- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Saturday, 16 June 2012 20:56
- Written by Martins Ezigwe
After Governor Peter Obi’s initial woeful reactiont to respond to the issues raised by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai in his analysis of the Anambra State 2012 budget (yet to be signed into law), from the heart, His Excellency has stepped out to spin us a familiar yarn on Millennium Development Goals, as if that is a response to the hard
questions thrown up by the cerebral analysis of the ex-minister of the federal Capital Territory.
‘Reading Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s column of last Friday, it became clear that the only way to react to his ‘expert’ analysis of Anambra State is to dispel some of his incorrect assertions about the state; but without recourse to technical data that is now confirmed to be largely incorrect.’ Peter Obi wrote.
But does it mean that 2007 data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) should be considered incorrect when it is the most up to date data on Anambra State, yet planning is currently done in the state using 2006 census data. None can say with any amount of credibility that Malam el-Rufai’s duty to generate data for Anambra, any more than it is his prerogative to apply the existing data. Since the ex-FCT minister has not claimed to have generated any field data for Anambra State, I would certainly not expect him to take responsibility for what Peter Obi calls incorrect data without proof.
But in any case , Obi might as well provide the correct one upon which his budget was based. Or has the governor, in line with responsible corporate governance of his state protested on those data to the NBS? As usual he and his propagandists will rather emphasize attacks on the person of anyone who expresses a dissenting viewpoint.
Again listen to Governor Obi : An expert making categorical pronouncements on any state in Nigeria ought to first ensure that his data on the state is gathered from ‘experiencing’ the state, preferably first-hand, rather than from second-hand information; much of which may be flawed by ignorance or outright malice. Who is the custodian of this second hand information that may be marred by malice-el Rufai or NBS? In the letters as expressed here, the governor wants el-Rufai to generate first-hand data for every state which budget he analyses while the government of that state who has a greater oversight on ensuring correctness of data for the state goes in endless holiday under the guise of governance, or how did the government measure the progress made on the MDGs if all that is available on Anambra State is incorrect data? Little wonder Obi fought shy of data by stepping out to dispel incorrect assertions (based on statistical data) without statistics.
Rather than tackle the assertions made by the writer head-on Obi introduced the MDG RIGMALROLE. Recall that el-Rufai wrote: ‘The people had high hopes that he would improve on the stellar performance of Dr Chris Ngige. Sadly, this has not been the case, as his administration has seen increasing crime rate, infrastructure deficits, a number of strike actions over minimum wage, higher tax burdens and exodus of elites, among other challenges.
Gov Obi’s response did not in any way challenge el-Rufai’s correct assertion that crime rate has been upbeat in the state since 2006. Can He? What with spiraling figures of armed robbery and their intensity and dare-devilvery; the incidence of ritual killings, and almighty 419. Add to this official crime like extra-judicial killings by organs of the state including, legal and illegal apparati of government and the picture will be clearer.
He did not consider it worthy to dispute El-Rufai’s position on Infrastructure deficit, which the ex-minister backed up with specific case study-Onitsha, described by el Rufai as lacking potable water, decent housing and electricity. Obi has not said that the housing situation is decent; that his government has done anything, is planning to do something or is dreaming (as a visionary ,he claims to be) that so many years after us, this and that could be done to Onitsha by future government, so as to speak to the issues raised.
Obi did not prove to el-Rufai that he was wrong, in that there is potable water in Onitsha or indeed any other part of Anambra. He did not illustrate how much he has done in an Independent Power project in the last six years to boost the electricity supply of Onitsha and, Nnewi so as to shoot up the productive capacity in his state and shore up the GDP, and by implication take Anambra away from current poverty levels.
Instead the governor is attacking he person of the writer and simultaneously veering off the mark of the analysis-Anambra State (yet unsigned) Budget 2012. To digress, Obi went into he roads he claims to have constructed.
