Like other politicians in Nigeria, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State made some promises to curry votes from the electorate during the campaigns. But it has become a norm of sorts that campaign promises only to end up in the dustbins of history as they are usually empty statements.
Governor Obiano, who came on board from the banking industry, presented what looked like a magic wand to turn Anambra State into the London of Africa.
Part of his roadmap was the construction of three flyover bridges along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway; improving power generation, so that the state could have constant supply; installing streetlights; cargo airport; making Anambra an oil-producing state; and lately, providing shuttle buses to replace motorbikes; improving on security; attracting high caliber investors to the state, and many others.
He also promised to build a new airport and increase the wages of civil servants. He disclosed that a bill aimed at increasing workers’ salaries was already in the state House of Assembly. He disclosed that his administration had proposed a 15 per cent increment in salaries of civil servants.
The governor also said the new airport would be completed within four years.
“There will be no need for people to travel to Enugu and Port Harcourt to board flights. It will be done here in our own state, let’s go now and spread the news of ‘be your brother’s keeper’ because this is our own state,” he said during the campaigns.
But after five years of his administration and barely three years left to hand over to another person, there is not much on ground to show for his numerous promises to the people of Anambra.
Speaking of Obiano’s performance so far, some political pundits said he had done little, especially when compared to what his predecessors, especially Peter Obi, did.
According to Chris Uche, a political analyst, “Out of the many promises Obiano made, only the flyover bridges, street lights and improved security of lives can be said to have been achieved.
“To me, the three flyover bridges are not necessary. If you talk of adding beauty to the roads, well that can fly, but other than that, it is simply a monument of cement. What’s the need of building a flyover bridge that big lorries cannot ply? Then you talk of the terrible gridlock it causes at the Aroma end on a daily basis. It would have even been better if the money spent in building those flyover bridges was used to construct new roads in Anambra State.’’
He said while the flyover bridges were delivered, the same cannot be said about the proposed cargo airport located at Umueri, and power supply in the state capital. According to him, the cargo airport project remains only on signposts and paper.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the location for the airport remains a bush, after the initial clearing of the area.
During the debate for the Anambra State governorship election in 2017, the former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, described the airport project as a subterfuge, saying it was not feasible.
“Anambra does not need an airport at $2.2 billion when the Federal Government used $500 million to build four terminals,’’ he said.
He said the airport project needed basic infrastructure, which was necessary to enable the facility to grow according to market forces.
Governor Obiano flagged off the Anambra International Cargo Airport project at the cost of $2.2 billion. During the flag-off ceremony, he said the proposed airport would stand the test of time. He also said the airport would feature a fuel dump for aeroplanes, as well as a plane maintenance section.
“This means that planes around Nigeria will stop over for refuelling and maintenance at Umueri. The project will attract at least 5,000 direct and indirect jobs for Anambra people. The good thing is that it is financed by a Chinese company, Sinoking. It will also feature a 5-star hotel,’’ he said.
Obiano gave a 24-month duration for the completion of the airport, but until today, nothing reasonable has taken place at the site.
Apart from the ecstatic view of the Enugu/Onitsha expressway and the streetlights that adorn the city at night, the ageing roads only experienced a palliative approach, contrary to the expectations of the people.
Most of the roads in the state are suffering from massive wear and tear, occasioned by the menace of flood and erosion, and cannot possibly be saved by mere repair.
Speaking on the situation in Anambra, the publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr. Nnamdi Nwangwu, said the governor had failed woefully in fulfilling his election campaign promises, adding that he only succeeded in deceiving the people.
“He promised to build an airport in Anambra; we have not seen it. He promised to construct roads, we have not seen it. He promised to increase workers’ salaries; we have not seen it, instead he owes pensioners for over four months now,’’ he said.
According to him, before now one could drive round Anambra State in one hour, but today, you can hardly move around, due to bad roads.
“It is a nightmare to ply Anambra roads today. It is sad that the state government is not doing as promised. In the area of increasing civil servants’ salaries, he has not done anything, rather, he owes pensioners for months,’’ he stated.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday on phone, the chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Anambra State, Chief Isaac Onuka, said Chief Obiano had nothing to show for his five years as governor, apart from massive employment of his kinsmen.
“The only thing he did was to flood the Government House with his kinsmen, leaving others to wallow around in search of jobs,’’ Onuka said, adding that roads had become worse under the Obiano administration.
Meanwhile, Ebele Ejiofor, the lawmaker representing Anaocha Constituency 1 in the Anambra State House of Assembly, has appealed to Governor Obiano to complete abandoned road projects in his constituency.
Ejiofor, who was elected on the platform of the PDP, made the appeal recently in Awka, the state capital. He described some roads in his constituency, including Nwa-Agu junction, Agulu, Nneogidi-Agulu-Nise and Neni-Adazi-Enu as death traps.
The lawmaker, who is also the deputy minority leader of the Assembly, expressed worry that the potholes on the roads could be catastrophic if not fixed.
“In my community, Adazi-Nnukwu, there is a road project that was started, but it has been abandoned for many months now without any reason by the contractors.
“The situation is the same in other communities in my constituency, making many roads impassable. I am appealing to the state governor to come to our rescue to avert crashes,” he pleaded.