In less than 70 days, the Anambra electorate shall get the chance to cast the vote which shall provide a new executive leadership for the state for the next four years. After the party primaries, names of candidates for the February 6th gubernatorial contest are now known. What is yet to be declared is which of these candidates symbolize the change which can bring about needed impetus to continued advancement of socioeconomic advancement of the state. From all indications, the platforms of all the political parties in the contest are ideologically the same. The PDP, APGA, AC, APP, PMP, LP etc are just variants of the same political ideological mold. These parties, if one bothers to review their stance on philosophy of governance, for example, are basically indistinguishable from the one another. As we saw during the rather tumultuous primary nomination process, aspirants who lost out in one of these partisan formations simply switched affiliation to any other that would make them their flag bearers. What the Anambra electorate is looking for in the February election, therefore, cannot be the party platform to put at helm of our affairs but instead the candidate who can bring about the needed change in managing affairs of the state.
Many are obviously perturbed by the rising sense of insecurity in Anambra in past several months. Armed robbery and kidnapping have become routine in most parts of former Eastern Nigeria, particularly Anambra state. It would not be surprising that most, if not all, the candidates shall be promising to correct this sorry situation if elected. In like manner, there is no single community in Anambra state that is not being devastated by the negative consequences of uncontrolled storm water and gully erosion. Many of the candidates are also expected to promise to rein in this monstrosity once elected as governor. There are equally confounding problems in construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure, provision of adequate facilities for education and healthcare, reduction of massive unemployment amongst the youths and implementation of imaginative programs for mitigating material poverty and dearth of societal amenities, especially at the grassroots level. Yes, every candidate is expected, sooner or later, to make public promises about their desire to bring El Dorado to Anambra in the next four years if elected to become governor. The average voter is likely to, once more, see the candidates as same because they shall definitely be talking from the same script.
These final two months of the campaign must, therefore, be used to separate apples from oranges so as to enable the electorate to make informed choice at the polls. An uninformed voter is very likely to become swayed by other inducements, such as gifts of cash and rice etc, if he or she cannot see any compelling need for electing any particular candidate as governor. In that case, whoever pays most to the voter upfront gets the vote. To avoid this scenario, the voter must be assisted in sifting through the long list of governorship candidates in order to enable him or her to vote for the one with the best capacity to bring about the required change in the unacceptable status quo. Let’s isolate and review some critical matters which can help to realistically and fairly rate the candidates going forward:
The governor is, first and foremost, the chief executive of the state and therefore, should have the capacity to be a team leader. An effective governor does not only have to possess a vision of what needs to be done but also he or she must have the leadership quality for making all the instruments of government to work seamlessly toward actualization of a determined objective. Based on this premise, an effective governor ought to have the all branches of government namely; the executive, legislative and judiciary arms to work harmoniously toward the accomplishment of goals set for enhancing the wellbeing and welfare of the governed.
An effective governor must be seen to be respectful of the constitutional guidelines that streamline functionality of government. The local government council, which is constitutionally the third tier of governance in Nigeria, must be empowered appropriately to perform its functions without hindrance by the governor or the state bureaucracy. Role of community leadership in delivery of good governance must not be belittled or trivialized since the majority of the citizenry are more in touch with it, on daily basis, than any other level of government.
An effective governor must have a good appreciation of how to mobilize adequate resources to apply toward maintenance of instruments of routine governance, such as civil servants’ salaries etc as well as new capital projects. Unfortunately, most Nigerian states depend almost entirely on the monthly allocations from Abuja for meeting all their needs. Experience has shown that such monthly subventions are hardly adequate for meeting the needs of a state like Anambra. The next governor for the state should, therefore, have credible practical plans for mobilizing additional revenue at the state, local government and community levels which can be applied toward meeting the daily needs of the people.
Transparency in disbursement of public funds is key to retaining confidence of the governed. Arbitrary and spontaneous extra-budgetary spending of public funds in not a prerogative of an effective governor under normal circumstances. This practice is prevalent in Anambra today and change is urgently needed to restore some sanity in how the state’s public funds are deployed.
