There is a saying that “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”. The economic and environmental problems in Anambra state are the direct effects of power tussle of who will be the next governor. In Anambra state, we have more than ten elephants fighting and the people of Anambra state being the grass are feeling the heat without saying a word of caution.
Anambra state, one of the South Eastern states in Nigeria, with a population of over 11 million, became the second – most densely populated states in Nigeria after Lagos. The state is rich with both mineral and human resources. It is no doubt that the Onitsha market in Anambra state, is still the largest market in the West African region.
Faced with economic and environmental problems, increase in tax, high rate of unemployment, selling of vacant government positions, community conflicts, flood disaster, fire disaster in major markets, and the loss of lives and properties usually caused by erosion, Anambra state is heading to a dangerous economic recession.
Concerned citizens of the state have begun to ask questions and critics argue that the governor and other principal officers have failed the people of Anambra state. But the question is why is a state that was doing well for the past 5 years of Governor Willie Obiano administration, all of a sudden, started having setbacks? The question will be answered below.
The rich men in Anambra state are the cause of the problems in the state. It is worthy to note that Anambra state government, through her agencies determine the level of development in various communities. But also be reminded that the decisions of both the state government and her agencies are determined by the rich men in the state. They control the police, the judiciary and the churches operating in Anambra state. There are many cases of intimidation, harassment and conflicts in the state being sponsored by the rich men. In such cases, both the security agencies and the government of Anambra state ignore to respond to the cries of the innocent people. I will give you three typical examples to defend my arguments.
- In 2009, the communal crisis in Nkerehi in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State escalated with more than ten persons dead and thirty others sustained injuries in the confrontation between the two opposing camps. Houses were burnt, properties destroyed and shops looted.
The crisis in Nkerehi started when an indigene of the town, Dr. Godwin Maduka, a pain management doctor in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A., decided to build a monastery for the catholic church. In pursuit of that goal, Dr. Maduka sponsored the destruction of all the historical and cultural landmarks in the town. He destroyed the town’s market and without due process, changed the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu with the the support of his maternal uncle, Igwe Micheal Ukaegbu. Dr. Godwin and his followers used excessive violence, intimidation, harassment and bribery to force Nkerehi people to accept the new name but they insisted it must be Nkerehi not Umuchukwu. Evidences were given in the court that the conflict was sponsored by Dr. Godwin Maduka and that those that were killed are still in mortuary. To end the case in his favor, Dr. Maduka built a modern magistrate court for the Anambra state government in the town and the case was closed in his favor.
- In her article “My Home Town under Siege” published online in the guardian newspapers website, the famous writer, Chimamanda Adichie, narrated how Arthur Eze of Ukpo used Nigerian Police Force to intimidate, humiliate and harass the people of Abba over land issues. In her words, “Arthur Eze wants to build a university named after him, and Ukpo doesn’t have any land big enough and so he wants to take our land.” Prince Arthur Eze has a documented history of muscling his way into contested land – in the past few years he has used the police to terrorize another nearby town, Abagana, after which he annexed their land. But perhaps the clearest evidence that Prince Arthur Eze is the mastermind of the harassment in the Abba-Ukpo case comes from his own words. After the Supreme Court judgment, Prince Arthur Eze called the traditional ruler of Abba, Igwe L. N. Ezeh and asked for a meeting on May 21, 2019 at the Geneva Hotel in Okpuno, a town near Awka. There, Prince Eze made a proposal: if Abba agreed to abandon the court case and share the land with Ukpo, he would call off the police. Igwe L. N. Ezeh told him that Abba people wanted to conclude the case in court. There are witnesses to this meeting. It was after this meeting that the police harassment of Abba indigenes went into full force.”
- The Ugbene and Ugbenu community conflicts were as well sponsored by a well known stakeholder in the Ugbenu community.
Before I forget, remember the drama of Dr. Chris Ngige and the Uba family in the early 2000s that led to the burning of the Anambra State government house.
What we witness in Anambra state is the underdevelopment engineered by the rich, to keep the poor in check economically. As the next governorship election is on the way, those in political offices have started stealing public funds mapped out for various community projects and development. The governor on seat is busy saving money to sponsor his own candidate, while those in opposition parties through their rich godfathers, are creating problems in the state to put fear and restlessness in the minds of the average citizens. These they do in the hope of making sure that the people have no other option than to collect pennies from them and vote them in.
Twenty million Naira community project given to all the towns in Anambra state have not been done in Oraifite. And when we asked why, we were told by the then President General (PG) of Oraifite Improvement Union to mind our business. That project till date was not done and the PG had the backings of Sir Emeka Offor. So who are you to question his authority? The governor knows about this but cannot challenge the “Lords” of Anambra state.
The likes of Sir Emeka Offor, Arthur Eze, Obijackson, Ibeto, Coscharis, Hon. Ikechukwu Obidigwe, wife of the governor and prominent bishops in the state, decide who is employed and who go home empty handed. They decide who is the anointed that will be appointed. And with this kind of leadership, the youths of Anambra state have no option than to look for any means of making money abroad. Some sold their family properties, some girls are now in prostitution, while graduates were left to work as bar tenders and waiters in hotels in the state.
How can the youths of such state move forward? Why are they lying to us that we are the future leaders of tomorrow? Why are treating us like fools and slaves?
To end this article, I will advise my fellow youths that ran away from the state and who have what it takes to be a leader to come back home and together we can make a difference.
Written by Hon. Somadina Odina and edited by Okafor Mishael Tochukwu.