Anambra: Never Again! By Hyginus Obiwulu, LL.M

Anambra State has been upbeat since 2003. Dr Chris Ngige, as governor, took the state in a new direction, and his successor, Chief Peter Obi, continued in the same direction for the benefit of the people. The current governor, Chief Willie Obiano, is in the same mould. In one word, Anambra is not just in safe hands, it is now arguably the fastest developing state in Nigeria after Lagos. In education, for instance, it is ahead of every other state in virtually every external examination and contest. Its agricultural development programmme is second to none. Its security nexus is far superior to that of any other in Nigeria state, a development which has earned plaudits from the nation’s top security brass. 

This is a remarkable achievement if we consider that only three years ago its prominent people were being kidnapped and killed at an alarming rate. Today the state is almost synonymous with peace, stability and development.

However, there are new signs that the state is under threat. And the threat is coming from its own people, particularly those who want to govern it by all means. As the state prepares to have a gubernatorial election later this year, all manner of people have been declaring interest in running. This interest should ordinarily not be regarded as a major issue. After all, in the 2014 governorship, for instance, there were as many as 27 people who sought the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was then the ruling party. But as God would have, a very competent person emerged the governor.

What is worrisome this time is that some of the people determined to become our governor are well established arsonists and sponsors of arson which in many countries is considered such a heinous crime that it attracts the death penalty. The worst case of arson ever in Nigeria’s history occurred in Anambra State for two days in November, 2004, when a faction of the PDP in the state led thugs to burn the state broadcasting service, the legislative building, the judicial complex and, of course, Government House in Awka, among other key government institutions. 

These destructions took place in broad light, and were led by not just motor park touts but also policemen, including the commander of the Police Mobile Force in the state. Another leader of the arsonists was then a very controversial member of the House of Representatives who held a press conference in Awka where he dared Gov Ngige to venture into the state from Abuja and see if he would still be alive! There was another leader of the arsonists: the student cult leader at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria, who was to be expelled from medical school for cult-related activities. Both daylight destructions and the dramatis personae involved were covered live by even the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

The late great Professor Chinua Achebe would, in rejecting a national honour from President Olusegun Obasanjo, noted: “For some time now, I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boosting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency”.

These arsonists were enraged by Governor Ngige’s refusal to open the state’s vault to them, despite their so-called written agreement before he became governor to do so. These people have now abandoned the PDP for the new ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Ironically, these erstwhile PDP chieftains in Anambra State launched and sustained the most vicious form of mind poisoning propaganda against the APC during the 2015 general elections. They charged the APC with being a vehicle used to spread Fulani oligarchy and the Boko Haram brand of Islamic fanaticism all over the country. The atmosphere of hate they created is what is today haunting the Igbo in Lagos and elsewhere.

The same arsonists and their sponsors who carried out what is generally known in Anambra State as The Mayhem have joined the APC not because they believe in the ideology of the party—if it has ever had any—but because they want to use the government machinery to impose themselves on Anambra State. Nigerian politicians have for decades used incumbency to rig their way to power, in open defiance of the will of the people. They often act in cahoots with security agencies and the leadership of the electoral commission to announce forged election results. In the defunct Western Region in the First Republic, for example, the entire place was turned into chaos on account of the imposition of an unpopular government which was to culminate in a military coup d’etat in January, 1966.

Dr Ngige is popular in not just Anambra State but the entire country. He has done his best to market the APC in our state. Our people have, however, resisted the APC. Though some of us are APC sympathizers, it need be stressed that our people’s refusal to embrace the APC is good for the nation. Nigeria should not be a one-party state, otherwise it cannot be called a democracy. The ambitious politicians now drifting to the APC to contest the Anambra governorship are driven by the sheer desire to use the federal might against the people.

The Nigerian people, particularly the media and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), need to assist Anambra people to ensure that the state is not taken over by arsonists and those who used their high connections in the Obasanjo presidency to give them political cover when they carried out the infamous mayhem of November, 2004. Anambra State has been growing steadily since 2003, and those Prof Achebe appropriately identified as renegades should never be rewarded with power. There is no place where leadership is a reward for criminal enterprise. Our state will never be allowed to go to the dogs. Never again!

Obiwulu is a lawyer in Onitsha.
Anambra: Never Again! By Hyginus Obiwulu, LL.M Anambra: Never Again! By Hyginus Obiwulu, LL.M Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Thursday, February 09, 2017 Rating: 5

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