Friday, 2 January 2015

Article: Anambra State And Issues Surrounding Governance

Governor Obiano Of Anambra State


By Comrade Aloysius Attah

Anambra is a state blessed in quantum with pace setters, trailblazers and the finest in all. No wonder when the elites and best minds of the state became spectators and watched arms akimbo in 2003 as people of questionable characters and educational qualifications took the center stage and became godfathers rapaciously installing both the executive and legislative arms of the government single handedly with Aso Rock backing, it was like a moment that a collective spell was cast on everybody, the days of the locust.  But because no condition is permanent, the journey to Anambra’s redemption began after the reclamation of the stolen mandate of Mr. Peter Obi on March 17, 2006.

Obi  while in the saddle of leadership had his own strengths and weaknesses but as he was about to hand over power to Obiano on March 17, 2014, what was incontestable was the fact that even the blind and the deaf could testify that the state has made significant progress and has been taken to a higher pedestal under him.

Obi presented to us Gov. Obiano and Dr. Nkem Okeke and with their academic qualifications and backgrounds, expectations were high that if the tempo of Obi’s development style was sustained, Anambra will surpass even the oil producing states as there will be a solid and enduring turn around in all sectors.

Obiano also offered hope when he came with the slogan  “Forward Ever” and the 4 C’ s of Continuity, Complete , Commission and Commence new projects.

The Continuity aspect was maintained partly in some projects like the construction and beautification of the Upper Iweka axis and some other road projects started by Obi.  Remarkable consolidation in security leading to the gradual return of night life in the state and efforts to revitalize agriculture are all  commendable steps by the Obiano administration but going by the happenings in recent times and certain actions of the his administration, the CLO can say that Anambra people have boarded “One Chance bus” and unless the driver is redirected, the passengers will be bruised badly by the time the bus applies its brakes, that is if by luck, it didn’t end in a ditch after a crash but we say God forbid.

Former Governor, Mr. Peter Obi in his handover note on March 17, 2014 summarized the state’s financial statement as at March 3rd 2014 as “Local investment N27,000, 000,000, Foreign Currency Investment of 156 million US Dollars and certified  State/MDA balances of N28,165,985,574.06  as well as FGN approved refund of N10 Billion totaling N91,665,985,574.06 (Before the deductions for March Salary and other charges ). Obi said that the financial statements will supplement any gaps related to financial matters that are not included in the handover report.  The former Governor concluded that the state as at the time he was handing over was strong financially, economically and indeed psychologically. He added that there was sanity, political civility and overall decorum which was far from where he took over in 2003 saying that Anambra under his administration has shown that with clear vision, proper planning and frugal management of her resources, a lot can be achieved.

Obi also while also speaking during the thanksgiving service preceding the handover ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka made it clear that he did not sign any pact for godfather/godson arrangement with Obiano and for that reason, Anambraraians should hold Obiano responsible if he fails to perform as the machinery has been prepared for him to do well.

As Obiano took over the reins of power, he never punctured the financial statements presented by Obi and also never denied the documental evidence backing Obi’s financial records which was later made public by some online media platforms.

But settling down to work, Obiano by his actions and inactions has shown that he is not only in a hurry to discard all the vestiges of his predecessor in office  but he is a direct opposite of Obi in prudence and management of human and material resources.

His convoy is one of the noisiest in the South East; the office of the first lady has been created with its own distractions and meddlesomeness in governance. Not only that, political appointees soon spiraled and became over bloated that as at the last count, there are nearly 200 aides if not more and still counting. 

Among the aides are cases of duplicity where there will be about 4 Special Assistants on a particular sector including the most ridiculous style of appointing an SA on Fish and SA 11 on Entertainment known as Ogbu Oja (the flute blower).   Millions of tax payers money are frittered away weekly in maintaining front page appearance in some national dailies and other public relations with sometimes funny  stories lacking substance planted therein. The governor and his media  aides abhor anything negative publicity like plague while authors of stories they felt was not written  in their favor are regarded as enemies of the government.

