The Anambra Tragedy!

Anambra Engulfed in FloodArmed robbers and kidnappers constantly hold the citizens hostage. An incredible exodus of notable person’s especially top professionals and business people has left the state and relocated to Abuja, Lagos, Enugu and other cities.

Armed robbery and kidnapping is not the only ill threatening the existence of the state, the people, towns and communities in Anambra State have resorted to prayers to save them from the siege, scourges, ravages and destruction by floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides that are annually ravaging the entire environment, lands and property, destroying human, animal and plant lives.


The Anambra Tragedy! By Daniel Elombah

‘The Abia Tragedy’ written by Chidi Amuta, (Thisday, 01 July 2010) encapsulates the sate of hopelessness that afflicts the entire South-East Region and not just Abia State.
Everything Chidi wrote about Abia equally holds true for Anambra State. In fact, ‘in the growing catalogue of Nigerian states that are in romance with bankruptcy and total meltdown’, Anambra is in on all fours with Abia, if not worse!
Unarguably, Anambra is one of the most dangerous and depressing place in today’s Nigeria. Despite the anxiety regularly expressed by the public over the worsening state of insecurity, it is disheartening that the Anambra State Government has failed to take drastic measures to stem the wave of violent crime in the state.
Yet, like his colleagues in other states in the southeast, Governor Peter Obi is not bothered. He has converted Anambra state into his private estates, with the governor more like an emperor or a Czar looting the treasuries of the state, buying up everyone- journalists, political leaders, Paris priests into a conspiracy of silence and generally conducting his government on the internet and on the pages of newspapers.
In Anambra state, Peter Obi has refused to hold Local Government elections out of a pervading desire to sit on their federal allocation and the future of the people.
Recently, a gang of daredevil armed robbers went on the rampage in Anambra State, killing 30 people, including three pregnant women, three police officers and a soldier, in an operation that reportedly lasted for about two hours. About 15 people were reportedly injured.
During the operation, the bandits attacked a new generation bank’s bullion van conveying money from Onitsha to Nnewi at Oba, near Onitsha, before engaging the policemen in a gun duel. Most of the robbery victims were killed or injured when the robbers opened fire indiscriminately on passersby and commuters who were trapped in vehicles during the encounter with the Police. Although the policemen killed two of the robbers, the bandits blew open the bullion van with a cylinder gas.
In another incident, 20 people were reportedly killed in a major armed robbery attack in Awka, the state capital.
This is not an isolated case. Regularly, movie-like attacks and killings by armed robbers occur in all parts of the state. Sadly, it is a testimony to the growing parlous state of the economy, worsening level of poverty and the ravaging unemployment rate. Yet, the Police appear completely helpless in taming the menace.
Last December, an armed robbery incident in Abagana, Anambra State, left five policemen dead.
Armed robbers and kidnappers constantly hold the citizens hostage. An incredible exodus of notable person’s especially top professionals and business people has left the state and relocated to Abuja, Lagos, Enugu and other cities.
The annual right of return to the homeland every December which used to serve the informal function of income redistribution and social cement is gone. Like in Abia, People can no longer return home to commune with their loved ones.
My cousin whose mother visited London recently had to sequester his mum in Lagos for an extra month, afraid to let neighbours know the mum spend 5 months in London, why? The mere knowledge of such sojourn would elevate the woman to a kidnapper’s target.
It is strange that while the surviving victims lick their wounds and while the families of the fallen compatriots and the nation mourn the dead, the Anambra State Government kept mum and the Nigeria Police does nothing beyond the usual hollow promise of investigation.
The silence by the state and the police authorities smacks of incompetence and insensitivity. It may even fuel the suspicion of a possible collusion of the police with the criminals. Indeed, public confidence in the ability of government to contain the rampant banditry has been grossly eroded. And yet, Peter Obi collects N300million every month as security vote, Billions for which he renders account to no one!

