This morning, I had a 30 minutes conversation with Mr. Peter Obi, which I find fascinating, instructive and worth publishing.
I discussed the election in my local government – Idemili – and told him how our state has continued to degenerate. I reminded him that four years ago people were paid 2 to 5 thousand Naira to vote but that today 15 to 20 thousand Naira were paid for people to vote. I find this scandalous and very worrisome.
In his reply, he said he had always maintained that while leaders were the problem, followers were worst. In his words, “There is no hope in this country. I vehemently and consistently insist on not being part of sharing money even if my household will vote against me because of that.”
His further comments are instructive: “I have travelled all over the world and studied development, no successful and fruitful democracy elects her leaders based on money shared. Such crude practice makes nonsense of character, leaders and their manifestos.”
To drive home his point, Obi used specific examples. Again, let me quote him: “Let me give you an example with Ayamelum local government. The only road infrastructure in the local government, as well as their headquarters, were built by me, for which I spent over 7 billion Naira. How would they expect me to give them 10 to 20 thousand Naira each to vote? Is it not absurd?”
“Likewise, the only road in Anambra West was built by me. I did the Anam to Mmiata, which cost me over 12 billion Naira because of the terrain. How would the same people collect 10 to 20 thousand Naira from people and vote wrongly? Is it not strange and absurd?
Obi also used his Anaocha Local Government community as example. He says: “Let me take my local government for example, over 90% of the roads in the community were constructed by me. Adazi-Nnukwu, a town in the local government area would have been swept off by erosion if not for my own intervention. I paid an indigene of the town, Benejaf, over 300 million Naira to control the menace.
I paid over half a billion for roads in the town. I returned the two major schools in the town to the Church, rehabilitated them, provided them with two buses, labs, Internet connectivity, computers, generators, among others. I upgraded St. Joseph’s Hospital in the town, where I invested over 1 billion Naira by building their School of Nursing, School of Midwifery and Heart Centre that cost us over 300 million Naira. After all this, it is absurd that they will still expect me to share 10 to 20 thousand Naira to them on Election Day or vote for a party that gives them that or more.
Obi also offers further examples with Ihiala, where election will take place tomorrow (the election has taken place on Tuesday) thus: “It is on record that I constructed virtually all the roads in Ihiala. The only road in Okija today was done by me. The entire roads in Ebonese-Azia, Mbosi, Lilu were done by me.
“I rehabilitated all the schools in the local government such as Ihiala Girls, Uli Girls, Abbot Boys and Girls. I also rehabilitated Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University and did the road to the school.”
Obi also recalled his unparalleled development of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala, which cost the government over 2 billion Naira. He said that regrettably, the same people would expect him to give them 10 to 20 thousand Naira to vote or else they collect from others.
Obi concludes on a didactic note: “It is not about Peter Obi, not about Uzodike, but about the future of the society our children will live in tomorrow. If we continue abusing that society today as we do, it will surely take its revenge on our children tomorrow. Let me assure you that I will remain who I am. Such abuse will not distract me from doing the right things, hoping that one day our people will discover the difference between right and wrong, how to build the society and how to destroy it.”
He said: “I read some of the comments by people on the Anambra election, most of the commentators are consumed with the outcome while totally losing sight of the colossal damage being done to the society,” and concluded with a question: Are we not encouraging leaders not to do anything but pack money meant for development and use a fraction of it to buy voters?
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000. He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.
Culled from the witness