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El Rufai’s Consolatory Piece on Anambra State

El Rufai’s Consolatory Piece on Anambra State

-Masterweb Reports
In his back page column, hardly does he write without mentioning the name of Jonathan. He has since extended it to those he perceives as close to him. The likes of Dr. Okonjo Iweala and Prof. Barth Nnaji have come under attack from his rude fist. It has become the madness of Rufus about Naevia. Rufus thinks of nothing else, talks of nothing else; and if Naevia did not exist, Rufus would be dumb. In what has turned into his usual pilgrimage of vituperation, he has often described the president in words that question his maturity.
His last piece of June, 8, 2012 entitled Anambra’s Budget of Misplaced Priorities was another piece that sought to stand logic, deep thinking, mature approach to issues and objective appraisal on their heads. I will take the issues he raised seriatim.

I do not have any problem with his voyage into history. Indeed, the basic facts about Anambra, both old and new and other related facts are among the treasures of history which children learn in elementary social Studies and Geography.

First of all, he talked about Gov Obi reading Philosophy, which to my mind only invoked the feeling of “ no wonder the man thinks critically.” He talked about the Gov. as enjoying the title of being the youngest Chairman of Fidelity bank. When I checked his profile, I found out that Obi was also a Director in two other financial institutions and three other quoted companies by the virtue of his investment in Nigeria and the UK. El Rufai ought to know that being the Chairman of a bank is not a title in the manner he talked about it, it was earned. It takes people having confidence in one to make him a Chairman or a director in reputable companies. Has he forgotten that from one small bank, he raised it to one of the most efficiently managed institutions in the country. In spite of his surefootedness in the financial world, he went to Anambra to contribute to good governance rather than sit in Abuja and see everything with negative prisms.

El Rufai lamented that Anambra is witnessing increasing crime rate, infratsucture deficits, a number of strikes over minimum wage, higher tax burdens, and exodus of the elite, among other challenges. This is the height of unfairness.

Anambra today, from the reports of security agencies is among the safest States in the country. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi chapter said so after their last meeting and commended the Governor for tremendous improvement on security. When the Ag., Inspector General of Police visited Anambra State, he said so and even went ahead to commend the Governor for his extra efforts at securing the State. “Many times he was in Abuja, he would visit me on how to secure his people,” the IGP said. In any case, States that have commercial value are more prone to crimes. In the past one year, Anambra has not witnessed bank robbery.

Before Obi came to office, Anambra did not have any relationship with security agencies as various militia groups were in control. Bedlam actually took over and reduced the State to the “Hobbesian State of nature.” Security agencies did not receive any form of support from the Government, but today Obi has donated in excess of 300 vehicles, communications gadgets and offered other forms of logistical support to them. Just last month, he announced that within the next one week, that he would buy security vehicles for each of the 177 communities in the state. These communities receive 500 Thousand Naira quarterly for security.

Because of the stability the State is enjoying under Gov. Peter Obi, many Ambassadors such as those of the USA, Russia, EU, China, Denmark, Canada, South-Africa, among others have visited the State. Many development partners that were not in the State are all there now.

What should worry El Rufai about security is the suicide bombing his brothers and sisters have introduced into the country.

El Rufai talked glibly about deficit in infrastructure in the state. When Obi assumed office, the State did not have Govt. House, Governor’s Lodge, State House of Assembly among other infrastructure burnt down at that time. Today all those things are in place. It was Obi that built the first Secretariat in the State, the first library, the first Business Park, the first mini stadia among other firsts.

On roads, he has done over 600 kms of roads in six years. Anambra is unarguably the state with the best network of roads in Nigeria. There are local Government Areas in the State such as Anambra East, Anambra West, Ogbaru and Ayamelum that are enjoying road facilities for the first time since the State was created.

