As the November 16 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State draw closer, the question agitating the minds of many political observers and lovers of Anambra State is who will succeed Governor Peter Obi?
The titanic battles that Governor Obi waged to reclaim and retain his electoral mandate is still fresh in people’s minds and the question of who succeeds him therefore becomes an obvious curiosity.
Perhaps, the most important reason is that after laying such a solid foundation for the accelerated development of Anambra State, Governor Obi has a duty to ensure that his legacy is not thrown to the dogs.
If what happened at the recent primaries is a reliable barometer to gauge the political climate of the state, one can hazard a guess and say that in the emerging scenario Obi is not totally unaware of what posterity requires of him.
Indeed anyone who is familiar with the trouble with Nigeria must know that a huge part of our problem is the challenge of continuity in governance. In saner crimes, administrators come and go but government stays; the vision does not completely change because a new catalyst has taken control.
The blueprint might be slightly modified at some point to meet the exigencies of the times but the basic thrust of administration remains largely unchanged.
Unfortunately, Nigerian leaders have always tended to throw away the baby with the bathwater. They are so set against one another that no sooner is one administration over than the successor would discredit and sweep every achievement under the carpet.
This trend has slowed the pace of our socio-economic development to a near inconsequential level.
Fortunately, the tide is turning in some states of the federation, even if the change is not on the scale that will make a difference yet. We have seen where astute political re-engineering ensured that a good work done by ex-governor Donald Duke’s visionary leadership in Cross River is consolidated and taken to a whole new level by the incumbent Governor Liyel Imoke to the wide approval of all lovers of good governance.
We have also seen the shining example of Lagos State where ex-governor Tinubu’s dreams of a mega city are daily being given shape and form by the incumbent Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. We have seen that for any lasting progress to be made there must be a continuity of vision over time.
And it is for this reason that all lovers of Anambra State must encourage Governor Peter Obi to take more than a passing interest in the question of who succeeds him to continue the many good work he has done in Anambra State. The last eight years of Peter Obi’s administration has changed Anambra State for good. Even Obi’s worst enemies do not dispute this. He has single-handedly hurled Anambra State from a place where people pointed at from the safety of neighbouring states to a land of peace and bustling enterprise.
Obi’s imprint is deeply felt in the health sector where he has done massive works in building and rehabilitating hospitals and getting them accredited. Obi’s blueprint for industrializing Anambra is perhaps one of the most audacious in these parts.
Anambrarians still shudder in bewilderment whenever discussions tilt to Obi’s entrepreneurial maneuvers that sired the Orient petroleum project as well as the SABMiller project.
His massive road construction works across Anambra State has ensured that no town in the state is cut off from its neighbours due to lack of access road.
In other words, in a manner of speaking, Obi brushed up former Governor Ngige’s much applauded road construction manual and took it to a level. But then, this essay is not on Obi’s achievements but on the need to ensure the continuity of his vision.
Close watchers of the Anambra guber race seem to agree that Obi has been playing behind the scene role in the on-going political chess-game to find his successor. Some people believe that Obi has made his choice in Chief Willie Obiano, who is known as a silent achiever and astute administrator.
The manner of Obiano’s emergence as the APGA standard bearer in the last primaries has left no one in doubt as to Obi’s political gamesmanship and his capacity to take the opponent off his guard.
Close observers however believe that Obi has once again proven his political sagacity with his rumoured endorsement of Chief Obiano. Not only will he be keeping his promise to Anambra North that his successor would come from that senatorial district but he would also be securing the future of Anambra State by ensuring that a well-rounded and grounded manager of men and resources will take over from him to continue the good work he has started in Anambra State. In more ways than one, the APGA candidate compares quite favourably with Obi’s profile when he vied for the gubernatorial post eight years ago. Obiano has made his mark as an urbane banker and thoroughbred professional whose powerful instincts and administrative wizardry helped Fidelity Bank survive the ceaseless gales of distress that have swept many well-founded financial institutions in Nigeria off the financial map.
Obiano is also known to have left the service of the bank on high, having kept a squeaky clean image in a career spanning close to 30 years of operation at the highest levels.
In a country where more than half of the population of banking executives either end up in jail or are hunted across the globe for one fraud or the other it is not surprising that Governor Obi is rooting for Obiano. Again, it is rather lame and preposterous to hear people argue that Obi is trying to impose his friend on Anambra. While this may be true, is it not understandable that the governor should endorse the aspirations of a candidate whose ability and proven integrity is a matter of public knowledge?
It would have been curious if Chief Obiano were not from the anointed Anambra North district or is proven to be a man of questionable character as most of his opponents in the ensuing race. But since he is a man of impeccable pedigree from the favored zone and a well-known philanthropist and leader, Obi has a sacred duty to ensure that only a man like Obiano will succeed him. Anambra State is an important Igbo state whose well-being carries a domino effect on the five Igbo states in Nigeria.