By Peter Nwasike
Sir Peter Obi handed over the governorship of Anambra State to Sir Willie Obiano on March 17, 2014. Obiano was convienced of laudable projects built by Obi and affirmed his acknowledgement with the slogan of “CONTINUE, COMPLETE, COMMISSION, COMMENCE (CCCC)”. This meant that he shall continue with on-going projects of Obi, complete them, commission them and then commence his own projects.
Obiano was faithful to his pledge. Security of life and property was vital, because, without security, there would be anarchy and chaos, and nobody could work to earn income and enjoy life. So, Obiano promptly embarked upon security and convened a security conference so as to devise ways to operate in atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
The security summit was made up of experts who produced useful advice. He was told that the Police need patrol vans, because, wear and tear had depreciated those supplied by his predecessor, and also that Police created new Stations. Obiano granted their request and like his predecessor, who came from the Banking Sector, Obiano appealed to the Banks for help, and also to some business moguls to remember to perform their “SOCIAL WELFARE RESPONSIBILITY OF BUSINESS” with donation of vehicles for security.
The response he received enabled him to conceive the idea of “OPERATION KPOCHAPU”, and assembled many vehicles which he gave to the Police. The Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, came and took delivery of the vehicles at Ekwueme Square, Awka, in 2014. Obiano also continued with Obi’s Village Vigilante Group, and also law on capital punishment of criminality. He sent executive Bill to Legislature to enact law on the Administration of Village Vigilante Group, with the Traditional Ruler of each town, to be the Chief Security Officer of his town and the Chairman of the Vigilante Group, with the Town Union, led by the President General to be the work-force of the Vigilante Group.
As it is said that naturally, the new should surpass the old, Obiano applied pragmatism in the security architecture, with technological transfer from America, when he launched the “OPERATION KPOCHAPU”, in 2019, with numerous Patrol Vans, Smart Cars, Helicopters, Circuit Camera Television (CCTV), at a colourful ceremony held at Ekwueme Square, Awka, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, came and took delivery of the sophisticated equipment, in 2019.
With Obi’s security ingenuity initiated in 2007, continued by Obiano in 2019, other States and Federal Government have emulated Obi in 2020. Infuriated by horrible criminality of Fulani herdsmen in Southern Nigeria, in devastating farmlands and crops, killing, kidnapping, rapping, the South West States, who are Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Lagos, have combined to set up a security outfit which they call “AMOTEKUN”.
In spite of initial opposition by Federal Government, South-West security architecture have come to stay, and ever since, the heinous criminality of the herdsmen have been controlled. The Federal Government has also seen the wisdom of Village Vigilante Group, and mandated the Police to help villagers to form it, as it is for self defence.
The Police advised that various towns can form what they call “SPECIAL CONSTABLE”, with indigenes of 25-45 years as work-force. They shall be under the training, discipline, command and control of the Police, while the respective Towns shall shoulder the financial burden. They call it “COMMUNITY POLICING”. So, what Obi started in 2007, the Federal Government is understanding in 2020.
When Obi came to office in 2006, he met an empty Treasury. But as a prudent administrator, he applied his ingenuity as financial expert, and saved money to execute many capital intensive projects. He succeeded, that when he was handing over to his successor, it was not empty Treasury but over Seventy Five Billion Naira. When This-Day newspaper honoured Obi with “GOVERNOR OF THE DECADE MERIT AWARD”, the New Telegraph newspaper reported him as saying: thus:
“I reduced my convoy to five vehicles and I used the N150 million for two bullet proof cars to buy almost 50 Peugeot cars at M3 million each, gave 17 to Judges and 18 to Permanent Secretaries”. (New Telegraph news-paper, January 23, 2020, back page, by Ike Abonyi).
Abonyi went on to say: “Former Governor Peter Obi did not only hand over a clean note in this regard to his successor, but ensured that there were no salary arrear, whether of workers or pensioners. But instead, left an assets base in investments to the tune of about N75 billion. This is inspite of the huge infrastructural developments spread out in the State, plus record performance in education, health and human capital development”.
In its report on the Merit Award, Fides newspaper reported thus: “This Day newspaper said that Mr. Peter Obi was honoured as “GOVERNOR OF THE DECADE” (2010-2020), based on what it called his: “Saliant and often overlooked epochal contributions to governance in Nigeria, which the Paper itemized as:
1. Introduction of civility in governance
2. Investigation in the banks carried out by the paper which proved that the money Obi said he saved and bequeathed to his successor was real.
3. Obi’s infrastructural development that is still the talk of the town in Anambra State.
4. His singular earth-quaking rebuilding of Education Sector in Anambra State.
5. The altering of the political calendar of Nigeria, through epochal Court Judgement”.
Reacting to the criteria, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, while speaking during the presentation of the Award, spoke prophetically: “We have watched you over the years. You will go higher, my son”. (Fides newspaper, January 26 February 1, 2020, page 21, by Jude Atupulazi).
