Chief Willie Obiano’s ascendance onto the headship of Anambra State Government did not come easy. It has been difficult too for the Governor to strike wholesome acceptance from all hews of stake holders in the affairs of the state. Howbeit, these are not strange tendencies in the politics of this clime. A smooth layout would have rather been eerie and suggestive of furtive doomsday. From the birth of Nigeria’s fourth Republic in 1999, politics in Anambra State has consistently replicated the unsavoury colouration of political practices across the nation. The state nonetheless posts some sardonic traits: either an elected governor is compelled to vegetate under the lordship of some overbearing mentors, as evidenced in Governor Mbadinuju’s time (1999 – 2003); or a selected governor’s subterfuge facilitates a devious implosion exemplified in Dr. Chris Ngige’s experience (2003 – 2006).
Electoral mandates have been known to be stolen in the state. While some of the stolen mandates were duly sought and restored, others might have been lost forever. The shroud around the 2003 Anambra gubernatorial election which took three years of strenuous legal battle for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to fruitfully unknot showcased the obduracy of some Anambra politicians.
In barely nine months of Chief Willie Obiano’s control of Anambra politics, his phenomenal policy drive and landmark attainments in capturing the vision of his administration have amazingly accentuated the vile attempts by his detractors to whittle down the growing popularity his government has continued to enjoy. These people tag along in groups of media killjoys and vicious litigants. The multiple law suits challenging the legitimacy of Governor Obiano’s tenure are therefore largely contrivances to distract him from freely delivering good governance to Ndi-Anambra. The recurrences and co-occurrences of the kernels of the various law suits (allegations of double registration as a voter and falsity of information on registration) reveal the crass insistence of an unyielding group to mislead Ndi-Anambra and discomfiture the governor. These efforts have however continued to fall flat in the temples of justice, where the wisdom of presiding justices has prevailed in upholding the validity and inviolability of Chief Obiano’s rights and privileges as Anambra State Governor, following his resounding victories in APGA primary and Anambra State 2013 gubernatorial elections.
The legal battles trailing Governor Willie Obiano’s effective occupation of Government House, Awka was foreshadowed by Chief Chike Obidigbo’s recourse to an Awka High Court shortly after suffering disqualification in the All Progressives Grand Alliance’s gubernatorial primary in 2013.
He sought to be declared the authentic APGA candidate; and after the election, at the Anambra 2013 Gubernatorial Election Tribunal he sought to be declared the rightful APGA winner of the election. These moves which went against Obidigbo provided the elementary platform for the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu to eventually seal the Chief’s dream of uncannily assuming office as the governor of Anambra State through the courts. Justice M.U. Abubaji M.J. dismissed the case for lack of merit.
The multifaceted law suits of Dr. Chris Ngige, the candidate of the All progressives Congress along with his party’s; and Tony Nwoye’s, standing for himself and on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party whose candidate he was in the 2013 Anambra Gubernatorial election, were more of deliberate distractions than genuine quests to unseat Governor Obiano. Both Ngige and Nwoye severally sought to upturn Chief Obiano’s electoral supremacy in the Election Tribunal sitting in Awka, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu and the Supreme Court; but the courts of the land remained insistent that Chief Obiano validly won the election and should therefore not suffer any legal encumbrances deriving from allegations of illegitimacy.
A similar scenario played out very recently at Awka when a Federal High Court sitting in therein, under Justice Isah Bature Gafai, dismissed the suit of an Onitsha-based lawyer, Mr. Jesie Ekejiuba, which sought the disqualification of Chief Obiano’s as the valid candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the November, 2013 Anambra Gubernatorial election, and the nullification of the election on the claim that the Governor doubly registered as a voter with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The revered Justice dismissed the case for lack of merit and for the inconsistency between the plaintiff’s argument and the reliefs he sought.
While the judgement appealed to Ndi-Anambra who would wish less distraction for their Governor, signs are that the seemingly unrepentant agents of distraction still prowl in readiness to cause harm should the governor slip.
In all of these however it is noteworthy that Chief Willie Obiano has continued to commit himself to meeting the social contract he entered into with the citizens of Anambra State.
While the unending law suits linger the Governor ensures that the state is getting increasingly secure for its residents and visitors; investors are trooping into the state, road infrastructure is expanding, education and sports are improving, the environment is harnessed to facilitate better life for the people, there is improved health service delivery, workers’ welfare is assured, and life now generally means more to Ndi-Anambra.
Chief Obiano realizes that when tomorrow comes, history will judge him for the successes or otherwise of his administration in advancing the course of development of the State, and that no alibis on inhibitions from detractors will absolve him from the blames of diminished performance.
•Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu