By Ejike Anyaduba
ANAMBRA politics is a peculiar brand, no doubt. But playing it with so much partisanship in this period of the COVID-19 pandemic and its exacting protocols bespeaks of the brand as a fatal drollery.
Ordinarily, a people under threat of a pandemic have no use for politics. The preoccupation is in finding a solution to their problem. Nothing else matters as efforts are directed towards the eradication of the disease and its abiding mortality.
Two things have happened since Governor Willie Obiano mounted the saddle of leadership in Anambra. One was the national economic recession of 2016. The other is the current COVID-19 pandemic. Neither was by any stretch of the imagination a usual occurrence and demanded a lot of effort to get round it. Expectedly, the Obiano government engaged both situations with uncommon elan.
Barely two years into Obiano’s reign as Governor, the Nigerian economy went into recession. Many states of the federation were beset by economic difficulties of unusual proportion. A lot of them could not pay salaries. Many more were nonplussed as governance stalled for months on end. The Federal Government offered economic stimulus. Bailout funds were given out to cushion the effects and help the states get back into the swing of things.
While all these happened, Anambra, even without claim to special allocation from the centre as an oil state, held out. She took no bailout funds and did not go into recession.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has not altered the resilience of the state and the proactive nature of her Governor.
The government did not wait to respond to the outbreak of the disease. It took proactive measures to stem it. So far, the state has no case of infection as her index case was promptly treated and discharged.
Quite early the administration ordered comprehensive lockdown of the state, closing schools, public offices, markets, eateries, clubs, hotels etc and fumigated them. This was followed by aggressive publicity campaign mounted on all the media channels in the state and by town criers, exhorting everybody on the need for observation of the World Health Organization (WHO) standard protocols on the pandemic.
Isolation and surge centres were procured, adequately equipped and managed by the COVID-19 compliant health workers. Currently, efforts are going on to enhance the laboratory unit of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital to a Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) certified test centre.
There was also on air teaching of students by the state owned radio station, the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). This initiative has since been commended by the Minister for Education in much the same way Senator Ben Murray Bruce commended the state during the economic recession.
However, it is sad to know that the only interest shown by the opposition in the prevention of the outbreak of the pandemic in the state is to query the dedicated COVID-19 Fund. It is not just presumptuous of the opposition to allege mismanagement of a fund yet to be spent and which making he made no contribution.
Truth is that the Anambra opposition is unthinking and has no vicarious feeling of the pains of the less privileged. He thinks himself smart any time he attempts misinforming the public.
Clearly the Anambra gubernatorial election is within foreseeable distance and all manner of characters are already milling around. But it should not be a license for potty politics. What the people need at this point in time is care. A good number may be woozy with hunger, but they still have their reason. The pandemic does not call for politics.
Ejike Anyaduba, a commentator on national issues writes from Abatete.