El Rufai’s reference to Anambra witnessing a number of strikes over minimum wage is laughable. How can one strike be called a number of strikes? When a little research will show him that Anambra is among the very few States that are actually paying minimum wage and the first to start paying in the South-East. In any case, Rufai’s own State is yet to commence paying.

In one paragraph he talked about Anambra’s high tax burden, while in another, he talked about Anambra as having not enhanced her capacity to collect its taxes. This is reminiscent of his contradictory nature. I know in some States in the South-East business have been closed down due to tax issues, but not Anambra.

El Rufai said that unemployment in Anambra was among the highest in the region. This is far from the truth and nonsensical. In the entire South-East, Anambra hosts more non-indigenes. Some towns now have more people from Ebonyi State than their own people. People flock to places that have more economic value, just like many people are desirous of moving to Abuja.

On the exodus of the elite from the State, it used to be the case in the past, not any more. Those relocating today are those that used to feed on the resources of the State, but are now prevented from doing so. The Phase two of Ngozika Estate made up of about 1000 units of houses have been completely bought by people desirous of re-locating to the State, including victims of bombing by El Rufai’s brothers and sisters.

“The incidence of poverty in the State is very high,” thus spoke El Rufai. He went on to quote faulty statistics that has been adjudged as incorrect for so many incredibilities such as showing Anambra people to be poorer than the people from Yobe, Taraba and Sokoto. Immediately after that publication, i met the Gov. Who said it was faulty and that he had already brought it to the attention of the Ministers of Planning and Finance and the Vice President at National Economic Council meeting.

The poverty Profile Report of National Bureau of Statistics as published in the Punch newspaper of February 14th, 2012 showed that Anambra State, with a poverty rate of 22% is the least poverty-stricken State. Long before that, the former Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to a former President on Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Magnus Kpakol, on the 31st of August, 2010, at the flag-off of the Payment of Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment and Second Phase of the Care of the People – COPE, Programme by Governor Peter Obi said the Governor was over fighting poverty and wished other Governor could push as hard as he does. Hear Mr. Kpakol: “Gov Obi was the first Governors to visit my office to discuss how to fight poverty in his State and remained determined and dogged by initiating effective economic empowerment programmes.”

El Rufai lamented that under Obi, there is no effort to expand the productive base of the economy of the State. This is pure incestuous analysis. Since Anambra was created, Obi has done more to expand the productive base of the economy of the State. On the 22nd of May, 2012 Obi held the last in the series of routine meetings with Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi Chapters. The meeting is held routinely for exchange of ideas between MAN and Gov. Obi concerning their activities in Anambra State. He is the only Governor that does so with the body. The Chairman of the Association, Dr. Chike Obidigbo said Governor Obi had performed beyond expectations in fulfilling the promise to empower and encourage indigenous manufacturers.

Anambra today has special funds in the Bank of Industry for manufacturers. El Rufai can verify this. Obi laid the foundation for the construction of Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company, built the road into the place, supported it until completion and invited the president for its commissioning. He has since inception ordered and paid for vehicles of over 2 Billion Naira. The last batch of 600 vehicles paid by Anambra State is yet to be supplied.

Cutic cable based in Nnewi recently thanked Gov. Obi for constructing road int their company. He has visited Chikason, Orange drugs and other manufacturing companies in the State.

Today, SABAmiller, the second largest brewer in the world with the market capitalization of close to 50 Billion Pounds, twice bigger than the MTN, will commence production in Anambra. According to the Operations Director of SABMiller for West Africa, Simon Harvey, Obi was instrumental to SABmiller investing in Anambra State. The State under Obi invested over 2 Billion Naira in the facility. Chief Executive Officer SABMiller PLC worldwide, Mr. Graham Mackay, commended Gov. Peter Obi for making their investment in the state a reality. He said that what initially attracted them to Anambra was the presence of a strong government.
I am aware that two other big companies are also investing in the State. With over $250 Million foreign direct investment in Anambra State, I do not know any State that achieved the same.

