The raging war of words between former governor of Anambra State and Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, and incumbent Governor Willie Obiano has taken a dramatic turn, as Obiano described Ngige as an opportunist who rode to power on a tiger’s back and eventually ended up in its stomach.
Shrugging off Ngige’s endless attacks on his boss, Obiano’s Chief Press Secretary, James Eze, responded: “Throughout history, great political leaders spoke to the future through solid legacies. They built monuments that neither time nor toxic politics can erode. Leaders who spend enormous time reminding the people about their achievements after leaving office are often some opportunists who rode to power on a tiger’s back and eventually ended up in its stomach.”
Eze said that it was unrealistic to expect Ngige to conduct himself like a statesman since he came to power through the back door to rub shame on a highly exalted office, adding: “Until Obiano assumed office, Ngige was generally considered a pariah in government circles in the state. But Obiano restored his full honours as a former governor in a gesture of brotherhood and love and gave him a place in the official memory of the state.
“But rather than show gratitude, Ngige has allowed his blind pursuit of vendetta against the traditional ruler of his hometown drive him into an avoidable ego war with the governor.
“Decent folks have often wondered why Ngige always conveniently forgets that he is a wrong moral example for democracy. He often forgets that he is a sad reminder of what a people should never allow…a brazen subversion of their will. The only memory Ngige left the people is that of brigandage, the burning of public property and the debasement of the exalted office of a governor.
“His misadventure in power remains the darkest chapter in Nigeria’s democratic narrative. It is appalling. It is something that is best forgotten. But Ngige wants to reopen it!”
On the former governor’s claim that he out-performed Obiano, Eze said: “It would be unfair to attempt to compare Ngige’s achievements, which do not go beyond a handful of roads in Idemili, to Obiano’s stellar performance. It is excusable since his presence in office was an accident of history.
“However, we must remember that Obiano came into office with a blueprint. Obiano’s mission in government is to make Anambra State a socially stable, business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. His vision, on the other hand, is to make the state the first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialisation and commercial activities.
“Today, the vestiges of criminality left behind by Ngige have all been wiped out. Anambra has repeatedly been rated as Nigeria’s safest state. Unlike what happened during Ngige’s interregnum, when men and women of substance fled from the state for fear of their lives, traditional marriages, cultural festivals and big musical concerts are regularly held in Anambra these days.
“Today too, Anambra is among Nigeria’s top five states in ease-of-doing-business. That is why the state has become the leading state in mechanised agriculture in Nigeria, with companies like Coscharis Farms, JOSAN Farms, Lynden Integrated Poultry Farms, Stine Industries, Chelsea Farms, Ekcel Farms and Eagle Farms flourishing across the state.
“The ultramodern Coscharis Rice Mills at Igbariam produces 40,000 metric tonnes of rice per year. Lynden Farms has also added a new facility that will hold 90,000 birds to boost its current capacity. The hospitality industry booms with new hotels and relaxation centres springing up every day.”
According to Eze, in the area of education, Obiano’s phenomenal leadership inspired five Anambra girls from Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha to win a Gold Medal at the World Technovation Fair at the Silicon Valley, the United States (US), defeating the US, China, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Spain.
Obiano, he said, also inspired four boys from St John’s Science and Technical College, Alor (Ngige’s hometown) to win a bronze medal at the International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology in 2019, beating Canada, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, China, Sweden, Ukraine, Malaysia, Brazil, Bosnia Herzegovina, Indonesia, Tunisia and South Africa, among others.
Eze also dismissed Ngige’s achievements in road construction, noting: “Even in the only area where Ngige claims to have made an impact, Obiano dwarfs his achievements. While Ngige built roads in Alor and a few Idemili towns, Obiano transformed Awka Capital Territory with three gleaming flyovers and littered the state with bridges, like the Nengo River Bridge, Iyiora Bridge, Ebenebe-Amansea Bridge, Umueje Bridge, as well as Kisa River Bridge in Umunya, SARS Awkuzu-Abube Nnado Bridge, Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma bridges and Ezira-Umuomaku-Enugu Umuonyia Bridge.
“To crown it all, Obiano constructed the longest bridge in the whole of the Southeast, which measures 280 metres across the Omambala River into the oilfields of Anambra State. Unlike Ngige, who focused on his village, Obiano ensured a fair distribution of roads across the three senatorial zones.
“As at December 2019, the Obiano administration had awarded contract for a total of 179 roads across the state, 42 of which have been completed, out of which six came from the South, 15 in Central and 21 in the North.
“Work has been ongoing on 137 of the roads and once again, a breakdown shows 44 in the South, 48 in Central and 45 in the North.” On other achievements of his boss, Eze said: “Anambra roads and alleyways now sparkle at night, because Obiano’s Light-up-Anambra campaign has altered the landscape. Nightlife has come to the state as a result of Obiano’s tight security and the streetlight campaign.
“The support to SMEs has been tremendous. The Shoe Market cluster in Nkwele Ezunaka has started exporting made-in-Anambra shoes to neighbouring West African countries.
“In recognition of Obiano’s efforts in this regard, Anambra State won a Presidential Award as the Best State in Support of SMEs in the country.
“Obiano’s campaign to save Anambra from the menace of gully erosion is legendary. The 100-feet road gully erosion site that had existed for over half a century, which Ngige and other former governors ignored, has been sealed up. So are sites at Uga Amuma Obosi; St Thomas Aquinas/Nero Plaza, Awka; Amachalla, Awka; New Heritage/Omagba, Onitsha; Ekwueme Square/Federal Secretariat Complex, Awka; Ikenga Ogidi; Enugwu-Ukwu; Abidi Umuoji; Nkpor Flyover; Nnewichi; Ojoto; Ire Obosi; Abagana and Ezinifite, among others. What did Ngige do to save the environment?”
He disclosed that in the next few months, the Anambra International Airport at Umuleri would be ready, same for the 10,000-sitter International Conference Centre in Awka and the Awka City Stadium.
Eze concluded: “It is unfair to compare Ngige with Obiano. It is not a good idea to compare light to darkness. Ngige’s reign was a regrettable interregnum that left Nigerian democracy gutted and reeling from its sheer savagery and horror. The ritual oath-taking at Okija shrine, widespread burning of public buildings and finally the kidnap of Ngige himself are all a sad watershed in Nigeria’s democratic history.
“It takes only a man with neither conscience nor honour to gift Nigeria such horrors and still prance around in the public domain with Dutch courage and poke a finger in the eye of other respected leaders.”