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The humanity of the Obiano government

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                                                          Ejike Anyaduba
It gives me a certain claim of honesty - amidst denials - to write about the humanity of the Willie Obiano administration. It is one aspect of his government that is hardly reported, but which has greatly defined the thrust of his administration. It may be fair to argue that but for this, the achievements in security, investment, agriculture, infrastructure, education, health etc- for which the government has gained wide acceptance - might have come in vain. Except there is a decision not to report it, the silence sucks.   

If the Obiano government is standing on a pinnacle today it is not because it fixed security of the state hitherto in a whirl. It is not because it gave the state’s infrastructure that existed in outline some uplift. It is not because it resuscitated investment which had hit the nadir. It is not because it boosted agriculture until then in active decline. It is not because it gave healthcare a shot in the arm and sustains the progress in education. No, not in the least! It is because, in addition to all these, the government has shored up effort in the intangible sector.
On assumption of office Governor Obiano did one very uncommon thing. He gave up his salary for a full term of four years to be used for the upkeep of the less privileged in the society. This was followed up with building of a convalescent home - a sanatorium - at Nteje where the sick and others on the wrong side of life are daily attended to. The home, structured to accommodate inmates with varied forms of disabilities like the mentally sick, beggars, waifs and others, is run by qualified caregivers and medics.  
One or two positive experiences have since followed on from here. One is the de-escalation of the unsightly presence of beggars and waifs on the streets of Anambra. The other is the healthy sustenance of security of life and property in the state. On the face of it, the effect on security may not be palpable. But an example or two would suffice. In not so distant past two “beggars” in Lagos were arrested for different criminal offences. The one, and more notorious, was Clifford Orji, now late, arrested for cannibalism at Toyota bus stop along Apapa – Oshodi expressway. The other a cripple who solicited alms on Bush Street between Anthony village and Maryland was arrested an armourer for a notorious criminal gang. Prior to being arrested their threat to security would be generally disclaimed. They were seen and appreciated as mere beggars. Thus ridding the streets of Anambra of these tenants-at-will does not just augur for urban renewal but also for security.
It is not often government interferes positively in affairs of waifs and beggars. If ever it does, it is to seize and dump them off public space where they are consigned to the wooziness of hunger. Even that type of consignment is fast paling off governments’ schedule as the battered economy has made the luxury of such action difficult. 
Almost at the same time of giving up his salary the Obiano government offered scholarship to disabled but able persons in the state from primary through secondary to the university with a caveat - to have them employed on graduation. Others not covered by the scheme are equally accommodated in the employment exercise going on in the state. To cap this, two physically challenged persons were among the newly promoted permanent secretaries in the state civil service. Even within the governor’s aides are to be found a blind man and a walking paraplegic. To cushion effect of their work the heavily subsidized government transport service was directed to carry them gratis. The limbless among them were provided with prosthetics while those with cleft palate had them fixed.
This effort is boldly complemented by the First Lady of the state, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano. Through her Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a Non-Governmental Organization, she has lifted a number of despairing lives.  Early in the life of the administration she showed she was in no mood to shoot craps with the destiny of these people. Sounding philosophical in a speech she delivered at Basden School of the Blind, Isulo, Orumba South Local Government Area, she urged for compassion on the troubled souls, stressing that they have equal right to life. She made it clear that not born disabled, or having passed the age of bearing children, is not a guarantee against having disabled grand children.  
Ever since, she has continued to carter for the lowly in the society. It will belabor time and space, itemizing beneficiaries of her charity. However, hundreds of them have been provided with artificial body parts. Those of them who surmounted their disability to acquire skills were, and still are, equipped with required tools to earn a living. But it is in building houses for indigent widows in all three senatorial zones of the state that the First Lady’s charity communicated uncommon compassion.
The unwillingness to discriminate against any group or individual manifested quite early in the administration. The first test for the governor was weathering pressure to have workers employed in the twilight of the previous administration sacked. Perhaps only a few governors would not consider the financial implication. But even in the face of the dwindling economy salaries, pensions, gratuities, allowances etc are promptly paid. On occasion, the governor has made interventions that either staved off or ameliorated disasters. Not once did he stop his convoy to assist accident victims. He had equally cut short an official visit to Abuja in order to identify with victims of the Onitsha Gas Station fire disaster. On each occasion compensation was promptly given. Some had their hospital bills paid while others orphaned, in the circumstance, got scholarship grant.   
It is not to be forgotten how, few months into office, twenty-five prisoners, granted amnesty by the state, were issued with a check of N1million each to start life afresh. They were expected to seize the opportunity to get reintegrated into the society. So far as this, nothing has suggested otherwise. The Obiano government has within a space of three years moved development in the tangible and intangible sectors optimally.     
 Ejike Anyaduba
Writes from Abatete


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