The beauty of Democracy is that it offers the electorate large pool of people to chose from compared to military or autocratic regimes where few people makes all the decisions for their citizen. Sometimes the electorates makes informed decision by electing able and capable leader but sometimes they misfire by electing hapless incompetent leader.
Anambra state located in the southeastern part of Nigeria has seen both extremes since civilian government was restored in May 1999. Nigeria’s fourth Republic has witnessed four elections held in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, a milestone. One extreme was the election and catastrophic government of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, elected under the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who held sway in the state from May 29th 1999 through May 29th 2003. Governor Mbadunuju’s problem was not lack of education or experience. He obtained bachelor degree in political science and a doctorate degree in government from Cornell University, an ivy league university in United States. He subsequently earned a law degree from one of the best universities in Britain. He was associate professor of politics and African studies at state university of New York and personal assistant to Jim Nwobodo, former governor of old Anambra state and Shehu Shagari, former Nigeria president.
With such educational pedigree and experience, one will think that Mbadunuju’s government will be one of the best in the nation but that was not the case. His government was an unmitigated disaster. Anambra state’s Share of the federal oil proceeds disappeared into thin air, looted in other wards. Teachers, other state civil servants and pensioners were owed months and in some cases years of salary arrears. Crime, corruption and political thuggery rose to an unprecedented level. Anambra state roads were neglected and left unpaved. Political infighting and power struggle between Mbadunuju and his political godfather, Emeka Offor crippled the machinery of government in Anambra state. By late 2002, teachers had been on strike for a year, civil servants and court workers had also been on strike for months due to non- payment of salary. Anambra, home state of one of the architect of Nigerian independence, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and other prominent Nigerians such as late Biafran leader, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Chinua Achebe, Nwafor Orizu, Chike Obi, Kenneth Dike and others both living and dead became a laughing stock in Nigeria. Nigerians could not believe what is coming out of the state since they expected more. It is fair to say that governor Mbadunuju’s four year tenure was a complete waste and the lowest point for all Anambrarians
Reprieve came to Anambra state on May 29, 2003 when Dr. Chris Ngige was elected governor under People’s Democratic Party(PDP) platform. Governor Chris Ngige restored the glory of Ananmbra state within three years. He paved most major roads in the state and brought salaries of civil servants and pensioners up-to-date and started paying civil servants on time. He improved education and surprised Anambra citizens who have lost hope in their state government. What governor Ngige accomplished in 3 years makes one wonder what happened to federal allocations to the state since it was created. He set the standard used to measure subsequent governors. Former governor, Chris Ngige was not a saint. He came into office with the help of his political godfather, Chris Uba who rigged him into office. The Nigeria court of Appeal subsequently sent him packing after three years in office, but he established himself so firmly in the hearts and minds of Anambrarians due to his exemplary and extraordinary performance that he is still admired and respected today. He is now a senator in Nigeria upper chamber.
Governor Peter Obi of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the rightful winner of the 2003 election was reinstated by the court to serve out former governor Ngige’s term. He ran for re-election and won. Governor Peter Obi has been in office now for over 7 years. He has met the standard established by former governor Ngige. He embarked on integrated development which covered all the areas Ngige did not have the opportunity to complete. All the major roads in Anambra state are not only paved but well maintained. He handed over school to former owners, the missionaries, and pays civil servants on time. The jury is still out on his policy of handing over schools back to the missionaries. He improved remaining schools and controlled erosion. He was able to accomplish all he did without borrowing a penny from anybody or banks. He basically managed Anambra state resources and federal allocations in a fiscal responsible manner. There is no evidence yet that he looted the state treasury like some governors. Governor Peter Obi has won a number of awards from various organizations as the best fiscal responsible governor in Nigeria who managed his state resources with care and prudence.
Every good thing will come to an end someday. Well, governor Obi is term limited and cannot run in the upcoming November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election. His party (APGA) is in disarray. Whoever succeeds him will either keep Anambra state moving forward or turn off the lights. It is always easy to destroy than to build. We Anambrarians can loose it all if care is not taken. If the infrastructure built from 2003 to present is not maintained, they will rot. Anambra State is blessed with well educated, honest and talented men and women. Money men who are already flaunting their ill-gotten wealth and positioning themselves for gubernatorial office should be avoided and shunned. They are up-to-no-good. Political party affiliation should not matter. What should matter is the character and integrity of the will-be governor. Anambra cannot afford to go back or revisit the vices of Mbadunuju’s era. Anambrarians have billed their state as the “Light of the Nation”. You must live up to the cliché you have given to yourself. Mediocrity should have no place in this state anymore. Anambrarians must be alert when picking the person who will succeed governor Obi. The next person must meet and exceed the standard set by former governor, Chris Ngige and present governor, Peter Obi. Doctor before one’s name may not mean much as former governor Mbadunuju demonstrated. I discovered during my visits to different states that the level of development in each state parallels the competency of the governor since federal government has had little or no economic impact at the state level. Get involved Anambrarians and take your destiny into your hands one more time come the next election.