Earlier, in what appeared to be more than a mere coincidence, Buhari announced plans to make more political appointments and promised that in doing so he would allow the Governors and party apparatchiks to make in-puts. In his previous appointments, it is thought that he sidelined those groups and chose whoever it pleased his fancy and those of his inner cabinet (or the ‘cabal’) to choose.
What can we expect from the President’s one- day visit to Ebonyi state on November 14, 2017 and another one- day visit to Anambra State the following day?
There is no doubt that the President has image problem in the Southeast. The image problem is often dramatized by vested interests in the number of votes he got in the region – 198,248 as against the 2,464,906 secured by President Jonathan. The politicisation of the disparity in the votes secured by Buhari in the region and the incorrect reading of its import contributed immeasurably in worsening the relations between the region and the President.
It would seem that in the early months of his government Buhari bought into the narrative of being hated by the Igbos by a simplistic reliance on the vote figures he got from the region. We saw this in the exclusion of the Igbos in the early appointments into his kitchen cabinet, his statement about 95 per cent versus 5 per cent, the relocation of 47 Boko Haram prisoners to Ekwulobia prison, Anambra state, without offering any explanation – among others. Obviously groups like IPOB tapped into the situation and worsened matters.
The President’s visit affords him the opportunity to feel the pulse of the people and hopefully re-invent himself in the region. A starting point is to go beyond the simplistic interpretation of the import of his electoral figures in the region as evidence of hate. The truth is that historically the critical elements of the Igbo faction of the Nigerian elite rarely like to play ‘opposition’ politics – or put crudely to be shut off from the corridors of power. In the First Republic for instance, Zik’s NCNC was in alliance with Sarduana’s NPC just as Zik’s NPP was also in alliance with the NPC’s reincarnate, the NPN in the Second Republic (1979-1983). In fact, the Igbo political elites’ philosophy of the ‘goat follows the man with the palm fronds’ was dramatized in 1983, when, despite the Great Zik’s leadership of the NPP in the Second Republic, most of the eminent Igbo politicians chose to join NPN, the ruling party at the centre at that time, abandoning Zik, so to say. Again it should be recalled that when the late Yaradua became gravely ill and a cabal around him did not want power to be transferred to then Vice President Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the South- east Governors collectively aligned themselves with the cabal. So the decision by the Igbo elites to massively support Jonathan was partly in tandem with their philosophy of the ‘goat follows the man with the palm frond’ and not necessarily anything personal against Buhari as it was being interpreted. If this philosophy is still strong among Igbo political elites, it means that Buhari, as an incumbent President, may also benefit from it – if the size of the crowd that welcomed him in both Ebonyi and Anambra States were anything to go by (and assuming the crowd was not rented). It can also be argued that the fact that an APC candidate in the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State is regarded as one of the key contenders in the race is already an indication of the softening of attitude in the region towards Buhari and his party, the APC.
But how do we interpret the Igbo political elite’s philosophy of the ‘goat follows the man with the palm fronds’? Is it reflective of lack of political principle or is it pragmatic politics?
Some have argued that being very diasporic and with homes and businesses in every nook and cranny of the country, it will be unwise for them to play ‘opposition’ politics as they need to be friends with the government at the centre to ensure friendly policies that will protect the group’s interests across the country. Proponents of this view will often point to top business people like Aliko Dangote who seem to be friends with any government in power at the centre. But while it will remain debatable whether this type of politics is crass opportunism or pragmatism, it is however symptomatic of the character of our politics, which hinges on fears that the group that wins power at the centre will inevitably use such power to privilege its in-group or disadvantage others.
There were certainly other reasons for Buhari’s poor outing in the region in 2015 but the point is that some of the structural issues that played against him as a candidate may now also play in his favour as an incumbent – if he manages his relations with the region well, including its optics.
