As the November 18, 2017, governorship election in Anambra State approaches, the tempo and temper of political activities have been rising with every passing day. Every opposition party professing any kind of presence in Awka has been talking tough, insisting that it would wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Expectedly, however, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has assumed the epicenter of opposition in the state, having upstaged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the national political space. Not one to gloss over the fixations of his party’s gains of the moment, the Minister for Lab our and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has jumped into the fray to characterize the opposition. Ngige easily passes for the face of the APC in the South-East.
Though they find a common adversary in Governor Willie Obiano, the latter’s impressive development strides and the subterfuge pervading the class of opposition candidates vitiate their aspirations. The popular impression that the urge of these aspirants might just be to outstretch their political visibility, other than gain control of the state house, firms up by the day. With a bearing that smacks of disregard for the scathing attacks on his person and office, Obiano flaunts the achievements of his administration in the past three years as fair and competitive bargains for re-election. He seems comfortable with the jubilant pulse of the citizens of the state whose freedom and safety he has profitably labored to buy back from diverse crimes endemic in the state.
Obiano presents the substantial vibrancy of the state’s economy in the face of national economic repression. He is a proud governor of a state that has maintained elite performance in education, agriculture, health and other indices of good governance. Under him, Anambra suddenly became a major player in agriculture, with brands like Anambra Rice, Ugu Anambra and Onugbu Anambra (vegetables) hitting national and international limelight.
Anambra workers celebrate Obiano as the most labour-friendly governor, because of his unsolicited welfare packages to them, his steadfastness in prompt payment of salaries, the 15 per cent salary increase across board, his transportation scheme for them, etc., just as low-income earners in parks, markets and streets, as well as commercial motorcyclists and tricycle operators enjoy the governor’s humane economic stimulus in terms of reduced taxation. At the grassroots, the result of the governor’s “N20m Community Choose Your Project Development Initiative” spread across all the 182 communities speaks volumes of Obiano’s man-of-the-people persuasion. These acts ameliorate the pains of national recession, encourage sustainable economic growth and ensure systemic stability.
An incumbent who posts such credentials as Obiano’s and whose second term bid is antithetical to the dreams of all other aspirants, should expect no less hard knocks, particularly in Anambra State, where reckless tantrums and mischief are liberally deployed in fierce governorship contests. Here, no incumbent seems to do anything pleasing to his opponents. Dr. Ngige (then of the PDP and latter of the Action Congress of Nigeria) and Chief Peter Obi (then of APGA) had mutual disrespect for each other, while they reigned as governors. Despite Ngige’s momentary brilliant sparks and Obi’s enduring sterling achievements, they took turns in subtly and overtly calumniating each other. Now as apologists-in-chief of the APC and the PDP in Anambra State, both unconscionably take on Gov. Obiano, in a bid to pronounce him unelectable, an awkward demonstration of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
The prime conspirators in this appear primarily fixated on plotting Obiano’s failure, by sponsoring negative choruses on his administration. Given their determination, it will not be surprising if they stimulate criminal disorder in the course of time, just to undermine Obiano’s most potent bargaining power: security and safety of life and property.
In politics, when the subject of interest persistently tends more to awry defense of ego and personal interests than governance and society, service and leadership begin to compete for space in people’s consciousness. It would be a security oversight to disregard the seeming war chants from vociferous South-East APC chieftains thronging into Anambra with defiant avowals to overrun APGA howsoever. The Anambra electorate is getting restive and battle-conscious. Signs of resistance are emerging as majority of Anambra citizens condemn the effrontery in the influx of failed political opportunists from other eastern parts latching on to the APC to disrupt the state’s surefooted lead in development east of the Niger. As a homegrown party that has entrenched itself in Anambra, APGA underscores the Igbo spirit of resilience and survival. Ndi-Anambra are known to be passionate in their defense of the APGA government for giving stout expressions to their passions for industry and safety.
It is a common belief that Obiano holds the template for greater Anambra, having made Anambra the safest and most investment-friendly state in Nigeria within a short span of three years. The risk of recycling politicians with either questionable antecedents or vague vision in corporate administration is total and does not sound bankable to Anambra people.
Given the overwhelming support APGA and Obiano enjoy from the citizens and residents of Anambra State and the anxiety over probable underhand influences from Aso Rock in the coming election on November 18, 2017, the integrity of Independent National Election Commission (INEC) as a disinterested umpire would be put to the test. It challenges the Presidency as a dispassionate arbiter. Also on trial will be the groups of national and international election monitors whose informed views are expected to add value to the process. Without doubt, the international community will be on hand to judge our democracy. Our Reporter