Mixed reactions as Obiano marks 7th year in office

Former Anambra state governor Willie Obiano

Anambra state governor Willie Obiano, on March 17, 2021 marked seven years in office as the Chief Executive of the state. In this report, OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU gathered reactions from individuals and organisations on how the administration has fared.

Mixed reactions have continued to trail Governor Willie Obiano’s seven years in office as the Chief Executive of Anambra state. The governor, who succeeded Mr Peter Obi of the then  All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), is the seventh civilian to shepherd the state since her creation on August 27 , 1991. His predecessors (civilians) were Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr Chris Ngige, Dame Virginia Etiaba, Chief Andy Uba and Mr Peter Obi.  

But while some, especially, the members of his political party,  Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) and People Living with Disabilities (PWD) hailed the governor over some of his observable achievements, opposition parties and other interest groups had different opinions.

According to a statement co-signed by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr James Eze and others, Obiano recorded impressive feats in education having built and equipped (unnamed) schools and offered scholarships to students, recruited 1000 new teachers, and introduced teaching-on-air programmes to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Other achievements were Anambra state cargo airport (under construction), establishment of Anambra State Health insurance scheme, attracted citing of Appeal Court at Awka, installation of CCTV at (unnamed) major towns, established socio -economic outfit like the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, ANSIPPA and Anambra State Small Business Agency, ASBA; constructed roads and bridges, grew the state internally generated revenue, increased the workers salaries, and enhanced agriculture.

Reacting, the Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET), a platform for citizens stakeholders and non state actors, through its Chairman Prince Chris Azor, listed other projects executed by Obiano to include the N20 million Community Choose-Your-Project (an initiative aimed at citing choice infrastructural development across the 181 communities in the state), and introduction of Anambra State Community and Social Development Project (ANCSDA), a World Bank assisted initiative, which he said has delivered some micro infrastructure projects across the state. 

Azor added that the governor was the first in the South East to sign into law, Open Government Partnership (OGP), a transparency and accountability threshold, which according to him, earned the administration humongous financial leap through the World Bank’s States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS)- program-for-Results (PforR).

“As we join other patriotic citizens, peers, friends and sundry well wishers of Anambra to celebrate these milestones and obvious landmark achievements of a rare icon and core professional, we most responsibly, enjoin him to make conscious effort to thoughtfully and strategically midwife a smooth succession that would ensure continuity and sustainability of his philosophy of development in an atmosphere of brotherhood, love, peace and security of the state”, he added. 

Also, Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Anambra State chapter, and the Governor Willie Obiano’s Special Adviser (SPAD) on Disability Matters, Bar. Chuks Ezewuzie, described the governor as Oguguo Ndi Olusi (The Consoler of the PWDs).

“Obiano had on 18th December, 2018, signed the Disability Rights Bill into law, which was to protect PWDs against all forms of discrimination, intimidation and marginalisation; appointed about seven persons with disabilities in the state into his cabinet, created an office for disability matters and appointed a special adviser on disability matters, as well as employed over 200 qualified PWDs into the state civil service in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

“The inclusion of persons with disabilities issues in your 2021 budget speech and increasing budget provision to take care of the needs of persons with disabilities was deliberate not for any political reason. Your recent approval for the set up of the Anambra state Disabilities Rights Law implementation Committee. We celebrate you. Our major demand on this special is the establishment of Anambra Disabilities Rights Commission. This is to guarantee full implementation of the Anambra Disabilities rights Law 2018,” Okeke maintained.

Ezewuzie urged governors of the 36 states of the federation to emulate Obiano and his wife, who according to him, ensured disability inclusion, in order to ensure equal opportunity and participation of people with disabilities across the federation. 

But the State’s chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Mr Nnamdi Nwangwu, described Obiano’s administration as “a disaster,” urging his kitchen cabinet to rather “bury their heads in shame as Anambra state has suffered an unprecedented backward slide under his watch.”

