By C. Don Adinuba
If the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which won all 21 local government areas in Anambra State in the November 17, 2017, gubernatorial vote performs better in this year’s gubernatorial vote in the state, a substantial part of the credit will paradoxically go to the leading opposition political parties. They have succeeded in turning Governor Willie Obiano into a hero. They have practically canonized (not just beatified) him when he is still in office. And his APGA is benefiting enormously from the governor’s current goodwill which has in the last few weeks been growing in leaps and bounds.
The opposition has turned Governor Obiano into a hero through what communication researchers call black propaganda. They have been operating in the reality distortion field. The distortion has backfired, and it backfired badly. By mounting a relentless campaign, mostly on the social media, to besmirch him and diminish his place in history so that APGA would not have a fighting chance in the November 6 election, they unwittingly created a figure working for his people but opposed every inch of the way by unconscionable buccaneers and those Chinua Achebe, the conscience of Nigerian society, famously described as renegades determined to turn “my home state into a wretched and bankrupt fiefdom”.
If the opposition had launched the campaign with a bit of verifiable facts, Obiano would still have emerged a successful governor, but not the uncommon hero he has now become. The propaganda against him has been based on the kind of lies which makes the propagators lose personal and professional integrity and consequently earn the contempt of the people. Dishonesty and deception are vices through and through.
Up to three weeks ago, the hired guns were posting on the social media pictures of Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport when work started on it in January, 2021, claiming it was the current state of the airport. They claimed that the governor had pocketed almost the entire amount out of unfathomable avarice. Yet, the airport will be ready for commissioning anytime from now.
All the persons who have been there in the last few weeks have publicly been paying tribute to the governor. Whether it is the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the regulatory agency of the aviation industry, or the members of the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Aviation, the story has been the same. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in the National Assembly from Anambra State are even more generous in their ululation of the state administration for building in record time Nigeria’s most advanced airport which also has Africa’s longest runway, measuring 5.7 kilometres in length. Senator Uche Ekwunife is perhaps the most outstanding in paying homage to the administration for a brilliant and farsighted project. She belongs to the PDP, the very party leading the propaganda against Anambra State and the very political party described by Achebe as composed of renegades.
It is tough to process why some propagandists would torrentially publish material they know to be full of lies which would be exposed so easily within a short period. For instance, the media operatives reported on February 22 that Governor Obiano had been arrested in the United States and prevented from returning to Nigeria. The story, as expected, went viral. The so-called offence was never disclosed, nor the name of the agency which supposedly arrested him mentioned. It was an unintelligent story, even by fake news standards. While the fake news was making the rounds, the governor was welcoming the new commander of the 302 Artillery Regiment in Onitsha as well as the new police commissioner for the state.
On March 2, the operatives alleged that the three beautiful flyovers in Awka were collapsing. The evidence? A crack in the plastered portion which can occur on any bridge during the dry season when the weather is very hot. That’s why bridge designers and builders always provide for expansion rails and joints. The PDP called for the arrest and prosecution of the contracting firm which built the three bridges. A few days later, the PDP government in neighbouring Enugu State proudly announced that it has contracted IDC, the firm which built the Awka flyovers, to design and construct Enugu’s first flyover!
The inelegant media operatives, whom former World Bank vice president Oby Ezekwesili would refer to as internet thugs, have for over one year been publishing how Anambra State is so broke that its public servants would stop receiving salary anytime. They even add that the situation is so bad that no banks would give the state a kobo credit facility. Still, Anambra public servants and pensioners remain the first in the whole country to receive their monthly entitlements. They get paid latest on the 25th of every month. And the state government continues to give each of them a bag of Anambra Rice annually to celebrate Christmas.
The multibillion naira Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport, which is almost completed, has been built with no loan from any bank. And none of the contractors is owed. The same thing can be said about the 10,000-sitting capacity International Conference Centrein Awka and the Awka City Stadium. The National Assembly members who visited the airport on Friday, March 27, wondered how Anambra, a non-oil producing state, could accomplish so much in record time when it would be hard to think of an oil-bearing state which could match its record. Even when oil-bearing states were begging for and receiving bailouts from the federal administration in the midst of the 2016 recession because their finances were in very poor shape, Anambra didn’t apply for any. It had no need for it.
All Anambra people are walking six feet tall everywhere. Governor Obiano has seized the momentum. The propaganda against the state has collapsed effortlessly and the black propagandists and their principals are now looking like very bad guys. Men without credibility. They have actually contributed significantly, through mindless lies, to Obiano’s canonization.
As APGA looks forward to a repeat of the 21/21 triumph in the November 6 gubernatorial vote, the lesson for politicians who think that black propaganda can lift them to victory in a sophisticated state like Anambra is the recognition that integrity and superior service delivery have their reward. God bless Anambra, the Light of the Nation.
Adinuba is Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Anambra State.