Flood and Erosion

Ekwulobia Gully ErosionArmed robbery and kidnapping is not the only ill threatening the existence of the state, the people, towns and communities in Anambra State have resorted to prayers to save them from the siege, scourges, ravages and destruction by floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides that are annually ravaging the entire environment, lands and property, destroying human, animal and plant lives.
There is no agency of government taking an effective mass action to seriously-combat the ecological hazards of floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides that bedevil our entire environment!
According to Boniface Egboka, “many men, women, old and young, have been killed! Springs, streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands have been lost to ecological hazards. Plants, animals and property have been lost to landslides.
“Farmlands, markets, church grounds, shrines, forests, etc. have been decimated. Industrial centres, infrastructure of water supplies, NEPA, NITEL, etc. have been destroyed. Roads and highways have been cut in pieces by gullies. There is large scale psychological depression and helplessness everywhere. Our people have cried, shouted, and pleaded for help to come from almost any source within and outside Nigeria, but all to no avail.
“The people have appealed, begged and sent delegation after delegation to the Federal Government officials over the years to help and save them from these massive environmental demonic attacks but with minimum or no results. Except for the brief ingress of the Shagari-Ekwueme administration that tackled the Agulu-Nanka-Oko and Alor-Oraukwu gully complexes, not much has been done. “Sadly, the Buhari-Idiagbon military junta stopped that life-saving gully erosion complex control measures of the Federal Government”.
Just as one Anambra citizen said: Anambra State under Dr. Chris Ngige was far more secure than what it is under Mr. Peter Obi. Today, kidnappers reign supreme in my home state, beloved Anambra. In today’s Anambra, armed robbery is a daily occurrence. Investors are fleeing the state.
How can investors come when the citizens of Anambra State are fleeing the state for dear lives? Is this the kind of peace and security Mr. Peter Obi brought? The only significant contribution Mr. Peter Obi has made in Anambra State is that he advanced jurisprudence by his numerous court actions. If Anambra ever had a distracted governor, honestly, Mr. Peter Obi was one.
Primary and secondary education has collapsed. Primary healthcare system in the state is thoroughly dead. As for roads, one only needs a ride from the neighbouring Asaba to Awka to see how bad things are.
Mr. Peter Obi claims to be tarring roads but unfortunately, the roads are only macadamised on the pages of newspapers and on the the internet. Our bad roads are still with us. These days, at the twilight of his administration, we hear of flagging-off of roads instead of commissioning of roads. It is only in Anambra State that such meaningless gimmick is used.
As for water, it is only running from the fonts of journalists’ pen, of course, comfortably residing in far away Lagos.
The Anambra onslaught is sad indeed. Anambra like Abia is a tragic contradiction. “With one of the most enterprising populations in the country and a home-grown small to medium industrial base, yet the state has the smallest internally generated revenue profiles”.
Anambra like Abia would ordinarily rank among the top half dozen states in terms of potential self sufficiency. But the picture we have is that of utter hopelessness. Virtual paralysis of all semblance of government and a real atmosphere of danger has now been joined by imminent political confusion that promises to convert the state into a theatre of war.  The danger is clear and present. And it has wider national security implications. Anambra is a rogue state within the borders of present day Nigeria.
The clearest symbol of this decay is the virtual collapse of Onitsha and Nnewi, the commercial centres of the state.
Like in Aba, Banks in Nnewi and Onitsha spend a fortune on security just to maintain a presence while potential customers are afraid for their lives. Because of insecurity, traders from other states who used to come to patronize importers and wholesalers in Nnewi now avoid the town and instead travel to Lagos to transact their business. 

