Developing a civilization is easily one of mankind’s most Herculean tasks. It requires genius as well as tremendous exertions of energy and intellect. Even as it can take centuries to build a civilization, always lurking around its fringes are barbarian waiting for a little in-road. Once these barbarians gain a foot in the door, a civilization built in centuries will take days to destroy..
Since its creation in 1991, Anambra State had an unhappy succession of leaders until the interregnum of Dr. Chris Ngige. Though he reigned as an interrex “king”, the people of Anambra acknowledge that he did reasonably well as Governor. In spite of the near war situation under which he operated, he gave a good account of himself and showed marked interest in the emancipation of the State. It will be said of Ngige that he paid salaries, did not plunge the State into debt, paid contractors and did some quality work.
Under Mr. Peter Obi – whose mandate Dr. Ngige had encroached upon — the emancipation continued. Beyond roads where Ngige did well, Obi took all key sectors and sub-sectors and emerged as a champion in each. After his two terms totalling eight years, he is reputed as the only Governor that left an extensive legacy of investments for the State; including foreign-currency denominated bonds, shares in Fortune 500 companies, billions of Naira and millions of US Dollars in Banks and no indebtedness to the State civil servants and pensioners.
Peter Obi erected such structures as the State Secretariat that had elided us since the State was created. Breaking the tradition of lethargy, he attracted several Federal institutions to the State, among which are the Federal High Court and Federal Secretariat that when completed, will accommodate various Federal agencies. He successfully made Anambra State the epicentre of the activities of Developing Partners, which was possible because he had the likes of Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who explored his wide international contacts from his service in the United Nations systems for over twenty years. Besides all this, he cleared arrears of pensions and gratuities owed since 1999, almost to the tune N40 billion. Indeed, Peter Obi aimed at varied development targets and scored many direct hits. If you are interested in the steps by which a State moves from Bedlam to greatness, you should be interested in Mr. Peter Obi.
When Chief Willie Obiano came on board, several people and organizations that knew and had interacted with him expressed some misgivings. They wondered why Mr. Peter Obi should give Anambra State to such a man, but never went behind the scenes to examine the political permutations that threw him up. As a matter of fact, Mr. Obaze was Obi’s first choice, and Obiano was not even in the picture initially. Invariably, those that had a say who would emerge eventually identified Oseloka Henry Obaze in the mould of a Peter Obi who would not permit or tolerate the percolation of State funds into private hands; and literally threw their hats into the ring to frustrate his candidature. With the emergence of Willie Obiano, the consoling thought was that no matter his low leadership rating, the fact that he had risen to the rank of an Executive Director in a Bank meant that he at the least should have and display some standards of competence, propriety and open-mindedness to wise counsel on how to sustain good governance in the State.
Regrettably, like a barbarian alien to civilization, he viewed the attainments of his predecessor as targets for destruction at all costs. All his reflexes have sadly point to a determined supervision of the collapse of Anambra State – a task he has steadily and rashly undertaken since he assumed office as Governor.
The immediate fillip to this piece is the publication by The Nation Newspaper of Friday, the 10th of November, of how Gov. Willie Obiano sold the US Dollars saved for the State by Mr. Peter Obi. Entitled Revealed: How Obiano Govt. Sold Anambra’s Dollar Savings, it will bear repetition to feature the report verbatim:
“A crisis is brewing between Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano and opposition parties over the alleged secret sale of the State’s Dollar savings in the last three and half years. The Governor, according to sources, has disposed of the cash saved for the State by his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. In the last transaction, over N10 billion was realized, according to one of the documents The Nation stumbled on”.
“The last transaction was carried out, following a letter of March 17, 2017 by the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency. In the letter of authority, its Chief Executive Officer, Joe-Billy Ekwunife, directed Afrinvest, the firm appointed by Obiano to manage the savings to carry out the transaction. The agency directed the firm to execute a partial sale of the Eurobond Portfolio domiciled with two commercial banks to raise N3.7 billion and N6.3 billion. According to sources, the bonds in one commercial bank that were disposed, following the directive, included 6.75 per cent 28 January 2021 FGN bond with a face value of $30,000 and 6.38 per cent 12 July 2023 FGN bond with a face value of $50,00. There are also the 10.5 per cent 19 October bond with a face value of $21,000 and eight per cent July 2021 FGN Bond with a face value of $14,000. The FGN bond was sold in two tranches of $9,000 and $5,000. Prior to their sale, the savings had yielded billions of Naira as revealed by the manager”.
“Also, it was disclosed that each time the bonds were sold, the agency directed Afrinvest to credit the money realised into the Anambra State Special Excess Crude Account. It was learnt that the first sale of the dollars accounted for the disposal of 8.25 per cent of a first generation bank’s bonds from which about $10.2 million was realised. This amounted to about N3 billion, going by the exchange rate at the time. The sale was carried out ‘over the counter’ away from public glare, it was alleged”.
The foregoing is the pathetic Anambra State in which we have found ourselves. Resolutely hard-hearted, Chief Willie Obiano, in the twilight of his tenure, is yet to build on anything Peter Obi left for him to consolidate and expand on. He cannot boast of having completed 3 kilometre of road in any part of the State except his home town, Aguleri.
He abandoned – some report said – sold major projects his administration inherited, including Agulu Lake Hotel, Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi Shopping Malls. He has not attracted any major institution – national or international — to the State. While shouting he attracted over US$7.5 billion in Foreign Direct Investments [FDIs], we never knew – until the expose by The Nation Newspaper – that he has been quietly selling the US Dollars saved by his predecessor for the stabilization and future of Anambra State. The tragedy of the entire drama is that he cannot point at any meaningful thing he used the money to do. The other day, the Internet was awash with the news of the importation of 100 containers of customized champagne bearing his picture, name and that of his party. Could this be where the money was channelled into to celebrate his abduction of the Anambra State?
While writing this article, I got more unpleasant news that Gov. Willie Obiano has sold the Anambra State House at 23-25, Martins Street, Lagos and that the Lodge at Onitsha is up for sale. It is particularly disgusting that the Martins Street House under reference was built during the time of old East Central State, when Obiano was barely out of diapers. In all honesty, some of the things Chief Willie Obiano have been doing defy logic and one does not know from which perspective to view them.
Would it be uncharitable to describe him s the most impressive failure of all times? When he became Governor, Anambra was alive with ideas and over flowing treasury beyond other States in Nigeria. By the time he was celebrating his first 100 days in office, over which the EXCO approved 5 Billion Naira for him, Anambra was already exhausted and is presently laying fallow.
Contrary to the impression of many Anambrarians, there is actually a dearth of men in the state. In spite what has been going wrong with governance in the State, several of those who should know – from the clergy to the laity and the generality of the elite – seem to have become deaf, dumb and even blind because Obiano is busy lining individual pockets rather than building the State for today and the future.
•Obienyem wrote from Agulu