“It is really unfortunate and at the same time embarrassing that the APGA controlled government is celebrating seven years of colossal failure. There is practically nothing on the ground to celebrate. Under the watch of Gov Obiano, the status of Anambra State as having the best road network in Nigeria has suffered a severe blow, the roads in the state have become death traps, old roads are not maintained and new ones are not constructed, at a time in recent past, one can move from the farthest point in the state to Awka, the state capital in less than one hour, that is no longer the case today.

“The evil wind that has blown on road infrastructure has also affected almost other sectors, there is absolutely no infrastructural development witnessed in Obiano’s Anambra. It has always been the case of the more you look, the less you understand. Mr Peter Obi handed over democratic local government areas to Chief Obiano but the incumbent has not deemed it fit to deepen democracy in Anambra state by conducting local government elections since he assumed office seven years ago. 

“Many hospitals, especially the primary health centres and the General Hospitals were beautifully performing their medical functions to the good people of Anambra state before Chief Obiano came on board, but today most of the hospitals have become shadows of their usual selves. At a time, the APGA government lied that they were exporting vegetables and other farm produce, but today the good people of the state have woken up to the stark realization that they have been duped by a clueless and visionless government whose achievements are only seen and recognised by their paid e-rats. 

“Nothing is actually working under the administration of the day, the rate of kidnap and other violent crimes have assumed an upward dimension, Ndi Anambra and visitors now have nightmares in the day time while passing through Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, the same thing is applicable to Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia and other communities. Anambra state has become a state of ‘caretaker’ as the APGA government has denied many communities the opportunity of electing their town unions’ executives, the same thing, of course, is applicable to the market unions in the state. It’s always caretaker here and there,” he alleged. 

Similarly, the People’s Restoration Movement (PRM), a political movement, through its Director of Public Communication and Strategy, Mr Ndubuisi Anaenugwu scored the governor low, saying his administration was running an anti-people government.

“For seven years, Governor Obiano has failed to build democratic institution. He has ignored the plea to conduct local government elections. PRM has campaigned with other Igbo organizations for an anti open grazing bill to be signed into law but Gov Obiano preferred to make his friends in the north happy against the desire of people of Anambra. Just today, we got a call from Anyamelu that herdsmen killed the President General of the community, so which security are we talking about?

“People Restoration Mission being an ideologically driven political movement has high expectations from public officers. Our assessment is based on public policy initiatives that would create quality jobs, build affordable housing, set price control boards for agricultural products ,create industrial parks , create smart cities ,establish state micro financing ,build modern schools, discourage praise singing in government and fight corruption within government. PRM will score Obiano low in running people driven governments. However, His Excellency has tried in areas of payment of workers salaries, response to security distress calls and few other legacy projects,” Anaenugwu posited.

On his part, the Anambra state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC), said it ‘sympathises’ with the people and residents of Anambra state ‘on the predicament they find themselves regarding governance’ under Obiano. 

The party in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Arch. Okelo Madukaife alleged that seven years of Obiano’s leadership and fifteen years of APGA in Anambra state neither created any value nor held out any promise.

“In this period and particularly in the last seven years, Anambra state lost all its investments to uncontrolled spending and became an extension of missionary missions which has denied the church and its leaders the moral right to call out the government. The Willie Obiano-led government promised to grow Agriculture, Commerce, Oil and industries as four pillars of government and failed on all.

“Even the trumpeted 12 enablers have not seen the light of the day as the government soon abandoned its proposal to embark on Independent Power Project to boost electricity and made no effort to intervene on the fleecing of its citizens with estimated billing from private electricity distributors. Anambra state government of the day abandoned roads and the few roads remembered with little impacts found the agents of the confused government mixing concrete to patch up existing tarmac from previous administrations. 

“Of the three earth-mounds obstructing the vistas of Awka, only one in the Kwata area is meeting 40 percent of their objectives. The one in Aroma has failed to decongest the junction and has not separated heavy duty interstate traffic from local one, endangering lives in the process. The Amawbis Bridge is a calamity, inviting a serious government of the future to review its existence, just like that of Aroma. Government propagandists lay claim to Anambra being the safest state, but crimes increased,” he maintained.

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