Frontline governorship hopeful of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Thursday, publicly expressed his intention to contest the 2021 governorship election in the state.
Speaking at an event to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the state, held at his country home in Ogidi in Idemili north local government area, Dr. Okonkwo said he will formally declare to contest for the office when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifts the veil on politicking towards the Anambra governorship election in 2021.
“Umu nnem Ndi Oma Anambra (my dear people of Anambra), if it is the will of God, and should my party, the PDP find me worthy when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) drops the writ, I plan to present myself, in unity with you, maka ilu olu oma Anambra (doing the good work of rebuilding our dear state)”, he said.
According to him, the people have a role to play in the task of enthroning a government that must be responsive to the realities of the developmental needs of the state.
He said “in the past 29 years, we have seen the best and the worst of our political leaders in Anambra state and as her 30th anniversary in 2021 coincides with governorship election, we should all rise and join hands together to reinvent, ate invigorate and revitalize her. We can only do it together for as our people say- igwebuike.”
Okonkwo, who also cut a massive cake to celebrate the 29th birthday of the state, traced the history of the state and sacrifices made by civil and public servants who sacrificed their comfort to ensure that the newly created state took off in earnest.
According to Dr. Okonkwo, “along with the pioneer military administrator, very deserving of our appreciation are members of the state’s first executive council who literally had to build everything from the scratch, sacrificing so much in the process. These include the distinguished scholar and technocrat, Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu who served as Commissioner for Health and the pre-eminent lawyer, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, SAN, who was the state’s first Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
“It is also in that same spirit of selfless service, that Justice Uyanna, the Administrative Judge for Awka Zone, at the creation of the new state, gave up his official residence so it could serve as government house, as no better befitting structure was on the ground. Similarly, the Enugu-Ukwu community, between 1992 and 1993, offered their town hall to serve as temporary State House of Assembly Complex. We remain appreciative of these noble gestures, among so many others to ensure the smooth take off of the new state, and pray that their sacrifices shall not be in vain”, Okonkwo said.
Decrying the dearth and decay of infrastructure in the state, Okonkwo said that a state capital should be a window through which the world sees a state. He argued that the dearth of infrastructure in the state capita Awka, was embarrassing.
“Yet, one year shy of 30, it is pertinent to ask the pointed question -how far has Anambra state comes? As some would suggest, the state capital is arguably a good indicator of the developmental strides that a state has taken. 29 years after the creation of Anambra State, very little exists in the state capital Awka by way of critical public infrastructure as many key government institutions continue to operate from the same makeshift structures they have been using since 1991.
“One can only visit other state capitals around the country, many of which were created several years after Anambra State, to better appreciate the very poor physical condition of our state capital, Awka with respect to basic infrastructure. A state that prides itself, and rightly so, as the Light of the Nation should do much better.
“Roughly 10 years ago, Anambra was widely acclaimed as having the best intra-state network of roads in the country. Today, very sadly, most of those roads have fallen into major disrepair due to abandonment and poor maintenance culture. Good roads, functional public hospitals, pipe-born water, regular power supply, good public transportation, among others are just the basics any serious government should be able to provide its people.
“Today, very unfortunately, our people have been so dehumanized by decades of poor governance that we now settle for crumbs from our governments. People of my generation grew up with such basic infrastructure like decent public hospitals and pipe-borne water, even in the remotest villages- many of which survived the ravages of the civil war. What happened to that critical infrastructure that we came to take for granted?
“I so often wonder how we got to this very low point in our public life of demanding too little from our governments; where the payment of salaries is now considered an achievement, despite the enormous amount of resources at their disposal. Of course no individual, company or government can ever have enough resources to do everything, but prudent management (both in government and in our personal lives) demands getting our priorities right (i.e. privileging the people over everything else; eliminating waste (i.e. getting the best value for money) and in the case of Nigeria, reducing corruption to a minimum. Any government worth that name must prioritize the people, especially, the most vulnerable among us”, he said.