Respite came the way of the people of present Anambra State in 1990 when they were separated from the old Anambra State, comprising the present-day Enugu State and some parts of Ebonyi State.
The then military junta headed by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida came to their rescue through state creation that freed Anambra from the union previously seen as ‘suffocating’ and unable to allow enterprise, which the Anambra people are known for, to thrive.
To every indigene of Anambra, that singular act by a military fiat was a welcome development and was described as more of liberation from a wedlock that made their aspiration to the leadership of their former state a pipe dream because of the intimidating population of the northern part of the old Anambra State.
One of the indigenes of the present-day Anambra State said the euphoria of the state creation reflected mightily in their response to the invitation of the people to support the new state by its pioneer military administrator, Colonel Robert Akonobi.
Sadly, the joy of the people was short-lived after Akonobi’s exit as the chain of events that followed soon after, reduced the state to a laughing stock.
From the election of its first civilian governor, the revered Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who the same military gave the boot in 1993 even before he could finish the tour of the new state, to what many has described as the ‘better-forgotten four years’ of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, to the almost three years of ‘illegal occupation’ of the Anambra governorship seat by Dr. Chris Ngige, who some erroneously referred to as a former governor of the state contrary to the position of the law, it has been one unfortunate development after another.
The state became known more as a place where funds for developmental projects ended up in private pockets without apology and a place where government and public officials spend more time swearing to oaths of loyalty and allegiance to both known and unknown god-fathers, overtly and covertly.
That was the lot of the state until the arrival of Governor Peter Obi, nicknamed ‘The Rock’, who in eight years redefined governance in the state and by the same token set a standard with which good governance should be measured in the entire country.
Under Obi’s eight years, Anambra, the state that embodies everything that defines the Igboman’s ‘Yes We Can’ spirit, got its swagger back.
Ex-governor Obi’s excellent performance is evidenced by a look at the best 10 students in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination and the West African Examinations Certificate (WAEC) and its sister National Examinations Council (NECO).
Under Governor Obi, the depleting fortunes of the state in education and indeed other spheres, once again soared. Fortunately, his successor and current governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has continued largely with the policies of the Peter Obi administration even when he fell in short supply of the financial discipline and managerial wizardry of his immediate predecessor.
Obiano now in the final lap of his eight-year tenure and the state is once more on the march, searching for a worthy successor, willing to continue with or even up the ante or tempo of human and infrastructural development in the state.
However, as Obiano’s is set to bow out come 2021, there is an ongoing search for a true spirited Anambra administrator who like in the campaign lyrics of the Late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, should be ‘our man’.
Many of the citizens of the state are in agreement that, that man or woman must be somebody who is Anambra in spirit and in truth. The consensus among the populace is that Obiano’s successor must be Anambra not only in spirit but in practice. They agree that his or her agenda must be clear for the people to see, understand and believe.
A stakeholder in Anambra politics and incidentally a publisher, Ogbuefior Chibuzor Onyia, who spoke to our correspondent said, “The vision and mission must be clear enough and laced in understandable and believable language, measurable by a people who have been politically wisened by those years of good governance under Peter Obi, to know deceit or hollow promise when they see one.”
According to Barr. Godson Okoye’s idea of how to run the state which is in sync with Dr. Michael Okpara’s pragmatic approach to governance and infrastructural transformation of the defunct Eastern region in the First Republic, fits more into what the state needs now. Looking at his holistic approach to the development of the state as encapsulated in his ‘Shape Agenda’, reminds everybody of Dr. Okpara’s strides that made the eastern regional economy of that era to be adjudged the fastest growing economy in the third world.
But the general concern is that implementing such a detailed development plan however needs the total cooperation of the people who must see the said plan as theirs and take ownership.
“That is why he has designed a very clear pathway that will ultimately lead to the people being the deciders of who leads them as opposed to the practice of the past where a godfather or a collection of few of them, installs a governor and daily breath hot air down his neck. This strategy is designed to make the people, the owners of the Governor and his government.
“His Shape Agenda details his plan of action in those sectors that are central to the transformation of the state to the dream of our forebears. The state that was once inhabited by Sir L.P. Ojukwu and his son, Emeka, Alex Ekwueme, Chuba Okadigbo, the great Zik of Africa, Augustine Ilodibe, Dan Ubajaka to mention but a few and is still being today inhabited by Emeka Anyaoku, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Mbazulike Amaechi, Innocent Chukwuma, Peter Obi amongst other big names, deserves no less. A peep into his Shape Agenda, his blueprint on security, health, agriculture, power, and education, clearly show a development destination that is driven by current economic realities.
“There is no doubt that anybody aspiring to any leadership position in the 21st century must have that ability to at all times and think out of the box. The business of building and managing a modern and technology-enabled 21st century economy of a state like Anambra, is not a tea party,” he opined.
It is also a common belief that as the era of dangling mini bags of rice and salt to the electorate to earn votes has since taken flight, Barr. Godson Okoye’s 21st century-compliant style of politics makes him highly prepared and is therefore commended.
Also, another political Analyst who is versed in politics of the state, Chief Jerome Azubuko, in his opinion agree that the state must this time around look inwards and do a soul-searching on who to replace Obiano in 2021. He noted that the likes of Okoye whom he described as a sound legal luminary and a consummate politician had the right credentials to govern Anambra State, adding that his shape agenda is what the state needs now and if implemented will take the state to an enviable height.
Political watchers in the state believed that Anambra, the economic and commercial hub of South East needs a pragmatic leadership to launch her to the world map and not a game of money bags where many throng to clinch power without the technical know-how and expertise to drive governance of the state.
But, will the likes of Barr. Godson Okoye, who many perceive as having the right credentials to steer the ship of leadership in the state without the war chest to midwife the cumbersome electoral process scale through the hurdles in a state where many money bags, who are ready to manipulate the outcome with their splendorous wealth calls the shorts? Only time shall tell.