Anambra, the state that prides itself as the Light of the Nation, will come up for governorship election in less than one year from now. The crucial election will decide whether the dimmed lights of the state will die off completely or, perchance, hope may be restored for better illumination.
Very soon, the full blast of the whistle for competitive politics will sound and, as usual, all hell will be let loose in the state, where personal ambition always stands taller than collective interests and much taller than necessary prerequisites for good leadership.
This is the reason why, in this age of complex micro and macro economic fundamentals, people with doubtful secondary school certificates and other dubious certificates stand in line, waiting to impugn the integrity of Anambra governorship with their inglorious ambitions. This is an impending disaster all true Anambrarians must unite against. The state is already standing on the precipice of shameless stagnation. Whether we shall cascade down the abyss or find hope again will depend on the choice we make next year.
It is sad that, 29 years after its creation, the state is still in embarrassing infancy. This is unacceptable and the time will be most auspicious next year for Ndi Anambra to put an end to this shameful and purposeless wandering. The real power to make this change is in our hands and not in the hands of crass 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 reject banal interpretations of governance and leadership. We must redefine our expectations from our leaders. If in 1979 Senator Jim Nwobodo, as governor of old Anambra State, which has now been carved into 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 a defecation on our intelligence and existence. Governance should be empirical and visionary and not just perfunctory. 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 every 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 N10m? Is the money for construction of roads, provision of potable water, electricity or housing projects? Is the money meant for each community to revolutionize their education system or healthcare delivery which we all dream of? Is the money meant to be shared by 500,000 people of each community, at the “magnanimous” ratio of N20 per person annually?
This is the worst example of lack of vision. It is evidence of total ignorance of how government works. A governor bereft of ideas cannot remedy his ineptitude by turning the communities in his state into unconstitutional and unknown quasi arms of his failed administration. Governance is a mission and without a vision it is bound to fail because it is vision that drives missions. Anyone who becomes governor just to supervise the liquidation of Federal Government revenue allocation is a debilitating tragedy. So also is the person who becomes governor just to over-tax traders and transporters, in order to generate more revenue from markets and motor parks. It is extremely wicked to give seven of us 40 cups of rice and N20 to each of us annually. These are not the reasons why we have government.
It is a principal function of government to create the enabling environment, jobs and logistics to enable citizens thrive on their own. Pitiful handouts from failed and misguided administrators are not our expectations from government. They have rather become reasons for us to become decisive about the next governor of the state.
Anambra State has been fumbling on this dangerous precipice for a long time now. The coming election provides us another opportunity to put an end to this macabre dance of horror and we must not waste it. Our next governor will not come from the pedestrian lane of vaulting ambition. He or she must not be a reminder of yesterday’s ineptitude or a Greek gift from an anachronistic godfather.
Anambra’s next governor must be glaringly educated. He or she must have verifiable record of outstanding success in a chosen career. The next governor must show proof of having used his or her chosen career to impact people. Next year’s governorship election will not be about temporary reliefs that will take us nowhere but about reliable and well-thought-out vision for permanent solutions to our myriad of problems. Next 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.
Our next governor will convincingly address topical issues, which will include job creation, equitable wealth distribution, modern and affordable healthcare, functional, enhanced and affordable education system and provision and maintenance of infrastructures designed and built according to international standards.
Next year will not be about “I will pay salaries and pensions and provide boreholes”. Next year’s governorship election will be about real governance and real delivery of expectations. Anambra State no longer needs isolated boreholes that become dysfunctional few hours after their media-hyped inauguration. We need a vision for integrated water schemes that would open up taps in individual homes in cities and villages. This is why our next governor will not be a run-of-the-mill, business-as-usual opportunist.