In essence Buhari’s visit affords him the opportunity to soften his mind about the people in the region – and vice versa. It is human nature that sometimes when you meet someone you are angry with, the anger has a way of softening on its own – just by a human feeling that the other person may actually not be as bad as you thought from a distance. It is instructive that during the visit (in which Buhari appeared relaxed and happy with the reception he received in both states) he was conferred with the chieftaincy title of Ochi Oha Ndigbo (Leader of all in Igboland) by the South East Traditional Rulers and Enyi Oma 1 (Number one good friend) of Ebonyi State by the Ebonyi State Traditional Council).
During the visit Buhari did precisely what incumbents on campaign trails do – talk about dividends of their administration for the area they are visiting and commission new projects. Buhari did not miss the chance to tell his guests that he gave four senior ministerial slots to four of the five states in the Southeast and that in the 2018 Budget before the National Assembly the Second Niger Bridge was allocated ten billion Naira. Other projects in the Southeast he unveiled included construction of new international airport terminal in Enugu, a coastal rail line that passes through Aba in Abia State and Onitsha in Anambra State and a promise that the Federal government is to dredge the River Niger to satisfy the yearning for maritime access to the sea by the South-east and the North.
Going by the recent statistics of the distribution of appointments and infrastructure by the Buhari government, it will appear there are areas that the Buhari government may not be getting as much credit as it deserves in the Southeast. This could be a result of several factors: Buhari’s communication style, which needs to be changed to recognize the crucial role of optics in politics and these ‘positives’ not being well communicated or communicated by those who have lost credibility in the eyes of the public such that the messenger, so to say, becomes the message.
A softening of attitude in the Southeast towards the Buhari presidency may not necessarily translate into electoral victory for Dr Nwoye, the President’s candidate, in the November 18 2017 Anambra State governorship election. This is because the Igbos seem to be currently struggling for a new identity within the Nigerian political space and it remains unclear which of the contending forces in the region will triumph. While in the past all it would have taken to placate the Igbo political elites against opposition to the Buhari government would probably be promises of contract and perhaps land allocations in choice locations in Abuja or Lagos, in the last few years, there are forces in the region pushing for a new form of politics that is antithetical to joggling to be a junior partner with any government at the centre. While some within this group try to anchor the new identity on ‘marginalization’ some are trying to revolve it around a neo Biafra identity that seeks to build Igbo solidarity on a shared victimhood narrative. In this sense these forces are trying to play catch-up to the Yoruba political elite which for long glamorized opposition politics as ‘progressive’ politics and consequently placed more premium in having the Oduduwa states being under one political umbrella than being a junior partner in any government.
However, to whom much is given, much more is expected. Chief Obiano was given the mandate to lead Anambra on a platter of diamond. Our people transferred the love they have for Gov. Obi to his protégé, Obiano; just like Anambra transferred her love for Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu to Mr. Peter Obi. But Obiano must understand that Anambra is a difficult state to lead. It is easier to lead wild cats to cross a busy highway than to lead Anambra. Every man in Anambra is a Chief! In other words, most Anambrarians are well aware of what is going on, and mostly self-made.
Gov. Obiano must hit the ground running from the first day of his administration. Obiano may be similar in some character traits with Obi. But he is not Peter Obi. A monkey and a gorilla may claim to be the same, but a monkey is a monkey and a gorilla is a gorilla. He must chart his own course and has to convince the people that they did not make a mistake of choosing him over the other people. He may well be a better administrator or manager of men and resources than Obi; but we don’t know yet. On paper, he appears to know his onions and his track records shows that he is a solid administrator. Our people like him, as he seems to be a likeable person. Our people also like his wife, the First Lady, Lolo Ebele Obiano. On the first impression as a candidate and as a Governor-Elect, he did a good job of at least not having much ‘unforced errors’. Still we will find out in the common days and months whether what we saw on paper could be replicated in real life.
By Chukwudi Nwokoye | NNP | May 27, 2014 – His margin of error is too small. He is on a very short leash. He must understand that there is a thin line between love and hate. After his swearing-in on the 17th day of March, 2014; if by 27th day of July, 2014 (100 days in office) he has no tangible achievement to show for the massive goodwill he enjoys, people would not just start grumbling against him, they would start using the “F” word against him (failure). The honeymoon would end very fast if after a few months, people couldn’t actually see anything happening.