It is on record, and I challenge El Rufai to verify it, that Anambra State has more bank branches than the entire South-East put together. Since Obi became Governor these branches doubled. What this shows in practical terms is that businesses thrive more in Anambra than in those other places. In 2006, Anambra had about three good hotels, today there are about 30. In appealing to statistics that suit his fancy, he suffers from the “fallacy of biased statistics.”

In holding that Anambra has many unexploited natural resources, El Rufai is making the same old mistake peoples of the world are no longer laying emphasis on. Japan has no natural resources neither does Singapore. The best resources any people will have are the human resources. For many years, Anambra was on the precipice. The basis of the Obi administration is re-building the human infrastructure. The fact that Obi administration is re-building the human infrastructure does not mean it is unmindful of natural resources in the State.

To show you that El Rufai is only a pseudo researcher, he said that Government was not doing anything about the large deposit of crude oil in the State. What should be noted here is that Orient Petroleum was formed in 2001. They achieved nothing until Gov. Obi developed interest in it. This much was revealed by the Chairman of the company, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who thanked him for his commitment to the project. He did so many things for them, including Anambra State investing 4 Billion Naira. As we speak the State Government has commenced the construction of the road leading to the facility for over 1 Billion Naira. What else does El Rufai think a concerned government should have done?

Until Obi, secondary schools in the State, even those designated as science schools did not have functional laboratories. Today schools are rehabilitated on a massive scale and provided with boreholes, buses, INTERNETS ( supplied and installed by Galaxy), built Microsoft academies and is building Cisco Villages in the 21 local Government Areas in the State, among others. To tell you how committed he is to education, he has visited over 200 primary and secondary schools in the State, including those in my town, as no other Governor has done in the past.

To show commitment to education, when it was clear that fallen standards were because of takeover of schools for over 40 years, he returned the schools back to their Church owners. Besides still paying the salary of teachers, he set aside 6 Billion Naira for them this year to rehabilitate the schools. For this gesture he was heavily commended by the highest Church hierarchies. The results of the return of schools are manifest as standards have gradually started to rise. This year alone, Anambra did not witness cases of Exam malpractices. A visit to some of the schools handed over, such as CKC, QRC and DMGS would tell the story.

Anambra remains one of the most educationally advanced States in the country. JAMB is one education body that has maintained clear statistics since it was established in 1977. Their statistics show that Anambra is usually among the first three in terms of number of applicants. The 2012 statistics show that Imo came first, followed by Delta and then Anambra State.

Before him, the State University did not have any infrastructure, today it has changed. At the Anambra State University he has constructed the Faculty of Law building, the Administrative Building, the Faculty of Management Sciences, the School Library, Faculty of Mass Communications, Faculty of Biological Sciences, among others.

In 2009, when Universal Basic Education Commission reviewed the performances of States on Education, Anambra was the no 1 in the entire South-East. By picking one statistics that may not be favourable to the State and ignoring others, El Rufai is guilty of the fallacy of improper statistics.

At the last World Bank Spring meeting 2012, Gov. Obi presented what the State is doing on education, he was lavishly commended.

Writing on health, El Rufai’s headache was not what was achieved in that sector or what the sector used to be and what it is now, but the fact that only 1.4 Billion was budgeted for it. Let somebody tell him that everything is not captured in the budget and our health sector is one good example. Anambra State teaching Hospital with over 18 giant buildings is above that amount even as the State enjoys assistance from development partners that are not captured in the budget. Facts on ground show that before this government, no heath institution in the State was accredited, today two hospitals are accredited and many institutions such as the College of Heath Technology, Obosi and the College of Nursing and Midwifery in Nkpor, School of nursing, Iyienu and many others are all accredited. Hospitals have been built and rehabilitated, hospital equipment have been procured, various health programmes are implemented.

