By Ndubisi Orji
Chief Okwuchukwu Okafor is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former organising secretary of the Anambra state chapter of the party. He speaks on the forthcoming governorship election, stating that Governor Willie Obiano has failed the state and the electorate cannot wait to vote him out.
How would you assess the performance of the Willie Obiano administration?
Were I to assess this administration by my standards , I would not hesitate to tell you that it is a complete failure. A government that has not created employment or opportunities for youths and women in about three years, that has not fully rehabilitated one road outside the governor’s town, that has not improved the environmental sanitation or provided any improvement in the health sector leading to avoidable mortality, cannot be said to have performed.
If we have to assess the Obiano administration based on its campaign promises of 4Cs, its four pillars of agriculture, security, its failure as a government becomes discernible. Two years after, which road left uncompleted by the Peter Obi administration can Governor Obiano claim to have completed? Which one did it commence? Where is the boast of becoming number one in rice production? In the last season, we heard of Kebbi and Ebonyi’s accomplishments in rice production, where is the 900,000 metric tonnes of rice target by Anambra State? How can you compete with a state that budgeted N38 billion for agriculture when our state budgeted N1 billion and is waiting for MoUs to achieve its dream.
The government claims it has continued to maintain security which Peter Obi started, but I want to ask, is the state secure only when there is none or minimal kidnapping? Today, youth restiveness is being channelled into inter-communal clashes obviously over land and union leadership struggle. The worst is that the Obiano government is interfering in town unions by imposing leaderships, a development this is increasing the strife. It claimed to be paying salaries and asking us to clap for it, but I ask how the government is paying salaries when it is borrowing. Would it have been able to pay salaries if it had not borrowed N25 billion? That is why there is nothing on the ground, except payment of salaries and signing of MoUs, and soliciting for awards. This is a government that inherited over N28 billion in cash balances, yet it went ahead to borrow N25 billion less than 24 months after. It has destroyed the local government system by ensuring there are no elections, not even appointed chairmen. What is then being done with the more than N2 billion monthly allocations for the 21 local governments? This has been the most extravagant government Anambra State has had; and that is why Champagne drinks are popped regularly and Christmas celebrated with millions of naira on fireworks.
If you think Anambra is not working, what is the alternative?
The two preceding administrations of Chris Ngige of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) proved to everyone that despite our inadequate federal allocations, we could look inwards and make judicious use of the limited resources to develop our state. Ngige rehabilitated about 200 kilometres of roads in three years, whilst Obi rehabilitated over 800 kilometres of road and established one of the very best road networks in the country. Peter Obi reformed the educational infrastructure resulting in the state’s students excelling in external examinations. Everyone had looked forward to Obiano’s administration improving in other areas whilst maintaining the established standard in security, education and road infrastructure. The Obiano administration has been found wanting in this regard. There is nothing being done about creating wealth and empowering our youth and women. Imagine that in 2014, only about 1,000 farmers were provided with seedlings when there are over 20,000 registered farmers in the state. Even the roads that were rehabilitated are not being maintained. That is why we are saying Ndi Anambra can do it better. Things can be done better.
If we allow this present administration to do another four years, the state would collapse. The present conflicts amongst communities would ground our state, poverty and loss of opportunities will force our youths into criminal activities, and our educational system will break down.
We need to have our youths gainfully engaged and government promoting activities that will create wealth and empowerment for them. We need to reform our health care delivery system, not the privatisation of government hospitals that would make healthcare unaffordable for our people. Any person can go round signing MOUs but what follows?
Talking about rancour, the PDP is being deserted both here in the state and at the national level. Is that not a sign that the election is already lost even before it began?
That some of our strong members are deserting PDP to join All Progressives Congress (APC) is pitiable. I feel pity for them because whilst some may think these people are deserting PDP, many see them as deserting the Igbo interest. It is clear what we face today as Ndigbo in Nigeria. Someone had questioned why those who gave them five percent should get equal attention. The country is seeking 30 billion dollars external loan and no single project in this loan funding plan is in the whole of South East. Our demand to give us six states like other zones is not being considered at all.
PDP is not the loser from these actions of my brethren who are crossing over. Rather, in Anambra state, their temporary absence will enable us reconcile faster and work harder to serve our people. Note that I say, temporary, because I believe they will be back before 2019, once they realise the futility of their actions.
The PDP said it was going to be a strong opposition to the ruling party, but it has wobbled from one crisis to another…
If you look well at the crisis that has engulfed the PDP since it left the reins of Federal Government, you will see hands belonging to the APC behind some of the actors. However, we have taken it in good faith because the crisis has made us realised the need for unity, helped us appreciate our individual strengths and recharged us to rededicate ourselves to better public service. If you attended the last national expanded caucus meeting, you would have seen the renewed spirit of comradeship even amongst political gladiators that never agreed whilst PDP held sway at the centre
The present recession was said to have been caused by the PDP, hence a lot of people being prosecuted now are members of the PDP. What is the guarantee that it would not happen in Anambra State if the PDP is voted to power?
Please check the records, as Nigeria was not in recession at the point the APC took over. PDP did not cause the recession because APC did not take over the country when the dollar traded at N490. Since 2015 when APC took over, the international price of crude oil has gone up but it has not reflected in the country’s earnings because of the poor export of crude oil. This poor export was not caused by the PDP government. We are not the ones that created the crisis in the Niger Delta. We had our fair share of that crisis and all will remember how proactive the late President Yar’Adua was in restoring peace to that volatile region.