The passion our people have for rapid development knows no bounds. Gov. Obi has laid a very solid background for him to build on. The irony of it all is that he already set a high standard for subsequent governors. Obi’s shoes are big to fill. He has set a high bar, which subsequent governors of the state would be measured. Obiano has to out-perform Obi or at least be at par with his performance. There is no excuse that would please our people. Even with the sterling performance of Peter Obi, there are still grumblings in some quarters. It is in the nature of man. After all, many Israelites grumbled against Moses and God when things were not going the way they wanted and when they wanted it. With all that our Savior, Jesus Christ, did during his time, there were the Pharisees that were stalking his every move to find fault. You can only imagine how it would be like if he does not perform. The detractors would say: “ehee, I told you so.” However, Obiano should know that there are also genuine gripes and grievances; while there are the “Pharisees” amongst us that would never be satisfied with what he was doing.
The first thing he must do is to set the tone for his administration. Cut off all leeches and parasites in his circle, steadily but swiftly pick his own winning team made up of men and women of integrity and competence; and then build his own credibility. He must be wise as a serpent, gentle like a dove and be super swift like an eagle.
He should start of by fixing the Awka Capital territory. I am glad that it is first on his “to do list”. It is the politics of it that matters to most people. People love the “whited sepulcher”. They would rather pass by Awka Capital and see the road well tarred and maintained, with street lights, the gutters cleaned up and painted, lush green grasses well groomed, trees with right sizes and shapes and traffic moving smoothly. Those esthetics make for a capital city and a well ran state to many uninformed people. People cite Asaba as an example of a beautiful state capital after passing through the highway. Whether or not inside Asaba and the whole of Delta state is as good-looking as Asaba-Onitsha road is another thing. But that is the politics of it. Anyone passing through Awka and sees those good ‘indices’ of a beautiful capital would care less about if the rest of the state is full of dirt. You can have all the 177 towns in Anambra connected with access roads, provide hospitals, equip schools, and provide round the clock security all over Anambra; but all those are secondary if the capital city that people usually pass by is still looking like a glorified ghetto.
Gov. Obiano has to use his first 100 days in office to clean up Awka especially the express road between Aroma Junction through UNIZIK Junction and Kwata Junction. Awka used to be called the “State Carpenter” (a term formed by taxi drivers at Awka during the “Okwadike” Chukwuemeka Ezeife’s administration) instead of the State Capital. So that is the achievable milestone in his first 100 days in office.
Secondly, he must complete all the projects started by Ex-Gov. Obi. Gov. Obiano now owns those uncompleted project. Some of those projects are nearing completion. The projects include the Agulu Lake Resort Hotel, Agulu Lake Bridge, the mall at Awka (the site of Ikenga Hotels), the one at Nnewi and the one at Onitsha. Also, the refinery at Ekwusigo has to be actualized. Those shopping malls when completed would be imposing and a shopper’s delight. He should quickly commission them and move to the next on his menu. People could then point to those places and attribute them to Obiano’s achievement during his 100 days in office.
Also, he should rapidly move into the issue of security of life and property. He must exude confidence in this area for people to know that he meant business when he said in his inaugural speech that he would “redraft the operational manual of the entire security apparatchik of Anambra and strengthen the police and other law enforcement agencies in the state to enhance their efficiency and response rate.” The issue of kidnapping and other violent crime is a challenge to the state.
For a start, I suggest that he re-trains all the vigilante groups in the state and provide one leadership structure for them irrespective of which towns they operate. The rank structures should take cognizance of educational and security experiences of applicants. He should also provide a uniform for them that stand out, so as to match the patrol vehicles and arms and ammunition already provided by the past administration. He should also provide them with modern communication equipment, a tracking system. They should be made to be accountable, learn the use of force/rule of engagement, have grooming standards and also be trained to be courteous and professional. They should also be fast and highly efficient. This is another way of providing employment to idle youths who are mostly tempted to take to crime themselves. If they stand out and crime is reduced within the next 100 days, people could point out that “Obiano’s Police” are well trained and highly professional.
Another most important thing he must do is to carry the people along. It is one thing to do the work of the people, and it is quite another for the people to know what you are doing. The people don’t need to search deep to find out what he is doing with their tax money. This was one of the difficulties encountered by the previous administration. Many of Gov. Obi’s critics were criticizing his government not really out of malice, but out of ignorance. Some people did not believe the extent of his performance or even knew what Anambra was like before Gov. Obi. To some, it was too good to be true; therefore it must be a lie. Most people were parroting what they heard from others good or bad. Some people believed that achievements credited to his government were mere propaganda until lately when they found out that it is in fact the truth. So Gov. Obiano has to do a better job of communicating his policies and his programs. He must break it down to the people in a way that would resonate with them.
His agenda as pronounced on his inauguration is bold, crisp and re-assuring. The Independent Power Plants he promised to set up in the three industrial hubs of Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha would reduce or even remove the power sector problems in Anambra. This would boost business and the cost of running a business. This is no longer a campaign slogan. Campaign season is over and he is bound by his words solemnly made to the Anambra people. We would put him to task to live up to his agenda he set for himself and for Anambra State. The issue of agriculture, oil and gas, trade, commerce and industrialization are also bold and reassuring.
But like I earlier stated, the first 100 days in office is critical to the survival of his administration. Awka capital must wear a new look and must be clean and look like a capital befitting the entrepreneurial people of Anambra. All those projects that are hanging but nearing completion must be completed and commissioned during this period. The security apparatus must be made to be competent and accountable in their crime fighting. If he could do these and set in motion to tackling the issue of power sector, agriculture, oil and gas, commerce and industrial boom in the state; our people would support him.
Finally and more importantly, he must understand that he owes allegiance to the people of Anambra state, not to Peter Obi or Chief Victor Umeh or any other political heavy weight. If he invests on the side of the people and does the people’s work instead of greasing the palms of the political class, he would be fine and the people would easily notice.
As Peter Obi declared in his valedictory speech:
“I do not have any agreement with Obiano, and neither does he have any agreement with anyone else. But you have agreement with the children of Anambra. Please give them a better future.”
I would also add that he owes the entire Anambra people to perform his side of his Social Contract signed and sealed on the 16th and 30th days of November, 2013; when they overwhelmingly voted for him.]]>
Thank you Gov. Peter Gregory Onwubuasi Obi.
When in 2003 I stuck my head out to support your candidacy, I followed my instinct and my judgment. I believed that you had a mission to save Anambra. Even after your victory at the polls were brazenly robbed by the forces of darkness, “we the pro-Anambra activists” would not back down from supporting the good against the evil.
When you were impeached for no other reason than that you reviewed the over-bloated contracts for roads awarded by your predecessor and because you did not open the treasury for the professional politicians to plunder, we continued to back good over evil. Many that wouldn’t see beyond their noses asked that you give up the fight. “Nya jee zuzie ike”-let him go and rest, they said. Even when you were asking for the court to interpret your tenure, they swore in Andy Ubah, you didn’t give up your fight and your belief in the rule of law, neither did we.
You have touched our people the way no other politician, dead or alive has done. I have never supported or admired any governor before, and I don’t know if we could raise for ourselves another like you. Your achievements are legion, for they are many. However, the most precious achievement and the most things I admired about you is your civility, your calmness under fire, your humility, your humanity, your decency and your self-confidence. You have been able to impact the “politics without bitterness” the way that Late Aminu Kano was not given the opportunity to impact.
You were unjustly kicked out of power not once, not twice but three times. One time was enough to make an average person to quit, throw in the towel and go about his business. Not you! On each occasion, you did not lose your calmness or your civility. You refused to go into a “shouting match” with anyone you disagreed with. You went to court and laid your grievances. On all occasions, you came out victorious.
You refused to take any Chieftaincy Title from any community or group until after your tenure. You refused to take gifts from any quarters or taking them on behalf of our people and channeling them to do the people’s business. You are not without faults. No one is without faults. Even Jesus Christ corrected a man that referred to him as ‘good teacher’ by saying: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:17).
You recorded a lot of milestones in the Nigeria’s political landscape. You were the first governor in Nigeria to dethrone a sitting governor through a legal process. This is because you were the first governor to recover his stolen mandate after being rigged out in an election you won roundly. You were the first governor in history of Nigeria to come back from an impeachment and resume your tenure. You were the only governor to have his tenure interpreted after another person was sworn in proving that your tenure started when your oath of office was administered and not when an impostor was sworn in and that your tenure did not start to run until you were actually sworn in. You were the first governor of Anambra state that served a second term. Previous governors of Anambra never survive after a first term in office. You were the only governor in Nigeria to render an account of your stewardship prior to the end of your tenure.
You have written your name not just in your many projects in the state, not just in the many schools, hospitals or government’s offices you renovated, not just in many industries or in foreign aids you attracted to the state, not just in the many scholarships you have awarded, not just in the many donations you have given, but your name has been written in the hearts of many in Anambra and the whole of Nigeria.
Thank you for being a role model to many and to me! You are the father of the modern Anambra. You are not a super star, but you remain a hero. To borrow the words of Henry Kessinger:
“Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values.”
Thank you for making us proud. Thank you for stirring up the spirit of contentment and civility in us. Thank you for making us to stand up, beat our chests and say, “I am from Peter Obi’s state”.
God reward you and your family. My prayer is that you never lack bread, you will never lack good health, success and love of God. May God break your daily kola nuts with long life, Amen.]]>
We have read that script before. You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don’t. Gov. Obi was building roads, bridges, school blocks; refurbishing schools, hospital and dilapidated government structures. Many of his critics could not get themselves to acknowledge it. Some even called him reckless and said that he wanted to empty the treasury before he leaves office. At a time when his mates are buying private jets, flying first class, owning properties in Dubai and all over the world, stashing billions in Swiss banks, building mansions all over Nigeria and buying exotic cars/jeeps for their girlfriends and sycophants; he was investing our money and making returns into our treasury. Do the naysayers applaud his integrity? Of course not.
He was partnering with private bodies and religious organizations to get the hospitals back on their feet. Attracted and invested Anambra’s money in industries and refinery but detractors said that he is using Anambra money for personal business.
When he attracted a brewery that produce one of the best beers in Nigeria, Hero Beer, detractors said that he wanted to turn Anambra people to drunkards. When he completed Orient Refinery and helped make Anambra the 10th oil producing date in Nigeria and creating job for the unempolyed, detractors said that he only wanted to put Anambra in a collision cause with our neighboring Kogi state.
Before, and during his planning stage, ‘ndi ufu obi’ called him ‘aradite hand’ and a miser…and a self-centered man. Later he started donating money to religious bodies as matching grants after handing over their schools to them, detractors said that he was wasting money as a drunken sailor.
Our educational system went through a transformation; missionary schools were returned to them to administer, (schools that were taken over by the government to punish the missionaries for their humanitarian efforts toward Biafra) while the state pays salaries. Detractors said that he planned to massively retrench teachers. Anambra students are taking first positions in NECO, WAEC and JAMB organized examinations, but detractors would be quick to point to boys that have taken to trading instead of education to say that Gov Obi drove Anambra boys to trading due to high cost of education.
He inter-connected all Anambra roads accounting for over 800 kilometers of roads but detractors called the roads inferior and that it was an escape route for kidnappers. The forgotten towns in Anambra state that could only travel home by canoes and boats are praising him for constructing their roads and bridges and giving them the sense of belonging and opening up their areas to ready markets where they could sell their farm produce; but detractors would deny that there was any forgotten towns in Anambra.
