By Okpala Giovanni –
The Anambra political landscape has lately become charged up and over burdened with late primaries and electoral campaigns with the different political heavyweights trying to outdo the other in a game of wits to gain mass popularity and acceptance to take over the helm of affairs in the state.
The most intriguing of this politicking has revolved around the incumbent Governor Obiano and his predecessor Mr Obi who is the force behind the PDP candidate Mr Oseloka Obaze. The love lost between Obiano and Obi has led to fierce verbal attacks and counter attacks from the camps of both parties trying to besmear the political campaign of the other. This smear campaign lacking in ideology is characteristic of the old unintellectual motor park campaigns denigrating into a mere verbal cum social media tirade between two ex-lovers.
First off, Governor Obiano won the Anambra gubernatorial elections in 2013 neither on the merits of his candidacy nor on the strength of his manifestoes but on his endorsement by Obi who presented him for the continuity of the giant strides he made in the government house. Unlike Peter Obi who fought the Anambra political gladiators and vampires to wrestle the state from their strangle hold; Obiano had the government of the state served to him on a silver platter. The citizens had so much trust and belief in Peter Obi that they turned out en-masse and voted in the hitherto unknown Obiano into the Government house. Fast forward to today, as an Anambrarian born and bred I can testify that the Willie Obiano Administration did not live up to expectation.
In as much as he has made giant strides in security which is a sine qua non for governance and his payment of salaries as at when due which earned him the moniker “The Alert Governor”, the people still believe there are many more left that he could do to encourage development in the state and impact on the life of the people. Every servant deserves his wages so his frequent boasts of salary payments is not such a glorious achievement, but in Nigeria the inability of some states like Kogi to pay their staff members as much as six months’ salary has made back to back salary payments seem out of this world. Let me state that the workers from whose sweat the state makes massive revenues deserves their salary as of right and not as a favour.
The failure of the state government to live up to expectation and to effectively impact on the lives of the people has resulted in a very bad campaign effort by the Governor’s campaign team, who are more focused on trading words to score cheap political points against the other candidates. Under the previous administration of Chris Ngige and Peter Obi, the populace can attest to how vibrant and effective governance was handled and how both Obi and Ngige where adored by the people. When Obi reclaimed his peoples mandate from Ngige courtesy of the Court of Appeal, he outperformed his predecessor to reclaim the governorship position and return for a record second term. Anybody would have expected Obiano to up the ante or at least match up to the previous achievements but instead a cursory look around the state and one will have nothing but to score the governor low.
This low score card and the lack of campaign ideas and strategies has opened up the gubernatorial race to the other candidates contesting for the position. Imagine the hastily arranged tricycle-rides and sudden trips to roadside markets including patronising the roadside corn roasters and sellers and you will be disappointed by the naïve nature of his campaigns. My honourable governor these are signs that you have been out of touch with the wishes and aspirations of the people. Anambrarians are well past the age of political ‘Nollywood’ theatrics and playing to the gallery. I hope you noticed the poverty stricken faces and emaciated figures of these poor suffering market women in your campaign rounds. These people have been calling for your attention but Willie was snoring.
Moreover, Mr Peter Obi as a result of his good work with his ANIDS initiative during his tenure as Governor of the state has endeared him to the people, who rallied around him to elect Obiano as the Governor after his two terms. But the subsequent failure of the Obiano’s Administration to live up to standards is a betrayal of the trust and goodwill the people have for Mr Obi, who presented Obiano to the people as a candidate with whom he is well pleased. Mr Obi in his honest assessment has conceded that the state has slid back on developmental strides made by previous administration as a result of the failure of the Obiano administration to move the state forward. Barely five-months into the Obiano administration, Obi and Obiano became estranged, Obi decamped from APGA to PDP and since then has become Obiano’s political nightmare.
It was Tim Brokaw who said that “heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip quietly away”, I believe that the best Peter Obi should do is not to take centre stage in the current electoral campaign but to retire back as a stakeholder and an elder statesman which he is just like the revered Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and guide his party’s campaign or risk losing the goodwill of the people. Presently Peter has been in the forefront of the campaign of his party’s candidate Oseloka Obaze presenting him as the messiah and verbally conceding that he made a mistake about Obiano. I am now tempted to ask “how are you sure Obaze is any different?” and “where was this Obaze when you anointed and presented us Obiano? In fact, the whole scheme looks like a man all out on a personal vendetta and I think the people will refuse to fall and become enslaved to Obi’s political gimmicks. Therefore, he should let Oseloka Obaze conduct his campaigns himself; present his manifestoes to the people without doing further damage.
I must say that the Obi and his lovely wife leading Obaze and wife around for campaigns is most likely to cost them the polls. The people of Anambra state have rejected ‘godfatherism’ and his current activities with Obaze smells thus. If Obaze is walking around hoping that Obi raising his hands on the political platforms and shouting himself hoarse is the Canaan they hope for then he is yet out of Egypt.
The lessons of the 2015 presidential elections remain fresh that until otherwise proven the devil you know is better than the angel presented as a change that you don’t know. I hereby advice the parties to go back to the drawing boards, put their acts together and present a very sound policy objectives and manifestoes to snare the voting public just as Obi did when he first campaigned for the governorship position in the state. They should eschew the bitter attacks on each other on social media and the blackmails to score cheap political points but should enjoin their campaign teams to brainstorm, organise and present a water tight vision for a better Anambra state. Prosperity and progress is what Anambrarians yearn for. George Orwell in his celebrated work 1984 opined that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”.
– Okpala Giovanni wrote in from Awka and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org