Anambra@30: Obiora Okonkwo Traces State’s History, Condemns Poor Infrastructure
STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE OF THE ZENITH LABOUR PARTY (ZLP), DR. OBIORA OKONKWO, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF ANAMBRA STATE
August 27, 2021
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of our dear State -Anambra. For those of us with limited sense of history, particularly the younger generation, Anambra state in its initial form came into being on February 3, 1976, following the break-up of then East Central State into Anambra and Imo States. That development was courtesy of then Head of State, Gen. Murtala Ramat Mohammed. The old Anambra State had its capital in Enugu, which was the capital of East Central State, as well as the Eastern Region that preceded it.
However, on August 27, 1991, the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida split Anambra into two states- Anambra and Enugu, with Awka as the capital of the new Anambra state and Captain Joseph Abulu as military administrator. So today marks the 30th anniversary of Anambra state in its current form.
Along with the pioneer military administrator, very deserving of our appreciation are members of the state’s first executive council who literally had to build everything from the scratch, sacrificing so much in the process. These include the distinguished scholar and technocrat, Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu who served as Commissioner for Health and the pre-eminent lawyer, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, SAN, who was the state’s first Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
It is also in that same spirit of selfless service, that Justice Uyanna, the Administrative Judge for Awka Zone, at the creation of the new state, gave up his official residence so it could serve as government house, as no better befitting structure was on the ground. Similarly, the Enugu Ukwu community, between 1992 and 1993, offered their town hall to serve as temporary State House of Assembly Complex. We remain appreciative of these noble gestures, among so many others to ensure the smooth take off of the new state, and pray that their sacrifices shall not be in vain.
At 30, we have every reason to be thankful for our dear state and to be grateful to God for being alive to commemorate her anniversary. Today, as always, we commit her, along with the leadership into the hands of God in prayers, as her success is invariably ours, just as her failure would impact us the most.
However, it is pertinent to ask the pointed question -how far has Anambra state come? As some would suggest, the state capital is arguably a good indicator of the developmental strides that a state has taken. 30 years after the creation of Anambra State, very little exists in the state capital Awka by way of critical public infrastructure as many key government institutions continue to operate from the same makeshift structures they have been using since 1991. One can only visit other state capitals around the country, many of which were created several years after Anambra State, to better appreciate the very poor physical condition of our state capital, Awka
with respect to basic infrastructure. A state that prides itself, and rightly so, as the Light of the Nation should do much better.
Some 10 years ago, Anambra was widely acclaimed as having the best intra-state network of roads in the country. Today, very sadly, most of those roads have fallen into major disrepair due to abandonment and poor maintenance culture. Good roads, functional public hospitals, pipe-born water, regular power supply, good public transportation, among others are just the basics any serious government should be able to provide its people. Today, very unfortunately, our people have been so dehumanized by decades of poor governance that we now settle for crumbs from our governments. People of my generation grew up with such basic infrastructure like decent public hospitals and pipe-borne water, even in the remotest villages- many of which survived the ravages of the civil war. What happened to those critical infrastructure that we came to take for granted?
I so often wonder how we got to this very low point in our public life of demanding too little from our governments; where the payment of salaries is now considered an achievement, despite the enormous amount of resources at their disposal. Of course no individual, company or government can ever have enough resources to do everything, but prudent management (both in government and in our personal lives) demands getting our priorities right (i.e. privileging the people over everything else; eliminating waste (i.e. getting the best value for money) and in the case of Nigeria, reducing corruption to a minimum. Any government worth that name must prioritize the people, especially, the most vulnerable among us. It is both a civil and a moral responsibility that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, explicitly calls us to in our individual capacities, as a community or government.
Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of poor governance in Nigeria over several decades has given politics and politicians a very bad name. But we cannot continue to stay on the side lines and complain, otherwise, it will remain business as usual. It is time for decent people with vision and a strong moral compass to get into public office and help change the governance trajectory of not just Anambra state, but Nigeria at large. The English Philosopher Edmund Burke reminded us of that immortal truth that ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. And I will replace the ‘men’ in Burke’s quote with ‘people’- men, women, youths, and everyone concerned with a just democratic society driven by the common good of all.
Ummu nnem, Ndi Oma Anambra, in the past 30 years, our dear state has faced its fair share of challenges. It has been a roller-coaster ride with different regimes- the good, the bad and the ugly. And while some of our problems may lie with the federal government, most are directly tied to the poor administration of our state. Like I have often said, we can complain all we want about the federal government, but the south east, in particular Anambra state, has all it takes to make her great. So let us creatively focus on our self-development and transformation and let others, including the federal government, see in us a model to copy.
Our peoples’ indomitable spirit is legendary and if we could recover from the effects of the civil war in record time, there is nothing we cannot do if we put our minds to them. It just requires great leadership with its key attributes of a clear vision and a tenacious spirit. Even more than leadership, democracy is about followership; an informed and attentive citizenry that strives to hold the leadership accountable at all times; that insists on full complement of their constitutional rights and refuse to accept crumbs. In the past 30 years, we have seen the best and the worst of our political leaders in Anambra state and as this 30th anniversary coincides with the governorship election, we should all rise and join hands together to Reinvent, Reinvigorate and Revitalize her. We can only do it together if we remain consistent and focused.
It is for this reason that I come to you with a 10-Point Agenda that will transform Anambra and make it a state that works for all of us, not a few. We are determined on our vision to transform Anambra through ilu ou oma. As we join hands in prayers, and continue to seek divine guidance in our journey, I urge you to unite under the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), the last party on the ballot paper, and give us your mandate to drive our state towards a more meaningful development for the good of all of us and our future generation.
I therefore call on all Anambra son and daughters, to be part of this historic movement to reclaim our state and restore it for common good. We are determined to bring make Anambra the centre of development in the south-east region. Trust us to lead you right.
Once again, Happy Birthday to our dear state. May God protect her and bless all of us.
Long Live Anambra State
Long Live Zenith Labour Party
Vote Obiora/Jessie …Maka Ilu Olu Oma
Obiora Okonkwo, Ph.D