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Published October 14th, 2009

In his search for the best candidate to occupy the office of the Governor of Anambra State come 2010, Okey Ikechukwu, using an allegory once wrote a piece entitled Anambra –Where is your Ijele? The characters of those contesting for that office he caused to assume the form of some known masquerades in Igbo land. The good, the bad, the ugly. At the end of his analysis, he was convinced that the best of them all, the Ijele, was yet to enter the esplanade. Even as his search was yet to yield an acceptable result, he knew that the Ijele might be ensconced in a safe bay waiting for the right moment to showcase. Equally obvious to him was that the Ijele being the best from the array of masquerades would be welcomed as soon as it storms the square.

His contempt for the uncouth manners of those other genres of masquerades whose presence around the ijele in the esplanade could be seen from the nuisance they constitute at best. Once the Ijele debuts on stage, it sets itself apart from the motley even without so much as to prime itself to that task. Its essence is esteeming both in carriage and mannerism. Therefore it needs no effort to establish its supreme presence in the midst of other masquerades.

However, I believe that his search did not go deep enough as to unravel the one whose presence in the State has been eclipsing others effortlessly. He seemed to have resigned himself very easily in his diligent search for result. But the Ijele has been on the esplanade, assiduously exhibiting those characteristics that are uncommon amongst its peers.

Not oblivious of the expectations of the anxious crowd that is angling for the singular opportunity to share in the exhilarating moment, the Ijele is confident that as is wont, it will out class others.
The governorship election in Anambra state is sure to throw up characters with tendencies as variegated as Dolly Parton’s famed song coats of many colours. It does seem from the look of things that the underlying tendency in all the candidates is just money. Besides this common feature, every other thing would account to nothing. Other qualifications like education, experience etc have little or no role in the calculation of those aspiring to govern the state, which can easily pride itself as one of the best in Nigeria in terms of producing outstanding personalities in all walks of life. Some of these candidates believe that since they are in financial control of their campaign therefore nothing else matters. This is where the problem with the state lies.

A situation where everybody scrambles to position of leadership without deferring to superiority of knowledge honed from years of political tutelage or credibility refined in the furnace of intellectual diligence, returns a verdict of confusion to that society.

Executive position of a rank of Governor certainly needs experience for anybody to succeed there. It is not just all comers affair irrespective of the size of a candidate’s purse. Apparently one profession that does not set great stores by experience is prostitution. In this trade hardly does anybody go looking for people with years of experience. Here virginity holds greater attraction and/or prospects.

Leading Anambra State in 2010 must not be something that shall go the beaten path of foisting candidates on the people nor shall it be a decision to be taken by a tiny clique that goes by frightening appellations like god fathers, king makers, stake holders etc. That decision must be the electorates’ otherwise we may unwittingly replicate the Ekiti odium.

The candidate must pass through the crucibles of scrutiny by Ndi Anambra to determine among other things the mental stability of such individual since the experience before now showed a tendency towards that fringe. And to guard against that we have to sniff around for a whiff of lunacy among the candidates. Otherwise, we shall be returning the state from whence the present administration has pulled it.

It is a discernible truth that the present government in the state as led by Peter Obi, even if it failed in everything else, has been able to give Anambra state a direction. Obi is repositioning Anambra State from where impunity and lawlessness is fast receding behind the border line. He understands that development may be difficult in a state that has suffered indescribable assault from some of her privileged citizens. He knows as well that if the prevailing condition was not dealt with, development would not only be long in coming as Thomas Becket’s Godot but may be entirely elusive.

That is why today he has moved the State up the ladder of development with the panache of an Ijele masquerade. For a first time visitor to the state, these developments may not be easily visible apart from roads where he has tarred over 350kms stretch, because of the extremity of locations.
A careful check on some of the other sectors like education, health, judiciary, agriculture, security, transportation, housing and environment shows that Obi has diligently moved the State steps further than he met it.

His exploits in the field of education for example has been attracting a lot of acclaim to the State well beyond its borders. As a reward for his effort in equipping these schools with computers, laboratory equipment, hostel blocks, books, faculty buildings and other incentives to learning, the State came first as the most educationally advanced States in the zone with a princely price of N100 million.

Securing accreditation to the hitherto moribund health sector through the rebuilding of most of the general hospitals in the state is no mean feat. Recall that these institutions were just there as mere consulting clinics sometimes failing even in that regard. From Umueri General Hospital to Ekwulobia and other Schools of Nursing and Midwifery scattered in the state, Obi put them back to good use. The case of Onitsha General Hospital is particularly worth commenting because it not only lost accreditation but persuading doctors to work there was quite difficult. But today Obi has restored accreditation through provision of state –of- the- art equipment and built Resident Doctors’ quarters. At Awka, Amaku Hospital is taking a step higher than the rest with the building of about six different storey buildings preparatory to its being made a teaching hospital for the State’s University. I do not intend to reel off every of Obi’s achievements in the state since we will certainly be limited by space, suffice it to say that the Ijele has long entered the esplanade and people glued to the pews are being enthralled.

In some respects, Obi shares a certain similarity with his predecessor in office. Both actually have got experience of the job and may likely not fritter away a good deal of their time learning the ropes again. But that is as far as the similarity goes. I sincerely believed that Ngige has done his bit and should not bother with another contest so as not to undo himself. He was a worthy tool in the hands of the gods who deployed him to good use, at least, in exposing the criminal undercurrent of a cabal that long undermined the State. He should therefore strive to put himself to other use(s) as the conditions that made his coming as the Governor exigent had long been dealt with.
Having built a befitting secretariat for workers in the State, constructing up to 65metre Odor bridge, builds the first state library, constructed flyovers, opened up Iyiagu flood channel at the pains of attracting enemies to himself among others, a further search for an IJELE should cease.


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