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Obiano: One Year After

By Ebele Onyekwelu
03 May 2015   |   3:14 am
IT is fair to say that very few Nigerian politicians in elective offices are reliable. This assessment may seem unfounded but a little diligence will confirm its correctness.

Willie Obiano

IT is fair to say that very few Nigerian politicians in elective offices are reliable. This assessment may seem unfounded but a little diligence will confirm its correctness.

Very few of them can claim to be responsive to the needs of the people whose mandate they hold in trust. They sever relationship with the people soon after elections only to touch base again once it is election time.

Majority of them become self-absorbed, and very easily suffer the common failing of mankind never to anticipate a storm when the sea is calm. Unfortunately, the razzmatazz of campaign hardly allows for proper assessment and re-election of the very few hardworking ones among the long list of the inept.

The argument that responsibilities of elected office are so demanding that those who do not bear them cannot appreciate the task thereof is vitiated when pitted against the few who do so creditably.

Truth is that many of those who have been there were shoe-horned into the position and once in there, got trapped by the luxury of lazy political habit. Only a few are able to live above this failing and deliver as expected.

Many – without personal characteristics, which ordinarily give colour and charm to personality — succumb to distractions. I have met a good number of these politicians, and my observation is hardly in error by any percent.

Proud, selfishly impetuous, and without the discipline required of the office they seek, they abandon the people whose consent took them to the elevated positions.

A good number have compounded rather than solve problems. I sometimes get bemused at the ways of the Nigerian politician. Shorn of a sense of responsibility, he carries on with certain brazenness and overweening pride that question his claim to public trust.

He sets great store by self-adulation, and very easily dismisses with supercilious condescension anyone who will question his acts. He hardly bothers with explanation but prefers to compromise voters on Election Day.

Even as he lacks the moral fibre to regard with dismay any position or office which must be attained or held at the sacrifice of honour, he is the first to appropriate — like armorial bearing — the prefixes Excellency, Distinguished, and or Honourable as may be appropriate.

It will be tempting providence to portray the Nigerian politician any better, or try to sugarcoat him in dissemblance. However, it has become difficult, if not impossible; to continue to hold this same view since Governor Willie Obiano came on the political stage in Anambra state.

Until then, Anambra failed to present a picture of a state in progress. Fourteen years after creation, Awka, its capital, was still struggling to compete with any of the local government headquarters in a state like Akwa Ibom.

Its status as a frontline state that produced Nigeria’s greatest in all walks of life was seriously undermined. It was so bad that Awka was completely drab and passed unnoticed by travelers.

The shared values of the state were a shambles as kidnap and sundry crimes seized the moment. Sadly, past governments’ efforts to redeem the situation fell below par. Their claim to development failed to manifest in concrete terms, at least, in the judgment of the masses.

Visible achievements in this direction were few and far between and never comprehensive. They were a bit perfunctory and did not engender total transformation.

Apart from road construction no major project like a state capital worth the tag, Airport, a Stadium, International School, etc was undertaken, much less completed. Perhaps that was what informed Soludo’s dismissal of the efforts of the past government as less than average, saying it has no signature project to its credit. But things have changed since Obiano’s government.

The new government has undertaken to do what others before it shied away from. Today, a new capital city is in the works just as work is ongoing at the Umueri site of the Anambra airport. Sanity has returned to the state within weeks of the administration.

Welfare package for workers – public and civil — has been reviewed upward to compete with what obtains in other states.

This sharply contrasts with the old order and pitches the government at a level where people are daily growing fond of it. For a government that makes rapid intervention where others would stall, its decision to sign away the governor’s monthly salaries to the needy did not come to many as a surprise.

Most of its interventions, like increment in workers’ wages and giving up on the governor’s salary were done without recourse to publicity. Giving up his salaries to service the needy is the culmination of Obiano’s many public-spirited ventures. Obiano has gone about the office with sincerity and courage that turned his traducers green with envy.

His government has been maligned not for its inaction, but more for its bold actions. It may be fair to say that Obiano has paled every other governor before him in comparison.

He combined the kindness of Mbadinuju, the resilience of Ngige and the thoroughness of Obi to push the state on the highway of development. All these he has done without resort to the trumpeting ways of the typical Nigerian politician.

He is gradually building on a political image of selflessness and expansion – an image, which is in short supply among political leaders from this clime.

If he does not deviate or is not distracted by vicious opposition, history will beckon on him for a bigger responsibility. • Hon. Onyekwelu wrote via