have cause to believe. Anambra State under the watch of Governor Obiano remains a cherished work in progress. “Willie is working” is now a resounding mantra. It bears repeating that in breasting the tape after his home straight in the Anambra race Obiano should be poised to do the marathon on the national field.