Nkpor – Amawbia Road: How not to Defend a Legacy By Obiora Aghadinuno

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By Obiora Aghadinuno
Ever since the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano commissioned the Nkpor – Amawbia Old Road that links the commercial city of Onitsha to neighbouring Enugu, the idle opposition camp in the
state has risen in a loud defence of what it considers a wrongful appropriation of the legacy of Obiano’s predecessor. Some opposition megaphones saw it as an attempt to take away an honour that rightly
belongs to former governor Peter Obi and said so without losing their heads. But for Obi’s media aide, Valentine Obienyem and his Facebook fans, it was yet another opportunity to take a stab at the object of
their pet-peeve.

In his usual derisive tone, full of contempt and mockery, Obienyem went to town, alleging that the governor was not properly briefed, after all “Obiano was in the US and did not know what was going on in the state before he was brought to contest the governorship.”Obienyem’s sarcastic comment implied that even after one year that has been widely acclaimed as successful, Governor Obiano was still so naïve that he could be so easily deceived into laying claims on a project that he had no hand in its execution. The fact though is that we are not only familiar but increasingly becoming bored by Obienyem’s persistent taunts. The reasonable thing to do would have been to ignore Obienyem; to pretend that his tribe of social media denizens does not exist. However, when Intersociety, a fly-by-night civil society group formed by a band of half-literate hustlers in Onitsha decided to finally cast aside its mask and join the mass hysteria, it became necessary to remind everyone of the true meaning of CONTINUITY; the promise upon which Obiano assumed leadership of the state.

The fact is that anyone who followed the electioneering campaign that brought Chief Willie Obiano to power in November 2013 can remember that his campaign was anchored on what he called the 4cs – to Continue, Complete and Commission all projects started by former governor Obi and to Commence a new set of projects that would expand the frontiers of excellence in Anambra State. It was a tightly knitted concept that acknowledged the great spadework that Obi had done and assured that it would be built upon for the greater good of the people.

Careful observers who have followed Obiano’s activities in the past one year can testify that the governor has kept his promise of continuity. There is virtually no project that his predecessor started that Obiano has abandoned. Not one of them. The Agulu Lake Hotel Resort which is located in Obi’s home town is a great example. There are also the three shopping malls in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi where work is progressing at an appreciable pace. There is the Agulu Lake Bridge, the Amawbia – Amansea stretch of the Enugu – Onitsha Expressway, the Agu Awka – Ugwuoba stretch of the Old Enugu Road as well as the Umunya – Asaba axis of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway among others. In line with the Continuity Promise, Obiano has also rebuilt the Boromeo Junction with a beautiful botanical garden. The governor has kept his vow that there would be no abandoned projects under his watch. In so doing, he has helped in preserving Obi’s legacy more than the motely crowd that is baying for his blood for commissioning a road project that his predecessor started.

What is more; the pack of wolves who have been baying from the periphery seems not to have pondered the actual meaning of continuity or the component of the Promise that assured that once a project is
“continued,” “completed,” the next natural phase would be to “commission” it. Perhaps they are happy with the idea of continuity to the extent that when a project is continued and completed, it would not be commissioned.

Be that as it may, what someone should tell those who vilify Obiano for commissioning a road that he graciously completed in a country where abandoned projects litter every corner is that Obiano’s
administration actually took off from a bigger solar system. His broad vision of governance and firm grasp of the intricacies of how signature projects confer immortality on leaders, place him in a different orbit from his predecessor. The obvious manifestation of the differences between Obi and Obiano is that while one is struggling to preserve an uncompleted stretch of road in his name, the other is busy building flyovers to change the landscape of Awka and while one is making puny attempts at philanthropy by presenting a miserly N1m cheque to schools, the other is busy envisioning a 21st Century capital city for Anambra, complete with a comprehensive aerial mapping of the entire state and transforming the state into a haven for foreign and local investors. In fact, while one was entranced in miserly gamesmanship; doling out cash to associations and town unions to alleviate poverty, the other is dreaming up an airport, a befitting
Three Arms Zone, a Business District and sending Anambra teachers to Singapore for refresher courses. And of course while one was penny-pinching to a point where Water Corporation staff and Local
Government retirees were denied their entitlement, the other was so visionary that he increased workers’ salaries in a season of crashing oil prices and so kind-hearted that he donated his entire salaries to
the underprivileged.

From the above scenario, it is very clear that while one is stricken with the anxiety of a minimalist legacy, the other has built a monument in the hearts of his people that time and tide cannot easily erode. Therefore, it becomes glaringly ridiculous for some poorly informed individuals to make a meal of the commissioning of a road that Governor Obiano completed in line with his continuity promise when in less than one year he has set the stage for his own immortality with an array of legacy projects going on sporadically across the state. In fact, the impression Governor Obiano has left is so strong that were he to leave office today, he would be leaving Anambra in a blaze of glory. So, as the holy book queries; “why do the heathen rage and people imagine a vain thing?”

Written by Obiora Aghadinuno (aghadinuno2014@gmail.com)

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