By Uchem Obi
Very soon, the full blast of the whistle for competitive politics will sound in Anambra State and all hell will soon be let loose in the state, where personal ambition sometimes stands taller than collective interests and much taller than necessary qualifications for good leadership.
In this age of complex micro and macro economic fundamentals, it is sad that people with doubtful qualifications and dubious backgrounds are waiting to impugn the integrity of Anambra governorship with their inglorious ambitions. This is a disaster we must not allow to happen. The state is already dangling on a dangerous precipice. The choice of governor we shall make in this year’s election will either make or mar our chances of survival
It is unacceptable and unbelievable that 30 years after creation, the state is still in an embarrassing state of infancy. This has to change. The real power to make this change is in our hands and not in the hands of opportunists, to whom self aggrandisement and unbridled arrogance are the only reasons they seek power.
In the second decade of the 21st Century, we must redefine expectations from our leaders. In 1979, Senator Jim Nwobodo, as governor of old Anambra State, which today comprises three states, constructed good roads and built meaningful industries. How on earth have we come to accept construction of substandard roads and payment of salaries and pensions as standard achievements for a governor? This is absurd and also a very large signpost for failure.
Governance should be empirical and visionary. It should not be about giving a family of seven 40 cups of rice annually, that would barely sustain them for a week. It should not be about giving N10 million annually to each community in the state. How far would 40 cups of rice take a family of seven in one year and what would a community of half a million people do with N10 million in a year?
Is the money meant for each community to revolutionize their education system or healthcare delivery? Is the money meant to be shared by five hundred thousand people of each community, at the “magnanimous” ratio of N20 per person annually. This is evidence of total ignorance of what government is all about.
Governance is a mission and without a vision it is bound to fail because it is vision that drives missions. No one becomes governor only to supervise the liquidation of Federal Government Revenue allocation. No one also
becomes governor just to overtax traders and transporters, in order to generate more revenue from markets and motor parks. These are not the reasons we have government.
Pitiful handouts from visionless and misguided administrators are not our expectations from our leaders. They have rather become reasons for us to become decisive about who becomes the next governor of the state. This year’s governorship election provides us with another opportunity to get it right in the state.
Our next governor will not come from the pedestrian lane of visionless ambition and he or she must not be a reminder of yesterday’s ineptitude or a Greek gift from an anachronistic godfather. He or she must not be someone who wants to use the governorship to learn the rudiments of public administration. There is no more room for trial and error and political experience must certainly count in the choice of governor we will make this year.
This year’s governorship election will not be about bogus promises of taking us to heaven by the same people who have kept us in hell all these years. Anambra will no longer be a laboratory for leadership and administrative experimentation.
This year’s governorship election will be about real governance and timely delivery of expectations. For instance, Anambra State does no longer need isolated boreholes that become dysfunctional few hours after their media hyped commissioning. We need a vision for integrated water scheme that would open up taps in homes across cities and villages. This is why our next governor will not be business as usual opportunist, but an experienced politician with sophisticated and empirical ideas of governance.
Without doubts, many good people have declared intentions to contest this year’s governorship election in the state, but one man who stands tall in the number is debonair politician, experienced administrator, astute political negotiator, respected community leader, charismatic inspirer and philanthropist, Senator Dr. Emmanuel Andy Uba, former presidential aide, former governor and two term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The most alluring attribute of this soft-spoken politician is his profound commonness and disarming simplicity. The perks and privileges of his successful political career has not put a distance between him and the ordinary people. A product of fate and hard work, Sen. Andy Uba has said that his desire “to see Anambra rise to the pinnacle and lead economic prosperity in Nigeria is the reason why I have kept volunteering myself to serve. I am passionate about service and I am willing to lead Anambra to a new era of prosperity.” Not minding the preponderance of fake news and sponsored hate write-ups against him, Sen. Andy Uba has shown an amazing consistence in the pursuit of this desire.
Uba’s versatile experience in governance are necessary and fundamental ingredients for successful leadership, especially in multi-ethnic Nigeria, which has become plagued by tribal, regional and religious sentiments.
As a presidential aide for eight years, former governor and two term Senator for eight years, Uba has acquired needed experience, built and maintained effective network of alliances across all divides of Nigeria. At this period of mutual ethnic distrust, Anambra needs as governor, a seasoned political strategist as Andy Uba, whose clout and connections across the country will be necessary in the negotiations of concessions and compromises, which will certainly become topics in the evolving Nigeria. The troubled times in the country makes Andy Uba’s experience and clout compelling reasons for his choice.
He has also exhibited people oriented passion in his political career. As a member of the inner caucus of President Obasanjo’s administration, Ndigbo in general and Anambra State in particular can recall with joy, how many sons and daughters he was instrumental in helping into positions in the administration.
As a Senator, he did not sit back. His eight years in the Senate nourished both the engine of governance and the lives of the people. In the 7th and 8th Senate, he was recorded as one of the Senators with the highest number of bills. Many of his bills aimed at unfettering the shackles of lopsided government policies, which favoured the privileged, at the detriment of the common people. The passion for policies that will guarantee long term hope and relief for ordinary people is a revolutionary streak that makes Andy Uba stand out.
Anambra’s next governor will no longer be a crossbreed of mercantilism and godfatherism. The state is already on a dangerous precipice and Anambra needs someone like Andy Uba, who has seasoned ability and allies to maneuver the tough turf of Nigeria’s political chicanery.
Our next governor must not be anyone with enough money to buy and distribute rice, matches, T-shirts and caps.
Our collective over indulgence of political contractors, over ambitious buffoons, insensitive and opportunistic godfathers and godsons, brought our dear state to this present precipice. If we allow this misnomer to continue, we would be doing great disservice, not only to ourselves, but to our children and generations to come, who may come to believe that we are a state that glorifies mediocrity and willingly submits ourselves to the moronic leaderships of nitwits, upstarts and megalomaniac nincompoops.
That is not who we are and that is not who we are going to be in this year’s governorship election.
• Obi, a lawyer, writes from Abuja