These ,according to him are : ‘The 45-kilometre Anaku-Omasi-Ifite Ogwari-Igbakwu Road in Ayamelum LGA ; the 43-kilometre Amansea-Ebenebe-Awba Ofemili Road in Awka North, with a bridge (N5 billion); the 67-kilometre Onitsha-Atani-Ossomalla-Ogwuikpele Road in Ogbaru LGA, with three bridges (N17.8 billion); the Umueze Anam-Mmiata Road in Anambra West LGA, with a bridge; the Nibo-Umuawulu-Awgbu-Amaokpala-Umunze Road, with the famous Odor bridge etc’
So what? If Governor Obi was determined to counter the points raised by el –Rufai on the misplacement of priorities, then the mere listing of roads constructed or proposed to be constructed ( Like Amansea-Ebenebe-Awba Ofemmili Road) is et to be built, save for a bridge at Ebenebee.) is not enough. We need to know, with solid data how these roads of cited have impacted on the GDP of the state. In absence of that, the governor is out to take his readers on a journey through mayonnaise.
For purposes of understanding the irrelevance of this claim against the thrust of the analysis, let’s carefully travel with Governor Obi a little,. In doing o, we need to be mindful that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) like most programmes conceived under the framework of the United Nations is generic. They are programmes applicable to about 191 countries across the globe. Therefore for each of them the contextual meaning lies in the ability to get local actors to translate the goals to local objectives which the local factors and actors can key into, rather than throwing UN books at Ayamelum , Anambra West and Ogbaru communities to no end.
For instance, in the context of what the governor called MDG1 (Extreme Poverty and Hunger), he claimed that his government began with a poverty mapping of the state. El-Rufai equally laid the foundation of his analysis on a poverty mapping. The difference is that the data used by the ex-minister is known to the whole world, while the product of the poverty mapping is known to only the governor, as he neither used any data nor gave any reference to get the data he is relying on. So how do we subject our judgement to his words against the writer? I challenge Governor Obit to publish the result of his poverty mapping of Anambra state and let the world see how it compares with the data used by el-Rufai.
I would say that in that essay without a nucleus, the governor lost a golden second chance to offer a counterweight against the writer. But that is not the only chance he lost. Obis claim to reduction of extreme poverty here is that some roads have been constructed to link them. But then what is the impact? Why construct all the roads to the rural areas and end up with N1.4 billion as the budgetary provision for those food baskets in agriculture. That again el-Rufai classifies as a misplaced priority and Obi unknowingly confirms it, while aiming to disagree.
On health ( MDG 4,5,6),El Rufai’s analysis is that with Anambra being a rural community, health is at the front burner and that 1.4 billion Naira proposed by the government in the budget cannot address the challenges in the health sector of the state. There is no where in the write-up where the government of Anambra State was told that they have not done anything to upgrade the status of the General Hospital Amaku or to donate ambulances to selected General hospitals.
The insensitivity of the government to the point scored by the writer here is that health was the most troubled sector in the 2011, recording strikes running into 14 months, and a thinking government would have done all within their powers to quieten the sector by prioritising them. Yet they did not, hence the ‘misplaced priority’. The Health Committee in the State House of Assembly was even more proactive on this, because they made many interventions to address at the budget deliberation stage, what El –Rufai has now professionally pointed out.
But all in all, what some people including Governor Obi, have egoistically attacked the more, apart from the person of el-Rufai and his supposed ‘political motive’ is the foundation laid for the thrust of his article. Okenwa Nwosu is more concerned about the up-to date ness of the statistics which may not have been generated by the writer. Another journalist from Thisday simply built his rejoinder around proving that Obi is competent.
Yet what el-Rufai mainly projects in that analysis is that sectors like health, agriculture, water supply, and environmental challenges are the key priority areas in Anambra State and that each of these sectors, by his own estimation have relatively been financially dwarfed in the 2012 budget, reducing the prospects for even better indices in the near future. That thesis has not been countered so far, even as no one, again including Governor Obi has said anything to demolish the 21.3 % unemployment figure so put out. This figure is in synch with the crime rate in the state.
•Mr. Ezigwe lives in Awka.