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Obiano: The imperative of the Sun award By Ejike Anyaduba

Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State
Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State
Pitted against the fractious politics of Anambra, the ride to power of Governor Willie Obiano in the state has been variously described as smooth. But that, perhaps, is the only ride that can be regarded as such. Any other had its smoothness nibbled away by the tumbling economy that has forced many a governor to lose – even after accessing the bail-out funds – the momentum of governance. Today an eerie veil of unease hangs on some of the states with occasional howling sound of protest emitting from their workforce.
But the Anambra narrative is totally different. Though without claim to better economic circumstance, the state has (through the canny ability of her governor) navigated the economic land mine to notch up on governance. The governor’s financial background, evident in his years as an auditor and an accountant, served the state as a bulwark of economic stability. This background and, perhaps a clear sense of duty, gave him ample view on how to stave off the adverse effect of the declining economy.
Until the Sun Governor of the Year Award, the government’s achievements appeared muted by forces in thrall to the Anambra politics. Active in this mindless dismissal of the achievements were bloggers who exploited the lapses of the social media to malign the government. But the award has successfully done two things. One it has steered the course of truth to a level where it is now beyond the reach of the revisionists. Two it has served as thumbs up for a deserving effort. Given, gratuitous attacks if allowed free reign can make an otherwise committed governor to beg off on responsibilities. For a better appreciation of the efforts of the Obiano government since the dwindling economy an overview on governance generally should suffice.
First, with most states unable to pay salary regularly Anambra has increased workers’ salaries and pays same on or before the 25th of every month. She pays pension and allowance promptly. Secondly, she has not relented in the building of roads and bridges. In two years, four bridges have been built – three in Awka and one in Aguleri which links the oil community of Umueje. Major and byroads are constructed while treacherous ones undergo active repairs under the government’s operation-no-potholes in the state. The state is also leveraging on the power of the private sector to fast track development on other areas. For instance, the state’s investment profile in sectors like agriculture, oil and gas, real estate, hospitality etc has risen to well over $2billion with corresponding job opportunities. Perhaps it is in the area of job creation and welfare that the Obiano administration has paled most governments in comparison. Not even the security of life and property – for which the administration has achieved national recognition – is unavoidably tied to this. The government’s early promise of replacing guns with jobs has seen to the engagement of many unemployed youths in numerous government schemes in the state. Certainly, the schemes could not accommodate dyed-in-the-wool criminals who scoffed at the idea and did not see the need to disavow themselves of old habits. They have either fled the state or penned up thus giving way to a crime-free Anambra.
The administration had earlier resisted mounted pressure to disengage over 5000 workers employed by its predecessor months before leaving office. The administration did not just do that, it has followed up by having over 200 youths employed in the agricultural farms in Ayamelum, directly employed about 400 as road sweepers, engaged twice that number as traffic wardens and vehicle inspection officers, and appointed slightly less as road maintenance agents, among others. The employment line is also shored up by activities of the First Lady, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano who, through her CAFÉ initiative, has provided lots of youths with skill acquisition and built houses for indigent widows.
Impressive as these achievements, especially in this unpromising time, there are those who dismiss them as mere cinch. They argue that other governors are capable of similar feat even with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, this sentiment is not shared by majority of ndi Anambra who appreciate the governor’s canny abilities and untiring exertions. They are aware Anambra didn’t buckle under the weight of the dwindling economy just because Obiano never allowed himself the liberty of gambling – like the typical politician governor – with statecraft. The latter, according to a principal officer in the government, would wake up one morning, put his finger in the mouth to see where the wind is blowing and follow it. It seems fair to speculate that such politician – seizing upon the indifference of technocrats to politics – often gambles away the fortunes of the state.
Luckily for Anambra her fortunes are secured. When most states are battling with the basics of statecraft the government has assured on sustaining the momentum. Notwithstanding excoriations from the social media, which very early denied the government a honeymoon, ndi Anambra are pleased with the achievements so far. Like the Sun publishers, they do not doubt the government’s commitment, its sense of duty, and accountability which it has brought to governance. Neither are they in doubt of what the state will become in the next six years of uninterrupted exertion.
The Sun award might have given Obiano, his government and Anambra state some media traction, but it is in lifting the spirit of the ordinary man in the street (the sweeper, the warden, security guy etc) whom the governor actually dedicated the award that the achievements of the government were made evident.
Ejike Anyaduba
Abatete

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