By Adewale Sanyaolu Despite being a country with the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, Nigeria, according to Foraminifera, a marketing and research firm, spends about N2 billion yearly on importation of asphalt, a derivative of bitumen. The occurrence of bitumen deposits in Nigeria is twice the amount of existing reserves of crude…
LAST Friday, I perused a testamentary document that profusely profiled the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. It is a very instructive testimonial in this age of pervasive corruption. Come along with me as we voyage into the enthronement of a good name that is better than silver and gold. Obi’s reputational and perceptive inimitability is on the threshold of referential institutionalization. Little wonder Obi left N75 billion in the coffers of the state at the glorious end of his eventful tenure—the needless controversy that fleetingly ensued over the actual amount notwithstanding.
There may have been a few changes in the portfolios below, but they do not subtract from the underpinnings of the evergreen recognition. This also explains why former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan made him an integral icon of his transformational government despite their contrasting political party affiliations at the time.
Equally significant is Obi’s profound appreciation by the Papacy. It is rare in our perverse generation to find a man that robustly achieves both secular and Catholic quintessence. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Anambra is among the least indebted states in Nigeria. And in the words of the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria, David Macrae, “EU has always emphasized on proper management of money. That is why it is important to have people of high integrity like Peter Obi.”
“Obi’s commendable performance in office led us to classify his government as reformist,” affirms the Head of Affairs and Country Representative of DFID, Dr. Richard Montgomery. How many past and serving governors have these kinds of testaments? This is what informed the choice of today’s subject. There is nothing that can be compared to a good name in a man’s life. Credibility is everything.
The World Bank Country Director, Mr. Omo Ruhi, described our focus as “an exceptional leader and very prudent in financial management and I believe his interest is to better the lots of his people which, to my mind, is very remarkable.”
“Obi was the first governor to visit my office to discuss how to fight poverty in his state and remained determined and dogged by initiating effective economic empowerment programmes,” enthuses the National Coordinator of NAPEP, Dr. Magnus Kpakol. As we go ahead, take note of the calibre of people testifying to Obi’s governance and leadership records.
Yet another endorsement from the former Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank of Industry, Evelyn Oputa: “Obi was the first governor on assumption of office to approach the Bank of Industry for collaboration to create job opportunities for the people of the state. He understands the dynamics of the economy.”
THISDAY, obviously Nigeria’s most authoritative newspaper on business and politics, notes thus: “Obi, the (former) Governor of Anambra State, has established a reputation for transparency and budget discipline, a development that is believed to have saved the state treasury substantial amounts of money in the awards and execution of contracts. Obi is known for his tight scrutiny of contracts being awarded by his government.”
The Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council and traditional ruler of Onitsha, HRM Obi Alfred Achebe, adds royalty to the encomia: “Obi has created the enabling environment to fast- track industrial growth and development, including attracting companies such as SABMiller to Anambra State. Through steady positive transformation, the former governor restored peace and stability to the state, thus encouraging the people of the state to live a dignified life.”
Yet another avowal: “I am delighted to learn that Anambra is among UNICEF’s strongest partners in Nigeria. I commend Obi for his commitment to children, prompt payment of counterpart funding, involvement in the development of education, scaling up of skill acquisition centres and giant strides in the Millennium Development Goals and leadership in Water and Sanitation Programme,” declares UNICEF Chief of Office, Enugu, Mr. Charles Nzuki.
Even before the recent Papal acknowledgement of Obi’s devout spirituality, the Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola of Nigeria had made his own testimonial: “Peter Obi is a special gift from God and should be celebrated for his passion for the people of the state, his commitment to good governance, provision of basic things of life such as good roads, water, and health and education facilities, among others.”
The laudatory remarks continue with this terse intervention by the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu- Ojukwu shortly before his translation: “Peter Obi is the practical hope the people of Anambra have experienced and believe in. He represents goodness.”
According to Dr. Onyekachi Ikpeazu (SAN), “In the near future, people will realize that the Peter Obi administration is the best thing that has happened in the state.” In the same breath, Prof. Pat Utomi asserts that “Obi is a thinker who deploys ideas trying to change the value frame of his people so that they can achieve longer sustainable values.” And from Prof. Ilochi Okafor, former VC, UNIZIK, comes this: “I have not met five men in my life of 60 years who are as decent and urbane as Obi.”
The acclamation continues: “Obi has wiped away the tears of our people when they had to bear the burden of incompetent and greedy rulers. He has inspired the youth unto righteousness. His sense of uprightness has reached far and wide. He has become a symbol of reference,” adds Archbishop Jude Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Central African Republic and Republic of Chad.
In the words of the Most Revd (Dr.) Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha, “Obi is an education and future-friendly person. He has continued to show that he has the best interest of the state at heart. May Anambra State never lack a leader like him,” “Obi is always thinking and working through acts of love and philanthropy. He has remained unrelenting in trying to make a difference. He lives an exemplary life and remains committed to building fear of God among our people,” says the Most Revd (Dr.) Hilary Okeke, Catholic Bishop of Nnewi.
What else do I need to reaffirm after these glowing tributes. None of them sounds like the merchandized awards that his peers in and out of government buy from all sorts of distressed organizations struggling for a lifeline through the dispensation of all manner of awards and hawkish recognition to undeserving elements!
Amid a profundity of humility, Okute is simply a good man. Can the same things be said of other former and serving governors? This is just a lesson to all public office holders at every level.
Let people dispassionately and independently talk about your goodness.If not for the kind of murky politics we play here, somebody like Peter Obi should be part of this government because of his superlative financial, economic and management wizardry issuing from decades of multifarious practical experiences and elitist scholarship.