On Sunday, June 19, 2016 and at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, His Excellency, Dr. (Chief) Willie Obiano, FCA will receive the 2015 Zik Prize for Leadership. This prize belongs to the Good Governance category of the awards named after the great son of Africa.
Administered by the Lagos-based Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC) whose chairman is the former Minister of Petroleum, the former Education Minister, a three-time Senator, Prof. Jubril Aminu, this honour has naturally and necessarily thrown up a lot of questions: What is this prize about? What does it symbolise? Does Obiano deserve it? Is there anything Zikist about Obiano? Is there anything Zikist about the prize? What is the perception of PPRAC? Is it taken seriously by the Nigerian and non-Nigerians.
Truth is that Zik prize belongs to a class of its own. It stands out in several respects: those behind it are serious-minded, respected Nigerians and non-Nigerians. PPRAC’s former chairman, for instance, is Professor Anya O. Anya. He is a household name in Nigeria and the world.
A former chairman of National Merit Award, Prof Anya (NNOM), Hon DSC, FAS, OFR, a distinguished parasitologist is also a chartered biologist, fellow and past vice president of the Nigerian Academy of Science and a former Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Economic Summit Group.
The current chairman, Prof Jibril Aminu is a rare gem, an exceptional scholar who studied Medicine on Scholarship, distinguished himself in the profession and in university administration. He also carved a niche for himself while he served in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Such people cited above and others in the PPRAC are definitely not ordinary persions. They are rather quite elevated. They are people of class and refinement – persons who can easily separate the wheat from the chaff. This simply means that those who they chose or have chosen as beneficiaries of the Zik prize are accomplished achievers in their different fields.
Is Governor Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano an accomplished achiever? The answer is a resounding and resonating yes. Let us go into his past? While a student at Christ The King College, Onitsha,Obiano won an international essay competition.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Lagos in Accounting in 1979, bagging the prestigious Second Class Honours (Upper Division). Obiano added an MBA to his kitty from the same university. He also distinguished himself as the first black Internal Auditor at Texaco. He left an indelible mark at Fidelity Bank Plc, from where he meritoriously retired as Executive Director.
Was it not because of his sterling antecedents that he (‘Akpokuo Global’) was invited to return from his comfort zone in the United States to replicate his “miracles” at Texaco and Fidelity Bank and now Government House, Awka? In two years, has he not acquitted himself, moving Anambra State from good to great?
A firm believer in ‘Thomas Hobbes’, Obiano’s primary task on assumption of office was to fix security and make it watertight, and so it has remained, to his credit and to the glory of God!
Worried about the difficulties of really knowing the French Philosopher, Rene Descartes, he suspended all thoughts he had nursed initially and concentrated on discovering the most basic issue of establishing his very existence. This was because, for him, if he did not exist, then he could not think, among other things. It was only after he had confirmed (that) cogito ergo sum (“I think; therefore I exist”) that he went further to explore the ramifications of life.
Probably borrowing this Cartesian principle, Gov. Willie Obiano first fixed security apparently because he felt that where there was no security; there could not be governance. The Bible has the same approach: “Seek ye first the Kingdon of God, and every other thing will be added unto you”, it admonishes. We may add: “seek ye first security and every other dividend can be added to governance!”
From Security, Obiano has fixed agriculture, infrastructure, environment, oil and gas, bureaucracy and much more. With Anambra being the only state with a branded rice, he has made it the Agricultural capital of Nigeria. Anambra now exports fish, vegetables and other produce. This boost in agriculture was greatly helped by Obiano’s prior production of a geological map, which identified the competitive agricultural potentials of the different parts of the state. The result is that specific crops are planted in places they will grow better.
Through the creation of such bodies as Anambra Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA), Awka Capital Development Agency (ACDA) and Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA), the introduction of computer training to teachers and the directive to own computers, Anambra State’s educational landscape has been transformed. The result has been marvelous with different categories of the state’s students and pupils winning national and international awards.
With the advent of the Obiano Administration, Awka’s status as state capital has been quite manifest as fly-overs now dot the city from Aroma through Akwata Junctions to Amawbia by-pass.
To mitigate the dwindling Federal allocation, Obiano has put measures in place, which have raised the state internally generated revenue (IGR) from N500 million to N2 billion.
The governor has restored sanity to the civil service by plugging all loop-holes after a personal audit was done – an exercise that led to the discovery of 500 ghost workers!
Discovering the importance of power supply, Obiano has invested heavily in the development of sub-power stations with a view to enabling artisans, small-scale industrialists and other consumers to leverage on the availability of better electricity supply.
Now, who says ‘Akpoku’o has not turned Zikist? Zik of Africa epitomised, good governance. That was why he was often Fabian in his approach to political issues. It was also, why he believed in building consensus. That was why he teamed up with another political party to form a government of National Unity after he fought and achieved independence for Nigeria along with other compatriots. That was why he did not insist on becoming the Prime Minister, but accepted the position of ceremonial Head of State. Zik preached the eclectic philosophy – one, which incorporates in a single ideology all the salient elements of other world-views. All these qualities characterise Gov. Obiano.
We therefore welcome ‘Akpokuo Global’ to the club of Zikists – the fold of those who, because of their accomplishments, have been found worthy to be associated with the first President of Independent Nigeria and the late Owelle of Onitsha.
Congratulations, Your Excellency!
Udah, a socio-political commentator on current issues wrote from Lagos