BusinessDay

Who be dis Peter Obi sef?

Quote:

“It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.

“Our national challenges are deep-seated and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country. My commitment to rescuing Nigeria remains firm, even if the route differs.

-Dr. Peter Obi (excerpt from his resignation letter to the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja)

His vibrant vision to get our dear country, Nigeria out of the murky waters of the ever- escalating insecurity conundrum, the debilitating economic quagmire, mass youth unemployment, as well as to get the critical areas of education, healthcare delivery and agriculture working again and institute the respect for the rule of law are crystal clear. His name is Dr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State.

That reminds me that of all the current presidential aspirants, his name keeps ringing a loud bell, in decibels across the country. Millions of young and enlightened Nigerians believe that he is the one man that can make the needed difference; to change the narrative from the current sordid state of the nation. It is obvious on the social media and on the urban streets.

In fact, only recently a woman in her early fifties, selling fairly used clothes close to the vendor’s stand at the popular Allen Roundabout, Ikeja Lagos joined the discussions going on amongst the newspaper readers. She asked with enthusiasm: “Oga journaliss, I beg who be dis Peter Obi? Whaai, demdey call im name effry wheaah?”

One had to enlighten her that Obi happens to be a former governor of Anambra state; the first to reclaim his mandate through the court after an illegal impeachment, the first to obtain the constitutional interpretation on the tenure of a governor and of course, the first in Anambra State to be re-elected for a second tenure.Beyond all these, however, he excelled in virtually all sectors of the economy.

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“Oya, make una join hands make im become the next oga on top. Shebiim say job go plenty nyanfuu,nyafuu for awa pickindem. The suffa-suffa too muuush for dis contry now. Tins cost welliwelli, no be small”. She urged those around.

But as fate would have it Obi does not hail from any of the northern states, with the largest number of voters and does not believe that political positions should swing only to the highest bidders. Like George Osborne, he believes and rightly so that: “If we don’t get a grip on government spending, there will be no growth.”

Let us take a closer look at the tweets by his supporters in response to his recent decision to quit the PDP:@firstladyship, “Peter Obi will defeat the PDP and the APC in any party. The Office of the citizens of Nigeria is the highest office in the land. This organic support has taken off. They can no longer stop us. Only God can. Obi is an idea whose time has come. The gang up against him won’t stop us.”

@Yumilicious, “What Peter Obi just did today has just placed him on another level of political recognition and trust. Some of us were skeptical about having PDP coming back to government. So now that he has emancipated himself from them, we Move.”

@westkal22,”@OfficialPDPNig should watch and see how rapidly we’re going to decimate their relevance here. Wherever @PeterObi goes, we go. Aggressive campaigning and push now. All hands must certainly be on deck.”

From all indications, he is one political leader who the led majority can trust that he would keep to his words. For instance, I was fortunate to lead a team of seasoned media practitioners to the state in November, 2011. Our mission then was in tandem with investigative journalism- to critically assess his performance much of which we had severally read about in the papers. Good enough, the team had members with diverse backgrounds in such vital fields as economics, politics, law and education.

Noteworthy was the participatory approach his administration accorded democracy like the Athenian democracy which developed in the year 507 B.C. when their leader, Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people’’.

He created the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) in addition to enthroning accountability in fiscal matters.The government constructed over 400 roads as against 91 by his predecessor. Anambra State government took over the old Enugu Road from the Federal Government and completed it, just as it did theState Emergency Management complex that was started during the military era.

In addition, it built the Women’s Development Centre as well as the Skills Acquisition Centre and the 38-kilometre Agu-Oka, Enugu and the Ekwueme Square. The Water Corporation we met was working with erosion control mechanisms in place. In the area of Housing, it came up with a unique hydrophone model that uses 95 percent mud to make it affordable. It is the first of its kind in modern Nigeria.

His administration completed the first and second phases of the state-owned secretariat. Before our visit, over 200 transformers have been bought and shared to several communities across the state. It is to his credit too that the world- renowned LG Electronics, in partnership with the state government had constructed a centre for training, installation, monitoring and repairs, credited as the largest of its kind in the African continent!

Equally so were the achievements in the health sector. The Anambra state University Teaching Hospital complex was completed in October 2009, upgraded from the status of a cottage hospital. Now it boasts of modern laboratory facilities, consulting clinics, cold rooms with vaccines. Apart from equipping pharmaceutical stores and hospitals with scans and relevant drugs, the N10 billion Julie Pharmacy complex regarded as the most modern in Africa comparable to what is obtainable in Egypt and South Africa has the support of the state government. The Kidney Dialysis Centre, the Onitsha General Hospital, the School of Health Technology, Obari and the over 70 ambulances given to voluntary agency hospitals are worthy testimonies of the government’s attention to healthcare delivery.

In the field of education 4,000 model primary schools were on course at the rate of 1,000 per year! The Professor Kenneth Dike Public Library was also in place with the support of Bank PHB, even as the State University project at Ibariam was on in earnest. Also, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) and the Post-Primary Education now have their Boards. The monthly subvention to the Anambra State University was increased from N15 million to N50 million while all mission schools have been handed over to their rightful owners.

Not left out is the field of agriculture where support to the rural areas is guaranteed. There is a fertilizer plant established on NTA Road, with roads to food basket villages of Amanasi-Ebwenwbe, Ojoto and a modern Rice Mill with the support of USAID located close to the Anako-Omasi rice farms.

It must be noted that under Obi, Anambra State received a federal allocation equivalent to only 10 percent of what the oil-producing states get on monthly basis. If so much could be achieved with the meager resources available how much more transformative leadership would be on ground if the vast gas resources in Anambra State are made operative? Indeed, Obi has shown that leadership in a democracy is all about being visionary, proactive, people-oriented and all- inclusive.

Is he the game-changer Nigerians have been waiting for to bridge the gap between our vast atural resources and the hunger in the land? Time will tell but the answer is right there in our voters’ hands.

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