By Chiedu Uche Okoye
Is national development not put in perpetual abeyance in countries and states with egregious and ineffectual political leadership? There is a connection between growth and political leadership. It is leaders that imagine and envision how their countries would develop. So, no country can rise above the dreams, visions and leadership abilities of its leaders.
That is why the masses, who possess the ultimate sovereignty in a country, should cast their ballots judiciously during elections at both the national and state levels. To barter our votes for rice and other material things, is to be enslaved.
But in 1999, when democratic governance berthed again in Nigeria, some states in the country were landed with spineless and visionless political leaders, who led their states into the abyss of backwardness.
In Anambra State, the leadership of the state was entrusted in the care of Mr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who was beholden to his political godfather and benefactor. The charismatic Dr. Chris Ngige, who succeeded him, evinced the tendencies of a great political leader. His laudable leadership template and inimitable praxis in road construction and repair are still benchmarks for assessing the governors that came after him. But, he was shunted aside via electoral litigation by Mr. Peter Obi, who is known for his political astuteness, financial parsimony and self-effacement.
During his reign as Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi offered us qualitative political leadership, which made positive and lasting impact in our lives as well as in Anambra State. His administration revamped the health and educational sectors in the state, constructed new roads and repaired dilapidated ones. He also paid civil servants and pensioners their salaries and other entitlements, as due.
His successor, Dr. Willie Obiano, a former banker, has not let the state down as he is offering Anambra people meaningful, qualitative, and life-changing political leadership. He has upped the ante of political leadership in the state with his commendable deeds. Has he not put kidnappers and armed robbers to flight in the state? Now, the state, which is now safe and secure, is the haven and home of industrialists and entrepreneurs, who relocated to it to build their industries and set up their businesses.
He has also boosted the practice of agriculture in the state by offering farmers incentives to enhance their capacities for intensive large scale and mechanized farming. Today, Anambra State has joined the league of rice-producing states in Nigeria. The quality of Anambra rice surpasses that of other varieties of rice produced by other states in the federation. And, Anambra augments the monthly financial handout it receives from the centre by exporting vegetables to other countries.
That is why the economic recession choking life out of Nigeria has not thrown the state’s finances into the red. Rather, the state’s finances are in fine-fettle, which is a proof of his financial prudence, leadership ingenuity and parsimony. More so, he has devised other ways of generating revenue for the state. So, expectedly, he has embarked on rapid industrial and infrastructure development. While industrial clusters are springing up in Onitsha and Nnewi axis, he is building roads and bridges in towns across the state to open them up for development. More so, he has not neglected the educational sector, not being unaware that education is the chief cornerstone in any geographical space with political sovereignty and functional political system.
Obiano has done well so far. But his inveterate traducers and political opponents are trying to besmirch his image with falsehood about his person and leadership scorecard. Undeterred by their political shenanigans and distractions, he has continued to steer the state on the path of sustainable economic growth and technological advancement. He is aware that Anambra’s slogan is the Light of The Nation, which spurs and inspires him to work tirelessly and relentlessly at his optimal capacity.
Anambra State is the home state of trailblazers and icons in such areas as music, literature, academic, football, athletics, and others. Just think about Osita Osadebe, Chimamanda Adiche, Chinua Achebe, Emeka Anyaokwu, Mikel Obi, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Nnamdi Azikwe, Philip Emeagwali, and others. Anambra, which is the home-state of many global high-fliers, needs a prudent, visionary, astute, humane, able, and sagacious political leader like Obiano. But, sadly, APGA, the political platform from which Mr. Willie Obiano ascended into the loft of power, is in crisis now.
The recurring squabbles and disunity in APGA can negatively affect its electoral fortunes in future elections. Like the Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, APGA is a rallying point and symbol of Igbo oneness and unity. APGA is a movement as well as an organization for the realization of the collective wishes and aspirations of the Igbo.
I am aware that my take on APGA would cast me in the mould of an ethnic chauvinist and bigot. But, an excursion down the political history of Nigeria would show that ethnic-based political parties have been a feature of our politics. We had NPN, NPC, NCNC and others in the First Republic; we had NPN, NPP, UPN and others in the Second Republic. And in the Fourth Republic, we had ACN, APGA, PDP, and others. Are/were these parties truly nationalistic in outlook? APC, the ruling political party, is a coalition of political parties that coalesced in order to oust Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from the presidential seat.
So, as 2017 is the election year in Anambra State, I urge the disgruntled people and factions in APGA to close ranks, sink their differences, forge a common front and offer Dr. Obiano support in his quest to win his re-election bid. He is deserving of another term in office as he has been performing splendidly and excellently in diverse areas like agriculture, infrastructure development, security, sports, health, commerce, and education.
Okoye writes from Obosi, Anambra State