| By Chibueze Agwagom |
GOVERNANCE is a sacred duty and those granted the mandate by the people to govern them should exercise this sacred assignment with all sense of dignity, reciprocity and appreciative decorum. The mirror of governance in Nigeria as a whole is largely counterfeit. The abuse of government systems and institutions forced late Shehu Musa to say that “there are shades of illegalities in all parts of the world but the unfortunate thing about Nigerian illegalities (nationalised illegalities) is that they are legalised”. The outstanding visible consequence of legalised illegalities is anarchy, the type described by John Milton as the sure consequence of tyranny for no power that is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them.
John Campbell, the former Ambassador of the United States of America to Nigeria and a consultant to the US council on foreign relations, mourned the state of governance in this summarized tone: “Impunity reigns in Nigeria.” Indeed, impunity is celebrated from the domains of Aso-rock to the streets of all the states in Nigeria. The federal government leads the way in impunity while the States localise it to suit selfish interests and environmental demands.
Anambra State is the focus of this piece. The state has been unlucky when it comes to governance and the highly entrenched republican mindset of majority of the people of the State sets a cultural trend that makes the people unconcerned about issues of governance to a level of pronounced ignorance. The massively business interests and entrepreneurial occupation of many people are not helping matters. The outcrop of this trend is the negative effect on the youths who want to be millionaires without labour and this explains the reasons for the high level of criminal activities including kidnapping in order to make money by all means and in the quickest possible time. Governments in Anambra State have always been that of a cartel for the sole interest of the cartel. In Anambra state, people do not care much about how they are governed or whether the government of the day is living up to its responsibilities not to talk of holding it accountable. In Anambra State, selfishness drowns opposition and I recall that it is our revered political icon, Nnamdi Azikiwe who said: “unless an opposition as a shadow cabinet which is capable of replacing the government exists, democracy becomes a sham.” No doubt, we are having a good share of that sham and artificiality in the name of governance.
At its creation in 1991, Anambra State was midwifed by a naval administrator in the person of Abulu. Then came the brief tenure of Pius Ezeife (Okwadike), who reportedly thrived in saving money than in rendering service to the people. There were also military administrations that polluted the state. The next civilian governor who symbolized the reign of apology was Chinwoke Odera Mbadinuju. Then came Chris Ngige after getting power from the devil. The burdens he went through including the kidnap episode won him the people’s sympathy. He played along with the devils that rigged the 2003 governorship election in his favour. He polluted governance with the devils until he got fed up with psychological emptiness and loss of self-esteem. Through God’s grace, he survived the catastrophe and out of persistent fear of that era, he embraced the people and won their support through appreciable road construction. This made him to win the hearts of some people. He deviated a little from “governments-of-collect-state-allocations, then-chop-and-share-all. Then Ngige shared and got fed up of the abominable sharing formula of the devils of the time.
Peter Gregory Onwubuya Obi emerged through judicial process to claim his stolen mandate from Ngige. A lot of people had confidence in him that he will serve with honour and integrity and in accordance with the dictates of the law. But you need not go far to discover that Obi is a pretender who plays saint while secretly advancing his varied selfish business interests thereby taking the state back to dark ages. In all fairness, it is only in the educational sector that Obi can get a pass mark in his eight years of hand-out governance of Anambra State. How can a governor go far without building trust?
A governor who hardly trusts people and prefers new friends while dumping old ones can only take a state to the dark ages. A governor who clogs himself with so many things and wants to be the person who does everything, will end up having a state that is almost at a standstill or a state that moves with a snail’s speed. Such state will suffer so many leprosies – namely leprosy in the civil service, leprosy in sharing amenities, leprosy in road construction, leprosy in sports development, etc. Anambra is a State where construction of few kilometer roads takes years, amenities that should be given to communities rust away in stores etc. Anambra state used to be the home of sports but all that is history as Obi who claims to be a lover of sports, murders it in the State with his buying and selling mentality approach to governance. It was no surprise that at the 18th national sports festival at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, Anambra was almost lost in the medal table. In his El-Rufai on Friday ThisDay column of 8th June, 2012 under the theme: “Anambra’s Budget of Misplaced Priorities”, El-Rufai diagnosed satisfactorily, the poor governance of Anambra State by governor Obi, hence, a trip to the three major cities in the State, namely, the capital city of Awka, the commercial town of Onitsha and the industrial city of Nnewi speaks volumes of a state administered with ostrich and white-sepulchre mentality, yet Governor Obi says it shamelessly loud and clear that he is saving money for his successor.
A State where, according to El-Rufai, has an unemployment rate of 21.3 percent and a disappointing poverty index of 22.8 percent is one, where the governor prides himself with the old-time-religion and anachronistic economics of saving money. It is not in doubt that this governor is simply fixing Anambra State funds to yield interest for him and his bank and bankers. It is hard to believe that under Obi’s watch, Anambra State according to El-Rufai’s Statistics, has degenerated to the level of being respectively 4th and 35th lowest ranking in the ease of doing business in the five states of the south east and out of the 36 states and the FCT, yet this governor keeps reminding everybody that he is a trader and a corporate world kingpin. A visit to Awka, Onitsha or Nnewi will live you not with the impression of corporate cities but with models of Peter Obi’s Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi” after almost 8 years of hand-out governance.
The most unfortunate painful area of pain in Obi’s governance of Anambra State is the local government administration. Governor Obi thrives in using people as his servants and employees rather than as co-managers of men and resources. These are people that will answer him “yes sir and thank sir” at the slightest opportunity when he dishes his hand-out of funds or resources to them. It is unbelievable that contrary to the constitutional provisions, Governor Obi has run local governments in Anambra State since he was sworn into office.
Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended clearly stipulates as follows: “the system of local government by a democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed”. It is in line with this provision that the court of Appeal in Ekiti State on January 23, 2013, declared as unconstitutional, the dissolution of local government councils in the state. The court went on to state that the local government system is sacrosanct and declared any other law empowering the governor to toy with the local government system as null and void and of no consequence.
The implication of this landmark judgement is that all local governments in Nigeria should be administered by democratically elected officers. How can a governor who benefited so much from constitutional provisions and judicial activism rise to derogate the same constitution. Governor Obi has consistently and ridiculously maintained a “criminal” and unconstitutional silence when it comes to his amazing failure and lack of interest in conducting local government elections.
It is time to go to work after Peter Obi and I pray he doesn’t cut his leg with his own tools. Playing to the gallery or sharing money at this end time will do no miracle to the poor administrative image of the governor It is only when Obi vacates office come March 2014 that his unfortunate government of misplaced priorities will be open for all to see. Anambra State deserves to be the light of the nation in words and deeds. This light will not shine under a governor who is more interested in advancing his own business interests. That light will elude us under a governor whose most valued prayer at the present time appears to be that the PDP-led government under President Goodluck Jonathan remains in office till 2019 so as the enable him be a minster or an active participant at the federal level. The truth that remains as persistent as the winter cold is that nobody can deceive all the people all the time. Time remains the greatest judge for all times.
— Apr. 1, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT