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Chief Willie Obiano: The New Sheriff in Anambra State

Anambra state governor Willie Obiano

By Chukwudi Nwokoye

On the 17th day of March, the leadership baton was passed from Governor Peter Obi to Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano. By the way, I use the baton analogy to stress the fact that the governance of the great state of Anambra is a relay race and not a sprint. One does a good race and passes the baton to the next man, and the race to the top continues. I am not worried about whether Chief Obiano would be able to handle the baton well. He should, he has no choice than to do well. All well-meaning people of Anambra are rooting for him to succeed.

Anambra state governor Willie Obiano

Anambra state governor Willie Obiano

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.

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.



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