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.
CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda
The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.
Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls
The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.
2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear
Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule” to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.
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