Between VP Osinbajo And Gov Obiano
VICE President Yemi Osinbajo has been in politics for a very short period, but he is fast cutting the reputation of a statesman. This is the general feeling in Anambra State. One of the most important developments at the National Economic Council meeting at which he presided was the Federal Government’s agreement to immediately pay state governments sums for federal roads rebuilt in various parts of the country by state governments.
Some N350billion is reportedly owed state governments, with Anambra accounting for the highest amount of N25billion. The people of Anambra State are understandably delighted at the Federal Government’s decision, which Governor Willie Obiano has been pressing for with so much diplomacy, energy and commitment.
On June 3, 2015, less than a week after Osinbajo, a law professor
and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was sworn as Nigeria’s Vice President, he was in Onitsha to commiserate with the people over the tanker explosion in the foremost commercial city, which killed about 70 people. He was reportedly touched by Governor Obiano’s swift response to the tragedy and the personal anguish he displayed.
Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC) did not do well in Anambra State in the last general elections, as in the whole of the Southeast and Southsouth, which are contiguous geopolitical zones. Professor Osinbajo’s obvious favourable disposition to the Southeast, especially Anambra State, did not come to those who knew him as a surprise. Though he and I did not have much contact between 1974 and 1979 when he and my husband were classmates at the University of Lagos and later at the Nigerian Law School on Victoria Island in Lagos, I have over the years heard enough about him. My husband, Barrister Jude N. Ejiamike, is, no doubt, the principal source of the information.
It is no wonder that Osinbajo convinced President Buhari to nominate a gifted but largely unknown person from Abia State to be a minister. Okechukwu Enelamah is a trained medical doctor from Umuahia who went to Harvard Business School and excelled.
Vice President Osinbajo’s choice of Enelamah is reminiscent, in a way, of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s choice of Dr. Michael Okpara, first, as Minister of Agriculture in the Eastern Nigerian Region in the 1950s, and, second, as his successor as Premier of the region. Dr. Okpara, who incidentally hailed from the same kindred as Dr. Enelamah, was not one of the famous politicians like Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe. But the Great Zik of Africa, a far-sighted leader, had discovered his amazing leadership attributes, and chose him over and above prominent politicians who were even his personal friends. Dr. Okpara’s record in office remains monumental. If Dr. Enelamah becomes another Dr. Okpara in public office, the Southeast will be grateful to President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo for giving the technocrat the opportunity to prove himself and bring glory to both the Southeast and the whole nation.
Once the Anambra State funds are released, the state government will have more resources to accelerate the state’s development. Willie is already doing a brilliant job. Monthly revenues from the federation account for the state are modest, yet salaries and allowances are not just paid promptly, they were recently reviewed upwards by 15% on July 31, 2015, whereas many state governments, including oil-rich ones, depend on bailouts from the Federal Government to pay salaries.
By agreeing to refund Anambra State a whopping N25b, which the Federal Government has owed it, Prof. Osinbajo demonstrated eloquently that this administration is for all Nigerians. Gov. Obiano, too, deserves commendation for his diplomatic skills and tenacity of purpose. Nigeria needs more leaders like Vice President Osinbajo and Gov Obiano.
•Dr. (Mrs) Ejiamike, an economist and business administrator, retired as deputy director of the Metallurgical Training Institute, a Federal parastatal in Onitsha, Anambra State.