Green Movement - Newsreel


Anambra State: Governor Peter Obi and the Burden of Leadership
by Emeka Chiakwelu (Afripol)  
November 13, 2010


Mr. Peter Obi, Anambra State Governor, on the right (foreground)


When Henry Kissinger was the United States Secretary of state, Germans refer to him as "Unsere eigenen Mann" which means  "Our own man" because  Henry (Heniz) Kissinger to them  is not just only a German American but a favorite one.  Governor Obi is "Unsere eigenen Mann" which means in Igbo language "Onye nke anyi" because he respects and honors the people of his state. Obi is truly a son of the soil.

Governor Obi is tenacious, decent, respectful and self-made man; a quality that personifies what it really means to be Anambran and son of a soil. He has made the people of Anambra State proud, for he tendered a leadership that differentiated him from the antecedent governors of the state. For one thing, he is serious with his job and he is determined to leave a legacy of successful governance.

But all things being equal, he will not be absolved from constructive criticism. When and if we do that, we are not being fair to him or ourselves.  One thing for sure, Obi is equal to the task and the best thing he expects from us is not to be milling around him, asking and begging for contracts and handouts. Alas, he wants us to help him build Anambra state, which we all can be proud to call our home.

To his credit and his commissioners', they have a comprehensive blue print for Anambra State development. By this his administration does not concentrate on a project but simultaneously undergoing many projects. The downside is that no single project is fully enhanced nor greatly accomplished. In addition, the blue print lacks creativity with regards to generating local revenues.

For instance the collection and disposal of solid waste/debris in commercial city of Onitsha has not been fully achieved or instituted due to lack of funds and superior management.  The environmental deterioration of Onitsha continues to worsen due to unattended littering of trash and rubbish in every nooks and corners of the city. In spite of the effort of Obi's administration, the ditches and gutters are still teeming with debris and pollutants that readily contaminate the ecosystems. And such an environment breeds misquotes and subsequently malarial diseases have never been subdued.

Commercial city of Onitsha is the epitome of planlessness in an urban setting.





Absence of a city plan results in urban chaos depicted in this photo of a major commercial area in Onitsha. Buildings on the right are used for both residential and commercial purposes. Traders display their goods even on  the street




During the campaign for re-election, Obi promised to transform Onitsha into a modern city. This is a tall order and credit must be given to him for his vision. For a modern city to be realized and become functional, some basic social amenities must be present .These social amenities and infrastructure must include electricity, potable tap water and a functional sewage treatment plant.

In case of electricity, we all know quite well it is under federal government jurisdiction but nothing stops the state government from acquiring solar light panels and to save the streets from total darkness at night. The government of Delta State was able to light streets of Asaba before Onitsha Head Bridge with solar light panels; therefore, it can be done. No more excuses!

Governor Obi has embarked on provision of water boreholes to provide drinking water. But instead of investing limited resources in digging water boreholes, it is better to find ways to resuscitate the abandoned Onitsha Water Works and others around the state. Moreover, some of these water boreholes are exposed to hazardous metals (arsenic, lead, boron etc) which, together with e-coli bacteria and radioactive elements, can be life-threatening and carcinogenic.

When children drink untreated water that is exposed to naturally occurring pollutants it may result to diarrhea and cholera even death. The borehole's water is not treated or chlorinated to make it healthy and safe for human consumption.

At the dawn of 21st century there should be a plan to set up waste water treatment plant in Anambra State where sewage and wastes are treated before the release into the ecosystem. Human and animal wastes can be treated properly and turned into manure that will be utilized for farming.







No professionally engineered landfill site exists in the entirety of Anambra state. Solid wastes from major urban centers of Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi are usually dumped in any available open spaces and often set ablaze as only disposal means available.

These refuse dumps burn year-round, even in the rainy season. Toxic smoke is continuously belched from a mixture of burning household and industrial waste and distributed over a wide area. Local residents inhale the polluted air. Rainfall washes the byproducts of these dump site fires downstream to nearby springs, streams, lakes and rivers which serve the populace as the main fresh water sources. Leachate from these dumps, which contain some cancer-causing agents and other toxins, soak into the soil and contaminate the groundwater from where potable water is obtained by many urban dwellers.






A view of refuse burning in outskirts of Nnewi






The crucial natural drainage corridor, Otumoye Creek, has been turned into the most celebrated solid waste dump in Onitsha metropolis. Storm water carries this refuse into the River Niger on continuous basis.



This tributary of the River Niger is choked up by illegally dumped solid waste




The most important function of a government is to protect life and property. The mal-enterprise of kidnapping threatens the pursuit of life and happiness in Anambra State. The massive unemployment among the youths in the state does contribute to kidnapping and armed robbery. Although the federal government controls security apparatus, the state government cannot totally absolve itself when it comes to the provision of jobs to the youths. It may not be the function of government to provide jobs, but rather to create a secured environment with less criminal activity for capitalism and free enterprise to thrive and succeed.

Anambra state could be creative with its initiatives and improvise on new ways to lower joblessness among the youths.  The government can create environmental corps whose function would be to patrol the state and pick up trash. These corps will be mandated to issue violation tickets when citizens violate environmental rules and regulations. And the revenues they generated can sustain their salaries and other employment benefits.

The government of Anambra State could complain that there are no resources and funds to carry out these projects. But the most important thing is the willpower and readiness to initiate a change. Start from somewhere and who knows what will happen next.   The Chinese philosopher, Lao Zi, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolution, transparency and probity in Africa


Uncollected solid waste is washed downstream by storm-water runoff where it clogs up drainage channels in low-lying areas.





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