Let me admit right upfront that I am a fan of Mr. Okey Ndibe. I have also told him straight to his face and outside his face that he is an equal opportunity critic. He criticizes Igbo as much as he criticizes any other ethnic group. I doubt that Mr. Ndibe speaks for or can even speak for anybody no matter how hard he tries. Mr. Ndibe speaks for Okey Ndibe that is the best he is capable of doing. His opinions are his and he hangs on to them and guard them against every advice. It is both his strength and his weakness.
As much as I am his fan, I disagree with his essay on the governorship of Anambra and his criticism of the 20th anniversary celebration (did the event qualify as a celebration or stock taking?).
Since Mr. Elombah's criterion for writing about Anambra is a visit, I hereby tender my resume. I have been to Anambra four times in the last five years. And fortunately it was not a guided tour so nobody had to point out to me the "high achievements" or the under developments" in the state.
I have another qualification: I have lived and gone to school in Anambra and I know the state more than most people. I have lived in Agulu, Ozubulu, Akwa Eze, Igboukwu, Achina and two or three other places and I still have very dear friends; people I visit when I go to Nigeria. My village is Achi just next door to Orumba and each time I miss a turn I am in Orumba. Oji River is my local government and if you know the geography you will know that the LG was a creation of parts of Anambra and parts of Enugu: Achi, Inyi, and Awlaw were extracted from Awgu and Ugwuoba from Awka and Akpugoeze from Aguata.
My other qualification is that I am married to an Anambra woman. And since I still want to come home to my house, if I go to Nigeria, I must go and pay homage to my wonderful in-laws or else. My in laws at Obosi are Ngige followers a sore point often between us.
My final credential comes from the fact that I could not go out without driving through Anambra.
So I think I am eminently qualified to write about Anambra because I am emotionally and physically tied to the state. I know the state.
Based on what I have seen Anambra is one of the best governed states in the federation actually the best; bare none. In my 2008/2009 trip, I visited 18 different states in the East, West and North
There is more extensive development in Lagos obviously because of its immense resources. But on the small needs of the citizens Anambra's reach is far more than that of any state. Remember that Lagos benefited from being the Federal Capital, is the chief sea and airport and is the commercial hub of Nigeria. Enugu benefited from being the Capital of Eastern Nigeria and of Anambra (old) and has also extensive investments from outside the state.
Anambra is a self made state. I am not sure that external investment in the state (especially outside Onitsha) is up to 5%. One of Obi's accomplishments is his sense of balance. Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, the three main urban areas are being developed equally and have retained their relative level of development. Compare this with Enugu state with similar structure. Enugu, Awgu and Nsukka were the urban areas. Today Nsukka and Awgu are mere caricatures of urban areas. Mr. Chime has focused exclusively in developing Enugu city to the detriment of the other urban areas.
As mentioned earlier, I travel all over Anambra when I go home so I see the roads. And I travel on state roads most of the time. If you travel on the road that goes through Umunze–Ekwulawbia-Nnewi, you could almost close your eyes while driving. But take a turn any where to a nearby state, say go beyond Umunze and enter into Imo (or Abia) by the way of Okigwe and you are doomed as soon as you cross the border. Or try branching out at Uvuma to go into Enugu state. You are lucky if you make it in one piece as soon as you enter Enugu territory. If you think this an exception try going from Awka through Igboariam to Nsukka and see what you get. This route passes through possibly the most agricultural area in Igbo land. How good Anambra roads are can only be judged at the border, at the margin as economists are wont to say.
The same can be said of schools. Take any schools of comparable ages from any state and compare and you will be amazed at the striking differences in rehabilitation and equipment.
If you choose to look at the security situation you will also be wondering how different things are now. In 2008-2010 Anambra, Imo and Abia were the headquarters of kidnapping in SE, with Nnewi, Orlu and Aba as the "no go areas." Kidnapping is still as strong in Aba and Orlu but Nnewi has eased a lot. It is still there but it is no longer a no go area. It is yellow but Aba and Orlu are still red zones.
How much of this improvement is a result of governors and how much is due to local vigilantes, I dare not risk an answer.
Anambra or rather Mr. Peter Obi is possibly the only state that has a documented development plan. Ms. Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala said as much during the 20th anniversary events. Mark you how the governor was able to assemble many economists from all parts of Nigeria for this event. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala is not from Anambra yet it was important enough for her to attend. Obi also invited many of the shakers, makers, and movers in the state and beyond, which is my definition of leadership.
He has kept the state on the nation's eye range so that it could not be forgotten.
Finally the fact that Mr. Obi was elected the vice President of the Nigerian governors' council, even when PDP has more than half of the membership of the council, and the president of SE governors' council when he is the only APGA member speaks volumes on his political acumen.
Every which way you look at it the Anambra governor has done a lot more than Mr. Ngige ever attempted or accomplished during his interregnum and illegal reign.
By the way Obi has floored PDP twice despite his really cheap campaign resources. His first term was done with nearly zero APGA members in the House and in LG.
And they opposed him every which way they could and yet he had a remarkable run.
We owe credit to whoever it is due.