Nnewi Traders Protest

On 1 June, 2010, Commercial activities were paralysed in the industrial town of Nnewi in Anambra State as markets, banks and courts were closed down in protest against incessant kidnapping in the area.
Traders from various parts of the country, who were in the market noted for motorcycle and vehicle spare parts, were taken aback as the town looked a shadow of itself, with traders obeying the directive of their leaders to remain at home to drive home their point for security operatives to rise to the occasion and find solution to the problem of kidnapping in the town.
By 9a.m., doctors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, lawyers at the High Court complex and traders carried placards and marched round some places in the town, calling on the authorities concerned to do something immediately before everybody that had something to do in Nnewi flee to other cities in the country where their safety could be guaranteed.
Some of the placards waved by the protesters read, “Police can no longer maintain peace in Nnewi”, “IG, please come to our rescue”, “Lives of people at Nnewi no longer safe”, “Doctors say no to kidnapping”, “Kidnappers leave lawyers alone”, “Corruption and unemployment breed crime”, “Government do something about kidnapping” and “Kidnappers paralyse business in Nnewi”.
President of Nnewi Traders Association, Chief Gozie Akudolu, said the business community and professionals in the town decided to protest because commercial activities at Nnewi were grinding to a halt as a result of kidnapping that had become the order of the day.
According to him, no fewer than 62 notable importers have fled the town in the last few months when they could no longer live with the fear of being kidnapped.
“On behalf of the traders, I want to say that the protest and closure of the markets will continue until we get an assurance that our security is guaranteed. As it is, everybody is afraid to do his genuine business at Nnewi and we no longer sleep with our eyes closed.
“We are tired of paying millions of naira as ransom to kidnappers when we have the Police to protect us.
“The Inspector-General of Police should remove most of the policemen in Anambra State because they are no longer in a position to fight crime in the state, as they are only after the money they collect at the numerous check points.
“If the Police are incompetent to handle the issue, the Federal Government should deploy soldiers to Nnewi to maintain law and order,” Akudolu said.

More Security Forces

Following a visit to the IG by Anambra Legislators led by CID Maduabum, PDP, representing Nnewi –North, Nnewi-South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, the IGP, Ogbonnaya Onovo drafted extra 10,000 policemen to the state while President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the deployment of soldiers. (Isn’t it instructive that the lawmakers ignored the governor and took the initiative to do something about the parlous state of affairs in the state?)
But the coming of sundry security agencies ostensibly to curb kidnapping and other crimes has added other dimensions to the problem. On the highways, there are checkpoints at every 100 meters. These are toll gates in the classic tradition of the Nigerian police. These toll gates are at every street corner and motorists have to part with paltry sums at every turn in the ruined town just to get to their destination.

The Smiling Governor

Peter ObiWhen you ask questions, sympathizers of Peter Obi will tell you the governor stands tall among other Nigeria governors; and that compared to others prior to him, Obi is a saint!
This strikes you a dubious and lazy defence for a governor that inherited the Chris Ngige legacy in Anambra State.  Governor Obi gives the impression of a good ordinary man saddled with a responsibility that is higher than his IQ and best exposure, which is a pity for the state.
Yet it appears that Peter Obi has charmed the entire state with his innocent face and gap-toothed smile.
 I was once asked “What could be done for Anambrarians to know the real Peter Obi?” the Anambra man in USA lamented: “It irks me when guys, especially in Diaspora think this Governor Peter Obi is a saint”.
When I asked a person near the Governor the reason for this innocent belief, he responded that “Peter Obi has 10 lives, a snake in a monkeys shadow, a sly fox, and deception unlimited!”
One thing with Peter Obi is that he believes that Anambra State money could buy him anything, he added. “I doff my hat for him…a man who could bribe Maurice Iwu, and carry out the most technically rigged election in history…yet have the said election declared the freest and fairest in the history of Anambra State…well….enough said…”
In the meantime, ‘the very processes of government are reduced to hollow rituals for rent seeking and glorified indolence. Nothing gets done except in the service of a very corrupt officialdom. Salaries of workers have remained unpaid. Pensioners have forgotten when last they got paid. The most elementary responsibilities of government are everywhere in abeyance. Teachers do not get paid. Hospitals have neither drugs nor personnel. Existing manpower in state institutions is so demoralized that the threat of mass suicide looms. Local governments see only a fraction of their statutory allocation’.

A state of War!

