Hardball had always thought of him as whimsical and quirky, but sometimes impressions are far removed from reality. But one found some corroboration recently when the subject of this discourse, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, was granted a fine platform to show the stuff he is truly made of and showcase his activities in the last one year. It was the Distinguished Lecture Series of the School of Media Communications of the Pan-Atlantic University. There couldn’t be a better podium for a powerful pitch.
But the man who governs one of the most significant states in the federation, Anambra, aptly referred to as: Light of the Nation, fluffed the opportunity, to put it plainly. In fact, the stage proved too large for him and by the time he was done, he had become diminished. Or perhaps he simply shrunk to his original size.
Let us consider a few of the fluffy points. First, the organisers of the lecture in their wisdom and rightly so, tagged it: “Sustaining the Legacy of Growth and Development in Anambra State.” It ought to be apparent to even a dummy that this topic is back-grounded and anchored on the activities of Obiano’s immediate predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. Legacy in simple terms suggests a bequeathal, an inheritance. But Obiano, the legatee, spoke in total denial of yesterday.
Instead, he took credit for the model his state is today, putting it down to his foresight. Hear him: “We analysed the Nigerian economy and foresaw that oil prices would crash to about $55 per barrel in less than one year. We foresaw that if oil prices crashed, it would bring down our revenue by 50 per cent. Having figured that out, we began to work on improving our IGR by restructuring our revenue sources.”
One would wager that even the organisers of the lecture must have been thoroughly let down as much as Hardball. If not that the Obi era happened recently, if not that it all happened before our eyes and if not that we happened to be privy to Governor Obi’s outstanding legacy, we may have been fooled.
Gov. Obi, for those who may not know, barely a year ago, handed over to Gov. Obiano, about N75 billion in savings, among other rich-yielding investments. To achieve this, Obi never borrowed a kobo for eight years of his tenure and no salary arrears either. So there was no debt burden for Obiano to worry about. In the last five years of the Obi era, Anambra candidates topped in most national common entrance examinations; a testimony to Obi’s passion for education development.
The Peter Obi impact is too monumental for anyone not to notice or attempt to deny. In decidedly abstaining from as much as mentioning Obi in a longish lecture, Obiano has thoroughly diminished himself in the eyes of discerning people. He has presented himself as a man not given to grace and magnanimity.
And to think that he has not managed to initiate an original thought so far in the running of the state; again, to think that Obiano’s predecessor virtually forded the River Niger to ensure his ascendance. Let’s grant that Obiano still has about two years to rewire his heart.