Saturday, 12 April 2014
Anambra State-The Journey So Far By Jon Chikadibie Okafo
As an indigene of Anambra State who is exceptionally passionate about my home state, I try as much as possible to make out time to assess events as they unfold in my state. For the purpose of this essay, I wish to beam my searchlight on Anambra State under Mr Peter Obi, the current governor.
The beauty of running a democracy lies in the fact that the people have the power to elect those who will run their affairs diligently and purposefully. In this dazzling style of government, the government listens to the people always with a view to improving on the job of governance. Anambra State which is an integral part of the wider Nigerian democracy should therefore tap into this window of opportunity and keep those running our affairs constantly on their toes.
Even though the hypocritical Nigerian system tends to hold a silly and nostalgic view of government critics, I find this enterprise ethically and morally rewarding. According to Edmund Burke, “evil thrives when good men keep quiet”. In some of my previous essays, I did expose the hot air that was Peter Obi’s claims of constructing quality roads and revamping the rot that was characteristics of education sector in Anambra State. As was expected, hired guns of the state and otimkpus made a carnival of calling me names that undoubtedly suggested I was “an agent of destabilization”. Again, that remains one sweet aspect of democracy.
Nevertheless, the government of Anambra State certainly agreed with my views that public schools in Anambra State have been neglected to a point where the government should be accused of perpetrating an act that amounted to a moral evil. In one of the said essays, I brought the glaring shame that was the state of Boys’ High School, Amawbia to Governor Peter Obi’s attention. This school is located in the same town with his Governor’s Lodge. In a different essay, I equally punctured a wicked lie dished out by the government of Anambra State that it constructed roads in Amawbia, my home town. According to a document published by the “Committee for Good Governance”, a resident construction company, Masters Holdings Ltd was paid billions of Naira for the said roads.
I wish to genuinely commend Governor Peter Obi for listening to the voice of reason by visiting Boys’ High School, Amawbia and admitting that his government and previous governments failed woefully for not doing the right thing. He eventually donated about N12.5m (twelve million, five hundred thousand Naira) for repair works in the school-work is on-going as I write. I believe the government can still do more.
This singular act of donating money for the renovation of Boys’ High School, Amawbia should as a matter of urgency be replicated in all the public schools in Anambra State. I believe that the government of Anambra State should be ashamed of its abysmal performance in the area of education development. How else can one explain the horrific state of government secondary schools in Awka, the state capital? A classic case is the shameful state of Professor Kenneth Dike Memorial Primary/Secondary School, Obunagu Awka; in spite of all the tall achievements of the great man whom the government named the school after, the poor state of the school appears to be an attempt to ridicule the memory of this great scholar of blessed memory.
It is really sad how we treat those that spent their entire lives working for the betterment of humanity, and all that concerns them. How else could one describe what is an apparent caricature of the memory of the late Professor Kenneth Dike by the government of Anambra State which is ignoring calls to not only fix the school named after him, but to extend similar gestures to all the public schools in our state? The era of spreading the lie that “government has no money” became unfashionable the moment Governor Rochas Okorocha started performing the “miracle” of positively transforming education in Imo State. While pupils have access to free education in Imo State, what do we have in Anambra State? A despicable scenario where parents are being forced into the cold/capitalistic hands of private schools proprietors as a result of government’s negligence of education by omission and commission.
Back to the imaginary roads existing only in the mind of “Committee for Good Governance in Anambra State”, a diligent investigation carried out by me has thrown up a very curious case of complicity and fraud! I wrote an essay challenging the government of Anambra State to explain to us, ndi Amawbia the circumstances surrounding non-existent roads in Amawbia (Capital Territory of Anambra State) which was contained in a government white paper celebrating Anambra State as having “the best roads network in Nigeria”. The said roads includes St. Peters and Ugwu Tank roads, Obi Avenue (Adabebe) and Burial Ground-Nise Link road which reports have it have all been paid for by the government of Anambra State. Masters Holdings Nig ltd was purportedly paid the complete contracts sum and shockingly, the contracts and completion of the listed roads exists only in utopia.
Ordinarily, I would not attempt to hold the government of Peter Obi responsible for this malicious fraud on my home town and ndi Anambra except that the bogus claims were contained in a publication circulated to media houses in Nigeria with a capricious view of celebrating achievements-achievements that are fraudulent and criminal. For a government that loudly trumpets its dedication to “fiscal discipline”, I find it too nauseating when it chooses to lie to us about expending our money for a liar obnoxiously called “roads constructed for the benefit of our people”. The government of Anambra State should please clarify this issue by either holding Masters Holdings ltd responsible for eloping with our money without earning it, or recant the lie that it paid for a non-existent road.
I am one of those that continue to scoff at the monumental fraud that is perpetrated by our government which is sold with the tag of “security vote”. In all strata of government, staggering and equally obscene amount of money is shared by certain government officials from the President, state Governors, Local Government Chairmen, etc. True to the fraud that this bazaar is, the recipients of this evil wayo do not need to account for how they gorge on this money. So, the mere fact that just like his colleagues, Peter Obi of Anambra State pockets about N4b per annum (four billion Naira), we must be stout in asking him many salient questions.
The rate of crime in Anambra State is really peaking and it would be nice to hear how the governor has been translating his security vote funds into securing the lives and properties of his people. As I write, armed gangs are having a field day sacking entire police stations in my dear state; police men are being murdered at their duty posts, their armouries looted and their offices burnt. A local vigilante group was recently ambushed and murdered by this same rampaging gang. In Awka, the capital city and its environs, armed robbers on motor bikes now operate unchallenged; this is despite the fact that many vigilante groups have been set up by the state government which has also contributed immensely to the police in the area of supply of needed equipment. What then is happening in Anambra State? Is it a case of “nwa mgbeke amara akpu, koo na aguba adiro nko?”
I would enjoin our people to delve into the habit of holding those in positions of authority accountable for their actions. It is really sad that in Nigeria, every divergent view is melted at the altar of “partisan politics”; people that dare to ask questions about how the state runs the affairs of its citizens are sinfully labelled “disgruntled elements”. We should all rise to the occasion by ensuring that those we freely elect to pilot the affairs of our state are constantly reminded that power ultimately belongs to the people.
Peter Obi might be doing his “best” in my home state, but then we owe him the duty of reminding him that in a democracy, we are all stakeholders in this enterprise. He should also be mindful of the fact that those that see nothing wrong in how he runs Anambra State are nothing but praise singers whose main concern is making sure that their snout remains permanently attached to the trough which is “our collective cake”.