Ever since Ndi Anambra took to the streets, few days ago, to protest the inhuman and oppressive tax imposed on them by the state government. There has been this feeling in the wider Nigerian civil society that the state government will respond quickly to the plight of hard working Nigerian families abode in Anambra state. Indeed they have good reasons to feel that way. Was it not less than four months ago that the people of the state returned the incumbent governor Peter Obi to a fresh four year mandate? Surely, the people must have trusted him enough to vote him twice.
But one need to warn here that it was only after Americans have voted George Bush twice as their President did they actually begin to rue the choices they had made on those two occasions. A similar pattern is fast emerging in Anambra state and NdiAnambra need all the voices they can muster in salvaging the dangerous trend heralding Peter Obiâ€™s second term in office.
For a start, it is imperative to put in perspective the circumstances that led to Obiâ€™s second term victory. The people of the state was faced with limited choices in the Febuary 6 2010 poll. There were in that contest, a candidate representing Okija shrine, a money bag with fake certificate representing the unpopular Uba family and an otherwise brilliant man wielding unlawfully obtained party ticket and running for a discredited party. These were Obiâ€™s major opponents and thus he should not flatter himself too much.
His latest antics in planting paid news in Nigeria media, while in faraway Belgium, claiming that he is in Brussels to search for investors willing to invest in provision of potable water in the state is worryingly pathetic. It seems this man just donâ€™t get it. The immediate cause of the latest street protest was the imposition of a whooping 35000 (thirty five thousand) Naira levy on every household in Anambra that could afford to provide itself with water. It needs to be said here, despite all the promises by Peter Obi, there are no running public tap water in Anambra state. Thus the people had to provide potable water for themselves. Ordinarily, one would have thought such self help scheme would have received the support of Peter Obi, at least until he was able to live up to his promises. Rather, what the people got was an ill thought tax that would make it unattractive for people to access potable water, which apart from the air we breathe, is the most essential requirement of every human being. It seems Peter Obi will prefer the residents of the state to stampede towards Omambara, Idemmili and Niger rivers to access untreated water. Who is advising Obi?
To be fair to Obi, he did not shut the public tap in Anambra state; the disastrous regime of Babangida did so in 1991, when his Military administrator in the state allegedly decided to pocket the salaries of all the workers in the state water corporation and as typical of IBB, the corrupt official was later promoted. These arrears remain uncleared till date.
But Obi should not compound an already bad situation. Access to potable water has been a challenge to many hard working families across Nigeria. In the North, for example, the Central bank of Nigeria has dug several boreholes under its â€˜water for lifeâ€™ charity scheme, in order to save lives. The beneficiaries did not need to pay for its use and neither has any state government in the northern states threaten to impose levies on its use because they understand the essentiality of water for living and the huge favour that has been done to their state treasuries by the scheme. These are valuable lessons Peter Obi need to learn from his northern colleagues.
Surely, the people could be spared the choking levies while Obi wanders on the streets of Europe chasing the phantom investors.
Anambra state deserves better than lip service and paid news.