Now before one could say –Akpokuedike, the 2014 budget which was prepared under Obi’s regime was jerked to N145.3 billion in April 2014. As if that was not enough, on 2nd September, 2014, the state House of Assembly passed another supplementary budget of N13,769,000,000 (Thirteen Billion, seven hundred and sixty nine million naira) into law.  Investigations by Anambra CLO revealed that the initial supplementary budget was N13.5 billion but the extra N300, 000 million was allegedly added as pocket money for the legislators who allegedly collected the cash upfront of N10 million each before they could pass the bill.

The 2015 Budget of Anambra State:
The budget is described as the most important macro-economic policy tool of any government but when the government begins to play Kalo, kalo with such instruments, the citizens are in for bigger trouble.

On Monday, 24th November, 2014, Chief Obiano, the state Governor presented the 2015 Appropriation bill to the House of Assembly. Tagged “Budget for Wealth Creation and Social Cohesion”, the state intends to spend N164.496 billion. Out of this, N110.979billion is mapped out for capital expenditure while N53.517 billion is for recurrent expenditure.  Breakdown from the budget shows that the state is expecting  total earnings of N102.039billion in the 2015 fiscal year- N48.040 billion in statutory allocations and the most annoying,  N54billion from Internally Generated Revenue. 

The Governor noted that there have been a decline in the federal statutory allocations due to falling oil prices but he intends to make up  the shortfall in the budget through capital receipts of N112.459billion but yet failed to explain what he meant by capital receipts during the presentation. 

From verifiable records, the highest Anambra state has realized in the fiscal year for IGR is N8.831 billion at N880million per month but now, they are jerking the expected revenue to N54 billion, N6 billion naira higher than the Federal statutory allocation and at N4.6billion per month in 2015.

The grim situation is that government wants to inflict untold hardship on the citizenry by jerking up all revenue windows with harsh price tags beyond the reach of the people.

While many concerned citizens raised eyebrows over the budget and called for a proper scrutiny of the entire document, the Obiano government spent millions of tax payer’s money again taking center spread adverts in various newspapers analyzing the budget with several graphic details whose accuracy remains in doubt.

In continuation of the ongoing rub my back, I rub yours relationship between the executive and the legislature, the House against public outcry that trailed the appropriation bill speedily passed into law the bogus budget thereby confirming the insinuation in several quarters that the governor allegedly hosted them before presenting the budget and allegedly promised them another N10million each if the budget is passed within 2 days.

We maintain that the 2015 Budget  of Anambra State as passed into law is frivolous, bogus, unrealistic, untenable and drips of several signals that Anambra is now back on the path of hedonism, years of the locust and no one should be surprised if the state begins to raise bonds and external borrowings very soon.  The capital receipts mentioned by the Governor in the budget presentation are simply pseudonyms for borrowing.

As if the budget drama was not enough, the people were treated to another circus show recently during the decoration of promoted senior police officers in Anambra state where the governor presented 20 horses to the police command for crowd control.

Shortly after the presentation, news from insider sources revealed that the horses were actually 100 in number and were procured from Niger Republic. According to the story, the horses were penciled for sharing among the 21 local governments, governor’s lodge, the police in Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi while a Special Assistant (SA) will be appointed to take charge of the horses apart from 21 people sent to Niger Republic for special training on handling the animals all at a whooping sum of N85million.

The Christmas decoration around Bridge Head, Upper Iweka, DMGS Roundabout and Awka was also reportedly executed at the cost of some say  N67million naira or N670M as the case may be. Surprisingly, since this report came out, the government through any of its media aides has never denied, refuted nor clarified its position on the issues while the public deserves to know the true picture thereby lending credibility to the news report.

All these and more are pointers to the fact that Anambra is fast becoming a classical example of how not to govern a state but the dangerous thing in this is the fact that sycophants are praising the governor to high heavens that he is not only on track but that he is the best thing that has happened to Anambra State.

(Excerpts from the 25 page report of the 2014 End year/UDHR Report of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Anambra State Branch. 08035090548,  attahcomrade@yahoo.com)

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