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Commentary: Rooting Godfatherism Out Of Anambra

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WRITTEN BY STANLEY MBAMELU
In 2003 Ndi Anambra joined forces to wrest power from the clutches of a powerful cabal who formed a criminal enterprise, referred to as godfatherism.

The evil of this criminal enterprise, undoubtedly, deprived Ndi Anambra the dividends of a true democratic society. Civil servants and pensioners were not paid. Roads were decrepit and crime rate astronomically high while the political godfathers were getting stupendously richer and smiling to the banks with their loot and others wallowed in abject poverty.

A former governor became the greatest beneficiary of that fight, albeit delayed and later restored. There was dance in every corner of the state that godfatherism had been defeated and buried. Consequently, it is sad and heartbreaking that the same former governor who benefited from the defeat of the evils of godfatherism has now morphed into a more dangerous godfather. Consequently, any prudent observer would ask: what has led to the former governor’s brutalization of thought and erosion of moral compass? The answer is simple: his idolatry and unquenchable appetite for money and his successor’s refusal to be subservient to his whims and pay him billions of Naira from the state treasury to satisfy his thirst to be the richest man in Nigeria through the instrumentalities of the Anambra State government.

Also, the ex governor publicly referred to his successor as an astute financial management guru. Today, the guru has refused to pay the self-acclaimed godfather and he is using all invectives to describe him. He has even vowed to use the last drop of his blood to remove him from office. The former governor’s attitude is a clear demonstration that vast and sudden wealth can be as much a debilitation as an attribute.

However, the ex governor owes Ndi Anambra a duty to explain to them what happened to the hundreds of millions Naira and dollars intercepted in Lagos by security agents during his tenure, which was alleged to be a routine clandestine operation to move cash using state official vehicles. Was the loot returned to the Anambra state treasury or forfeited to the federal government? He also needs to tell Ndi Anambra what happened to the World Bank assisted funds running into hundreds of millions of dollars, for Greater Onitsha Water Scheme; how all the roads he constructed are decrepit within four years whereas the ones constructed before then are still intact; how he transformed from a trader to a mega industrialist and gigantic shopping mall owner within some years as a governor and how much he received from the Federation Account, including oil windfall funds paid in dollars throughout his tenure.

He also has a duty to explain to Ndi Anambra the reason why as the governor he ordered the security agents to ‘shoot on sight’ his fellow citizens protesting his ‘grab and give to cronies’ policy at Onitsha. Finally, there is a duty on his part to explain to Ndi Anambra why he did not cause an investigation into the horrific deaths of twenty-six unidentified corpses discovered floating at Ezu River in Amansea during his administration.

Anambra State is a microcosm of Nigeria. It is well established that whatever happens in Anambra resonates all over the country, both politically and economically and this forthcoming gubernatorial election is not an exception. It will be an assault on our collective sense of reason to allow godfatherism in the state, endowed with abundant human and capital resources.

If Anambra State wants to continue to be great; paying workers and pensioners regularly, attracting investments and maintaining unprecedented security, an essential task must be the construction of an insuperable wall between godfatherism and the Anambra Government House. Anambra needs a Chief Executive not a Chief political godson in the Government House and if we let this moment slip away, we are history.

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