Sunday, May 28

How Governor Willie Obiano will be Remembered

By Ebuka Onyekwelu

It is now exactly seven days before Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state takes a bow. The outgoing governor in following the custom of democratic transition, has been inundated with pre-handover activities in an attempt to finish strong. However, it might have become imperative to x-ray Obiano’s performance in the past eight years and how he would be remembered.

Political leaders make impression that can be broadly categorized into two; impression on governance and impression on politics. Any political leader has both governance demands and political demands to cater to. No political leader can avoid a test on his or her political sagacity and non can boycott a test on his or her governance skills. And so it stands to reason that a political leader must be concerned about his or her governance legacies and also his or her political legacies.

In Nigeria and indeed, Anambra State, for the most part, infrastructure development defines a government’s ultimate commitment to the wellbeing of the people. This is because, the people still lack basic infrastructures. In Anambra for instance, roads are major infrastructural demand by the people. Many times, a governor’s success is rated based on road construction. Although the people still need other social amenities which are important for them to live a fairly good life. Infrastructure deficit is a major challenge, hence public office seekers often make promises to deliver one infrastructure or another to the people, but repeatedly fail to do so.

For governor Obiano, what are his marks in governance and politics? Governor Obiano in eight years democratized political opportunities especially for young people. In June 2016, barely two years of the governor’s now eight years old administration, after the appointment of then 30 years old Mark Okoye as Commissioner for Budget and  Economic Planning, I wrote the governor thus, “I am writing to convey my deepest appreciation for…finding youths increasingly capable of being entrusted with leadership responsibility… I am excited. In no time…Anambra will have an army of new political players raised by Your Excellency. This will be a legacy”. The governor read my mail and responded graciously. Six years after, Mark Okoye is still serving as Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning with distinction to the admiration of all and he has expressed readiness to contest for Federal House of Representative in his constituency. Uzuegbunam Okagbue, appointed in his mid 30s as Chief of protocol to the governor is now in his 40s. After eight years of meritorious service as Chief of protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, he is running for senate. Ifeanyi Aniagoh started as EA, to SA and SSA, he is contesting for House of Assembly. Chuks Azotani a young man in his 30s is serving as the Personal Assistant to the governor for eight years. Now, he is vying for House of Assembly to represent his constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly in 2023. Obi Nwankwo Commissioner for Environment under Obiano is contesting for House of Representatives, so also Uche Okafor, Commissioner for Commerce. This is in addition to tens of other appointees who are contesting for positions and have real chances of winning. No governor in Anambra before has been able to influence this number of teaming serious young entrants into mainstream politics. Not even Dr. Ngige, whose political sagacity was once larger than life. To crown it all, Obiano succeeded in handing over to an APGA governor, whose Deputy is a Special Adviser in his government. The best way to disrupt any system is to introduce new entrants strategically, so this is a sign of imminent political change in Anambra.

In terms of governance, Obiano did not do an excellent job on road construction. Yet, he made his marks in other infrastructure needs. The Anambra International Airport built and delivered on record time speaks to Obiano’s governance ability, so also the International Convention Centre, among others. Although insecurity has again moved up the ladder.

Either way, it is my considered view that Governor Obiano has made an indelible impression where it matters. Perhaps, he disappointed some people, maybe even worked below expectation. But at the end, he made his point fairly.  

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