Editor’s note: The gubernatorial election in Anambra state scheduled for November 18 is heating up as the incumbent governor looks to reclaim his seat.
In this opinion by Fidelis Nwangwu, he points out that the battle is between Governor Willie Obiano and former governor, Peter Obi and arguing that the former has shown how he is better in his delivery of the dividend of democracy.
The art of politics
Democracy places the onus of choice upon the electorates. This explains why power, in a true democracy belongs to the ballot box; where those who qualified and desire to, exercise their choice to elect people into offices.
Perhaps, this is why it is typical of politicians to employ every imaginable tactic to win the electorates over. They call it campaign. Sadly, this is often mere drama, acted out to sway, even by deceit and in Nigeria through purchase. Yes, voting can be transactional in Nigeria, but even then the actors have to be smart, else the bubble will burst.
The tendency of politicians to pull the wool over the eyes of the people demands caution and there is a need for people to read between the lines when being addressed by those soliciting to be elected into political positions. This is when Bob Marley’s assertion in one of his songs that “you can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time,” will not just prove accurate but help the people make the right choices.
This brings us to the two leading gladiators in the race to the government house of Anambra State, the incumbent governor Willie Obiano for himself and known for his boldness and audacity and Peter Obi known for his minimalism who is now fronting for Oseloka Obaze of the PDP. The gubernatorial election is billed for November 18, 2017 according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the gladiators would stop at nothing to get the people thumbprint them or their preferred candidates into office. In this race the incumbent governor of Anambra State, HE Willie Obiano and the man he succeeded in office, Peter Obi, remain the leading gladiators. One for himself and the other a godfather, standing up someone he seeks to ‘hoist’ on the people.
The tale of Peter Obi
For starters, political watchers are concerned that Obi is working so hard to pulldown the house he laid the foundation of, given his role in Obiano succeeding him as governor of Anambra State. But those who know Obi are not surprised. They see Obi as a self-righteous man, which is why his tenure as governor of the state is typified with micromanagement, which to an extent stagnated the state, though his admirers claim it led to stability in the state.
Obi made at least 3 times per month from the federal government more than Obiano has made during his tenure yet Obi was very minimalist in what he did for his people and decided to keep money in savings…money which well used should have generated a lot more than the investments in which he saved them. The accolade of stabilist only creeps into political analyses because of the political turmoil that preceded Obi’s ascension to the office as governor of Anambra State. Obi definitely profited from the turbulence in the ranks of the rival political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, with leading gladiators of the PDP helping to destroy themselves in favour of Obi.
Obiano came into office at a time that Ndi Anambra could think clearly and place expectations, beyond mere political sanity at the table of their governor. And he has delivered by using professionals, as against Obi’s micromanagement style. Two areas that showcase the contrast in these two gladiators are in the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and road construction. Obi initially moved to grow IGR by using professionals and was able to move the monthly IGR up from N500m to one billion. For reasons best known to him, he removed the key actors that assisted grow the IGR figures and installed someone he could micromanage and it fell back to N500m monthly.
Political watchers believe that this was to create moles for Obi and his cronies to syphon public funds, particularly as the persons under whose watch the shortfall was recorded did not get any reprimand or encouragement to improve. But Obiano would have none of that, so he appointed professionals, people well versed in the revenue generation and management, the result is that the state’s IGR has spiraled from N500m to over N1.5billion monthly. Tongues are now wagging that Obi is feeling that the man he brought to ‘come and chop’ is outshining him, so would stop at nothing to frustrate his winning a second term in office.
Beyond that, it would appear though that Obi is just being a typical politician. How does one explain his unfaithfulness to All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA that helped him to power? This show of unstable character, a trait he shares with another south eastern governor is one that the Igbo people in general still bleed about and those now counting on Obi to help them to ‘dethrone’ Obiano would find the political baggage too heavy. Whereas Obiano’s patriotism and faithfulness have seen him remain steadfast with Ndi Anambra and APGA despite the pressure from the so called federal might are reasons that endear him to Ndi Igbo generally and Anambra electorates in particular.
