Anambra 2021: The real challenges ahead
In the lead-up to the November 6 governorship election, Anambra politics has not disappointed. It is not surprising that factionalisation among the three main political parties threw up names of various standard bearers and party leaderships.
Consequent upon that, numerous court orders and injunctions ensued to the extent that analysts had projected that judicial considerations and court pronouncements will determine the personalities that will be in the ballot for the November 6 polls. And so it happened, well predicted.
With the dust settling as the pre-election shenanigans are gradually abating and the major contenders likely to occupy the Anambra State Government House (The House) becoming clearer, the die is now cast. What lies ahead, no matter who wears the crown come November 6, are the numerous significant shortcomings associated with the poorly coordinated developmental challenges facing ndi Anambra.
From all indications, most of the finalists in the race to the Anambra State Government House are no newcomers in the political landscape of the State. Going by their manifestoes and pronouncements, Anambra would have been an Eldorado by now. But how far have we gone on all parameters of development. Few months back, one of the contenders to The House was seriously exposed when he promised to build universities across the 21 local councils in the state. Others, as usual hinged their chances of wearing the crown on building infrastructure; but we have been hearing these stories.
A recent WhatsApp posting showed the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari in the lead up to the 1979 general elections that ushered in the 2nd republic with key infrastructure areas that are integral to the successful operation of a city adorning his campaign posters. Well, this seems to be the trend; sell infrastructure to the people without any audited and scrutinised costing programme, including sources of funding, get the crown, then relax and pay salaries. The payment of salaries may be spiced with one or two ‘major’ projects that have not been properly thought through, with or without cost benefit analysis and with or without any laid down plans on how it could be integrated with other spheres of infrastructure development. Some of the projects may be ranked outside the immediate competing demands of the state and the state capital. Even if the project is cited within the capital precincts, it may have no bearing on promoting the chances of the state capital to be ranked as a liveable city based on globally accepted standards.
With all the bright minds and people of goodwill Anambra has, the question that comes to mind is – what are those obstacles that have held us back and why has the state capital not taken a quantum leap, over 30 years since creation. Our fathers will say ‘Obu na nwa mgbeke amaghi akpu ka obu na aguba adighi nko’ (who is really at fault?).
To truly be the ‘Light of the Nation’ not just by sloganeering, politics apart, it is time to define what Anambra should be. A non-partisan and enduring developmental plan agreed upon by all stakeholders should be put forward. The plan should be such that it embodies all key facets of integrated developmental areas that would guarantee the state capital a ranking as a liveable city based on global best practices. Enough of these disjointed and un-coordinated efforts. This should be the challenge, as those who want to go to the moon, look up to the sky. We are a travelled people, and we know what is obtainable outside our shores; so why should our abode be different.
To the crown contenders, ‘asi na uzu amaghi akpu, onee egbe anya n’ odudu’ (the blacksmith should take a cue from the kite). For how long shall we contend with every residential and commercial dwelling installing boreholes or wells in their premises as a primary source of water? For how long shall we contend with institutions of higher learning and teaching hospitals depending on boreholes and water cartage by tankers as a primary source of water? For how long shall Awka, which should be a pride to all Anambrarians, contend with streets that are laced with domestic and industrial waste at all corners? What is the difficulty in sizing stormwater drains? Drains that will guarantee some degree of flood immunity to the little infrastructure on ground. What of congestion at Onitsha, Eke Awka and other satellite centres? During festivities, the congestion at Eke Awka, for instance, is so fierce with the associated handbrake on productivity.
In what part of the globe has anyone of the contenders to the crown seen hospitals operating on borehole as a primary source of water; universities dependant on borehole for living and teaching purposes. For how long shall fire raze down markets at Onitsha, Nnewi and other key satellite centres without hydrants to harvest water for firefighting. Each time it happens, the usual grandiose promises that are never actualised are on the table. He who wears the crown simply, must learn the act of playing around with words. That is pure deceit. It is important to state that it is not all doom and gloom. But we can turn things around for the better, with a view to making the state capital, at least, closing in on a favourable ranking as a liveable city in the decades ahead.
It is not in doubt that previous administrations in the state came up with all sorts of development agenda or blueprint. Each of these blueprints may have some valid developmental goals. But, in most cases, they lack ingredients that would ensure sustainability. Take for instance, the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) championed by Governor Peter Obi’s administration, a relatively good plan but with significant shortcomings.
The document, for instance, espoused six industrial areas across the state but never secured sustainable 24-hour power and water supply to these areas, never fully secured easy access, waste management and disposal plans and other conditions that will ensure sustainability. Be it as it may, the successive government appeared to have started off with ANIDS as a developmental guide but threw it overboard early in the life of Mr. Willie Obiano’s administration. As a substitute, lately, it set up a 46-man committee, tagged Anambra Vision 2070 Committee, with the commission to map out a 50-year development plan for the state.
• Dr Emeka L. Ezeajughi is a public infrastructure delivery consultant, a chartered engineer of the Institution of Engineers, Australia and a member of COREN. He wrote from Brisbane Australia.