Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State at an Onitsha accident scene on Wednesday, June 3
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been in politics for a very short period, but he is fast cutting the reputation of a statesman. This is the general feeling in Anambra State. One of the most important developments at the National Economic Council meeting at which he presided was the Federal Government’s agreement to immediately pay state governments sums for federal roads rebuilt in various parts of the country by state governments.
Some N350billion is reportedly owed state governments, with Anambra accounting for the highest amount of N25billion. The people of Anambra State are understandably delighted at the Federal Government’s decision, which Governor Willie Obiano has been pressing for with so much diplomacy, energy and commitment.
On June 3, 2015, less than a week after Osibanjo, a law professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was sworn as Nigeria’s Vice President, he was in Onitsha to commiserate with the people over the tanker explosion in the foremost commercial city which killed some 70 people. He was reportedly touched by Governor Obiano’s swift response to the tragedy and the personal anguish he displayed.
The Vice President went to not only the scene of the accident, but also Toronto Hospital where he spoke to each of the wounded at Toronto Hospital, Onitsha. Osinbajo stated that he was not in Anambra State for himself alone but also on behalf of the President who was travelling to Niger Republic and Mali in search of a comprehensive solution to the Boko Haram menace.
The words of the Vice President still reverberate: “Every Nigerian citizen matters to the Federal Government, no matter his status or the place he resides. The President asked me to come and commiserate first with Governor Willie Obiano and the people of Anambra State. He was so concerned that he felt it was not enough to issue a condolence message, and so asked me to come and commiserate with the people. I have been round to see the heroic action of the hospital staff and those involved in the emergency”.
It is important recount all this because President Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not do well in Anambra State in the last general elections, as in the whole of the Southeast and South-South which are contiguous geopolitical zones. Professor Osibanjo’s obvious favourable disposition to the Southeast, especially Anambra State, did not come to those who knew him as a surprise.
Though he and I did not have much contact between 1974 and 1979 when he and my husband were classmates at the University of Lagos and later at the Nigerian Law School on Victoria Island in Lagos, I have over the years heard enough about him to form any informed opinion about him. My husband, Barrister Jude N. Ejiamike, is, no doubt, the principal source of the information.
My husband has always been impressed by not just his intelligence, but his liberal, accommodating spirit. It is no wonder that Osibanjo convinced President Buhari to nominate a gifted but largely unknown person from Abia State to be a minister. Okechukwu Enelamah is a trained medical doctor from Umuahia who went to Harvard Business School and excelled. He later went to work at Goldman Sachs and qualified as a chartered accountant. He has been managing Capital Alliance, Nigeria’s foremost private equity firm, which has on its board the likes of Dick Kramer, the American-born financial guru based in Lagos since the 1970s, and Pascal Dozie, the founding executive chairman of Diamond Bank who is now the chairman of MTN Nigeria.
Vice President Osibanjo’s choice of Enelamah is reminiscent, in a way, of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s choice of Dr Michael Okpara, first, as Minister of Agriculture in the Eastern Nigerian Region in the 1950s, and, second, as his successor as Premier of the region. Dr Okpara, who incidentally hailed from the same kindred as Dr Enelamah, was not one of the famous politicians like Dr K. O. Mbadiwe. But the Great Zik of Africa, a far-sighted leader, had discovered his amazing leadership attributes, and chose him over and above prominent politicians who were even his personal friends.
Dr Okpara’s record in office remains monumental. If Dr Enelamah becomes another Dr Okpara in public office, the Southeast will be grateful to President Buhari and Vice President Osibanjo for giving the multi-talented technocrat the opportunity to prove himself and bring glory to both the Southeast and the whole nation.
By agreeing to refund Anambra State a whopping N25b which the Federal Government has owed it, Prof Osibanjo demonstrated eloquently that this administration is for all Nigerians. Gov Obiano, too, deserves commendation for his diplomatic skills and tenacity of purpose. He knows what is good for our dear state and goes all out for it.
Once the Anambra State funds are released, the state government will have more resources to accelerate the state’s development. Willie is already doing a brilliant job. Even as you are reading this article he is reconstructing failed federal roads in our state. Monthly revenues from the federation account for the state are modest, yet salaries and allowances are not just paid promptly, they were recently reviewed upwards by 15% on July 31, 2015, whereas many state governments, including oil-rich ones, depend on bailouts from the Federal Government to pay salaries.
Anambra State was able to increase workers’ salaries because within one and a half years of assumption of leadership, Gov Obiano increased internally generated revenue (IGR) from N500m monthly to N1.3billion every month. Our people are confident that IGR will hit the target of N3b monthly sooner than later.
Nigeria needs more leaders like Vice President Osibanjo and Gov Obiano.
Dr (Mrs) Ejiamike, an economist and business administrator, retired as deputy director of the Metallurgical Training Institute, a Federal parastatal in Onitsha, Anambra State.