The Anambra governorship election may have come and gone, but as Anambra people look forward to a merry Christmas celebration, THE RAZOR NEWS reports factors that will make this year’s celebration either merry or Bleak.
Igbo people all over the world are noted for their penchant to celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, which is marked with the Christmas celebration. Chief among the Igbo tribe that mark the celebration are Anambra people. Wherever an Anambra man may reside in the world, returning back home for the Christmas celebration is very key. Coincidentally, the celebration comes at the every end of the year, and the time affords an average Anambra man the time to take stock of the year that is winding down, come home to visit those he left the previous year and also make merry with old friends and relatives, while making new friends, and also planning for the coming year.
In Anambra, the euphoria that comes with the celebration is better felt than imagined. From the begining of October, down to November, a resident in Anambra will be able to deduce that a great celebration is being awaited. Especially under Governor Willie Obiano, massive road rehabilitation in all parts of the state usually start in October. The construction is usually geared towards ensuring that returning Anambra people who will be going from one community to the other to attend functions will find safe passage.
The yuletide is also the period where most ceremonies are held. While traditional rulers use the opportunity to hold Ofala festivals to commemorate their ascension to their traditional stools, and also honour deserving indigenes of the community and beyond, title taking ceremonies are common events, just like house warming, child naming ceremonies and many others. In some communities, the traditional rulers declare mass-return, where all members of the community are mandated to come home and familiarize themselves with each other. This usually happens three to five years interval depending on the community involved. It is usually a time to make merry, a time for opportunities too as businesses are brokered, while young people get the opportunity to be linked into businesses by older business men.
The period is also heralded with lavish decorations of all known public places in the state. Even though this has been said to cost the state several millions every year, one can say it is usually worth it as it adds colour to the celebration of Christmas in the state.
However, this year, there have been arguments about whether the Christmas will still be a merry one, especially with a number of factors facing the people. Though most of the factors can be described as nation-wide, including inflation, bad economy and others, Anambra in particular has its own factors that may cause a bleak Christmas for the people of Anambra State, but the doubt is that the people may not let such factors dampen their happiness.
Other years, road maintenance is a culture around this period, but this year, the struggle that came with the governorship election which was concluded in early November may have robbed the state government the opportunity of rehabilitating most of the intra-city roads.
Beyond the bad state of roads in the major cities of the state, the roads leading into the state from other states are also in bad shape. Driving from Enugu into Anambra is now some sort of nightmare, especially at Amansea where the federal highway has totally broken down, causing motorists to spends several hours on the road, just to move into or out of Anambra to Enugu or from Enugu.
Seeming absence of politicians
The November election may have been won and lost, but it seems it will have its toll on the Christmas celebration of this year. Politicians have a way of becoming emergency philanthropists, once they are seeking power, but considering the enormous resources spent by most of the politicians during the election, there are feelings that most of them may not return for the Christmas, and as such those who they usually feté during festive seasons may miss out on their largesse.
Already, most of the politicians who who contested for the governorship election have either travelled abroad or returned to their private businesses, and even if they return form for the yuletide, there are indications that they may not engage in philanthropic gestures as they usually do.
Light Up Anambra
For the very first time in the tenure of Governor Willie Obiano, the state would this year celebration Christmas without the light up Anambra project. The light up Anambra project is a beautiful decoration in most public places in the state, which gives the state the feel of Christmas. It usually comprises of streetlight projects, decorations of public places, including all known junctions and roundabouts in the state. This year may have proven different as THE RAZOR NEWS correspondent who drive round the capital city confirmed that no decoration could be found anywhere in the city as against what was usually obtained in such periods.
Doubts about Obiano’s Christmas Rice
During other Christmas celebration, the governor always approves Christmas bonuses for all civil servants and at least a bag of rice for the celebration. This year’s celebration seems different because civil servants in the state are still doubtful if the governor would approve Christmas Rice for them.
A worker in the state ministry of women’s affair and and children’s welfare, who pleaded not to be named said: “There have used Anambra’s money to contest and win the governorship election, so as I speak to you, we are not sure yet if the governor will even give us Christmas Rice, nit to talk of approval of bonuses.”
THE RAZOR NEWS gathered that even October and November salaries were paid behind schedule, indicating that the state may be in dire financial strait. Governor Obiano is widely know in the state as ‘alert governor’s, especially among civil servants. This is because no 25th of a month passes without workers receiving their salaries, but recently, it has not been the case. Some of the workers even said that during December period, the governor pays salaries on 20th of December, to help workers plan their Christmas holiday with the money. Though it is not 29th yet, as at the time of filling this report, but most civil servants believe that it may be difficult for the governor to meet up with the payment.
Though the Christmas may seem a bleak one, there are also factors that have risen the hopes of the people of the state, showing that as always, the people will have a very merry Christmas this year. Three chief factors that point to this are: the governor’s presence in Anambra this year for the Christmas, the new Anambra airport project and the improved security.
Presence of Governor Willie Obiano
Since Obiano became the governor of Anambra State, THE RAZOR NEWS checks shows that he has never celebrated Christmas in Anambra State. Being a US based Nigerian himself, Obiano has never hidden the fact that he is more at home in the US than he is in Nigeria. There is also no doubt that once the governor is done with governorship tenure in Anambra, he would relocate to the US. He has also confirmed so, more than once.
The only year the governor failed to travel out for Christmas was in 2020. Usually, Obiano leaves between 20 to 23 December, and returns in early February. The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed it stopped the governor from making the trip in 2020. This year, the governor travelled immediately after the governorship election with his family, and has returned after about a months stay. It is not clear if he will travel again as is customary with him, but if he does not, Anambra people may again this Christmas have the privilege of celebrating Christmas with their governor, and would look forward to seeing him attend events with them, as some indigenes of the state have in previous years complained about his penchant for travelling out, when indigenes of the state are coming home to celebrate with him.
This year, Anambra people from all over the world who would be coming for the Christmas will not bother to come by road. The opening of the Anambra international cargo and passenger airport for commercial flight is itself a very big Christmas gift to the people of the state. It seems a good way to compensate the people for the bad state if roads in the state as the people can choose to fly in and save themselves the hassles associated with the bad road.
Those who knew of happening in Anambra State, before the election, especially between June and November this year and the random killings by unidentified gunmen would appreciate the level of peace in the state.
Most people who had business to transact in Anambra State stayed away from the state because if the series of killings that was going on, just as some countries of the world warned their citizens against coming to Anambra State. But with the election over, peace has gradually returned, just as the fear of insecurity has vanished, while social functions have commenced again. This has given hope that the Christmas would be one to be enjoyed, and that the people of the state would not be apprehensive about their safety if they return home.