In the build-up to the Anambra State governorship election for 2014, Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze (OHO) was actually the first choice of the party faithful to succeed Mr. Peter Obi. His primacy was informed by the need to entrust the state to competent hands that would continue the great work of consolidating the giant strides the state had recorded with the celebrated Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS). It was a great struggle those that desired a continuation of good governance in the state and those who wanted a candidate that would be amenable to their selfish interests. Alas, darkness triumphed over light and today everybody is living with the consequences. That is, however, a story for another day.
The Anambra State that was acknowledged as the leading light on all indices of development is now a shadow of its old self. The good news coming from the state today is that Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze is contesting to become the governor again. In 2013, when he first showed interest, we observed Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam, one of the aides to Governor Willie Obiano, praising him enviously. Writing then from an unaffected position, Mr. Iloegbunam pronounced Obaze the best candidate in 2013 way above Willie Obiano, among others. He revealed how he did a character profile of Obaze and came to the conclusion that he was the best qualified. Practically begging the people of the state to vote for Obaze, he drew attention to a popular Igbo adage that he translated thus: “It will be impolitic to ditch the venue of a chieftaincy celebration simply to pitch camp at the propitiation of the god of recklessness.” Then, Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam wrote from a neutral platform.
I have been part of the present campaign of this great man who comes from a rich pedigree of education, exposure and experience. He worked under three Presidents of Nigeria before joining the United Nations System. His career in the UN was admirably paraphrased by the then UN Secretary-General, Banki Moon: “You have proven yourself as a most dedicated, dependable and competent staff member. Throughout your service, you have unfailingly upheld the highest standards of efficiency, competence required of an international civil servant.”
Listening to OHO as he campaigns rekindles one’s faith in the feasibility of restoring Anambra to the right path. He says many things, all of which are issues-based. I have accompanied him to nearly all the 21 Local Government Areas of the state and his messages have remained consistent; marshalling out policy options his administration will pursue, if elected.
Strongly committed to real governance, he has done his home work which people can see. Among others, his commitment to human capital development is reflected in his pledge to allocate 26 per cent of the budget of Anambra State to Education; letting us know and realise it is the universal requirement among developing countries. Indeed, under the administration of Mr. Peter Obi, great attention was paid to education and series of concrete actions taken that elevated Anambra State from number 26 to first in external examinations (NECO and WASC).
Throughout the ages, discerning and wise men have held education dearly. When asked to differentiate between the educated and the uneducated, Aristotle said the difference was as that between the living and the dead even as Aristophanes said it was as that between broken and unbroken horses. It was also not a joke that on seeing an uneducated man seated on a stone, Zeno laughed and declared: “Behold a stone seated on top of another stone”.
Oseloka Obaze is just not reeling out policy options and expectations, but also reveals the realistic modalities to achieve the great re-birth. Still on education, he says: “If I become the governor, education will be free from primary school to JSS 3. From the money budgeted for education, we shall also engage in serious programme of Certification and Re-training of the youths geared toward skills acquisition. We shall also commit 10 per cent of the money to Church-owned schools because they train the people of Anambra State.”
OHO was part of the “brain box” behind Mr. Peter Obi in the implementation and execution of policies. It pains him that the richly crafted and well-executed policy to support the aged – those above 75 years who are not retirees and who do not have people they depend on – has become a conduit pipe for self-enrichment. Under an Obaze administration, the policy will be restored in accordance to its pristine objectives.
Oseloka Obaze is also committed to affordable healthcare provision on the classical Hippocratic principle. “The Physician”, Hippocrates wrote, “should maintain a becoming exterior. Sometimes he should give his services for nothing, and if there is an opportunity of saving a stranger who is in financial straits, he should give his assistance, for where there is love of man, there is also love of the art.” Considering those in real emergencies and are denied medical care because of money, Oseloka says his administration would introduce a legislation that would ensure that Doctors and other medical professionals attend to real emergencies the way they should be. To back it up, he also assured: “We shall set up a care foundation with the initial deposit of one billion Naira. We shall get wealthy organisations and individuals to contribute to that. The charity, to be administered by honest Anambrarians, will assist in hospital payment for those in real need.”
As far as Oseloka Obaze is concerned, electioneering is not about throwing tantrums. He has evidently meditated on so many problems facing Anambra State and has come up with well laid-down programme of action to tackle them. He is exasperated with the antics and diversionary tactics of those who fail to recognise the great need to re-build an Anambra State that Governor Willie Obiano has shattered almost beyond recognition. OHO, therefore, let’s us see the reason he is interested in replacing him.
From the vantage position of a principal participant in government, he talks about monies that have accrued to the treasury of Anambra State since Governor Obiano assumed office in 2014 – N75 billion left in the treasury by his predecessor; N60 billion borrowed secretly by Obiano; Internally-Generated Revenues; over N455 billion appropriated in the budgets of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017; Paris Club refund; special budget support money given to states by the federal government – and which have been squandered as there is nothing on ground to show for them.
OHO talks about the flight of decorum and propriety from Government House, Awka; governance by billboards and false claims as in Ugu, Onugbu and Yam exports; elevation of propaganda to an industry with Obiano enjoying the monopoly. He draws attention to the abandonment of all on-going projects and total absence of government in the state except in Aguleri, the governor’s home town.
OHO cautions the people of the state not to be deceived by the movement of caterpillars and bull-dozers to project sites for election purpose; and asks what Governor Obiano has been doing in nearly four years. He raises the issue of crass nepotism that has become the order of the day, where over 50 per cent of Obiano’s aides came from the same town; which is antithetical to the development of a state where everybody will have a sense of belonging.
OHO dispels the mistaken notion by some persons that APGA bu nke anyi by insisting that it is only Anambra that is ours (So Anambra bu nke anyi). He correctly asserts that he remains the best candidate to repair the so many wrongs wrought on the state and its people.
A man of integrity and compelling force of equity and justice, OHO has made it clear that he would serve only one term, and make way for other zones to take their turn.
With Oseloka Henry Obaze, hope is rekindled for Anambra State. The people listen to him in incredible fascination, for no one speaks to them with such obvious honesty and a clear purpose. The lash of his tongue is mostly directed at bad governance. Those of us who know him and have worked with him are relieved that very soon we shall bury an orgy and crown a saint.
*Obienyem wrote from Agulu, Anambra State