Anambra State governorship election holds on Saturday, November 18, and the past few weeks have been electrified by the campaign of the contestants.
The contenders include Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Tony Nwoye, All Progressives Congress (APC); Oseloka Obaze, People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
They also include Godwin Ezeemo, Progressives Peoples’ Alliance (PPA); Osita Chidoka, United Peoples Party (UPP); Oby Okafor, Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and Henry Onuorah, Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN). But the field is dominated by Obiano, Nwoye and Obaze because of the forces behind their candidacy or circumstances of their run.
Former Governor Peter Obi’s name is closely linked to Obaze and many wonder if Obi is seeking a third term through the back door.
Obi, the only PDP chieftain backing him, has demonstrated openly his desire to get Obiano sacked so as to “teach” the governor a little political lesson.
APC chieftain, Arthur Eze, is a major sponsor and financier of Nwoye, another example of politicians sponsoring candidates into political office with the hope of having a firm grip on state resources through their benefactors. But it appears Obiano represents the conscience of the people of Anambra, not just by virtue of his party, APGA, which has done so much for the state in the past 12 years, but by his achievements in office for three years and eight months.
He enjoys the support of town union associations, market men and women groups, autonomous communities, traditional rulers, religious leaders and leaders of thought across political divides.
But he cannot take the race for granted.
The charged political climate in the state hinges on the battle of the political godfathers and their surrogates to get rid of Obiano from office and reactions to The Enablers in the blueprint he unveiled in the early days of his administration.
The Enablers include Trade and Commerce, Agricultural Revolution, Security of Lives and Property, Improved Healthcare Delivery, Quality Education and Oil and Gas.
The document was crafted as the easiest way to impact public and private sector workers as well as traders and artisans.
Anambra is generally regarded as safe. The Obiano administration understands the symbiosis between security of lives and property and has invested money, energy, time and strategy in security.
What has stabilised the business and economic environment is not the function of a fat treasury the administration inherited but the way resources have been deployed to benefit the people.
A retired police chief who lives in Awka recently told me that “if all governors are as passionate about securing their environment the way Obiano is, development in every part of the country would be taken for granted.”
Data obtained from the Anambra State Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture showed that “in the last three years, the number of small scale industries has increased by 38 per cent as against what it was before Obiano’s inception, and a total of 126 medium-scale industries that were moribund have come back to life.”
Most of those who fail to see the impact of Obiano’s administration on agriculture are detached from the people, the farms and markets.
They are used to life in Abuja and Lagos where they dash from fast food restaurant to supermarket to grocery store in search of processed agricultural produce.
They get confused when they hear that what is in Sokoto is now in the sokoto trousers they are wearing.
In this era of economic downturn, when life is unbearable for the average Nigerian, Anambrarians have seen an alternative in farms that yield bountiful produce that put cash in their pockets.
Obiano uses his “Choose Your Project Initiative” to bond with the 177 communities in the state and – adapting banks’ “Know Your Customer (KYC)” – has worked out modalities to interface with voters to make governance felt.
He gives the people the opportunity to choose the projects they want.
Nearly all roads in the state are asphalted because the N20 million each community now gets to meet basic needs was in the past used by politicians to drink Champagne.
Obiano’s performance does not depict a man who does not understand the dynamics of governance, demands of his people and preparedness to satisfy them. Other governors are content flagging off projects they are not ready to complete. But his priority is to attend to projects inherited from his predecessor, Obi. Not even the frosty relationship between him and Obi has stopped him from completing projects initiated by Obi.
Obiano has completed the construction of 51 of the 101 road projected carried over from the Obi era, given N10 million each to 65 markets for facelift and built the first Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) digital television.
To further open up the state economy, he recently flagged off an Anambra Airport City Project in Umueri sitting on 1,500 hectares of land.
It is funded with $2 billion pooled by a consortium of Chinese and Nigerian firms, and is expected to be completed in three years and provide 1,200 direct jobs and 3,600 indirect ones.
Tax payers’ money is not involved because the project is in a Build, Operate, Manage and Transfer (BOMT) arrangement.
Obiano has intervened in health, education, industrialisation and welfare which nobody can take away from him.
He has not satisfied everybody but the feeling from the majority speaks volumes about his scorecard.
Unlike in neighbouring Kogi and Imo States where public workers grumble against governors, Anambra workers are at peace because, to Obiano, their welfare is not negotiable. It is a priority. That is why Anambra workers have nicknamed him alert Governor because they receive their pay before the end of every month.
Anambra State Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman, Jerry Nnubia, said: “We have seen governance down to the grassroots. We have experienced security of lives and property in Anambra.
“The agricultural revolution embarked upon by our able and hardworking governor has witnessed a harvest of plenty, and the basic infrastructure being put in place makes him qualified and deserving to go for a second term.” Diaspora Anambrarians also assess Obiano creditably.
Nchekwube Nwabunnia, an indigene of Nibo in Anambra who lives in the United Kingdom recently wrote about Obiano, saying: “In my candid opinion, Willie was able to sustain Anambra and put Anambra first among equals in a recession.
“It takes only a great mind to keep the state’s economy afloat while other states are in economic disaster.
“Workers’ salaries are paid, roads and bridges are constructed. Low quality roads inherited from the immediate past regime are being maintained, investment in agriculture, which is the bane of Nigeria economic diversification, is championed by Anambra.
–Ubochi, a political analyst, wrote in from Owerri.
“Why do we need a change of government? Is it for strong personality or for strong institution? For the independent-minded and those who have vision, we need to strengthen our state by voting Willie Obiano for a second term.
“For the political jobbers, you may wish to go for building strong personality, but I can assure you that the majority of Ndi-Anambra are with APGA as ever. Willie is working, Willie we want; Willie will win.”
–Ubochi, a political analyst, wrote in from Owerri.