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MBADINUJU: Passage of a patriot


The remains of Dr. Clement Chinwoke Mbadinuju (Odera), former Governor of Anambra State (1999-2003); were interred at his Uli country home in Ihiala LGA, Anambra State on Friday, November 24, 2023.

Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju came into the saddle as the civilian governor of Anambra State on May 20th, 1999 during what could be considered the most difficult period in Anambra State political history. Before that date, Anambra State which was created on 31st August 1991 had little or no public sector development.

The State was ruled by Military juntas that had little respect for the public purse. 

It is also important to state that the underdevelopment of Anambra State was facilitated by a tiny business elite who emerged as wealthy businessmen through arranging deals with the military top brass.

Indeed, the circumstances of the advent of the 4th Republic in Nigeria witnessed the emergence of this new breed of wealthy businessmen that was created by the military through the award of several spurious contracts with upfront payments, many of which were never executed. These nouveau riche businessmen from Anambra State incidentally emerged as the top PDP power brokers in Abuja. 

Dr. Mbadinuju who came from a diametrically and ideologically opposed background had allied with this tiny PDP cabal in his quest for power in 1999 and indeed climbed into power with the active backing of this Anambra cabal who were quite influential in Abuja power circles.

Once power was captured by the PDP in the State in 1999, differences of interest in the use emerged between the new governor Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, and his allies and main backers. While the interest of the cabal was to install a client-patronizing regime that would guarantee the continued rip-off of the State as was the norm during the military regime, the new Governor Dr. Mbadinuju who was an intellectual and Christian zealot had his eyes and mindset set on resetting the developmental trajectory of the state. There was bound to be a clash and when it occurred, the consequences were quite disastrous to both the political career and personal life of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju. 

Before his new stewardship as a Governor, Dr. Mbadinuju had a brilliant and distinguished career as an Associate Professor, Editor of Times International, Lawyer, General Manager of Anambra State Publishing Corporation, Special Assistant to the President Christian Activist, and Author. There were few of his ilk then in government who were as intellectually and morally prepared as Governor Mbadinuju in 1999.  However, the problems that confronted the new administration of Governor Mbadinuju in 1999 were equally herculean and hydra-headed. 

The 9-year-old State that was inherited from the military suffered severe ills that included the extreme paucity of funds, mounting debt burden, the nonexistence of government infrastructure in the whole state but particularly the new state capital, urban decay, environmental degradation, bad road networks, infrastructure decay, high crime rate, etc. 

The Government House and Secretariat were run from Portacabins while the Governor’s lodge was a makeshift structure. The Aguleri, Umuleri/Umuanam war was at its height, armed robbers, kidnappers, assassins, ritualists,s and sundry other criminal activities reigned supreme.

Governor Mbadinuju was however not perturbed by the problematic circumstances that confronted his new government. He ran prayer sessions in the state and prophetically coined the sentence “It shall be well with Anambra State”. He also ran an inclusive government.

It could be said today with the benefit of all the information available that his government started the change and development trajectory that is now part of Anambra’s political and economic history. 

There is a plethora of literature on the Governor Mbadinuju Stewardship of Anambra State, some of which were authored by the man himself that need no recounting here because of space. However, it will not be out of place to summarize some of the giant steps he enthroned to reset the development of Anambra State. some of such strides include setting up a tender board and instituting a due process system in all the procurement process activities of the State Government.

Prompt payment of workers’ salaries and giving a human face to governance through various prayer sessions. Other significant projects include the new government house, Women Development Centre, the completion of the Awka three-arms zone comprising of the 8-lane Boulevard, Ekwueme Square/Cenotaph, the Judiciary and House of Assembly Complex, Legislative Quarters, SPEB and other Institutional buildings, the Anambra Broadcasting Service Complex, completion of the Olympic size Stadium.

The stopping of the Aguleri-Umuleri war and restoration of security in Anambra through the use of a home-grown security outfit known as Bakassi Boys. This is also not to forget the founding of the Orient Petroleum whose exploration activities in the oil industry have led to the inclusion of Anambra State as an oil Producing State. It is also good to mention his pioneering role in the establishment of both the Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe Federal University and The State Owned University (Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Uli)

Dr. Mbadinuju also made invaluable contributions to National Political discourse.

He was one of the early proponents of the single-term presidency of between 5 or 6 years rotated among the six political zones in other to minimize complaints of marginalization. He was also the first to advocate for the professionalization of politics with institutions established in that regard to ensure that national standards were maintained amongst politicians and to eliminate indiscipline and unscrupulousness amongst potential and prospective leaders

Dr. Mbadinuju will also be remembered as an erudite scholar who churned out more that 20 books including personally authoring his stewardship as a Governor in two books with the title “MBADINUJU; “How I Governed Anambra State” published in 2012 and “How I Governed Anambra State; Book Summary” published in 2014

Indeed, Odera as Dr. Mbadinuju is popularly called, could be said to have engineered the development of Anambra and hence most deserving of the accolades so far accorded him. It will also be proper to state that his clash with the Anambra Political Godfathers who assisted into power cost him a lot. The backlash included denying him the ticket for a return title under the PDP, his being rigged out of the Governorship election in 2003 when he ran under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and his incarceration in Onitsha prison on trumped up charges of murder.

In all these, he maintained a calm and statesmanly demeanor through out his life once out of office. He also had an extremely forgiving spirit. He spent his later years churning out different books particularly on Christian Literature 

Odera the Erudite Scholar, Academic, Journalist, Lawyer, Humanist and Christian warrior will be missed by generations because of the good deeds he did while on his earthly sojourn. He was certainly one of the unsung heroes of this our present democracy. 

Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria

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