“The great difficulty is first to win a reputation;
the next to keep it while you live;
and the next to preserve it after you die”.
The leadership manifestations in Nigeria since the attainment of political independence have been sadly weighted towards mediocrity, ineptitude, gross abuses and the inevitable poor performance. As millions of hapless Nigerians across the land groan under the increasing burden of deprivations amidst the bountiful endowments of their country, it is always refreshing to experience the occasional guiding lights of hope that all is not lost. It is these oases of meaningful progress that have enabled Nigerians with a modicum of propriety to retain their sanity in a society that appears to have elevated infamy to an ethos. This is the rationale for celebrating the likes of Peter Gregory Obi who turned 57 on July 19, 2018.
Peter Obi is a Nigerian who has, in a comparatively short period in the public eye, made tremendous contributions to his immediate and extended environments through his official schedules and private initiatives alike. Groomed in the fear of God, academic education & professional exposure, he brings to bear on his ventures a formidable blend of integrity, empathy, enterprise, clear purpose, determination, and dignity of labour. Backed by a highly-successful experience in commerce & industry – in the field and boardroom — his advent into politics helped to dispel the unfortunate age-long experience that Nigerian politics is about venality and vendetta.
The performance of Peter Obi as Governor of Anambra State is well-documented, but it will always bear repetition; if only to remind those in the public trust that good governance is both desirable and attainable. Despite trip-wires laid inn his path by predators on the public treasury, his two-term tenure recorded several people-oriented, sustainable strides in the critical areas of administration, education, health & social services, security, infrastructure, agro-business, and commerce & industry. Among others, he instilled responsibility in the public sector by strengthening governance structures. His courageous decision to hand over schools to their original proprietors stabilized basic education in the State. One of the notable effects was that Anambra State improved from its erstwhile 24th place among the 36 States to the 1st position in results of the NECO and WAECexaminations for three consecutive years. Indeed, a World Bank study recommended the Anambra Education Model for the rest of Africa and other developing countries.
Under his watch, Peter Obi’s administration built several kilometres of link/access roads to have the best road network in the country; restored security of lives & property through collective responsibility; and renovated and built health facilities across the State. Peter Obi’s support for commerce and industry created an enabling environment which saw the increased vibrancy of many industries and the setting up of new ones, including the very popular Intafact brewing giant. A realistic blue-print for agricultural development was developed; adopting massive mobilization of the farming populace, land development, capacity building, public-private partnerships [PPPs], provision of subsidies and effective monitoring to check abuses.
Recognitions and accolades have come from within the country and the international community alike, even years after he vacated office as Governor.
Such is his commitment [some observers would say “obsession”] with value-added quests that since leaving Government House he has been consistently engaged in support programmes to improve the lot of people and institutions in need, particularly in the field of education.
In his conduct of public affairs and private pursuits, Peter Obi has demonstrated in concrete terms that with the vision, commitment & will, it is possible to make positive impact on society. As he marks his 57th year – in his characteristic modest style – we join several other Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to wish him good health, peace of mind, fulfilment and many more years of value-added service to humanity.
Onukwugha Osuji writes from Abuja