Beyond just paying monthly salaries for civil service employees, it is the duty of state governor to ensure that any major capital expenditure or undertaking by Anambra government shall result in job creation, especially at grassroots level where unemployment rate is extremely high. Public sector activities are quite substantial in Anambra and the next governor must present a credible plan for harnessing this great potential for job creation.
Environmental degradation and decay exist in all parts of Anambra state. Any expenditure of public funds for environmental remediation projects must, therefore, be accompanied by clear stipulation on how to maximize employment of local labor at all stages of their implementation.
Structural Planning & Development
Anambra state is still very young and therefore, needs to be planned well and carefully. The state now has a structural plan for the main urban centers of Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka. All governorship candidates must present, without waiting to be prompted, their envisaged road maps regarding what they intend to do with the UN HABITAT study report already delivered to Anambra state government. A reasoned meticulous implementation of the available structural plan can result in tens of thousands of new jobs in all echelons of civil society.
Anambra government has documented more than 1000 active gully erosion sites in the state. On the average, this amounts to about five gullies per community. The sad fact is that this number is increasing with each passing rainy season. Our large urban centers of Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka suffer perennial flooding which devastate residential and commercial parts of these cities. City dwellers are still subjected to heavy liquid and solid waste pollution which combine to wreak untold havoc to their health.
The undue emphasis on road construction, without giving required attention to drainage and maintenance regime, is actually complicating the problems facing Anambra today. The change needed, going forward, is not just to continue to deploy the state’s resources on flagging off road projects without first developing guidelines on standards for construction, drainage and maintenance of all land transportation infrastructure, for example.
Anambra state has developed a policy document on flood and erosion control which is currently lying dormant and out of sight. A governor for change must have a clear idea and plan for retrieving and resuscitating this plan for immediate implementation in order to begin to rein in the runaway erosion menace that is terrorizing the entire state. It goes without saying that taking such a bold and overdue step shall generate tens of thousands of jobs in all 177 communities of Anambra state almost immediately.
Anambra is in a very bad shape, as we speak. Some are bothered most by a sense of insecurity while others are irked by the contraction and devastation of our collective living space. What is incontrovertible is that things need to be done differently for these terrifying problems to be brought under control soon. Anambra certainly needs new vision for leadership at the very top.
The February election must, therefore, be all about change for the better. Does the incumbent administration, which is seeking extension of tenure, have any real plans for change? If so, what are they? Do the other candidates see the need for change or have clearly delineated plans for actualizing change in the status quo? If so, let the Anambra electorate be so enlightened now.
It is a great disservice to Ndi Anambra for governorship candidates to unleash their propagandists, whose only limited expertise is obfuscation rather than public enlightenment, on the electorate. There are barely 2 months left before the polls and Ndi Anambra deserve to learn which of the would-be governors actually possesses what it takes to bring about a much needed change for the better after the February 2010 election.
Senate Wades Into CJN, S’Court Justices’ Feud
The Senate has waded into the disagreement between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and justices of the Supreme Court.
Fourteen aggrieved justices of the apex court had, in a widely circulated letter to the CJN, accused him of neglecting their welfare, not carrying them along in managing the affairs of the court, the deteriorating condition of services generally, and the state of the litigation department.
Speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the legislature must be interested in what is happening in the judiciary with a view to finding solution to any of its issues.
He therefore mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) to wade into the issue.
He said: “We must have interest in what is happening in the judicial arm of government with a view to bringing solution to the issue.
“Our Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters should get involved and find out what the real issue is so that the National Assembly can help out.”
Voter Registration: INEC Insists On June 30 Deadline, Denies Extension
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied extending the deadline of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), describing the report that it has agreed to extend the deadline by 60 days as false.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Jibril Dukku, had while briefing lawmakers told members during a plenary session on Wednesday that the Commission had agreed to extend the CVR by 60 days.