This year, for example, the Governor is funding 10 hostels in various missionary owned hospitals such as Our Lady of Lordes, Ihiala; Water side, Onitsha; School of Midwifery, Adazi, but they are not captured in the Budget. He attracted the new Maternity Complex at Waterside; the construction is on-going. This year, Borromeo hospital Iyienu and Adazi got over 500 Million attracted by Government from development partners which are not captured in the budget.

The above is also applicable in the water sector where he lamented that the State Government budgeted only 800Million Naira. Anambra is working on many water projects with support from development partners and in such a situation, will a wise man not put more money in sectors that do not enjoy the same support, for example, the EU, UNICEF and MDGs are all assisting in the water sector. Last year, MDGs did 6 major town water schemes; this year, they are doing 8. UNICEF is providing water to 30 communities in Ogbaru, etc.

In Agriculture, the same scenario is playing out. There are sectors that are best developed with the involvement of the private sector. El Rufai presided over privatization and ought to know that many things are better privately- driven. What Government is doing in Agric sector is to encourage private enterprises. Just recently, the State secured 1 Billion Naira loan for farmers. We also have projects such as FADAMA where government is committing close to 1 Billion Naira. It is not for nothing that Anambra FADAMA 111 is regarded as the best in the country by the World Bank.

On roads and erosion, El Rufia is not even worth listening to. Today, Gov. Obi is working on over 27 erosion sites, either on-going or completed. Some of them are at Ebenebe; Umudim, Nnewi; Umuchiani, Ekwulobia; Umuchu; Umeze Uga, among others.

Disguising as a genuinely concerned crusader, El Rufai advised the government of Peter Obi to cut down on the size and cost of Governance. The sad implication of this is that Obi spend more money on governance. It is this singular line that exposed him as being after something else. How can somebody say this about Governor Obi? Obi has successfully cut the cost of governance in the State by 40%. Each year, he under utilizes the money for his office. In terms of security vote, it has remained the same since 2006 shortly before he became governor, in spite of the fact that he does visible, verifiable things with it.

By El Rufai’s viewpoint, he was being true to character. The opportunist and an inconsistent character that he is, he once considered Atiku a saint only to treat him as a sinner when the chips were down. Today, he speaks about him unrestrainedly, the same for Gen. Buhari, late President, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua. Shall we sample him using just Yar-Adua?

“Yar'Adua comes from a tradition of high reverence for public service. I knew him more than three decades ago. While I was entering Barewa College , he was in the final year. Then, he was our House Captain, a leader right from his school days. I put my name and credibility on the line to say that Yar'Adua is the most honest governor in Nigeria. This can be judged by his achievements. People have to review what Governor Yar'Adua has done in the last eight years. Then, they will discover he has done excellently well unlike most of the state governors we have in the country today.” This is El Rufai, when he was campaigning for him to become President. When Yar’ Adua failed to appoint him a Minister, he described him in terms fit for renegades, calling him a complete failure both in business and governance. He spoke about his irresponsible smoking habits, his insubordination to school authority and many more.

Whenever something is at stake El Rufia takes leave of his reason and acts unbecomingly. What he is doing in Anambra State is trying in his own little way to deal with APGA government in the State since his party, CPC and ACN are discussing about going into alliance .

It is strange that Thisday newspaper, in its collective wisdom said in its paper of May 31, 2012 that Obi is the 4th best performing governor in the country. For El Rufai to still go ahead and write his piece means it is either Thiday as an institution is right and El Rufia wrong or vice versa.

If we turn away from this gale people like El Rufai enjoy raising, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: Peter Obi clearing the arrears of pension, building over 20 bridges as nobody has attempted doing in the Sate, recording breakthroughs in erosion control , sustaining the culture of prudence being among the four States said to be financially sound. What else do you expect from him? This is perhaps the reason why he told me that he did not read the articles of people like El Rufai, who believing themselves to be geniuses lack the humility to understand the essence of things.

Valentine Obienyem
*Photo Caption - Mallam El- Rufai