Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has made history by becoming the first governor in Nigeria’s history to be reelected by winning all local government areas (LGAs) in his state. The election of Saturday, November 18, 2017, was not an ordinary election. History will definitely record it as the day Anambra people made a statement of profound ethical dimensions. It was the day we said no to sacrilege. It was the day we formally rejected the culture of impunity, the day we refused to capitulate to the blackmail of so-called federal might. It was the day we rescued our state.
Yet, I belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC). While I joined the party at inception in 2014 because of the likes of former Governor Chris Ngige, who is now the Minister of Labour and Employment, some of the people in the party joined just the other day simply because the APC had become the government party. I quickly raised the alarm to the effect that our party had been hijacked. So, I quickly formed a movement to resist the reactionary forces. I had no difficulty campaigning openly and vigorously for the reelection of Governor Obiano, who, of course, has been doing an impressive job.
In two separate articles, I pointed out that Obiano has left giant imprints in my own Orumba South constituency, which I had the privilege to represent in the State House of Assembly from 2003 to 2007. Obiano built and commissioned 40 kilometres of electric poles and cables, complete with distribution transformers and all accessories for power supply. I also mentioned that he was constructing a major road linking five communities, which had never had a tarred road, namely Ezira, Umuomaku, Enugwu Umuonyiba, Agbodu and One. The road is linking them to Ogboji, a famous food belt, which excels in rice production, and also linking them to Achina in Aguata Local Government Area. Similar stories abound all over the state. For instance, on getting to know from the Transmission Company of Nigeria that it could not provide reasonable electricity from its station in Awada on the outskirts of Onitsha to 13 big communities in the state, including such big towns as Nnewi and Ihiala, Obiano provided almost N1 billion to resolve the problem. He commissioned the new facility just before the election. Those communities now enjoy improved supply. Any wonder why the people on this axis would not recognise other candidates during the election?
The state university teaching hospital could not be accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for eight years because the Peter Obi administration, which established it, could not provide it with resources to recruit adequate and qualified staff and procure reagents and equipment. The government claimed it was saving money and so starved the school of basic resources. But Obiano, on coming to office, made funds available to the medical school. It quickly became accredited, or recognised, as we say in Nigeria, and it produced two sets of medical doctors in quick succession. This was a wonderful development for the students who had become, for all practical purposes, perpetual medical students. They did so well in the final professional examinations conducted by the MDCN that Governor Obiano immediately offered all of them automatic employment. Not a man given to half measures, the governor decided to equip and upgrade the school so that it could begin to train medical specialists. It has already started to train consultants. Willie is truly working.
This now brings me to the crux of this article: Anambra State is worth dying for. For having the courage to tell the leadership of my own APC party that they were committing a grave mistake by not looking for a seasoned gubernatorial candidate who could, in the eyes of Anambra voters, provide a good alternative to a high-performing governor and for acknowledging that Obiano was delivering the goods to the people of Anambra State, a lot of people in the APC and their supporters went berserk. I was not only abused and called all manner of names but also threatened with physical elimination countless times. Not one to give in easily, I insisted that my picture, telephone number and email address must be printed alongside each article and statement of mine on Anambra politics. When the threats became hotter, I started moving from town to town and sleeping from one hotel to another. Comrade Marcel Ike, Maxwell S. C. Okoye, Ben Ekpe and Chief Ifeanyi Nwokoye proved to be absolutely reliable during this trying period. They were very generous with intelligence reports, logistics and financial resources.
But while some elements were threatening me, a vast majority of readers, including non-Anambra people, were full of praise for me. I was, indeed, encouraged by their words and prayers. Many priests and pastors whom I have not met to this day were praying for my safety ceaselessly. This shows how committed the people of Anambra State were to Obiano’s return to office. In other words, there is nothing as good as a leader keeping faith with his people. Under Obiano’s leadership, Anambra State has taken the first position in various fields. For instance, the state has become the safest in Nigeria, a long leap from the pre-Obiano days when armed robbers, hired assassins and kidnappers had a field day. Its public schools are highly competitive, representing Nigeria in international academic competitions even in such places as South Korea and Germany. A few months ago, Loretto Science Secondary School in Adazi won the first prize in all science subjects in a competition for high schools in Nigeria. School teachers are also winning prestigious prizes.
Having personally experienced unparalleled solidarity from thousands of people for standing with my state and its people and having watched at close quarters how the people of Anambra State rose like one man on Saturday, November 18, to defeat the forces of reaction and backwardness, in spite of the intimidating excesses of APC operatives who boasted endlessly of their determination to use federal might to cow Ndi Anambra, all I can say now is that Anambra State is worth dying for. Even if one should die now, it is clear that one would not die in vain. So long as there are genuine leaders like Obiano, the people will continue to find the way. The motto of the legendary West African Pilot newspaper, owned by Great Zik of Africa, was “Show the light, and the people will find the way.” How true! I am proud to come from Anambra State.
• Hon. Okechi, ex-chairman of the Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Information and of the Committee on Public Petitions, is a founding APC member in the state. He is leading a movement to reform Anambra APC. [email protected] 0803 5585188.