By Oseloka H. Obaze
Often, while the past is fraught with bleak history, the future is poignant with imponderables. That cliché fits well into Anambra States governance narrative and leadership needs. A slew of well known names aspire to lead Anambra come 17 March 2022. The qualifying election is scheduled for 6 November 2021. Everyone in the race is running against a glaringly poor APGA governance record from 2014 to date.
The choice of who leads Anambra state in 2021, is now well beyond debate or academic exercise. It is an existential question for the Anambra population. History should serve as a guide. For the past seven years, Anambra has been a case study on lessons learned and hugely missed opportunities. The only apt word for defining governance in Anambra since 2014, is “mistake”.
The choice in 2014, has been affirmed as utterly mistaken. The incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano wrote his own testimonial. The governance scorecard is most unflattering. The decision to keep him in office in 2017 after the first dismal four years was consequential, negatively speaking. It was a factor of a blinkered choice foisted and fostered by traditional emotionalism. Anambra is worse off for it. While the incumbent will bear the historical burden, vicarious responsibility goes to the supporting cast from all sectors.
Since 2014 good governance has eluded Anambra State, despite cosmetic approaches, sloganeering and governance by billboard and media hype. The concrete results are less tangible and less evident, both in-terms of soft power dividends and hard power accruals. Even the touted security sector has suffered evident severe reverse.
Now for Anambra, another opportunity beckons.
Of the contesting lot, just one person will elected. If the choice is left entirely left to Anambra people, it ought not to be a hard sell or difficult choice. Anambra needs a focus, disciplined, down to earth administrator to guide her henceforth. That person, should not be concerned about politicking, but about good governance, period.
The reality is that Anambra stands broken – in infrastructure, governance, as well as morally and fiscally. The state needs to be fixed, very badly, considering that the governance record of ruling APGA party and incumbent Governor Willie Obiano has been nothing but abysmal. This view is bereft of sentiments and partisan fervor. One must call a spade a spade. Already, erstwhile supporters of the APGA regime are jumping ship or recusing themselves, lest they become guilty by association.
Of all those qualified candidates who hold party governorship tickets, only one person, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag-bearer is eminently qualified on all accounts to lead Anambra going forward. The underpinning qualifier, is not just the credentials, it is a mix of experience, credentials, personality, global worldview and the ability to effectively run the state as an enterprise based on global best practices.
For her inscrutable candidate, APC’s record at the Centre is an albatross. Such record will not sell at Nkwo Nnewi, Onitsha or Eke Akwa. It won’t even sell in Chris Ngige’s hood of Allor and Nnobi. Anambra is not an APC State. It has never been and will not be going forward. A Supreme Court reprise of its affront in Imo, is not possible here.
The ruling APGA’s poor governance record rules her out. No one rewards poor leadership. Regardless of who is her eventual candidate, APGA is toast.
Moreover, Prof. Charles Soludo, who seeks the Anambra mandate under APGA, must now deal with the inconvenient truth; when Anambra was going down the road to perdition and prebendal abyss under Obiano in 2017, rather than speak truth to power and to the Anambra people, Soludu engaged in self-serving obfuscation, by claiming that “IF IT AINT BROKEN, WHY FIX IT.” So if Anambra is not broke and broken, rotten, filthy, decrepit deeply indebted and underdeveloped, what is Soludo coming to solve and why does the state need his solution?
The other parties and their hopping, knee-jerk and forum shopping candidates are in the race only to fill up the rest of the racecourse track. Most of the parties are minor leaguers bereft of grassroots support base or fans, albeit with deep pocket maverick candidates. Try as they may, no one will entrust Anambra to another egocentric persona.
Anambra is a hub begging for good governance. The material, human capital, revenue and fiscal resources required to effectively run the state exist, despite its having been recklessly dragged into a debt peonage. What is needed, is a transformative, adaptive, purposeful and caring leader.
From a policy and governance perspective, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) of PDP offers the best possible platform and grand strategy for rejuvenating Anambra and setting her on the part of sustainable development.
From the hard copy and televised defense of his Manifesto, it can be gleaned that Ozigbo is on his marks, set and ready to hit the ground running, in governing Anambra. Indeed, a glimpse into his mindset and template of the policies and programmes he plans to execute in his first 100 days is quite revelatory.
With Valentine C. Ozigbo, Anambra and her progressive future and development will become fungible as well as inextricable. And that is why I have endorsed Ozigbo for Governor. The campaign and race for Agu Awka 2021 is that simple.
*Obaze, the PDP 2017 Governorship Candidate, wrote from Awka