Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri The Northern Nigeria Writers are holding their national conference in Maiduguri, Borno State capital to elicit interest in the growth of literature and reading in the northern region. Chairman of the occasion and President, Nigerian Academic of Letters, Prof Olu Obafemi in his remarl said the Maiduguri conference was the 4th edition…
By Uchenna Orazulike Nnoli
Your Excellency, I wish to start by congratulating you once again on your comprehensive victory in the just concluded Anambra state governorship election. Regardless of what your political opponents have to say, the result of the election left no one in doubt about the aggregate preference of Ndi Anambra, given the options that were available to them.
Sir, I was not your fan and never campaigned for you throughout the electioneering campaigns, so I do not claim to have contributed to your victory in any way. However with the benefit of insight to the factors that played out during the campaigns, information available on your performance during your first term in office, and my personal observations from projects your government have embarked on in the state, I feel a compulsion as onye Anambra, to help you conduct a reality check, and put your victory in proper perspective. I hope that from the issues raised you can draw insight that will help you prepare a road map that will guarantee your place amongst the greats in the annals of the governance of our dear state, and attain the level of sobriety required to meet the expectation of Ndi Anambra within the next four years.
This reality check becomes even more imperative given the tendency for the scale of your electoral victory to wrongly suggest to you that all is well, and that your victory is a validation of your performance in your first term. Your Excellency, in order to situate more realistically the under-currents of your recent landslide electoral victory, permit me to take you through some of the key factors that influenced the scale of your electoral victory.
First, recall that your predecessor who remains a benchmark for good governance in our state took a walk from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the midst of arguments over fiscal responsibility and claims of non-performance of your government. Your campaign team responded by alleging that he was sore because you refused to settle him financially in return for political favours and financial investments made towards your emergence. In the middle of the heated exchanges Your Excellency, your campaign team managed to place Peter Obi in the garb of a control freak who lost out in a power game within APGA. This was politics, not necessarily fact. Peter Obi however moved into a crisis ridden PDP, where he was trusted by the party’s national leadership to lead the rejuvenation of the party, but was confronted with sabotage by erstwhile party bigwigs. So fact number one to help our reality check was that the PDP which was the leading opposition party in Anambra State was in disarray, with most of the party’s politically relevant players opting to either work against Oseloka Obaze or sit on the fence. A fully united and motivated PDP would have presented a radically different proposition to the election result.
Your Excellency, you must be well aware that there is rotational political policy in place in the State which has been widely accepted by political stakeholders. Anambra central senatorial district having had an eight years stay in office through your predecessor, paved the way for your emergence from
Anambra north senatorial district. The entire Anambra south senatorial district was therefore fixated on ensuring they do not leave their turn to ascend office in the hands of any of the new comers, especially Tony Nwoye of the APC and Oseloka Obaze of the PDP. Despite the assurances of both frontline candidates that they will only run for one term in office, the only person guaranteed to exit office after four years was you. This is as a result of the constitutional barring that prevents you from running for a third term in office. The implication sir, is that all major political players from Anambra south fell behind your candidacy as a mean of ensuring that one of their own ascends office as your successor. The impact of this alignment, which had nothing to do with your person or performance, was quite significant, and would have had a telling impact on the final results were the zoning formula not an issue.
Your Excellency, APGA is a movement of the people. The “ Nkea bu Nke Anyi” political tendency nurtured by Victor Umeh’s political acumen and sustained by the rallying cry for a definitive Igbo political identity in Nigeria has helped to take the All Progressive Grand Alliance above the level of a mere political party, to that of a political movement to which the people of Anambra State claim ownership with a sense of pride. It will be expensively erroneous, therefore, to assume that the refusal of Ndi Anambra to transit to PDP with one of their most loved former governors, Peter Obi, was a result of your personal charisma or an extraordinary evaluation of your performance in your first term. APGA has evolved into the epicentre of Ndi Anambra’s political engagement with the rest of the country, and is therefore undisputedly the most effective political platform in today’s Anambra State. The political equity that the party brings to table for its candidates is enormous and that is demonstrable. Dr. Chris Ngige and Peter Obi, whose personal fan bases are miles ahead of yours, have inexplicably lost electoral bids upon moving from APGA. This means that political charisma fizzles out in comparism to the party’s popularity and clout where APGA is involved. Were you also to have moved to any other political party in Anambra State, evidence points in the direction of your being pitched against Ndi Anambra with the likelihood of an almost certain electoral defeat.
Your Excellency, the above are a few of the factors that you need to keep in focus in order to approach your recent victory with the sobriety required to make a success of your second chance at etching your name in gold in the annals of the governance of Anambra State. To help you, my governor, I want to draw your attention to aspects of your performance in office during your first term that require immediate attention:
1. Proliferation of non-strategic projects: Sir, politicians in developing countries are known to align project implementation strategy to building political equity with eyes perpetually on the next election. However, to achieve sustainable development, there is a critical need to ensure that while politicians try to impress, they must also ensure that scarce financial resources are invested in integrated and strategic projects that provide best value for money. Sir, the proliferation of flyovers with outdated engineering designs along Enugu-Onitsha expressway is indicative of a vain focus on the gallery. The vehicular traffic along that route from Awkuzu to Amansea does not in any way justify the amount wasted on those projects. At the reported project cost of N5 billion, that was unforgiveable fiscal profligacy aimed at nothing in particular. This takes us to the second issue.
2. Finance and debt management: Your Execllency, in June, 2017, BudgIT, one of Nigeria’s foremost financial and public budget information analysts ranked Anambra State the tenth most indebted state in Nigeria, with a debt profile of about $85.5 million. Sir, this speaks to issues of fiscal responsibility which is one of the key fulcrums on which Peter Obi anchored his disagreement with you. As at March 17th, 2014, sir, Anambra State was debt-free. When you juxtapose this new debt profile with the fact that within your first term in office, you dispensed the sum left by your predecessor as the Anambra Future Growth Fund, and now match this with the lack of strategic fit in project implementation, you can only imagine the scale of losses in opportunities for value creation. This calls for a massive overhaul of your approach to financial management.
3. Sir, the analysis of WAEC 2017 examinations results reported by dailypost.ng shows that Anambra State, from consistently leading other states from 2013 to 2015, has dropped to sixth position under your watch. Sir, as a chartered accountant, you do not need lectures on the nexus between the quality of o-level education and the future global competiveness of umuaka Anambra. In the next four years, you must pull out all the stops and return Anambra State Secondary Schools to the zenith of O-level education in Nigeria.
4. Finally sir, there have been allegations that you have focused infrastructural development in your Anambra north senatorial district. While you may have information to the contrary, I remind you that the unity we presently take for granted in Anambra State will not be sustained in an atmosphere of distrust and sectarianism. I urge you therefore to show leadership and ensure inclusiveness as a critical philosophy of your political leadership.
Sir, I believe that with great introspection on these issues and many more, which I am constrained not to address here for want of space, you will make good this golden opportunity to join Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr. Chris Ngige, and your predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi in the “Anambra Hall of Greats”, and retain for yourself a golden reputation as a servant leader, to whom the people will owe much gratitude after the next fleeting four years, which will characteristically pass bye at the speed of light.
Thank you sir for your time and I wish you the best of luck and offer you along with it, the assurances of my highest regards.
Nnoli is a management systems consultant and public affairs analyst based in Lagos. Email: [email protected]