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A few of the discarded metal boards are still at the Govt House, Awka, till today. They bear the curious message: ROAD CONSTRUCTED BY PETER OBI REGIME.
In a frantic move to win a costly, if, vicious propaganda war, the boards were mounted on roads built by the Obi administration but soon removed on realisation of the regime alienation it underlined.
What happened?
Dr Chris Ngige, controversial, cunning, and street – wise, had discerned that something would eventually give in Mr Peter Obi’s red – hot petition against his [Ngige’s] declaration as winner of the April 19, 2003 governorship election.
The unraveling evidence was damning but the typical politician’s reckoning was that somehow, the PDP’s imperial sway at the time would stave off or blunt the gathering storm. Ngige probably looked forward to a fresh election scenario.
And so, with haste, he launched into a road construction campaign, delivering a number of quality roads in a short space of time.
The strategy paid off. Misgivings against him dropped; his popular rating climbing steadily. And the people yearned for more, good roads.
It was on this pulse of the State that providence thwarted the conspiracies against the APGA mandate and Peter Obi assumed office on March 17, 2006.
First, it took the new Governor two months just to constitute his cabinet. As the people’s patience was wearing thin with this slow motion governance, Obi dropped a bombshell.
People should stop clamouring for roads, roads and more roads. No, his priority was industrialisation; to make Anambra a beehive of industries.
You were left to wonder what sort of magical industries they would be that did not require asphalted roads to access them.
By the time the political value of delivering on good roads dawned on Obi, sections of the populace had lost confidence in his leadership. For those sorely vexed with his aloofness, there had to be a price to pay.
To teach the Londonish Governor a lesson, they began to credit Obi’s roads to Ngige. It was a near frustrating experience. And the metal signboards were born.
To be sure, Mr Peter Obi did make industrialisation a cardinal programme of his manifesto.
It is important to recall that the new voice in Anambra’s politics had emerged on the scene at the time the barbaric Bakassi militia was turning the landscape bloody red in the name of flushing out criminals.
The primitive violence of the Bakassi was dehumanizing to say the least and especially repugnant in a supposedly Christian society.
Consequently, the aspirant Obi struck a bull’s eye when he splashed the poster: WE SHALL FIGHT CRIME NOT WITH GUNS AND MACHETES BUT WITH INDUSTRIES AND JOBS.
Mr Obi took his industrialisation vision to town hall meetings, consultations and campaign stumps, stirring hope for a civilised Anambra State.
And given the identity value of the APGA brand on which he was contesting, there was no doubt anymore who would emerge victorious in a free and fair governorship election.
Now, for reasons only Mr Peter Obi can adduce, this same industrialisation gospel became one he would abandon in the course of his governorship.
After eight years as Governor, the only industrial facility he bequeathed to the State is the Intafact Breweries at Onitsha.
And even this singular manufacturing plant is dogged by an ownership controversy allegedly bordering on conflict of public and private interests.
In fidelity to his continuity policy, Obi’s successor, Willie Obiano, has since taken the Hero manufacturing enterprise to the next level.
The Obi administration invested N1.4 b in the company on behalf of the Anambra State Government. This has been upped to over N2b by the Obiano regime through an initial N540m outlay and another N150m injection for facilities expansion.
Aside many of the road contracts inherited from the previous administration, Governor Obiano also completed and delivered on the Onitsha Shopping Mall, Agulu Lake Resort and some government buildings.
As the Catholic newspaper, Fides observed in its editorial [April 17 – 23, 2016], ‘Obiano could have chosen to abandon the projects and cite any reasons for that.’
The difference, as someone said, is that politicians think of the next election but statesmen think of the next generation.
Chronicling the industrialisation strides of the present Anambra State Government would not be an easy task for obvious reasons.
It should suffice to mention the $100 million natural gas project being undertaken by Falcon Corporation Limited and the complementary $150 million UDIPPCO gas powered plant at Umuerum.
Richbon Nig Ltd’s $50 million vehicle assembly plant is coming on stream. The long abandoned rice mill and irrigation system in Omor is set to be reactivated.
From Coscharis to Coched Farms, it is a long list of operational agro allied industries.
There is currently a one billion naira soft loan facility for small and micro enterprises; 45% of the fund set aside for manufacturing, being managed by the Anambra Small Business Agency.
The testimonies of eminent and neutral observers are further instructive. Ohaneze President, John Nnia Nwodo stated on June 29, 2017: ‘Today, Anambra has the highest growth rate of manufacturing outfits in Nigeria.’
And on July 10, 2016, Professor Pat Utomi said: ‘I am pushing investors from abroad to go and invest in Anambra and Delta [states]. I tell them that is where to go.’
In the face of all these, the outburst by Mr Valentine Obienyem on social media that Anambra State lost the opportunity of hosting the recently commissioned N90b Shagamu, Ogun State brewery due to carelessness by the Anambra State Government must raise more than eyebrows.
In enlightened circles, this claim will jar the ears.
Consider this barren excursion: ‘The makers of Hero were brought to Nigeria by Mr Peter Obi in the nineties.
‘The last industrial battle he [Obi] fought before handing over was to get the people [brewing company] agree to build the facility being commissioned today in Anambra or any part of the East.
‘After he left office, the people met with Anambra Government on the project, but got the shock of their lives…
‘You are left to imagine the impact of the shock that made them move over to Ogun State.’
The above merely reiterates that the former governor failed in all of eight years of special relationship with the brewers and former President Goodluck Jonathan to attract the said facility to Anambra or any other state of the South–East.
Some sources say construction started while Obi was still Governor.
It states in bold relief that the former governor has turned his back on the State and Ndi Anambra.
If there was any stalled initiative for business partnership with the Anambra State Government, why did he not intervene, given his leverage on both sides?
Obienyem, indirectly tells us that Obi, a Christian, has been choking with bitterness for more than four years now. And we find that he has studiously refused to attend any state function since April 2014.
Willie Obiano’s public reconciliation overtures especially during the funeral of late Rev. Fr. Nicholas Tagbo continues to be rebuffed.
No congratulatory message was sent to Obiano on his resounding re – election victory of November, 2017. Mum has remained the word.
On issues of the company’s policies and operations, there is a spokesman with the insight to make informed statements. And it is not my friend, Val Obienyem.
by By Ifeanyi Afuba 

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