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The legendary Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This is in sync with the holy books, which enunciate that tough circumstances are to bring out the best and creative ingenuities in determined and focused people.
It is in this regard that the current economic recession in the country has begun to throw up new champions, one of whom is Governor Willie Obiano. Following his conviction that there would be likely protracted suffering, as a result of the recession, Governor Obiano recently took a radical interventional step, as it affects the people of his state. In an uncommon feat, he abolished some critical levies and taxes in the state, a move that left many Nigerians dumbfounded and in awe of the exemplary and courageous leadership style of the governor.
In a special broadcast, he explained that the abolishment of the levies and taxes was to cushion the effect of the economic downtown on the people. The governor considered it as his duty to alleviate the effect of the economic situation on the grassroots.
Indeed, Obiano’s move is, no doubt, a stimulus package that will ease the pain of the recession and help the state bounce back to prosperity. The truth is that the country is in a painful journey at this time in its history and all kind hearted governments and privileged individuals should find creative ways of alleviating the suffering of the people. This is what Governor Obiano has done.
The government’s intervention came in Four Key Areas: Tax Relief Programme, Special Intervention Programmes for Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, and Large Enterprises, Social Intervention Programme for Low Income Households as well as Intervention in Infrastructure-for-Jobs.
The Tax Relief Programme was meant to evaluate existing taxes, levies and fees in the state and introduce some waivers and in some cases scrap the collection of some illegal levies imposed on the people and this would go a long way to cushion the impact of the recession on households in the state. It included the suspension of the sale of consolidated emblems, the collection of Hawkers Permit on all streets, the collection of Wheelbarrow Tax in all markets and the imposition of unapproved levies on students in public primary and secondary schools.
According to him, his role as governor is to envisage challenges and provide solutions that will ensure a speedy comeback from difficult situations that require the might of a state government. The overwhelming feeling was that a governor has come out to show the way, in an unlikely manner, because in time such as this, governments look for more ways of taking from the people. But the Obiano administration instead, chose to sacrifice for the common man.
This is not the only such people-centred intervention by the governor. Only recently, the administration donated the sum of N10 million as palliatives to victims of the Ose-Okwodu Market fire incident of April 2014 in the state. Presenting the money to the 97 beneficiaries at his Aguleri country home, in Anambra East Local Area, Governor Obiano said that the gesture was in keeping with his promise to the people to continue programmes that would impact positively on their lives.
The government has also donated a 32-seater Toyota Coaster bus and N5 million to students of the Federal College of Education (Technical), FCET, Umunze, Anambra State. This was as the governor promised to carry out palliative work on the road, leading to the permanent site of the college.
The governor, with the same heart of the milk of human kindness, cried out recently over the poor state of federal roads in the state and called on the Federal Government to hasten to save the roads from imminent collapse, and mandated a construction company to the site to start palliative works to save the roads.
These and many more other interventions are without prejudice to his agricultural policies and various other intervention measures, which are all aimed at sustaining hope and improving life. His widely known security measures have since transformed Anambra, which used to be the den of criminals and kidnappers, to the safest state in the country. The administration has also set an impressive record in internally generated revenue (IGR), with a remarkable increase from the N500 million monthly that it inherited to aboutN1.3 billion per month. The state government has opened up the state for rapid industrialisation, embarked on massive rehabilitation of bad roads and constructing new ones as well as strategic interventions in the education and health sectors.
One of the achievements under Governor Obiano is the massive investment inflow that the state has witnessed in the last two years, courtesy of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). In a very short time, the agency has justified the governor’s background, as an investment banker with remarkable statistics.
Obiano and his team have shown that given time and resources, they can turn Anambra State into Nigeria’s new postcard for excellence. One can only pray that the good people of the state continue to support the governor’s efforts to build a strong, dynamic, virile, industrialised, economically viable and prosperous Anambra State.
With all of these, it is believed that the people of Anambra State would, no doubt, continue to support the government for more dividends of democracy, especially as the governor would soon be seeking their blessings for a second term in office. Obiano has shown, in practical terms, that he is the people’s governor, who deserves their votes for a second tenure in office.
We are confident that the judgment of the people of Anambra State will be fair and favourable, as the governor has proved that he is a firm believer and a practitioner of good governance. He, therefore, deserves a second term, as the governor of Anambra State, based on his pedigree and performance in office.
• Prince Okpala, a political analyst, wrote in from Awka.