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Between Governor Obiano and Arthur Eze’s billionaire activism by Igboeli Arinze



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Recently, Anambra State has been thrust unto the spotlight, owing to the recent series of spats between Governor Willie Obiano and Chief Arthur Eze, in what looks like a battle for supremacy between the flamboyant governor and the businessman.

This is reminiscent of the supremacy battles between Sir Emeka Offor and Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju sometime in 1999 which strangulated the process of governance in the state and possibly caused some distraction to Mbadinuju who could not find his footing in the course of these battles,lost out as he failed to land a second term in office.

However, the present ‘youpushumeipushuyou’ fight between Governor Obiano and Arthur Eze is not about control of any party structures as was witnessed in the Mbadinuju/ Offor ‘roforofo’ fight; both antagonists are not in the same political party, matter of fact, Arthur Eze is not a known card carrying member of any political party. Yes, it may be about the 2021 race, where both parties are much likely to be interested in who takes over the helm of affairs of the state and are now entrenched in a war using proxies and the media to undo each other. As I write this thirteen traditional rulers from the state have been suspended, while the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Nkem Okeke has the sword of impeachment dangling over his head and this seems to be just the beginning of the macabre dance.The first signs of an impending war occurred when the Nigerian Police Force unveiled the creation a new Zonal Headquarters in Ukpo, Eze’s hometown much to the chargrin of Governor Obiano who had in his policy of ‘Agulerisation’ sought to locate the Zonal headquarters to his hometown of Aguleri as against the after-claims by his handlers that Obiano in his “ new” found altruism was seeking to locate the headquarters in Awka the state’s capital. Feeling outsmarted, Governor Obiano It is alleged began a set of subterranean moves to revoke the location to Aguleri, much irking Arthur Eze who in turn accused the governor of looting local government funds meant for Anambra.

At this point, it did seem that the renowned philanthropist had stirred the hornets nest causing the Anambra State Government to unleash its umbrage via the media, rather than adequately respond to the accusations of gross mismanagement of funds meant for the development of the third tier of government in the state running into billions of Naira. The state government went berserk by accusing the philanthropist of possessing wealth not useful to the citizenry of the state and as well as went on to suspend the Igwe of Ukwulu , Igwe Peter Uyanwa for one year citing various petitions and the need to forestall a crisis in that domain, but what should interest readers is the fact that these petitions against Igwe Uyanwa were only resurrected and speedily looked into because it was at his palace that the allegations of the fraud perpetuated by the Obiano administration against the local governments was made.
Arthur Eze had also threatened to take the Obiano to court over the non conduct of local government elections and had even expressed the opinion that President Buhari stop the monthly disbursements of the funds meant for local governments to the state until local government elections were held in the state.

I am not a fan of Arthur Eze, his various attempts to grab lands originally belonging to towns like Abagana and Abba has angered a number of indigenes from these towns, however I must commend him for bringing the matter of the management of local government funds to the fore. It should interest the reader to note that since 2016, the state under Governor Obiano has unconstitutionally run the local governments with transition councils , contrary to what is spelt in Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

It is important to note that the Obiano administration in its attempt to defend such brazen unconstitutionality has hidden under a spurious argument that there is a court case against the state electoral commission, this is much far from the truth.

What Arthur Eze has done whether it is motivated by whatever designs he has for 2021 or as a riposte to the governor’s attempts to reverse the decision for the siting of the Zonal Command in Ukpo is much rather a blessing in disguise. Such calls for transparency or accountability for billions of Naira meant to develop the nooks and crannies of the state but have somewhat found their way into the private pockets of a few will definitely stir debates for now and for posterity. What Arthur Eze has engaged in by virtue of this standoff is what one should call Citizen Activism, where the people call on those they mandated to govern them to give accounts of their stewardship.
It is only in Nigeria that people expect billionaires and wealthy people to keep quiet with the ongoing ills in Nigeria, the rich are not expected to cry havoc, but to look the other way, muse, sigh and focus on their billions, as if these billionaires are aliens to their communities and are inured from the failings of governance.
Even in established democracies, we are living witnesses to billionaires getting involved in such activism, refusing to allow politicians and the media to control such narratives. What then is wrong with Arthur Eze’s call?
The state government under Chief Willie Obiano should kindly account for these funds, otherwise posterity would ask such questions in future.


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