Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My fears for Anambra State

Emmanuel Mayah, Sun News Online

He is an Abuja insider and one whose mettle as a legal strategist has been tested in more ways than one. For over 13 years Barrister Ike Obidike has witnessed at point-blank range the execution of some of the most complex intrigues in Nigeria’s politics. Over time, this complexity has morphed into paradoxes finding peculiar expressions in two places: the Nigerian nation and Anambra State.

Propelled by a strong sense of self-worth, Chief Obidike is quick to tell you he is a proud indigene of Anambra State. He takes exceptional pride in the contributions of illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra to the Nigeria project. Gushing with praise, he reels of names like Chinua Achebe, Dora Akunyili, Chukwuma Soludo, Oby Ezekwesili and a host of others who have either conquered the world stage or played interventionist role on the national scene, having been drafted to help pull institutions back from the brink. Obidike pointed out that similarly, while great Nigerian scientists, scholars and technocrats have played interventionist roles in international institutions and in foreign countries, “their home country, their home states, sadly are in dire straits due to a deliberate disconnect orchestrated by our political managers.”

Obidike traces this shared paradox of Nigeria and Anambra State on a warped ideological system saying, “ While nations compete against nations to achieve greatness, Nigeria is busy competing against itself” and that “Anambra is a difficult state to govern; so complex that even the best man for the job, like the biblical Moses, cannot take it to the promise land. He spoke on the current political debacle to EMMANUEL MAYAH in Abuja.

New mistakes, old politics

I am greatly disturbed by what is going on in Anambra State. Anambra, just like Nigeria itself, is a worrisome paradox. It is the paradox of a great physician who cannot cure himself of a recurring headache. How do I mean? Anambra is blessed with illustrious sons and daughters who have set enviable records either on the national stage or the world stage, yet the state cannot rescue itself from what has long become a plague. It is like Nigeria, a nation that is quick to thump its chest in self-praise of its interventionist achievements in Liberia, Sierre Leone, Congo, Somalia and other places, yet its home is in shambles.

Like any well-meaning indigene of Anambra State, I am highly embarrassed by the horse trading going on in my state in the name of politics. They say that he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. Are we so dumb that we still do not know where our problem is coming from? Are we so dumb that we still do not know where not to look for solutions? If you ask me, I will say that the answer to our problems is not in party politics rather in a new socio-cultural orientation.

With the kind of political foundation we are standing on, not even the best man from the best political party can take Anambra to the promise land. Honestly, I expected that before this next gubernatorial election, Anambra people should have reached a harmony and consensus inside the room, and then come outside to speak with one voice. The North is very good at that, so why can’t we borrow a leaf from them. The reconstruction of the Igbo states promised after the Nigeria Civil War has remained a mirage. Anambra is the worst hit of all the Igbo states by extraneous political influences aimed at undermining the reconstruction. We have to do the reconstruction ourselves, but instead of working together, we are working against ourselves. We are at a critical juncture in our political life and the matter should not be PDP, PPA, APGA or any other party. It is about the soul and destiny of Anambra. It is about putting an end to political slavery.

Achebe’s angst

Throughout his rule as civilian President and even up to the truncating of his third term gambit, Obasanjo was known for fuelling the politics of destabilization in Anambra state and in other parts of Igbo land. Back in 2004, this cultural custodian author of Things Fall Apart, took the extraordinary step of declining to accept the high honor awarded him in the 2004 Honours List by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Achebe cited the injustice, slavery and the politics of destabilization whcih Obasanjo and his agents had imposed on Achebe’s home state of Anambra. Achebe pointed to the silence and alluded to the connivance of the Presidency in the destabilization of Anambra by political and business renegades. Five years down the line, the question is: has anything changed? Are there new Obasanjos? What other elements are out there? But whatever the forces, they can never be as formidable if the people are guided by a common goal and a common vision. We can never hope to get to the promise land if Anambra is in the grip of a small clique as usual, openly boasting of their connections in high places. That cannot take us to anywhere.

Many nations, many races, many nationalities are beginning to borrow from the Obama phenomenon. Before the primaries, the prayer of all well-meaning people was; let the good people come out. Let the Dora Akunyilis, the Charles Soludos, Ernest Ndukwes, come out; let our First Eleven march out; let our best brains, and we are not short of them, come out. Soludo has come out, but the whole thing is mired in controversy which takes us back to what I said earlier about the North. The primary that took place in Abuja should not have been allowed to degenerate into a show of shame. The Abuja primary ought to have been preceded by an Awka primary where the interest of Anambra state is made paramount. That way, we would have reached a consensus before coming out in the open. That way we would have had a constructive dialogue, not a diatribe as we are seeing. Now the Anambra case is again like a farce, a comedy of error and the whole world is watching and our enemies are laughing at us. When will we prove them wrong?

No Siddon-Look

The time has come for President Yar’Adua to show leadership and he could as well start with the imbroglio in Anambra state. Time has come for Yar’Adua to show leadership too at the party level using whatever internal conflict resolution mechanism. Anambra is in the eye of the storm; Nigeria also is in the eye of the storm. With one dysfunction after the other, in one state after the other, we are slowly gliding back to a pariah state. The world is leaving us behind, and I don’t know how any President can be comfortable while the so-called giant of Africa is being compared to failed states like Sudan. That is what the development index says. Only last week, the Mo Ibrahim Leadership in Africa Foundation released its development and good governance rating. Out of 43 countries in Africa, Botswana was first; followed by Cape Verde.

Ghana is 7th while our dear Nigeria came 37th. Our leaders should be worried, in fact sleepless with reports and ratings like that. Attention is shifting to Ghana. Companies and bid labour employers like Mitchelin, Dunlop, and Cadbury have moved or are moving to Ghana. One would have expected our leadership including the National Assembly to call an emergency session over this movement to Ghana. Obama travelled to Ghana and gave Nigeria the cold shoulder. It speaks volume and it was another way of saying, you guys are not serious. Ghana has displaced Nigeria as a strategic partner and sub-regional leader; meanwhile, we are busy squabbling and fighting amongst ourselves and splitting hairs about PDP, AC or APGA.

Last week too, I heard that the states and Federal governments have shared another excess crude dollars and I screamed: not again! We are repeating the mistakes of the past. Why not plough that money into railway, agriculture or the university? Honestly, it has never cease to amaze me how Sanusi, the CBN governor mustered the courage to suggest that President Yar’Adua’s seven-point agenda should be pruned to two manageable agenda. What Sanusi was invariably saying was that the President should bite what he can chew. At this stage it is difficult to say how much the President has been able to chew, given that the performance of the seven-point agenda is still hazy. One is being charitable in this assessment with the hope that all the managers of the respective agendum are giving it their best shot.

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