“The Committee held a meeting with INEC yesterday (Tuesday) and they agreed to extend the CVR, all our resolutions were approved,” she said.
But responding, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, clarified that the Commission has not announced an extension of the CVR deadline.
The exercise, which was meant to end on June 30, has been greeted by calls for an extension. Also, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had stopped INEC from ending the exercise until all eligible voters had been registered.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has faulted media reports associating it with the extension of the ongoing CVR.
The House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, said it was untrue that the shift of the INEC voter registration was announced on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Flanked by the chairman of the House Committee on INEC, Hajia Aisha Dukku, he said the decision on the shift is left to Prof Mahmoud Yakubu-led INEC to take.
Kalu acknowledged that INEC may not be able to adhere to the recently adopted motion of the House, which demanded an extension of the exercise by two additional months in view of the extant provision of the electoral amendment Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He reiterated the resolve of the House to ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised in the 2023 poll.
Dukku expressed optimism that INEC would heed the call for an extension.
Fear Grips APC Over Gale Of Defections, Adamu Runs To NASS
Following the primary elections conducted in different parts of the country by political parties, a gale of defections has hit the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), causing the party serious concern.
APC national chairman, Sen Abdullahi Adamu, on Wednesday described the mass defection of members of the party to other political parties as unfortunate and worrisome.
Adamu made this comment to newsmen after he met with the APC Senate Caucus at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
He said: “It is an unfortunate development when it happens, but this is the season for all manner of behaviour in the political space. And Nigeria is not an exception.
“In every election year, this kind of thing gives cause for stakeholders to sneeze. This is what we are experiencing. Nigeria is no exception and the APC is no exception.
“I don’t give a damn what is happening in other parties. I care about what is happening in our party, but you and I know that it’s not just in the APC that is having this experience; because we are the ruling party, yes our problems are more prominent in the public glare.”
He stated that every responsible leader will be concerned worry about losing one member, not to talk of two. At the moment, we are faced with the stark reality of that problem and we are committed with my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to face the problems squarely and see the problems are solvable, and we will solve them,” he said.
But despite the defection the party has been suffering in recent weeks, yesterday three senators belonging to the APC resigned their membership.
The lawmakers are Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North).
Whilst Babba Kaita and Alimikhena defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Gumau, on the other hand, defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Two senators from Bauchi and Imo States have resigned their membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
The lawmakers are Senator Dauda Jika – representing Bauchi Central and elected on the platform of the APC, and Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi – representing Imo East Senatorial District, who was elected on the platform of the PDP.
Both senators, in separate letters addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, conveyed their decision to resign their membership of the APC and PDP, and to join the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), respectively.
The APC lawmaker, Dauda Jika, said he was moving to the NNPP whose ideals are in line with his political aspirations.
Onyewuchi, on his part, said defecting to Labour Party would nable him to participate fully in the “movement for a new Nigeria.”
Wednesday’s defections bring the number of APC Senators to 66, with members of the minority parties standing at 43.
The minority parties in the Senate at present are five in number as of Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.
They are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Young People’s Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and Labour Party (LP).
Meanwhile, A former Minister of Aviation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has raised the alarm that 22 Senators of the ruling party were at the verge of leaving the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over their inability to secure re-election tickets in the just-concluded APC primaries.
The Tide source reports that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had at separate sittings of the Houses lamented the inability of many lawmakers to secure their return tickets for the 2023 elections.
Chief Fani-Kayode, however, on Wednesday took to his verified social media handles, saying the threat by the aggrieved Senators was a serious matter and something must be done to avert the mass defection.
He added that many party members have expressed concerns over the development even as he called on the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and national secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to quickly wade in by reaching out to the affected lawmakers.
The former Minister wrote: “22 APC Senators are threatening to decamp to PDP because they have been denied the tickets to return to the Senate.
“This is serious and something must be done to prevent it.
“Many are concerned and we urge our able National Chairman and National Secretary to reach them. We cannot afford to lose them.”
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