What happened in a particular instance was like a war situation. An armed robbery operation started from Nsukka, the host community of the University of Nigeria, rampaged through Enugu down to Awka and moved right down to Nnewi unchecked!
The dare-devil gang of armed robbers attacked four commercial banks, bombed the Nsukka Urban Police Division and shot dead the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Joe Ejitaga. Another gang of robbers killed two Ebonyi PDP officials and two cops in Anambra state.
The Robbers killed 2 Ebonyi PDP officials, 2 cops in Anambra. The dare devil robbers were believed to be fleeing from Awka  Anambra, State,  after robbing a bank, one Thursday, gunned down two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officials and two policemen attached to the convoy of politicians from Ebonyi state that attended the burial of  father to the PDP National Vice Chairman in the South East, Olisa Metu at Nnewi.
Among those who escaped death was the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development Mr. Paulinus Igwe who report has it that doctors battled to remove the bullet lodged in his head.
Those that reportedly died on the instant are: former chairman of Ezza_West Development Centre, Moses Ugorji, a former Special Adviser to former Governor Sam Egwu on Food Security, Hon. Chukwuma Ofefe and two other security details died instantly from gunshot wounds.
Other people who also sustained serious injuries were a former Majority Leader of Ebonyi state House of Assembly, Chief Tobias Okwuru, a prominent politician from the state, Chief Christopher Ngwuta also known as GNG, among others.
The incident was said to have happened as the convoy of Paulinus Igwe ran into the robbers at Nnobi area of Anambra state.  The robbers who reportedly occupied an open black Toyota Jeep and a Nissan bus painted in Anambra State Government’s acquired ANIDS bus in yellow colours were said to have opened fire on the Ebonyi convoy and killed four persons while many were injured and or battling to stay alive.
Eyewitnesses said the robbers used their sophisticated weapons which unconfirmed reports said may be rocket propelled grenades (RPG) to check the advancing team of Policemen by totally demobilising their vehicles.
The leader of the Police team, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) was reportedly badly wounded while others fled in different directions.
It was also learnt that news of the bloody operation which spread like wild fire stopped the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu and then Senator Joy Emordi from paying their scheduled condolence visit to the hometown of the zonal leader of Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metu in Nnewi.
They were reportedly avoiding being caught up in the raging fire, especially at the popular ninth mile corner, on their way to the venue of the ceremony.
 This incident says much about how insecure people have become around the state.  It is ridiculous that armed robbers can terrorize police with general purpose machine guns and grenades and the federal government has no answer to this.
In the epidemic of kidnapping, the state now holds the national gold medal.  Yes, kidnapping is bad enough and illustrates the multiplier essence of dysfunction in our federation.

Anambra and Pipe-borne Water

No drinking waterA friend from Anambra State visited London last week. As he narrated what the people in Anambra State go through just to have drinking water, my eyes got moist. According to him, ‘rain water is collected from dirty aluminium/iron alloy in the urban areas with all the health hazards…water still being collected from dirty flooded streams in the villages’.
He narrated how helpless villages climb down into gullies, trek for miles in search of drinkable water even in Peter Obi’s home town! And yet we complain about the sources of typhoid?
In desperation people have resorted to buying pure water and sinking bore-holes at exorbitant prices. But I was informed that because the holes were dug without proper hydro-geological survey carried out, the underground water dries up after a few years.

Peter Obi’s solution was the imposition of a whooping 35000 (thirty five thousand) Naira levy on every household in Anambra that could afford to provide itself with water.
In response Anambra people took to the streets, to protest the inhuman and oppressive tax imposed on them by the state government.
This protest happened less than four months after the people of the state returned the incumbent governor Peter Obi to a fresh four year mandate? Surely, the people must have trusted him enough to vote him twice. How wrong there were!
Anambra Water Corporation has not supplied “one gallon of water in 18 years” but I insist that a government that cannot supply ordinary water to its citizens has lost all legitimacy to govern!
I am sure during Peter Obi’s campaign to be governor he promised Anambra people “good road, pipe borne water and electricity” and by the admission of Peter Obi’s people the pipes of the Anambra Water Corporation has been dry for 18 years?

