Charles Soludo has a hefty task before him, writes Chiedu Uche Okoye
Nigeria stands on the three legs of the tripod namely, Hausa/ Fulani, Yoruba, and the Igbo. The Igbo people are a homogenous ethnic group; and they live in the southeast of Nigeria, which is their ancestral home. Five states namely, Ebonyi, Abia, Imo, Enugu, and Anambra make up the southeast geopolitical zone. The natives of the southeast states have the same cultural practices. And they speak the same language, which is Igbo, although we’ve different Igbo language dialects.
But the Anambra State, which we are concerned about in this article, is carved out of the old Anambra State in 1991 by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd). Its slogan is, “the light of the nation”. And the state is living up to its slogan what with its sons and daughters extending the frontiers of science and technology in many different countries of the world. Anambra natives have achieved remarkable distinctions in the areas of political leadership, sports, music, and literature, too.
Anambra State is the home state of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, the former African sprints queen of the tracks; Chief Osita Osadebe, a high life music maestro; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an internationally recognized award-winning novelist; Chief Emeka Anyaoku, a former Commonwealth secretary general; and others.
But Anambra had fallen on evil times in the recent past. In the first decade of the twenty first century, soon after Nigeria had transited to democratic governance, the issue of god-fatherism nearly derailed the developmental trajectory of the state. We still remember vividly the Chief Emeka Offor and Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s political fight for the control of Anambra State’s financial resources. Mbadinuju was governor of Anambra State between 1999 and 2003 while Chief Offor was his political godfather. And Dr. Chris Ngige, the former governor of Anambra State, who spots a goatee and wears his cap at a jaunty angle, was abducted at the behest of his political godfather for refusing to surrender the state’s financial till to him. The issue of political godfatherism, which characterized the state, then, distracted the sitting governors and impeded the development of the state.
Thankfully, today, Anambra State is no longer in the firm grip of political godfathers and political buccaneers, who have itchy fingers and thieving propensity. Anambra has gone past the dark era of political godfatherism with its many disadvantages.
But Anambra still has its teething and hydra-headed problems, which constitute a spoke in its wheel of progress. The issues of poor infrastructural development of the state, insecurity of life and property in the state, ecological disasters ravaging several towns in the state, the inhabitants’ penchant for committing acts of lawlessness, and the people’s entrenched culture of dirtiness militate against the true and sustainable development of Anambra State.
Has Anambra not lost large expanse of land to uncontrollable soil erosion? From Obosi to Nanka, and from Ogbaru to Ayamelum, people’s farmlands and houses had been eaten up by gully erosion. As a result, many people had become homeless, and their source of livelihood, which is farming, ruined as they no longer had farmlands on which to farm.
Again, lately, Anambra, which used to be an oasis of peace and tranquility, has morphed to a killing field. The monster of insecurity of life and property is asphyxiating. And it has dealt a big blow to the developmental initiatives of Anambra State’s political leaders. Now, unknown gunmen, who enforce the sit-at-home order on every Monday, do kill people and burn public and government-owned buildings. Consequently, Anambra State is in a near state of anarchy.
And the Anambra people’s love of perpetrating acts of lawlessness has been worsening the security challenges bedevilling the state. In Anambra, some people still ride motorcycles in areas where people are prohibited from riding them, making it difficult for the police personnel and the people to tell armed robbers and innocent people apart.
In addition to the people’s breach of the ban on riding motorcycles in some towns, many commercial bus drivers drive their buses at breakneck speed against the flow of traffic in total disregard of the safety of lives. And drivers who are drunk and high on mind-altering and psychedelic drugs toot their horns loudly and ceaselessly while stuck in slowly-moving traffic, making people ask questions about the drivers’ mental state.
It is not only drivers that commit atrocious deeds and acts of incivility on Anambra roads. Oftentimes, passengers who had got on a bus would throw out orange and banana peelings through the windows of the bus, littering the roadsides with dirt and refuse. And hawkers and traders who trade on roadsides do dump refuse into our drainages. This causes the blockage of the drainages. So when it rains heavily, rainwater will overflow the drainages and spill on the roads. There is a nexus between the ecological disasters ravaging towns in Anambra State and the people’s culture of dirtiness and lawlessness.
More so, in some semi-urban towns, which are densely populated, portions of the roads have been inadvertently converted to dump sites. And our political leaders at the local government and state levels have turned a blind eye to them. But the stench oozing from the refuse dump sites on our roads poses a grave danger to the people’s health. But being habituated to living in the midst of dump sites, they gloss over the fact that the foul air wafting from the dump sites endanger their lives.
Therefore, it behooves governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo to speedily tackle the problems bedevilling the state in order to give Anambra people a new lease of life. He ought to know that it is his leadership scorecard that will guarantee him a place in the leadership hall of fame.
Okoye writes from