As Willie Obiano of Anambra State begins his second term in office, David-Chyddy Eleke looks at the expectations of the Anambra people in the next four years
On Saturday, 17th March, Anambra governor, Chief Willie Obiano will begin his second term in office. In this piece, David-Chyddy Eleke looks at the expectation of the Anambra people in the next four years.
All roads in Anambra and beyond will lead to Dr Alex Ekwueme Square on Saturday, 17th March, when the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano would take the oath of office for another four years. Akpokuedike as he is fondly called by his supporters had last year November 18 won re-election in what was considered a landslide victory which saw him clearing all the 21 local government areas of the state with appreciable margin.
Before his re-election, Obiano was seen as one who rode on the back of his predecessor to power, and as such considered as a paperweight politician who did not possess the capacity to win election on his own. Having proven cynics wrong, Obiano still has before him the hurdle of showing that he could perform above the expectations of his supporters.
Of course, the governor’s performance since assuming office last year is polarising, depending on who is doing the evaluation. While his detractors believe that he had failed in governance, his supporters think the governor has performed beyond the expectations of the people of the state, and believe that he would do better in his second term to also consolidate on the job he had done in his first term.
In the inception of his first term in office, Obiano had said that his government would use Four Pillars supported by Twelve Enablers to move the state forward. He preached that security, education, health, roads and social infrastructure, which are the major pillars of his government would be supported by housing and urban development, environment, transport, finance, electricity, women’s welfare, tourism and others which would serve as enablers.
In four years, Obiano has been commended for the security in the state, improvement in agriculture, roads and other social infrastructure among others. The governor has also been praised for looking after the welfare of the state workforce. Under him, the workers enjoy enhanced remuneration and regular payment of their benefits.
The fear however is that for Nigerian politicians, winning re-election for a second term means you have been given the opportunity to recover monies spent on electioneering, and considering that they will not be vying for another term, they would most definitely not owe anyone any explanation for their actions. Many suspect that Obiano would in his second term abandon all his promises and will concentrate on helping himself. But to this, Obiano had in several fora gave an assurance that the tempo of work by his government would be higher in his second term. Beyond mere rhetoric, Obiano has major tasks that would either make or mar his second term in office.
Though he is known to have impacted workers in the state positively, Obiano had promised the workers improved welfare during his second term in office. Addressing workers at this year’s public service day held at the Jerome Udorji Secretariat Complex, Awka, Obiano promised to commence a N500 million housing estate for workers. He declared that workers deserved better living and working condition. He told the workers that the Anambra State Executive Council was already considering making the existing contributory pension compulsory, to ensure that workers had something to fall back on after service.
The Anambra State Head of service, Mr Harry Udu listed the offsetting of backlog of pension and gratuity to former workers of Anambra State Service (ABS) and Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC) publishers of National Light newspapers as some of the achievements of the governor, while saying that the assurances of a better second term is earnestly looked forward to. A worker in the state, Mrs Evelyn Onyekachi told THISDAY that, “so far, the governor has been very good to workers, but if he keeps to his words by supporting workers even the more as he has promised, then we will be happy, but it is a challenge to him as he begins his seconds term.”
Courtesy of previous administration, Anambra State can boast of one of the best network of roads in the country, but in rural communities, unmotorable roads abound, and the governor has the challenge of ensuring road infrastructure is delivered to communities. Though he had initiated the choose-your-community project, in which he gives money to communities to execute projects of their choice, the governor must not leave project execution in the hands of community leaders because he would be blamed if at the end of the day, the money is not utilised for the supposed projects for which it was budgeted for.
The airport project at Umueri, which the governor flagged off with fanfare, which has a construction life of three years, (to be completed in 2020) is one challenge that would confirm if the governor is a promise keeper of breaker.
The airport project had generated huge controversy, with a section of the society accusing the governor of waste because of the huge cost of the project ($2bn), while others said there was no need for an airport in Anambra with one in neighbouring Enugu and Asaba, which can serve the people of the state.
In his defence of the cost, Obiano said what the government is building is not just an airport, but an airport city that would consist of a lot of amenities that could be found in any modern city. Speaking on the cost during a governorship debate with fellow contestants, Obiano added that what was more fascinating was that the airport city project which is being handled by a Chinese company, Sinoking Enterprises Limited, would be at no cost to the state, except the donation of landed property for the project.
Another challenge the Obiano government would face is the advancement of his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and ensuring the smooth handover of power to another APGA governor when he eventually concludes his second term. Over the years, since the inception of former governor Peter Obi’s administration in 2006, APGA has found it’s roots in Anambra, growing to become a movement in the state, but attempts to move the party to other states have not succeeded. Though the party once took Imo and made serious attempt at Abia through Alex Otti, it has retained just Anambra as its stronghold.
Former governor Obi still commands the respect of a good number of citizens of the state for steering the ship of the state from a minority party and also handing over the state to an APGA governor. Even though he was later to dump the party, he was seen all through as the face of APGA. With Obiano going for his last term in office, the expectation would be that the APGA candle which was handed to him would not be extinguished under his watch. He would be expected not only to hand over to an APGA governor at the end of his tenure, but to also ensure the party make an incursion into other states in the future.
With his swearing in on Saturday, Obiano would become the second governor of the state to achieve a second term, but how he finishes would determine how he would be judged by the people. Will he come out victorious? What this means is that even though he would be on his last term, he would have no room to relax as Anambra people would not take excuses when they judge the performances of their governors who did two terms.
The fear, however, is that for Nigerian politicians, winning re-election for a second term means you have been given the opportunity to recover monies spent on electioneering