For over 50 months, Anambra State Government has refused to pay workers of the state’s owned Water Corporation and Environmental Protection Agency salaries. The state also owes them eight years leave allowances.
This development had led to many deaths while some who are still alive have become a burden to their loved ones and wards.
After several agitations, the case was reported to their umbrella body, the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees ( AUPTRE) who in turn took the matter to the Minister of Labour and Productivity who also referred it to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) after effort to resolve it proved abortive.
Anambra citizens have resigned themselves to their fate and accepted that pipe borne water is a mirage and every family has resorted to pure water and bore hole to do things.
But in neighbouring Enugu State, I was reliably informed that Governor Sullivan Chime has “gradually restored pipe borne water to most regions of the city. Water usually start running around 6AM and stop around 5PM.
“Right now giant underground water pipes that could contain 10 people are being laid throughout the city. Imagine what will happen when the project is complete. For now, pump water run for the most part of the week sometimes even on Sundays and the 911 Water Supply lorry drivers are pissed off”

The sad thing is that Anambra boasts some of the most distinguished names in Nigeria. This is the state of Chinua Achebe, Pius Okigbo, Alex Ekwueme, Emeka Ojukwu, Nwafor Orizu, Chukwuma Soludo, Emeka Anyaoku among others. The proud legacy of Nnamdi Azikiwe is now a waste land!
All Anambra citizens without exception must accept responsibility for the infamy that has consumed our state and is still raging. We are all ensconced in the comfort and opulence of our fine homes in Lagos and Abuja. We cannot go home as free men and women. The rich among us factor in a platoon of soldiers, over a dozen mobile policemen. Those who cannot afford such protection have resolved to stay put wherever we are.
Anambra “is a classic instance of how a potentially prosperous state can be reduced to a no man’s land. What we have there is an enclave of terror, an economic embarrassment by a succession of profligate and irresponsible hustlers and miscreants, a band of gangsters, pimps, assorted pick pockets and fetishists devoid of conscience and any form of enlightenment”.
Propaganda has reached fever peak. Indeed, it is show time in Anambra State. The government spends very scarce resources of the state feting journalists from Abuja and Lagos on a merry-go-round in Anambra State in the name of project inspections.
People are invited from USA, all expense paid to inspect and endorse phantom projects.
“Are the projects in the cupboard that they cannot be seen by the people of Anambra State? What is more, when a bona fide citizen of the state joins in the see-see, hell is let loose. If Mr. Peter Obi’s projects needed to be ‘seen’ by special eyes different by those of Anambra men and women; it either means that the projects ‘exist’ only in the eyes of the beholders or that the eyes of Ndi Anambra are object/project blind.
“In that case, I use this medium to implore the federal government to declare medical emergency in Anambra State, and cure us of this special kind of blindness. It is instructive that Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN has never invited anybody on a show-show in Lagos, yet Lagosians across ethnic divides hail his performance.
“Mr. Sullivan Chime is silently transforming Enugu, yet he has not emptied the state treasury on the media”.

Where is the money?

In Abia, T. A. Orji is unable to pay salaries because of monthly remittances accruing to Orji Kalu as a person from the state treasury. Orji Kalu like most others ran a rogue government with collateral damage and debts which T. A.  Orji cannot discharge. (Do not forget, T. A. Orji himself was Kalu’s Chief of staff who siphoned money for the latter for which he should be standing trial but for immunity).
While in Anambra, Peter Obi has to settle his IOU’s to people like Chris Ubah and Maurice Iwu. Conservative estimates put it that Peter Obi used more than N15billion of Anambra State money to prosecute the February 2010 election
An observer said; “We know that Ngige was removed because he refused to play ball. It is a fact that Eselu facilitated the emergence of Obi. It is a cold blooded fact that on assumption of office, Obi started paying Eselu huge sums for spurious contracts.”
States in the southeast are now private estates, the governor more like an emperor or a Czar.
The people of South-Eastern Nigeria must do something about the rogue leadership that has hijacked the process of governance in most parts of Igboland, lest the generation coming after us say: “an intelligent and wise people, once habited this clime”.