This essay was submitted by Onyeka Ogbuozobe
Travelling to the village during Christmas was usually my highlight of the year. I’d usually shut my eyes as we approached Niger bridge from Asaba; it gave me a sense of intrigue, detecting we had entered Anambra only with that peculiar harmattan scent. Years later, it dawned on me that I was perhaps, oblivious to a host of anomalies during my moments of ecstasy. For example, I didn’t notice the lines of worry that embellished my father’s face anytime darkness gained in on us before crossing the bridge. Somehow, I normalized fetching water from Ezekoro stream about 500 metres from our family house, in turn, total blackouts punctuated by the occasional use of a generator seemed to fit the village terrain. Sadly, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my kinsmen were not resistant to social amenities and a generally better life, instead, the government was just, and still is, inept.
Anambarians, we say that the Igbo man doesn’t run unless the rain reaches his body. Maybe, this explains why even with an outstanding glossary of great people, our debilitating problems prevail. For years on end, our people yearn, they strive and still suffer. They toil, they plant and are still hungry. Of a truth, our current situation is a testament to the Nigerian reality. Nigeria is akin to a failing experiment and we know, when oil touches one finger, it spreads to the others.
Whilst we pride ourselves as the ‘light of the nation’, it remains to be seen. Of the devastating effects of the Biafran civil war, our commitment to self-sustainability shone so brightly that foreign media designated our setup as a model for other African States. Forthwith, we must as Nigerians, strive to restore value to our continent, setting the pace with our own state. Upon this, I strongly implore that we think posterity and lean towards this whirlwind of a renaissance- one I intend to initiate if elected Governor of Anambra State come 2023.
My candidacy is exempt from previous campaigns of bogus promises and false hope. In its place, I intend to build a community of believers, to restore faith in ourselves and to beam our light on Nigeria. Cognizant that there is no quick-fix solution to our deluge of difficulties, my team of intellectuals and I have identified seven pivots upon which our cycle of change would begin. In succeeding paragraphs, I’ve attempted to succinctly enumerate my agendum for the new Anambra.
To begin, one leading source of embarrassment for us is the scattering of gullies, many aptly referred to as canyons that negatively adorn our landscape. Reports that over 70 percent of our total landmass is being ravaged or threatened by erosion worsens the already gory situation. Studies show that a prominent contributing factor is high-velocity excess runoff water with eroding potential. Activities such as farming and construction in combination with peculiar hydrogeochemical, hydrogeological and geotechnical characteristics contribute their quota in the over 500 active gully erosion sites across our state. To this end, it is evident that the implementation of general erosion control procedures of channelization and embankment construction is doing little to tame this monster. My administration would Institute a scientific study in coordination with relevant ministries for the sole purpose of identifying and designing, satisfactory solutions for each erosion site. In addition, systematic drainage construction to channel excess runoff water to the river level would ensue. The ministry of town planning would also, assiduously ensure controlled agricultural and construction activities in gully prone areas.
In a similar fashion, my leadership is committed to reducing the infrastructural deficit in our state, perched on the pronouncement that Nigeria needs $100 billion dollars annually for 30 years to address her moribund infrastructure. The task is indeed gargantuan, however, my proposal of governance is predisposed to terminating our continued migration in search of greener pastures. Thus, the need to commit to planned urbanization, transforming our villages to booming hubs, all along a defined course of action. Frankly, this grandiose plan may ruffle some feathers with the demolition of illegal structures, however, compensation is guaranteed. My administration would significantly scale-up infrastructural development across our schools, hospitals, power supply mechanisms, markets, roads and other critical areas in conjunction with robust private sector partnership.
Equally pertinent is the pressing need for human resource development. Large, shiny new edifices need competent people to be fully exploited, necessitating synchronized capacity building across all sectors of our state. As part of designs to develop our human capacity, Information Technology would be heavily embraced. Relatively, the quality of education obtainable must attain a certain standard of excellence. Importantly, youth development through skill acquisition, entrepreneurial training, sports and entertainment would be designed to engage our people in meaningful activities. As we opine that youth are the leaders of tomorrow, we can definitely, begin to secure our future today.
In our bid to impress amiable vestiges on Nigeria, our economy must be exemplary. Amidst giant strides towards industrialization, a large part of our inherent economic potential has been under-utilized. Take agriculture for instance, we possess almost 100 percent arable land but clearly, this has no impact on our abysmal Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), let alone, food security. With unemployment levels skyrocketing to 17.5% like in 2018, change is due. In addition to mechanizing and incentivizing agriculture, our resources like bauxite, ceramics, crude oil and natural gas would be structured to boost our economy and better the lives of the common man. I also can’t sidestep our tourism goldmine that needs to be revamped. Step by step, my administration would strive to facilitate increased ease of doing business, attracting investment and the accompanying industrialization. However, a proviso exists thus, we must pay our due taxes as a civic duty, and escape prosecution.
For the most part, I give credit to Governor Willie Obiano for tackling the scourge of kidnapping and armed robbery in the upper Iweka axis head-on. To consolidate this laudable achievement, I plan to digitalize our security agencies including mounting solar-powered Cctv cameras across the state for productive intelligence gathering. Also noted is the rising threat from some extremely violent Fulani herdsmen and the primacy of standardizing our local vigilantes. Handicapped from constituting a state police force, we can adequately equip the brave men of the Nigerian police force in our state and restore our trust in them.
The chicken says that if somebody sweeps, it will defecate again, but if someone
strikes hard, it’ll die. The toxicity of corruption in Nigeria and subsequently, Anambra has exacerbated so grotesquely that the number of people waiting to steal exceed those currently stealing. Corruption has persistently impeded our growth and development, leaving us in the dust. In light of this, we must strike corruption hard. Firstly, social studies lessons in our schools will include corruption and its demerits as part of its syllabus. Secondly, there would be a menacing check and balance system in every institution and subsequent punitive measures against those found guilty in accordance with the law. It’s not unusual for corruption to fight back, hence, my governance would strategically, position the judiciary and legislature for independence and efficacy. The most critical piece in our fight against corruption is hinged on our resolution- yes, our resolution to question sudden wealth, our resolution to confer titles based on integrity as opposed to pecuniary might, our resolution to eradicate our get rich or die trying mentality and our resolution to encourage hard work. Although I’m intent on an aggressive anti-corruption campaign across the state using every available medium, the onus rests squarely on us. My grandfather would always say, ‘he who abhors dog meat should not be found licking its soup’.
Understandably, we are accustomed to scepticism towards the government due to a plethora of disappointments. For our renaissance to kick start, we must believe in a better future, and as such, be resolute in doing better. The only undertow of my candidature is vested in the public because I believe we need to imbibe a nascent sense of belief, hope and patriotism. Efforts towards better waste management necessitate public cooperation, combating climate change requires adherence to the relevant laws, generating sufficient IGR to supplement federal allocations for prompt disbursement of salaries has roots in positive tax compliance and so on.
Correspondingly, I pledge to an inclusive government, incorporating town hall meetings across our constituencies and timely response to niggling issues.
On the whole, I surmise that no other candidate can match my passion, commitment and methodically crafted strategy to bring to light, our Anambra. In line with my vision for a renaissance, I’m in correspondence with our challenges and the magnitude of work needed to stimulate economic growth, instigate infrastructural development, empower our youth and maintain serenity. I cannot promise you a smooth journey, however, what I can certainly offer, is an unbridled genre of commitment in restoring substance to our appellation-possible only when you support my candidacy for Governor of Anambra State, come 2023.