By Rowland Odegbo
Since the governorship election in Anambra state was won and lost not much in terms of the discussion still dominates public discourse. Everybody appears to have moved on. Both the winner and the losers have since adjusted to the reality of the time. The state has also adjusted to the continuity train and shut its doors firmly against possible abandoned projects.
But for occasional rumour seeping through the mills, that chapter of the state history was closed on the 18th day of November, 2017. The day the people of Anambra decided. Nobody has since contested the election. None protested the dominance of the winner- the plurality of his votes. The victory run of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 21 of 21 Local Government Areas of the State was a major surprise to everybody. It has since been muted in discussion just as the margin of victory. Neither the spread nor the plurality of votes was bettered in the history of the state. For the first time, the idea of APGA as a collective trust was established. The nkea bu nke anyi mantra became a big pay-off. But more than that, good governance was chosen over and above any manner of gamble with the unknown. The victory was an endorsement of the achievements of the Willie Obiano government hitherto excoriated on the social media by paid agents.
Ndi Anambra remembered how safe they were since the Obiano government. Civil servants among them remembered the relief of prompt payment of salaries, pensions and emoluments amidst whining in most states. Community dwellers remembered how their lives were touched through communities’ choose-your-project initiative of the government. The physically challenged, the poor and others on the wrong side of life remembered how their burden was lightened and the meaning of life redefined by the government. The man in the street remembers with nostalgia the illumination of his street previously in pitch darkness. Residents of Awka who were witnessing the transformation of the town into a capital city for the first time spurned any idea of change. The petty trader in the market relieved of the burden of taxation vowed to walk his talk. Pupils, students and their teachers decided against partisanship and voted for continued improvement in their academic environment. Beneficiaries of the improved agriculture in the state, those who gained employment in the many integrated farms and others who sourced food items from them worked hard to return the government. All those made Governor Obiano’s victory seem a win in a walk.
However, not everyone appreciated the achievements to the extent of wishing the government reelected. And that is the beauty of democracy. It allows for diverse interest and its lawful protection. Those who saw differently and voted according to their conscience had their say. But in the end the views of greater majority of the people prevailed. The people spoke loud and clear. With greater mandate they asked the governor to continue with his good work.
To his glory, not one of the losers among the sea of contestants (they were indeed legion) had challenged his victory in court. Every one of them, in the spirit of sportsmanship, and for the greater love of the state, has decided against contesting the popular decision. This is perhaps the first of its kind since the governorship elections in the state. Apart from the fact that the governor had extended a hand of fellowship to other contestants, urging them to greater task of developing the state, good reason also prevailed. The amount of money the state would have saved this time by not contesting the victory at the tribunal can only be imagined. Anambra remains one of the few states with a history of convoluted post election cases. Often the story would not end alone with loss of huge capital from the state it sometimes elicited one type of drama or another.
But for the mischief of the social media all the bad-tempered responses of the past would be forgotten. The internet imps who could not deter the good cause on 18th of November through malicious lies have regrouped to attempt straining the relationship between the governor and the president. Nothing could be more mischievous than ascribing the idea of a presidential ambition to the governor whose passion for Anambra in the next four years is undiluted. Not once since he won the election did he make it clear that his passion for the development of the state is a consuming one. That he is committed to improving on what his administration achieved in the first four years by expanding deeper the frontiers of development. There is no gainsaying the fact that optimal development of the state can only be achieved through hard work – the type his administration had shown since debouching on the scene. It is difficult, if not impossible, to attempt what the Obiano government achieved in its first term if it is of flippant political disposition. A presidential ambition, the one insinuated by mischief makers in the social media, is not in the cards now. Governor Obiano’s interest is to transform Anambra and make her the Dubai of Nigeria. The passion is so consuming that any other idea easily pales in insignificance.
Governor Obiano is interested in supporting President Buhari’s effort in improving the state of infrastructure development in the state and the entire South east zone. He has not forgotten the dispassionate role the federal government played during the November governorship election in the state and can only support him to improve on the development.
If there is any such thing as presidential ambition it is certainly not now. He has a duty to perform to which he was massively reelected. He cannot afford otherwise. His interest is Anambra, and to urge the federal government to refund the sum of N43.5 billion owed the state on repairs of federal roads in Anambra. There was a promise of such refund and if honoured will help improve the lot of the state. The task of building Anambra and improving on the political leadership of ndi Igbo is already a handful for the hardworking governor. The idea of a presidential ambition in 2019 is the handiwork of mischief makers on the net and the least of the governor’s interest.
Igwe Rowland Odegbo
Aborgu 11 of Nteje