The Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, on Tuesday flagged off his re-election campaign with a laundry list of promises, including building a new airport and increasing the wages of civil servants.
Addressing the capacity crowd at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, the state capital, Mr. Obiano said a bill to increase the workers’ salary is already before the state’s House of Assembly.
“For all civil servants, we have proposed a 15 per cent increment in salaries like we did in 2015 and once it is approved, your salaries will be increased,” Mr. Obiano said to deafening cheers from the crowd.
The governor added that a new airport would be completed in the state within the next four years, if re-elected.
“Soon, there will be no need for people to travel to Enugu and Port Harcourt to board flights,” he said.
“It will be done here in our own state, let’s go now and spread the news of Onye aghana nwanne ya (be your brother’s keeper) because this is our own state.”
Mr. Obiano, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), will contest against 36 other candidates at the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra State scheduled for November 18.
Other top contenders at the polls include Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Oliseloka Obazee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); and Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
At his campaign rally on Tuesday, Mr. Obiano said the party was poised to fulfill the wishes of its founder, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the late Biafran leader.
“The person to whom the task was initially given abandoned it and absconded to another place,” Mr. Obiano said, in apparent reference to Peter Obi, his predecessor who defected to the PDP after governing for eight years.
“It is this administration that drove away criminals and kidnappers from Anambra State. We are doing well in the area of education and we have put in place health insurance scheme for the poor and disabled so that they can have access to free health care. The governor has put in N200 million into this scheme.”
Mr. Obiano used the opportunity to also highlight his achievements in agriculture as well as in community development and empowerment.
“Anambra is not a state for god fathers. The era of godfather is dead. We are a state where leadership revolves around the people and their wishes,” he said.
“APGA will not fall. It is the pillar of the Igbo’s, a symbol of our political relevance in Nigeria. I thank you all for your support.
“What we today do in agriculture and will do tomorrow is going to be greater. We are now self sufficient in food production and we are growing in cassava, maize and yam production.
“The coming year will favour farmers. Form cooperatives and go to the commissioner for agriculture for support. We want our own cow and other animal farms. We export Ugu and onugbu to Europe and will do more.”
On businesses, the governor pledged to provide business support for small scale businesses and continue providing support for rural community development in the state.
“We shall grant small scale business loans to people to go into businesses,” he said.
“In your various communities, we have a N20 million project there. You chose your projects by yourself. If you are done, you can come back for another N20 million to make it N40 million and it will be an annual thing. Continuously like this, development will be massive and visible all over the state.
“For those with brooms, umbrella, when they come with money, collect and put in your pocket and vote for your party APGA. Each of you should go and get at least 20 people to vote for APGA and victory will be ours.”
Mr. Obiano also told the crowd that a re-election for him would present the best opportunity for the implementation of the zoning formula in the state, with power shifting to Anambra South after his tenure.
The governor is from Anambra North while his predecessor, Mr. Obi, is from Anambra Central.
“If you look well, you will see that APGA is thriving, we represent our forefathers’ wishes and dreams,” he said.
“The person to whom the baton was handed over to left it and ran away, he is Ọgba Ọsọ 1 (someone who runs away from challenges), Mr. Obiano continued, taking further digs at his predecessor.
“What we need now is someone that will rule for four years and hand over power to another zone.
“Which is more guaranteed? The person who has four years to spend or the person who can spend eight years and ask that he is allowed four years after which he will go? All these other people who are moving around looking for you to vote them will go for eight years and when they do so, it will affect the plan. After I’m done, it is going to the South.”
The governor urged his fellow contestants in the governorship race to campaign responsibly during the election to make it a peaceful process.
“I am a candidate just like you all; I am still shouldered with the responsibility of leadership as your governor so I say to you all, welcome to the race,” said Mr. Obiano.
“But, I must strictly remind you all that we are all brothers and sisters and elections will come and go but we will remain. We must resist every temptation to make this election a war affair. We all have the responsibility to preserve the peace we have worked so hard for in Anambra State.
“I reach out my hand of fellowship to all of you, and I urge you all to help keep Anambra State save and peaceful.”
Bianca Ojukwu, Mr. Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s widow, urged the crowd to ensure APGA’s victory at the governorship election as a mark of respect to her husband.
“My husband left a house, are we going to join those who have made this house stronger or those who abandoned it and are trying to tear it apart though they promised to keep it together? No,” said Mrs. Ojukwu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain.
“Let us join hands to keep the legacies of my late husband, our hero alive so that where ever he is, he will be happy. I am sure he will be very pleased with this large turnout which I beg you to translate to votes.”
Virgy Etiaba, who was governor for three months when Mr. Obi was impeached, called on women in the state to ensure Mr. Obiano was re-elected as governor.
“Women vote, Willie’s work is good for us. Security is gbam, we are happy. Marriages now happen at home, our industries are thriving, and Willie will keep the good work going,” she said.
A former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Chukwuma Soludo, said he believed APGA was headed towards making Anambra State one of the most viable economic hubs of Africa.
“Anambra is on the move, Lagos State has a target of being the size of the third largest economy in Africa and I want to say that Anambra State is on course to becoming the top five economies in Africa as well,” said Mr. Soludo, who contested the governorship seat in 2013 under the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
“I have come with a message of continuity that only the continuation of the foundation that our governor is laying today will take Anambra to the Promised Land.”
Chimere Ibenta, the APGA State Woman Leader, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Obiano deserved a second tenure because of his prompt payment of salaries to civil servants as well as his performance in security and agricultural development.
“I would say Obiano has done well security wise to deserve a second tenure,” she said.
“He has done well to workers whose salaries are now paid on or before 25th of every month and has also done well in agricultural produce/export.
“I am confident he will be returned to the government house to continue his good work. The grassroots people are very happy and they will vote him.”
The leader of the Hausa community in the state, Mahmud Sani, thanked Mr. Obiano for his solidarity with his people during their festivities.
“During our festivities, he calls us and gives us materials for our celebration,” said Mr. Sani, who was born and had lived all his life in the state.
“Actually he tried a lot. He showed us a sign of equity in his administration by appointing one of our brothers into his government. We all have our voter’s card and we will vote to return him to office. Our number is large enough to try. Both youth, old and women are here for Willie Obiano.”
Cecilia Okonkwo, a 72-year-old woman who was seen dancing in the crowd, said she hopes a victory for Mr. Obiano would guarantee jobs for the youth and make the state investment friendly.
“We want our children to get jobs after school,” she said.
“Our state should be like other places. Our people should return and develop our state so that it is like every other state they have developed in the north and west. Let the poor see food to eat.”
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