Africa

Nigeria: Arise, O king!

Peter Obi -Governor  of Anambra StateIn those days when men were men and could go to war even with bare hands; that was when the real men tore the jaws of lions with mere fists. It was then that men’s gallantry was shown in wrestling matches organized across towns and villages. That was when Okonkwo defeated Amalinze, the Cat, in a unique wrestling match. Then, inter-tribal wars were not news and warriors raided towns and villages. Then kings led in wars against kingdoms and nations. Whichever king that conquered another became the ultimate warrior whereas the defeated king would become his vassal.

By that time, whenever there was war threat, the flutist would beckon on the king with his flute, singing: Eze kunie! Eze kunie! Kunie na chi efola, ka I mara ihe obodo na-ekwu, ka I mara ihe obodo na-acho, ka obodo wee dinu n’udo! Eze kunie na chi efola! â€“ Arise, O king, arise! Arise for it is dawn so that you will know what the town is saying and what they want for them to be at peace! Arise, O king for it is dawn! At the sound of the flute, the king would summon his cabinet to decide on the cause of action to take. As we enter the dry season, the flute sounds today at the gate of the Anambra State Government House.

 

Governor Peter Obi must have gotten over his first tenure during which he fought on many fronts. One of such battles was between him and the money-bags that held the state to ransom. The other was between him and the hooligans that kept the state moving in the name of security outfits. Then we had the highly indoctrinated Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB); the over politicized National Association of the Road Transport Owners (NARTO); the dangerous and personalized Anambra Vigilante Services (AVS) and other splinter groups of outlaws that struggled for the soul of the state. Obi foughtgallantly to send them out of the state. Till today, the MASSOB, which then camped in Nkpor and Onitsha areas with headquarters at the Akpaka Forest, from which they controlled the environs as â€˜Biafran territory’, has not forgiven Obi for dislodging them. The war between Obi and his former deputy was an open secret. In all these, Obi enjoyed a massive support from the masses.

 

Even when Obi was very much vilified for wasting time in planning, his supporters never relented. Those who did not support him could not but get convinced after listening to him. Apart from his calmness and soft voice, his power also lies in his tongue and he always has his own logic which many a time, he alone knows and follows religiously. As a philosopher, Obi seems to be madly in love with Plato’s World of Ideas and pursues it with zeal. His convictions have pitched him against some prominent citizens especially those who have fed fat from the state coffers. From all indications, Obi performed well in his first tenure and has been promising to repeat the same feat and even more in his second tenure. However, many are beginning to wonder how he hopes to achieve all these. This is because since he returned for the second tenure, there has been a lull in the activities of the state. This has fetched the governor more criticisms than encomiums.

It is now a popular belief that a good number of the uncompleted and slowly moving projects should have had more works done on them if they have been handed over to able contracting firms and are well supervised. Of particular note is the Ebenebe Bridge Project, which for about three years now, has not known any significant progress. The people of the area have taken the ugly option of being ferried to and fro in canoes across the little river as vehicles cannot cross it.Ajalli-Ogboji-Aguluezechukwu Bridge has been rendered worse than it was met by the contracting firm that handles it and it is now a nightmare for the people of the area to travel home. The road is not better than the bridge as the government awaits the completion of the bridge project before awarding the contract for road construction.

 

In the same way, the Isuaniocha Bridge has remained under construction nearly one year after the governor himself promised that it would take just sixmonths to complete. Travelling through the Okpuno-Isuaniocha-Amanuke roadduring the rainy season has brought untold hardship to the road users. I have had personal experiences there. The Nkpologwu-Amesi-Akpo road seems to be revolting against the workers whenever they come for work and that is why it has remained unfinished since the work began on it. The work on Abagana-Ukpo-Awkuzu road could have recorded more progress than it is doing now. But thanks to God that work began on it recently. There are numerous other similar complaints.

 

The governor may not know this and it would be unjust not to tell him that he might have been badly advised on the recruitment of teachers in the state. During his campaign for the second tenure, it was one of the promises he made. The forms were published and many applied. Unfortunately, the teachers have not been recruited and yet teachers are lacking in our schools and youth corps members are now used to fill the gap. The governor has explained this as the mistake of the education ministry which did not hearken to his instruction of employing the indigenes of the towns as teachers. But the people understand it as the governor’s greatest campaign strategy and likened it to Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State’s much advertised ten thousand job opportunities for Imo youths for which many paid heavily and got nothing afterwards.  Since then, the applicants have refused to stop cursing Obi and always averred that if he were sincere, he would have corrected the anomaly and get the qualified ones recruited. Till today, we have not heard that any worker of the ministry of education was held responsible for not carrying out the governor’s instructions.

 

The governor has had the misfortune of having the south-east ASUU strike during his tenure as the chairman, south-east Governors’ Forum. Though he has yielded to some appreciable extent to the demands of the Anambra StateUniversity lecturers, the ASUU has refused to call off the strike and insist that they cannot be intimidated into calling it off. Obi is not the cause of the non implementation of the ASUU-FG agreement of 2009 as many blame him. But he could have prevented the strike through dialogue. His sweet tongue could have worked wonders here especially on the female lecturers who could have influenced their male counterparts. But they went on strike and that is not a plus for Obi as the chairman of the forum.

 

Another thing that the Anambrarians especially the APGA supporters are yet to understand is the position of the party after Obi. Many thought that Obi could have given the party a much stronger structure that would have eclipsed other parties especially the PDP as is the case in Lagos, Edo and other states where the opposition parties are in power. Even right now, many are so worried of a marketable candidate within APGA who can replace Obi after his tenure. They strongly believe that if the governor fails to find a suitable candidate and allows the opposition to take over the state, it will amount to selfishness of the first order. If he joins the ruling party as some had speculated, it will amount to, not just betrayal, but an abomination.

 

The governor’s supporters do not seem to be increasing in number. That is the truth he must be told. This is not because of some evil he has done but because of some good the people believe he has not done, funny enough, which none of his predecessors dared to do. But the people so much placed their trust in Obi and see him as the Messiah. That is why they believe he should be better than his predecessors. However, the patient ones among his supporters believe that from experience, his wonders come in dry season. They therefore decided to give him the benefit of doubt after which they begin to write his name with the butt of the pen should he fail.Be that as it may, I strongly believe that the people should beware of myopiaand amnesia. In terms of infrastructure and value re-orientation, Obi is unrivaled. He has a wonderful and fertile vision for the state which, if he succeeds in bringing to reality, Anambra will become the best in the federation. Again, nobody will forget that there was a time Anambra used to be worse than Abia in terms of security. It was Obi that restored sanity to the state. Some isolated cases of kidnapping and armed robbery are not different from what one can hear of any other place in the world. That Anambra now has the best connection of roads is also a credit to Obi. But what we know is that with a man of Obi’s caliber and with the conviction that we voted him in, we can’t stop asking for more. The much expected dry season is here. Eze kunie na chi efola o o o!

Rev. Fr. Clement Muozoba –okochacm@yahoo.com -08060843010

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