By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The word out there from most informed Nigerians is the agreement that Anambra State is working in an exemplary way. The concrete examples of excellence cited range from education to security and the refreshing initiative on ranching – the Anambra cattle known as Efi-Igbo.
Anambra State’s leadership in education got instant praise from Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo when the students of Regina Pacis School, Onitsha won the World Technovation championship in Silicon Valley, USA, as he tweeted: “These young ladies in Junior Secondary School developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problems of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. Yesterday, they won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in California. Congratulations! We are very proud of you.”
The Consul-General of the United States, Mr. John Bray, visited Governor Willie Obiano and said: “I am very, very impressed with the quality of roads in the state. Believe it or not, they are not like this everywhere in Nigeria. I am also impressed with the improvement in the security environment which has come into place with the current government.”
Members of Umuada Igbo in Nigeria and The Diaspora made this statement: “In the near future Anambra State will have sufficient rice and Efi-Igbo for Nigeria’s consumption and export.”
The Commonsense-Senator Ben Murray-Bruce tweeted: “That Anambra is in a better financial state than other states, oil producing or not, is the best proof True Federalism & restructuring work!”
Professor Pat Utomi has put in his own words thus: “I am pleased to see the progress that has been made in Anambra. I am one who has been very critical of the Governors of the South-East for a very long time. I think development needs to move out of Lagos. Lagos is now responsible for more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s economy and a good part of those who make that happen come from the South-East and if the Governors won’t create an enabling environment for them to create back home what they are building elsewhere, something is wrong. So, I was lifted up to see progress in Anambra and to see the efforts being made to collaborate across the Niger to see if that will happen. I think this needs to be continued; it needs to be strengthened so that the appropriate levels of investment flow will go in there because that region, which I like to call the Niger Basin, should become the Rhine Valley of Africa. In Lagos here, we are very proud of the bridge that links Ikoyi to Lekki. But the last time I visited Anambra, I said, look o! Willie is Working! wants to bring our bridge to Anambra!”
With these testimonies from esteemed Nigerians, it is quite obvious that a fresh charge of electricity is at work in Anambra State. This new lease can best be understood and appreciated when viewed against the disorder that used to be the rule rather than the exception in Anambra State.
Anambra indeed stands as a test case for the challenges of democracy in the modern-day evolution of Nigeria. The command structure of the military had largely compromised democracy in the post-war politics of the country. The war generals and commanders who superintended over the transition-to-civil rule programmes almost always insisted on using the language of one of their ilk, “Garrison Commanders” to lord over whole states.
Mr Ukpabi Asika who was appointed the Administrator of the East Central State, the Igbo enclave, after the civil war remarkably said: “Amnesty is not amnesia.” The vestiges of the war had to be rammed home to the new political leaders emerging from the rebel section of the country. Incidentally, Anambra is the homeland of the foremost founding father of the country, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and of course, the declarer of the independent state of Biafra, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
With the return of civilian politics in 1999, Anambra State, which was created by former military president General Ibrahim Babangida in 1991, has fought protracted battles in regard to turning an entire state into a private fiefdom. It’s a phenomenon that commands special attention in the discussion of democracy, or lack thereof, in Nigeria.
The former President of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo, in his eight long years of imperial power somewhat put Anambra State on the front pages. The 1999 Governor Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju was the only governor dropped by his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2003 re-election battle..
Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige who replaced Mbadinuju was onThursday, July 10, 2003 abducted by a host of forces led by Police AIG Ralph Ige and Chief Chris Uba. It was only Ngige’s miraculous phone call to then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar that spawned a chain reaction that restored him to power. This treasonable act was dismissed as “a family affair” by Obasanjo and the PDP. At about 4 a.m on November 10, 2004 some hoodlums brought into the state in 40-odd buses burnt every building of government business and the broadcasting houses while the police stood idly by, obeying “orders from above”.
The prominent son of Anambra State, the late novelist Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, turned down the offer of the national award, Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), and forwarded a stinker to President Obasanjo: “I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now, I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connection in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.”
Even when Peter Obi reclaimed his mandate, he was unconstitutionally impeached. Anambra State eventually became the state that provided the barometer for the staggering of elections after Andy Uba was thrown out as “Governor” by the Supreme Court after only 16 days in office!
It is through proper grounding in the recent history of Anambra State and Nigeria that Governor Willie Obiano’s peaceful administration comes into remarkable depiction.
Time was when kidnappers were king. Even traditional marriage ceremonies could not be carried out in the state.
Today is different.
Night life is back in Anambra State. People can now sleep with their two eyes closed. Arteries of commerce and education are opening up all over the place. Little wonder my boon companion in Lagos, Obed Awowede, recently told me: “Let’s go to your home state. Anambra is well-planned!”