If he had emptied the treasury, detractors would cry ‘blue murder’, he left billions for his successor to take off with, detractors say that he shouldn’t have left money but should have invested it.
By Chukwudi Nwokoye | NNP | March 15, 2014 – If he had invested it, detractors would say that he funneled our money to his private business. Talking about investments, how about the investments that the state made in some projects being executed which include: N3.5 billion in INTAFACT, N9 billion in Nigeria Independent Power Project; N4 billion in Orient Petroleum Resources PLC; N1 billion in Onitsha Hotel; N1 billion in Agulu Lake Hotel; N0.9 billion in Awka Shopping Mall, N350 billion in quoted investment portfolio, billions in SABMiller Breweries PLC (makers of the popular Hero Beer), among others. These investments are generation and would generate money for the state and create job opportunities for the state.
He kept working for Anambra even when he knows that he has less than few days to go. His colleagues in other states use their second term to steal money, make friends with criminals that would assist them launder the money and virtually become a lame duck governor, but he refused to toe that path to ignominy. His detractor would rather he finish our treasury so that they would shout ‘crucify him’.
When he asked the rhetorical question: ‘Are we cursed or are we the cause’?, naysayers said that Anambra people are cursed. He answered his own question by proving that we are really the cause!
*Chukwudi Nwokoye writes in from Washington, D.C.
All these hullaballoos about banning gay marriage is an over-kill. It is a political ‘opium’ of the long suffering people of Nigeria. The politicians use it as a wedge issue and a ‘feel good’ issue to make us forget our sorrows and feel like they are doing the job we sent them to do. The politicians are smiling home with billions of naira of our commonwealth and we are here rejoicing and praising them because they said “aye” to the bill banning gay marriage? They didn’t even raise their hands, they only said “aye”! This amounts to using us as if we are dogs. They took the juicy meats and threw the bones out to us as dogs and we are rejoicing while they are laughing at us.
My Senator cannot come back and convince me that he is working hard for me in the senate with “saying ‘aye’ to ban gay marriage” to show for my vote; after billions of naira meant for my constituency is unaccounted for (except for VIP toilets in select schools) Lol.
I cannot praise GEJ for signing the bill when the 2nd Niger Bridge he promised my state in still in limbo and the 1st Niger Bridge is shaking; I cannot jump in his band-wagon when the River Niger is not dredged, no operational Seaport at Onitsha, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, is still struggling to take off, the federal roads projects are still ongoing, the rail stations are still in coma and our houses are still threatened by gully erosion.
We have no light, no food, no water and we are smiling about GEJ signing a bill that is redundant? Boko Haram is busy killing off a generation of our people, our hospitals are glorified clinics and death beds, our roads are death traps and our air travel nko? Don’t get me started on our educational system and the rot! Our youths are restive and have no jobs to put food on their tables and shelters over their heads. They took to violent crimes including kidnapping/armed robbery/thuggery and we have no answer to those vices.
Gay life style on its own is sickening to even think of or imagined. Some people argue that it is good to stop them before their abomination consumes all of us. Well and good, but who would go house to house peeping through the doors or windows to see who is “doing” who? Which police do we commission to do that? A Morality Police Commission would be set up to achieve that? It is an exercise in futility. We already banned prostitution, did it solve the problem? We have a law against bigamy, but how many people have been prosecuted for bigamy? The answer is: only one person for over 50 years of the law! We can as well ban fornication or adultery as if we could commission someone to be sniffing around house to house. It is not practical!
The gay people have been in our midst for a long time but we laughed them off as “nwoke nwanyi”, “ome ka nwanyi” etc while they do their things “down low”. I support closing down Gay Clubs etc on the grounds of public morality, but as for converting gay persons into criminals, killing or maiming them, discriminating against them in work places, NO, as it is against their human rights no matter how we feel about them. They are human beings…..only that they are abnormal or maladjusted.
@Chukwudi Nwokoye 2014 (nwokoyeac@Hotmail.com)]]>