Governor Willie Obiano’s relationship with the APC-led Federal Government has in the last few days earned some excoriating criticisms from hawks in the Peoples Democratic Party. As the general election draws nearer, more of such extremist remarks should be expected. We have a responsibility to explain the true situation to the people of Anambra State who are supremely in support of both Governor Obiano and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Governor Obiano is not an extremist but a great believer in constructive engagement. He engages constructively with the Federal Government. Thus, federal establishments like the Police Force, Army, Navy, National Security and Civil Defence Corps have been very helpful in making Anambra the safest state in Nigeria. Obiano is a perfect example of practitioners of what social science scholars call cooperative federalism, as opposed to adversarial federalism.
Obiano also engages constructively with members of the so-called opposition in Anambra State like Senator Ben Obi, Senator Andy Uba, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Mrs Josephine Anenih, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, etc, who are leading members of various parties. This healthy style of engagement with opponents resulted in the peaceful gubernatorial election of November 7, 2017, and in Anambra’s emergence as Nigeria’s most peaceful state.
Governor Obiano, in addition, engages constructively with non-partisans like Mr Cosmas Maduka of the Coscharis Group. The result is the massive investment flow into the state running into billions of dollars.
Obiano’s advanced and sophisticated approach in his relationships with critical institutions and forces around Nigeria can be described as informed by what he calls development diplomacy.
This strategy means that what matters to him is what will lift the state’s development level and benefit NdiAnambra, rather than pandering to schoolboy-like expectations. This development strategy has worked most effectively in the transformation of Southeast nations and territories like Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia. It has been adopted by Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa nation has become Africa’s fastest growing economy.
The confrontation approach which some politicians adopt in order to be seen as tough fighters is often nothing other than playing to the gallery. This approach costs society a lot, leaving the people poorer and the states less safe. Anambra is in a hurry to develop, and so doesn’t need unnecessary fights which are by their nature destructive.
Yet, no one should be in doubt about Gov Obiano’s unwavering and bold commitment to the good of NdiAnambra in particular and Igbo people in general. For instance, when a lot of Igbo leaders were afraid to merely discuss in public, any aspect of the Nigerian-Biafran War, Obiano led the formal burial and funeral of Igbo people who died in the 30-month fratricide but did not receive a proper burial, an anathema in Igboland and many other parts of Africa. Many of the people today taking exception to Gov Obiano’s constructive engagement with the Federal Government were too timid to attend this crucial and historic ceremony in Awka, or even declare support for it. Only such bold and authentic Igbo leaders as the late Vice President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ekwueme, stood by Gov Obiano every inch of the way.
We can cite another example of where Chief Obiano provided bold leadership when other leaders proved cowardly. When the most hardened of Boko Haram fighters were sent to the Ekwulobia Prison in 2015, most Igbo leaders suddenly became dumb and even blind, despite the grave security implications of having Boko Haram terrorists in our midst. But Gov Obiano rose to the occasion. He displayed a great understanding of what the distinguished Harvard scholar, Professor Joseph Nye, famously called soft power to get the Federal Government to remove the terrorists from not just Anambra State but the entire Southeast to other parts of the country. The Obiano strategy proved very effective, as the terrorists were taken away in no time and without repercussions to Ndi Anambra. Gov Obiano’s style of achieving great objectives and goals for the people of Anambra State without creating enmity for them in any way is a mark of sophisticated leadership. He calls it development diplomacy. The Nigerian political class should learn one or two lessons from this strategy.
Politicians of Anambra extraction who disapprove of this approach are those Chinua Achebe famously referred to as rough beasts of fanaticism. They are those who want to endanger the state by seeking to bring down on all of us the roof of our development building which has in recent years attracted stupendous attention from even beyond Nigeria.
May God continue to protect, guide and bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
C. Don Adinuba,
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.