POLYCARP ONWUBIKO beams on the recent past of Anambra State and identifies major events that oddiously and gloriously frame the narratives in a thriller format. He writes:
THE new Anambra State, which came into being on August 28, 1991, has witnessed remarkable and spectacular events that jolted the people. The creation of the state out of the old Anambra State was greeted with mixed feelings because of the real or unfounded trepidation that what happened in Rivers State after the civil war could be replicated with respect to “Abandoned property” controversy.
When the state took off with about three military governors on the saddle, no landmark socio-economic growth and development were recorded. The civilian governor, Dr. Chukwuemeka P. Ezeife, (Okwadike Igboukwu) had a good socio-economic short term and long term development planning but it was truncated by a military take-over of the reins of power within two years of his administration.
Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju took the rein of power from 1999 to 2003. His administration was marred by political controversies which did not give room to implement the party’s election manifesto.
As if the political destabilisation was not enough, armed banditry grew into leaps and bounds to the extent that women and their children sought refuge in church premises at night to escape molestation by the night marauders.
The police were not fully equipped to fight the daring armed gangs as security became intractable. An unconventional security vigilante from Aba Market called ‘Bakasi Boys’ was invited.
The rag-tag security phalanx went about with what people described as “talisman-imbued machetes” with which they cut to pieces whoever their machetes gave a spiritual sign that he was a robber and a mischievous human being who shed human blood and was a menace to the society.
Casting a nostalgia glance, a veteran labour leader, Comrade Charles Onyeagba ,who abhorred the method used by Bakasi Boys said: “Bakasi was an unconventional vigilante outfit of brigands ostensibly imported from Aba, Abia State, for the not-too-clear purpose of ridding Anambra State under the Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration of bad eggs in the various communities.
Their modus operandi was sinister and very unconventional. The motley group, which claimed its origins from the Bakassi peninsula in Cross River State were reputed to have sanitised the Ariaria Market in Aba and environs, ridding them of hoodlums who terrorised the traders and dispossessed them of their money and goods during those days of mass movement of cash by traders”.
Another spectacular event that jolted Anambra State was the burning of government institutions namely; Government House, House of Assembly, Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) by some PDP radicals who were remotely goaded to do so in a desperate but eventfully null bidto drive away Governor, Chris Ngige.
There was a purported breach of ‘satanic’ agreement between the governor and some members of the party in Anambra State over the modus oprandi of distributing the monthly statutory allocations for the state.
It happened that Ngige, who was allegedly taken to a shrine in Ihiala, agreed on the unpatriotic proposal but after the swearing-in-ceremony, made a ‘U’ turn and was determined to stop the hijacking of state’s funds for private use.
The ‘cabal,’ whose raison d’être was to be having a lion share of the monthly statutory allocations due for the state, was frustrated due to the unexpected behavior of Dr. Ngige.
The cabal went to all human conceived diabolic shrines to kill the governor but failed. In a frantic bid to actualise their satanic mission to feed fat on the state funds, they arranged to kidnap the governor and partially succeeded.
At the Choice Hotel, Awka, where the police held the governor hostage, a prominent traditional ruler, who happened to be at the hotel saw Ngige at the balcony and asked him what was happening and he narrated his ordeal.
Having seized his cell phone, the traditional ruler threw his phone to him and by the special grace of God, Ngige had memorised the phone number of the then vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and he put across a call and the vice president gave stern instruction to the then Inspector General of Police to issue order to the Commissioner of police at Awka to effect the release of Dr. Chris Ngige immediately.
That was how a sitting chief executive of a state was kidnapped and was about to be killed but providence intervened and got him reinstated as governor. Ngige was reputed to have opened the eyes of Anambra people on the quantum internally generated revenue in the state and good financial husbandry, was hailed by all and sundry.
Unfortunately, his tenure was truncated by the election tribunal but his legacy in good governance and massive infrastructural provision was seen as a huddle to be surpassed by his successor.
Another spectacular event in Anambra State was the hosting of the South-East geo-political zone by the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Park, Awka. It was about making the Nigerian political leadership know the stand of the Igbo nation on the political development in the country.
With articulated voice, Ohaneze made it abundantly clear to the APC-led federal government that ndi Igbo want the country to be restructured, using the constitutionally approved six geo-political zones as the new federating units.
The event was epochal as it was a rallying point for the entire Igbo race speaking with one voice since restructuring remains the panacea to reinventing the country to its pre-war realistic federal system of government which was brazenly truncated and bastardised with the 1999 Constitution which was imposed on Nigerians by the military regime.
In summary, Anambra State at 28 has blazed the trail as one of the fastest growing economy in Nigeria. With restructuring of the country which has become a categorical imperative, the state may within 10 years become a citadel of learning since education has always been accorded top priority in all the past and present administrations.
Governor Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike Global) has done marvelously well in education as the secondary schools children have been winning great laurels in the international arena. Anambra State remains a model state in terms of education, commerce and all human endeavours.