Obi’s tendency for stifling instead of growing is seen in the fact that he had the same opportunities that the former governor of the Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu had, but while Tinubu chose to build political blocks around the southwest, which he has grown into a political empire, Obi would rather focus on Anambra as if it was his kitchen, where strangers should not stray-in. His focus on himself instead of common good is one that well-meaning Igbo people feel sad about till this day. Political watchers maintain it will count in the coming elections.
This is where pundits are quick to commend Obiano for holding true to his political principles unlike. So many are quick to note that Obi demonstrates fragility while Obiano represents strength of character in the true Igbo sense. Anambra people also rue the fact that while Obi used religious sentiments to hoodwink them,
The tale of Obiano
Obiano has come true with simple honesty and professionalism. This is seen in the area of infrastructural provision in the state. All the roads constructed under Obi’s watch are without drainages because he personally supervised it and might have been taken advantage of by the contractors but all the ones constructed by Obiano are well planned and executed with professional supervision ensuring that Ndi Anambra are not shortchanged in anywhere.
Other areas where the contrasting personality brand profiles of Obi and Obiano leave Ndi Anambra with an easy choice include education, safety and security, economy, transportation, etc. Under Obiano, Anambra State has witnessed massive transformation in the education sector leading to WAEC analyses of students with up to five-credit passes at the senior school certificate examinations showing a steady growth from 60% in 2013 to over 75% in 2017 for Anambra students.
Perhaps what Ndi Anambra would find more ridiculous is that Obi’s penchant for falsehood has seen him taking them for granted. Following his micromanagement of the state, Obi was able to cart away state’s funds in a big bus. His men were arrested on their way to Lagos in a celebrated case of money laundry which many are convinced helped deplete the state’s funds. They say every day is for the thief but one day is for the owner of the house. One wonders if this was the only time Obi sent money to Lagos by bus instead of paying same into his bank Fidelity Bank for proper tracking.
Politicians would not like to hear this, but the most damaging aspect of Obi’s waning personality brand profile is his being economical with the truth. For instance, on his handover notes he claimed to have left N75bn whereas he left just N9bn and some bonds he saved by denying contractors their payments. He had left nearly 150bn naira of bills from contractors who had done some roads and instead of paying them he bought some investment notes so that he will claim to have saved money.
The rest were in the forms of aged investments which were handed over from the then east central state. Imagine claiming a 30 year asset is something he generated and handed over to WIllie. His claim to have also left $156bn cash also insults human intelligence, as such money being in existence would have amounted to N26.4 trillion at an exchange rate of N150/$ then. That would have meant that Anambra State had more money than Nigeria at that time! The desperation to tell lies is legendary. Campaign of falsehood at its highest just to get back in charge of the treasury. Anambra state government probably is his business.
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It is in the same manner that the Obi camp goes around peddling falsehood that a hotel project that Obiano’s professional disposition has taken to 90% completion under a PPP arrangement with Golden Tulip has been abandoned. The commissioning of the project scheduled for first quarter of 2018 will shame them, just as the pragmatic position of Ndi Anambra voters will do come November 18, 2017. Obiano has found private sector expertise and money to complete this project in Agulu, Obi’s village.
In all of these, his well lubricated and funded political vuvuzelas or trumpeters are helping him to misrepresent truths with a view to getting Ndi Anambra to vote against themselves by voting for his preferred candidate. Sadly what this would mean is that whoever he hoists on the people would have to subject himself or herself to Obi’s micromanagement or be replaced with another of his errand boys at the next general gubernatorial elections. These trumpeters explain why Ndi Anambra are toiling to place Obi’s selfishness and Obiano’s professionalism in proper perspective as well contrast Obi’s penchant to do as little as he can and save the rest while Obiano will always do more with less by bringing in other people’s money.
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