Anambra State needs a visionary governor who would worry that over 200 industries have closed in the state. We want a visionary governor who would confront our epileptic power supply and come up with a revolutionary solution that would revive our comatose industries and spark off an industrial revolution in the state, which would be reminiscent of the 1980s. Our expected governor must be innovative. He must possess empirical ideas about governance. The next governor must have glaring capacity to question existing realities. He or she must be someone motivated by an innate desire to do good. Our next governor must be someone who in private capacity has been able to inspire people towards emancipation.
He or she must be someone with proven capacity to move people from where they are to where they should be.
Without doubts, many good people have declared intentions to contest next year’s governorship election in the state. Many more will still declare, after all this is Anambra, where unfortunately before now, anyone with fat bank balance wants to be governor, irrespective of the fact, that they can barely write their names or understand the simple meaning of economics. This is a tragedy we must not allow to bedevil Anambra. Our next governor must be a visionary leader on a revolutionary mission. We must carefully comb through the aspirants to make a remedying choice.
However, one man who stands tall in the crowd of those who may have indicated interests in next year’s election is debonair politician, astute political negotiator, respected community leader, charismatic inspirer and philanthropist of undeniable records, Sen. Dr. Emmanuel Andy Uba, former Senior Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Governor of Anambra State and former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The most alluring attribute of this soft spoken politician is his profound commonness and disarming simplicity. He has not allowed the perks and privileges of his successful political career to put a distance between him and the ordinary people. He was not born with a silver spoon and he grew up playing soccer in the streets of Enugu just like other common people.
A product of fate and hard work, Sen. Andy Uba had spoken of his desire to give a voice to the ordinary people to express their unheard opinions. He has shown amazing consistence in the pursuit of this desire. Uba’s versatile experience in government and governance has made him well acquainted with the dynamics of leadership and the necessary tools of compromise and negotiations, which are fundamental necessities for successful leadership, especially in a multi ethnic country like Nigeria.
In the course of his various stewardships as a Presidential SSA, Former Governor and Senator, he has built and maintained effective network of alliances and friendships across all divides of Nigeria. At this period of mutual national distrust, Anambra needs as Governor, a political engineer as Andy Uba, whose clout and connections across the country will be very helpful in the negotiations of concessions and compromises.
Having grown up on the same borderline of life as many of us ordinary people, Andy Uba understands the peculiar needs of the borderline people and the ways and means of bridging the gap between the borderline class and the privileged class, where he now belongs. A deep understanding of this class difference and possession of innovative ideas of how to create a healthy balance between them should be a condition precedent for choosing the next governor of Anambra State. Andy Uba is very well at home on this turf.
He has also exhibited people oriented passion in his political career. As a member of the inner caucus of President Obasanjo’s administration, Ndi Igbo 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 Senator he did not sit back. He clearly understood the functions of a Senator and how good and well drafted Legislations can nourish both the engine of governance and the lives of the people. By records of the Senate, he was rated as one of the Senators with the highest number of bills in the 8th Senate. In the many bills he sponsored, Andy Uba revealed a sharp instinct for the defence of ordinary people. Many of his bills aimed at unfettering the shackles of lopsided government policies which favoured the rich and the privileged, at the expense of the common people. The passion for policies that will guarantee long term hope and relief for ordinary people is a revolutionary streak that Anambra’s next governor must possess.
A detailed study of the bills sponsored by Andy Uba is convincing of his understanding of the fundamentals of micro and macro economics. In the 21st century, Anambra’s next governor will no longer be a crossbreed of mercantilism and godfatherism. Our state is on the edge of a dangerous precipice and our next governor must be someone with good understanding of the workings of government. He must possess seasoned ability to maneuver the tough turf of Nigeria’s political chicanery. Here, Andy Uba’s apt qualification is incontrovertible again.
Anambra’s next governor must not be anyone with enough money to buy and distribute rice, matches, T – shirts and caps. Our collective over indulgence of illiterate and semi – illiterate 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 how we want our children and their children’s children to remember us. That is not who we are going to be in next year’s governorship election.
•Obi, Esq., ewrites from Abuja