James Eze, Media Aide to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State defends the legacy of his principal against derision by Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, a former governor of the state
The raging war of words between former governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige and the incumbent governor on who has served the state better has taken a dramatic turn with the former governor described as an opportunist who rode to power on a tiger’s back and eventually ended up in its stomach.
Shrugging off Senator Ngige’s endless attacks on his boss, James Eze, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Obiano observed that “throughout history, great political leaders spoke to the future through solid legacies. They built monuments that neither time nor toxic politics can erode. Leaders who spend enormous time reminding the people about their achievements after leaving office are often some opportunists who rode to power on a tiger’s back and eventually ended up in its stomach.”
Speaking further, Eze observed that it was unrealistic to expect Ngige to conduct himself like a statesman since he came to power through the back door to rub shame on a highly exalted office.
Said he: “Until governor Obiano assumed office, Ngige was generally considered a pariah in government circles in the state. But Obiano restored his full honours as a former governor in a gesture of brotherhood and love and gave him a place in the official memory of the state. But rather than show gratitude, Ngige has allowed his blind pursuit of vendetta against the traditional ruler of his hometown drive him into an avoidable ego war with the governor.”
Speaking further, Eze said “Decent folks have often wondered why Ngige always conveniently forgets that he is a wrong moral example for democracy. He often forgets that he is a sad reminder of what a people should never allow…a brazen subversion of their will. The only memory Ngige left the people is that of brigandage, the burning of public property and the debasement of the exalted office of a governor. His misadventure in power remains the darkest chapter in Nigeria’s democratic narrative. It is appalling. It is something that is best forgotten. But Ngige wants to reopen it!” he declared.
On the former governor’s claim that he out-performed Obiano with his stolen mandate, Eze observed that “It would be unfair to attempt to compare Ngige’s achievements which do not go beyond a handful of roads in Idemmili to Governor Obiano’s stellar performance. It is excusable since his presence in office was an accident of history. However, we must remember that governor Obiano came into office with a blueprint. Obiano’s mission in government is to make Anambra State a socially stable, business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities. His vision on the other hand is to make the state the first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities.
Today, the vestiges of criminality left behind by Ngige have all been wiped out. Anambra has repeatedly been rated as Nigeria’s safest state. Unlike what happened during Ngige’s interregnum when men and women of substance fled from the state for fear of their lives, traditional marriages, cultural festivals and big musical concerts are regularly held in Anambra these days. Today too, Anambra is among Nigeria’s top-5 states in Ease-of-doing-business. That is why the state has become the leading state in mechanized agriculture in Nigeria with companies like Coscharis Farms, JOSAN Farms, Lynden Integrated Poultry Farms, Stine Industries, Chelsea Farms, Ekcel Farms and Eagle Farms flourishing across the state. The ultramodern Coscharis Rice Mills at Igbariam produces 40,000 metric tonnes of rice per year. Lynden Farms has also added a new facility that will hold 90,000 birds to boost its current capacity. The hospitality industry booms with new hotels and relaxation centers springing up every day.”
According to him, in the area of education, Obiano’s phenomenal leadership inspired five Anambra girls from Regina Pacis Secondary School Onitsha to win a Gold Medal at the World Technovation Fair at the Silicon Valley, USA. The Anambra girls defeated the US, China, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Spain. Obiano also inspired four boys from a St John’s Science and Technical College Alor (Ngige’s village) to win a Bronze Medal at the International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology in 2019. The boys edged out Canada, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, China, Sweden, Ukraine, Malaysia, Brazil, Bosnia Herzgovina, Indonesia, Tunisia and South Africa among others. Thus under Obiano, Anambra girls and boys took on the world and triumphed over it. Ngige, a desperate power monger could never have inspired anyone to such heights.”
Eze also dismissed Ngige’s trumpeted achievements in road construction. He said; “Even in the only area where Ngige claims to have made an impact, Obiano dwarfs his achievements. While Ngige built roads in Alor and a few Idemilli towns, Obiano transformed Awka Capital Territory with three gleaming flyovers and littered the state with bridges like the Nengo River Bridge, the Iyiora Bridge, the Ebenebe-Amansea Bridge, the Umueje Bridge as well as the Kisa River Bridge in Umunya, the SARS Awkuzu-Abube Nnado Bridge, Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma bridges and the Ezira-Umuomaku-Enugu Umuonyia Bridge. To crown it all, Obiano constructed the longest bridge in the whole of the South East which measures 280 meters across the Omambala River into the oilfields of Anambra State. Unlike Ngige who focused on his village, Obiano ensured a fair distribution of roads across the three senatorial zones of the state. As at December 2019, the Obiano administration had awarded a total of 179 roads across the state. 42 of these roads had been completed out of which 6 came from the South, 15 in Central and 21 in the North. Work has been on-going on 137 of the awarded roads and once again a breakdown shows 44 in the South, 48 in Central and 45 in the North.”
Offering far ranging insights on sundry achievements of Obiano, Eze noted that “Anambra roads and alleyways now sparkle at night because Obiano’s Light-up-Anambra campaign has altered the landscape. Nightlife has come to the state as a result of Obiano’s tight security and the streetlight campaign. The support to SMEs has been tremendous. The Shoe Market cluster in Nkwele Ezunaka has started exporting made-in-Anambra shoes to neighbouring West African countries. In recognition of Obiano’s efforts in this regard, Anambra State won a Presidential Award as the Best State in Support of SMEs in the country. Obiano’s campaign to save Anambra from the menace of gully erosion is legendary. The 100Ft Road Gully Erosion site that had existed for over half a century which Ngige and other former governors ignored has been sealed up. So are Uga Amuma Obosi, the St Thomas Aquinas/Nero Plaza, Awka, the Amachalla Site, Awka, the New Heritage/Omagba Site, Onitsha, the Ekwueme Square/Federal Secretariat Complex, Awka, the Ikenga Ogidi site, the Enugwu-Ukwu site, the Abidi Umuoji Site, the Nkpor Flyover Site, the Nnewichi Site, the Ojoto Site, the Ire Obosi Site, the Abagana Site and the Ezinifite site among others. What did Ngige do to save the environment?
Meanwhile, in the next few months, the Anambra International Airport at Umueri will be ready. So will the 10,000 sitter capacity International Conference Center, Awka and the Awka City Stadium.”
Summing up, Eze observed that “It is unfair to compare Ngige with Obiano. It is not a good idea to compare light to darkness. Ngige’s reign was a regrettable interregnum that left Nigerian democracy gutted and reeling from its sheer savagery and horror. The ritual oath-taking at Okija shrine, the widespread burning of public buildings and finally the kidnap of Ngige himself are all a sad watershed in Nigeria’s democratic history. It takes only a man with neither conscience nor honour to gift Nigeria such horrors and still prance around in the public domain with Dutch courage and poke a finger in the eye of other respected leaders