There ought to be life after the COVID-19 onslaught. Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano had been on a steady course of triumphs before the Coronavirus challenge which he attacked with relentless ardour. With his eyes on the ball, he has astutely eased the lockdown in order not to strangulate the state economy.
Even so, measures are still in place to ensure there is clean living that will not allow the dreaded COVID-19 much further gateway into the state. The three new cases that tested positive in Anambra State can be seen to be due to the aggressive testing going on in all the 179 communities of the state. Anambra of course has the best hands in medicine which ensured that the first index case was treated and discharged with dispatch. The new cases cannot but be handled with this guaranteed expertise.
With the battle to conquer COVID-19 on top gear attention is now shifting to ensuring that Anambra is returned to its steady course as a leading economic example in the country.
Lest we forget, the word out there from most informed Nigerians is the agreement that Anambra State now works in an exemplary way. The concrete examples of excellence cited range from education to security and the refreshing initiatives on agriculture and ranching.
It cannot easily be forgotten that the Consul-General of the United States, Mr. John Bray, once visited Governor Willie Obiano and said: “I am very, very impressed with the quality of roads in the state. Believe it or not, they are not like this everywhere in Nigeria. I am also impressed with the improvement in the security environment which has come into place with the current government.”
Professor Pat Utomi put in his own words this way: “I am pleased to see the progress that has been made in Anambra. I am one who has been very critical of the Governors of the South-East for a very long time. I think development needs to move out of Lagos. Lagos is now responsible for more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s economy and a good part of those who make that happen come from the South-East and if the Governors won’t create an enabling environment for them to create back home what they are building elsewhere, something is wrong. So, I was lifted up to see progress in Anambra and to see the efforts being made to collaborate across the Niger to see if that will happen. I think this needs to be continued; it needs to be strengthened so that the appropriate levels of investment flow will go in there because that region, which I like to call the Niger Basin, should become the Rhine Valley of Africa. In Lagos here, we are very proud of the bridge that links Ikoyi to Lekki. But the last time I visited Anambra, I said, look o! Willie is Working! He wants to bring our bridge to Anambra!”
With these testimonies, it is quite obvious that after the COVID-19 intermission, a fresh charge of electricity from Governor Obiano will be at work in Anambra State.
The Obiano administration has obviously changed the tenor in Anambra State ever since the return of civilian politics in 1999. A quick recap of past history will put us in good stead in this wise. The 1999 Governor Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju was the only governor dropped by his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2003 re-election battle. Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige of the selfsame PDP who replaced Mbadinuju was kidnapped on Thursday, July 10, 2003. Even when Peter Obi reclaimed his mandate, he was unconstitutionally impeached. Anambra State eventually became the state that provided the barometer for the staggering of elections after the PDP’s Andy Uba was thrown out as “Governor” by the Supreme Court after only 16 days in office!
It is through proper grounding in the recent history of Anambra State and Nigeria that Governor Willie Obiano’s peaceful administration comes into remarkable depiction.
Time was when kidnappers were king. Even traditional marriage ceremonies could not be carried out in the state. Today is different. Night life is back in Anambra State. People can now sleep with their two eyes closed. Arteries of commerce and education are opening up all over the place.
Governor Obiano’s post-COVID-19 drive reminds me of when my friend, the great South African poet Dennis Brutus complained bitterly that his countrymen and women did not quite get it right as they did no planning for post-Apartheid South Africa when Apartheid was still in place.
Obviously, Obiano is on the right track as he has from the relaxation of the crackdown begun inspecting the landmark projects under construction in the state.
The governor has traversed from Mmiata-Anam where he inspected the road and bridge undergoing construction to the massive 100-foot road erosion control in Nnewi. The ongoing Abatete-Oraukwu-Alor bypass also received Governor Obiano’s special attention.
His legacy projects, notably the international conference centre and the Umueri international airport, are on course to completion.
It is well-nigh impossible to understand how he does this after having committed some N500 million in providing palliatives for the less-privileged, the elderly and the youth in Anambra state. The amount spent on providing medical infrastructure to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state cannot be gainsaid.
The equipping of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Amaku has been phenomenal. After inspecting the COOUTH laboratory, the Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Ihekwazu let out that it stands out to be commissioned by the NCDC as a COVID-19 test centre. The ultra-modern laboratory will serve further uses in the post-COVID-19 era.
Governor Obiano continues to live up to his status as the “Alert Governor” because he still pays workers as at when due. His motivational drive in the post-COVID-19 charge remains nonpareil.