Obi’s Growing Influence in Anambra Politics

Peter Obi

Peter Obi

David-Chyddy Eleke writes that Mr Peter Obi, the immediate past governor of Anambra State is fast becoming a reference point for politicians in the state, across party lines, as aspirants seeking the governorship seat of the state have made him their role model

Anambra State will not forget Mr Peter Obi in a very long while. Though his tenure as governor had long gone, his works in the state remain indelible in the memory of the people of the state. Obi has gone ahead to be a reference point for good governance in the entire country, leaving many with the quest to get him to contest for the seat of the president of Nigeria, with a strong believe that he has the capacity to turn the fortunes of the country around.

Though a soft spoken person, between 2006 and 2014, Mr Peter Obi showed that even with an outward meekness, which many translated as weakness, within lies a very resilient and tough character, especially considering the circumstances under which he came to office.

Obi took over as governor of Anambra State at a time when the state was seen throigh different lenses by people from other parts of the country. Replacing Dr Chris Ngige as governor after an appeal court verdict, many felt that Obi didn’t have the kind of toughness it takes to hold the state together, especially that during the the close to three years of Ngige in office, he battled what latter came to be known as a small clique of renegades, who constituted themselves into godfathers and insisted that only their wishes must be done in the state. Despite his acclaimed stubbornness, Ngige became the first state governor, and perhaps the only till date, who even with the full paraphernalia of office was kidnapped. So, when Obi came in, many thought he would not last.

To instill discipline in the state, Obi started by cutting politicians to size, insisting that politics was not a day time job. Again, Obi ensured that the backing NATO (National Association Transport Owners) and NURTW (National Union of Road Transport Workers) got from influential persons be stopped. NATO and NURTW were the pool from where mayhem-causing individuals in the state were drawn, in those days. Though Obi became very well known for his stinginess, he was able to cut down the number of vehicles in his convoy, and always insisted on travelling light, on the notion that each time he travelled, it was only the governor that was needed, and as such, taking more people to the venue of a meeting was like causing confusion, while such people also draw estacode from government coffers for joining a trip they had no value to add.

Before leaving office in 2017, Obi had totally changed the psyche of the people of the state, from a people already at home with violence and destruction of properties, to a peace-loving people. Besides his achievement in infrastructure, Obi declared a huge savings for the state, and to date, he is still being referenced to as the best governor to have governed the state, while others believe he is the best in the South-east zone, if not in the entire country.

As Anambra begins preparation for another governorship election, Obi has again become a rallying point for aspirants in the state, with many of them openly professing their love for his style of governance. Though he is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), members and aspirants of other political parties have never failed to reference him as one worthy of emulation.

Today, many of the governorship aspirants in the PDP model their manifesto after his, with particular reference to cutting wastage in government. One of the governorship aspirants, Hon Chris Azubogu who is the member representing Nnewi North, South and Ekwusigo federal constituency in the House of Representatives in a recent chat with THISDAY stated that government was carrying the burden of waste and expenditure occasioned by lack of meticulousness by the leaders. “During the tenure of Mr Peter Obi, we were able to cut down wastage from payment of salaries through biometric verification. Obi used my company to conduct biometrics on all the workers, and at the end, we were able to save government hundreds of millions on a monthly basis, which should have been paid out in the name of salaries. These are the kind of things I will be doing for the state, when I become the governor,” Azubogu said.

Also, a former Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Plc, and governorship aspirant of the PDP, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, in a chat with journalists urged Anambra State voters to elect someone in the class of ex-governor, Peter Obi, in the forthcoming governorship election scheduled for November. Ozigbo said, “Peter Obi left Anambra on a positive trajectory with various sums left in many banks which have been validated by many sources. But today, Anambra is in such a debt that one starts to wonder how the state government is where it is now. With the way things are moving, Anambra will soon be left out in the comity of economically-viable states in the near future. That is why my mission is very apt.”

Ozigbo continued, “We cannot afford another mistake of enthroning incompetence after such underperformance. Anambra today is a shadow of what it used to be. Obiano has done his best but whether his best is good enough, it is for the people to judge. I have moved around the state and observed serious infrastructural decay, poor waste management, lack of access to basic amenities and so on. More worrisome is the rising debt profile of Anambra State, despite the poor performance of the government.”

Governorship aspirants are not the only ones in love with Obi’s mode of governance. The member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency, Hon Chukwuka Onyema, recently said any serious and sincere politician should seek to emulate exemplary politicians like Mr. Peter Obi. Onyema who was speaking at the town hall meeting organized for interactions with his constituents, praised Obi, who he described as a man that left behind so many legacy projects in Anambra State as the Governor.

As more politicians continue to show admiration for the businessman turned politician, he too continues to show class, noiselessly. During a recent stakeholders meeting of the PDP to strategize on how to win the forthcoming governorship election, Obi surprised the aspirants of the party. The chairman of the party in the state, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu in his welcome address lamented the poor funding of the party, insisting that it is resisting the temptation of going cap in hand to beg for funds. He charged the aspirants to help make donations that can be used in the running of the party, also stating that the party in the state was in need of buses and other logistics that could help it function efficiently.

Truth was that everyone was expecting that the governorship aspirants who are jostling to use the platform of the party to attain their governorship goals would be tasked to make donations towards the request, but Obi shocked all. Obi said there was no need relying on the donations of the over 15 governorship aspirants for the running of the party. “Let us give the aspirants the opportunity to save their money and use it in canvassing support for their aspiration and for the party. I am going to donate N4million to the party on a monthly basis for its day-to-day running until the end of this year when the election would be held,” Obi told the party.

Obi also frowned at the situation where all the aspirants were singling out only the statutory delegates to the primary election for cash gifts for the Christmas and new year celebration. He advised the aspirants to be mindful of the fact that every vote matters, and that instead of every aspirant falling over themselves to impress the delegates, there was need to extend whatever welfare they had to every member of the party as that was the only way to ensure that everyone was carried along. Obi also made a donation of food stuff, drinks and cash gifts to all the 365 political wards in the state, totaling several millions of naira, insisting that politics should rather be inclusion and not exclusion.

He was the envy of the aspirants as he stood tall in the hall and lectured them on how to go about their campaigns. “None of you aspirants is contesting election against each other, the people you are contesting against are in other political parties, so do not compete among yourselves. I want to advise you people to limit the way you flood the internet with messages as if you are in a contest with your own party. Elections are not won on the internet, but on the field. That is where you must go to seek support. Also, this style of going from one burial ceremony to the other must stop. You people are not undertakers. Rather, take your time and coordinate your movement, that is how you can achieve result,” he advised.

Though Obi has not displayed any body language to depict that he has any interest in nominating a governorship candidate for the party, what is sure, and which he has consistently stated is his wish for the PDP to take the reins of power in the state, and that much can only be ascertained on November 6th, when the state will go to the polls to elect a new governor.

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