But Chief Ayo Adebanjo was not alone in watching Peter Obi with appreciation. Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, also noticed Obi. When Obi won his second term election in 2010, Jonathan was mesmerized by his achievements in his first term, within four years in a State that was not an Oil Producing State, and who was wallowing in bankruptcy and riddled with crime and strife. Jonathan therefore appointed Obi as a member of the National Economic Council, so that the Federal Government could as well benefit from Obi’s financial prudence, frugality and expertise.
Obi justified the confidence reposed in him, and with his advice, President Jonathan sent an Executive Bill, to the National Assembly, to enact law for the creation of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, (NSIA), to administer the newly created “SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND (SWF)”.
The SWF was to take custody of Excess Crude Oil Export, for safe keeping, and under Obi’s watch, it came into operation in 2012, with initial deposit of One Billion Dollars ($ 1 billion). This Obi’s wise advice was one of the grudges of the then Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibike Amaechi nursed against President Jonathan. Amechi wanted the money to be shared out to them, especially, the Oil Producing States, for squander.
The incumbent President Buhari, inherited the SWF in 2015, and was one of the treasureable assets he inherited from his predecessor, Jonathan, in 2015. Recently, reports show that in 2019, Buhari put $250 million (250 Million Dollars) into the SWF, and its size has risen to over 21 Billion US Dollars ($21 Billion Dollars) (Saturday Telegraph, February 29, 2020, page 4).
As Peter Obi is always anxious for economic solvency of Nigeria, recently, he raised alarm on borrowing of money by the Federal Government. He said that between 2018 – March 2020, Nigeria had borrowed over one-quarter of her Gross Domestic Products (GDP), and warned that at that rate of borrowing, Nigeria was mortgaging her future with “such excessive and reckless borrowing”. (New Telegraph Newspaper, March 12, 2020, page 7).
When Peter Obi arrived as Economic Adviser to President Jonathan, he noticed the menance of out-of-school children known as ALMAJIRI, in Northern Nigeria. As lover of education, he was worried that children were being negatively oriented at their impressionable tender age, with stark illiteracy. He had always said that the greatest currency that leaders of the present generation should bequeat to children, was education. He always warned that “The children we abuse today, will take revenge on us tomorrow”.
To correct this ugly trend, he advised Jonathan to establishe free school, with free uniforms, free books, free food, for the out-of-school children (ALMAJIRI), in Northern Nigeria. The schools functioned till Buhari took over in 2015. For reasons best known to him, Buhari sacked the almajiri schools, and the almajiri children returned to streets, begging for alms. Recently, some State Governments, such as Kano and Kaduna, have understood Obi’s innovation, pragmatism and magnanimity, and initiated measures to expand their schools and absorbed the almajiri children, with scholarships, to give the abandoned children positive socialization.
Obi remains consistent in his ideology that positive socialization of children today, through qualitative education, shall make them assets to society, tomorrow, not liabilities, as they constitute today, by becoming dangerous recruitment camps, for Boko Haram terrorists, and Fulani killer herdsmen. So, as he had been magnanimous in funding education while in office, Obi continues to be generous to them when out of office.
He always visits many schools, including those in Northern Nigeria, owned by Missions of various Christian denominations, and gave them One Million Naira to each school, in addition to buses and bomputers.
Ambassador (Lady) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Anambra State-Born world reputed novelist, in her Public Lecture, to mark One Hundred Days In Office, of Governor Willie Obiano’s First Term, in 2014, praised the laudable beginnings of Obiano, and the great prospects that shall come. She reminiscensed on the ugly past, and lamented the repugnant and shameful conditions in which Anambra was plunged before (1999-2006).
She regretted how Anambra was a metaphor for poor governance. When the political culture was about malevolent shrines, kidnapping and burnt buildings, schools closed and teachers were forced to resort to petty trading, and children were denied learning as if in Dark Ages. Chimamanda compared with the prevailing situation and heaved a sigh of relief and asserted: “But Anambra rallied”. And for me, that redemption, which is still an on-going process, is personified in our former Governor Peter Obi. I remember, the first time I met him years ago, how struck I was, how impressed, so simply and so noiselessly.
How Government House here in Awka, was often empty of hangers-on, because he had a reputation for what our people call “being stingy”, which, in other parts of the world, would be called, “prudently refusing to waste the people’s resources.
“Former Governor Peter Obi, ekenekwo m gi ( I salute you). May the foundation you built stand firm and may our Governor Chief Willie Obiano build even more”. (SUNRISE MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2016 PUBLICATION, Page 21-22). Obi’s lofty academic attainments, especially in economics, Entreprenuership, Business Administration, made him to be always invited by different groups for public lecture.
On such occasions, he would reel out the history of economic developments of many Nations, from his fingertips, manifesting that if given the chance, he is the best President for Nigeria in 2023. Obi’s numerous emulatable legacies, in Anambra State in particular, and Nigeria in general, cannot be exhausted in an article like this, except in a book. But the prudent thing is that he should be allowed to go and continue the good legacies in the Presidency in 2023.