Governor Peter Obi,
From Charles Onyekamuo in Onitsha
Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, said he has laid a strong foundation for the rapid growth of the state from a near-zero situation when he came on board six years ago to what it is now, stating that only Anambra citizens can conveniently assess his performance within the period.
It was for this reason, he said, he recently subjected his administration to public scrutiny through the state peer review mechanism in the belief that it will enhance governance and delivery of democracy dividends to the people.
Obi spoke yesterday at an interactive session with newsmen in his lodge at Awka, the state capital, during which he reacted to a question put to him on the issues raised by former Minister of Federal Capital Territory , Mallam Nasir El Rufai, in an article titled: Anambra’s Budget of Misplaced priorities” punished in THISDAY of last Friday concerning governance in Anambra State.
He had in the said publication stated among other things that Anambra was the poorest state in the country, educationally backward, lacked priorities and suffered from poor infrastructural development.
But the governor said only those who had not been to the state and who had poor knowledge of the state’s recent history could say that. According to him, his government had nothing to hide and had always been open to assessment which was why the state became the first in the country to hold peer review mechanism where it threw its doors open to independent assessors.
‘We need people to help to assess and validate what we’re doing. We’re on course and we’re doing the right things,’ Obi stated, noting that what was happening now was not a surprise as those who lived off the old order were averse to the changes he was introducing and so were kicking against it.
He recalled some of the revolutionary strides of his administration which include the state having the best road network in the country and the education and health sectors receiving unparalleled development. He particularly recalled the handover of schools to their former missionary owners and the take-off grant of N6billion for their infrastructural development, a feat that was replicated in the health sector with handover of hospitals to mission schools.
He regretted that some people preferred to sit in the comfort of their homes to comment on what they did not know and not making effort to know.
In another breadth, Obi said that contrary to widely expressed opinion that he wasn’t ready to conduct council polls in the last six year of his administration, he would be ready for the election the moment certain issues pending in court are sorted out.
The state administration under Obi has not been able to conduct council polls a year into its second term and the last quarter of last year after the chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission, Prof. Titus Eze, was sacked and the state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party dragged both the ANSIEC and the state government to court over the matter.
He said that those who dragged him to court unwittingly caused the delay in the conduct of council polls.
“You can ask those who took me to court. I didn’t take them to court. You can ask them why. I wish the election can hold tomorrow,” he said, adding that it was provided for in the 2012 state appropriation bill. He said his administrations plan to conduct the polls in 2009,2010 and last year was foiled by the opposition who felt he wanted to use it to strengthen the All Progressive Grand Alliance structure at the grassroots.
The Governor who acknowledged having quietly dissolved his cabinet and even paid members of the out gone state executive severance allowance after giving them a month notice of the impending dissolution said he still remained a staunch member of APGA in spite of the crisis of confidence that brewed between his uncle, Chief Sylvester Nwobu Alor, and the National and Anambra State leadership of the party simultaneously.
“I am a member of APGA. I believe in it (APGA). When people say I didn’t build APGA I laugh. My brother, if I didn’t remain in court for three years, will APGA be there. I paid the lawyers, paid transport money for supporters coming to the court for the three years. I offered my building in Abuja to APGA where Chekwas Okorie was staying. If I didn’t do these things, will there be APGA? I bought the first three cars APGA used.
“ I wish Ojukwu was alive to hear them say that because he normally told me that I have kept the party and its spirit alive. If not for my own civility and tolerance, we would not have a peaceful state like it is today. It would have been charged politically by now,” he said.