Everyone, Including Anajemba, Deserves a Second Chance


Bernadette Okolo

Iwrite as a concerned indigene of Enugu State and my concern is with regard to a story published on Sunday, August 28, 2016, with the title, “Governor Appoints Ex-Convict as Waste Management Boss.”

I have no doubt that the appointment of Amaka Anajemba was made in good faith and shaped by the conviction that individuals whose past indiscretion had put on the wrong side of the law do, indeed, deserve a second chance in life.

Anajemba has paid dearly for past misdeed which, to all intents and purposes, was largely vicarious. She has since come to terms with that and become fully reintegrated into the society, making immense contributions to her immediate community as evident through her social works in her neighbourhood and across the state.

So, your claim that her appointment as the Managing Director of the Enugu State Waste Management Agency (ESWAMA) is “ruffling a lot of feathers in the state” is totally false. That is because whatever misgiving anyone might have had over her appointment has largely been vitiated by her impressive work at the waste management agency. Her appointment was based, clearly, on the strength of her competence and not a whimsical decision as you had implied.

It’s important to note that there are several accomplished individuals in diverse fields who might not have risen to the top had they been denied an opportunity to make amends. Do we simply discountenance an individual’s capacity to make positive contribution to a society’s growth simply on account of their rough time with the law even when such experience was largely no fault of theirs as in the case of Mrs. Anajemba?

An equally important point to note is that the facts of her past do not by any means prohibit her from being appointed to head government agencies. Under the Code of Conduct Act, someone accused of running foul of the Code of Conduct provisions and convicted for offenses such as dishonesty or fraud, could hold office after 10 years of conviction. The governor, to that extent, had clearly acted within the ambit of the country’s laws since she was convicted over 11 years ago.

We should never allow our belief in our shared humanity to be dulled by cynicism.

––Bernadette Okolo, founder, Women for Political Change is based in Enugu