Sunday, 24 July 2016

Full Text of Obiano's Address : Eyes on the Prize – On the Threshold of Excellence



 A Speech Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano during an Interactive Evening with the Anambra Community in Abuja on July 22, 2016.

Ndi Anambra, this is a great evening to me. To underscore the importance of this day in the history of my administration, I would like to star...
t my address with a quote from Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. At the dawn of Indian independence, Nehru had declared, (and I quote) A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new; when an age ends; and when the soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance.

Umu nnem, in the past two years, my Team and I have been very busy with the challenge of moving our beloved state from the old to a whole new Anambra State. We are very resolute in our desire to build a prosperous state and leave a legacy of good governance for our people. It has been a tough challenge but we were prepared for it. And tonight; about two years and three months after, I am proud to stand before you to give account of my stewardship in words and in pictures.

Ndi Anambra, My Team and I started our journey in Anambra State with a clear definition of the REALITY of our people. We asked ourselves questions like; who are we? What is our Story? What are our fears, our Hopes and our Aspirations? The answers to these questions helped us to articulate our Vision and Mission for Anambra State. We therefore declared that our Vision is to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. We also defined our Mission as to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. From these two statements, it is clear that my administration truly wants to build a strong and prosperous state, not from the riches that lie underneath the soil but essentially from the infinite possibilities that lie between our ears. It is clear that we want to challenge our people’s famous enterprising spirit by creating a conducive environment that would enable their diverse talents find expression on home soil. So, to give life to my Vision and Mission Statements, I came up with a concise Economic Blueprint, made up of The Four Pillars of Development; including Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil and Gas. The Four Pillars are supported by Twelve Enablers, made up of; Security, Education, Health, Roads and Social Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, the Environment, Transport, Finance, Electricity, Women’s Welfare, Tourism, and Youth development and Entrepreneurship. The Vision and Mission Statements coalesced into the Four Pillars of Development and their Twelve Enablers. Ndi Anambra, these two components make up my Social Contract with my good people of Anambra State.

Umu nnem, I will proceed to give you my Report Card in the past two years and three months. For obvious reasons, I will start with -

Security

Long before I was sworn in as your Governor, I knew that my administration would not make its mark if we didn’t find a way to tackle Security. So, when I took the oath of office, I assured Ndi Anambra that under my watch, we would “redraft the operational manual of the entire security apparatchik of Anambra State to ensure a lightning-quick response.” And that was exactly what we did. We launched Operation Kpochapu and organised an International Security Summit that attracted a top Israeli security expert, Moshe Keinan as the key facilitator. Then, we launched an all-out war against crime and criminality in the state, pulling down the warehouses where kidnappers kept their human cargoes and running them out of town. We were so clinical that we did not only detect and cut off their weapons supply lines but we also tracked a notorious kidnapper to Lagos and picked him up inside a South African bound aircraft. That sounded a loud warning to the underworld. We turned our efforts into a Regional Campaign when in August last year we successfully hosted a Regional Security Summit for the five South Eastern states and the Delta. We figured that Anambra would be safer if other surrounding states were safe enough. In December last year, we raised the game in our security campaign when we donated 25 Smart Cars to the Nigerian Police. These cars are Command & Control Centres with ultra-modern crime-bursting gadgets. We donated a Gunboat to the Nigerian Navy to ensure a regular patrol across the water channels and seal off all the routes used by criminals. In December last year, we launched an aerial surveillance with a Police Helicopter throughout the Yuletide Season. With this last effort, we made sure that Anambra was effectively covered on the ground, in the waters and in the skies. With that effort too, Anambra became the safest state in Nigeria! Umu nnem, the import of our achievement in security is that we have won the psychological war! The essence of security is to feel SAFE! Our people now feel safe to move around the state at whatever time of day or night.

Ladies and gentlemen, for want of time, the rest of my address shall focus on what we have achieved with the Four Pillars and some Key Enablers.

But first, let me talk about ANSIPPA and Anambra’s Emerging Industrial Map -

One of the great initiatives that have enriched the new narrative in Anambra so far is the formation of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). This is the ultimate one-stop investment boutique of Anambra State. On the Board of ANSIPPA are renowned investment bankers, business analysts, the Attorney General and the Commissioner for Lands. ANSIPPA has the mandate of attracting investments and fast-tracking the process of investing in Anambra State. The agency has so far attracted over $4.2bn investments to Anambra State. The last investment was sealed on Tuesday this week with Zolt Energy Limited to build a 40 megawatts Embedded Power Generating Plant in Ogbaru. The beauty of this project is that all the power generated from it will be distributed mainly in Anambra State.

Ndi b’anyi, the number one Pillar of my Economic Blueprint is Agriculture.

We launched our Agricultural Revolution on May 15, 2015 in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Headquarters. Since then, Anambra has assumed a prominent position in Nigeria’s Agricultural map. Precisely, in January this year, Anambra made headlines when it became the first state in Nigeria to export vegetables (Ugu and Onugbu) valued at $5m to Europe. Biko, kuonu aka! At the same time, our locally produced brand of rice known as Anambra Rice recently emerged the Best Rice in Africa at an African Products Forum in Lagos. Anambra Rice was adjudged better and more wholesome than other competing brands from South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia and Cameroun. That is the Spirit of Anambra!

Our agricultural sector has also attracted investments from 7 companies valued at $1.011bn while the large industrial farms in our beloved state have pushed our local rice production from 90,000 metric tons to 210,000 metric tons. At this rate, we shall soon surpass the 320,000 metric tons we consume in Anambra State per annum!

The next Economic Pillar on my list is Industrialization -

Our objective is to become one of the top 3 industrialized states in Nigeria. We are pursuing this in four key areas – Creation of modern Industrial Parks and Small-to-medium Enterprise Clusters, Improved Drive for Investment and better Access to Financing and Strategic Capacity Building.

Today, we have so far attracted over $140 million of investment to the manufacturing sector. Ndi be anyi, odi ofele?

Next on my Economic Pillar is Trade & Commerce

Our objective in Trade and Commerce is to move Anambra to the Top-3 states in Trade and Commerce in Nigeria. To achieve this, we are rehabilitating our existing markets and building new ones alongside ultramodern shopping malls across the state.

Here are some of our key achievements in the past two years:

We commissioned the ultramodern Onitsha Shopping Mall in April this year to give our people a taste of a world class shopping experience. The Mall is one of the Continuity Projects I inherited from my predecessor which I have commissioned as I promised during my campaign days. Ana ekwu ekwu, ana eme eme!

Work is progressing smoothly on the two other malls in Nnewi and Awka at the moment. We have flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping complex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA. This commercial and lifestyle complex will be the first of its kind in Africa. The retail outlets will be operated by leading brands from across the world. Similarly, the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area valued at $75 million dollars is nearing completion while Expression of Interest has been concluded on the Umunze International Market.

The fourth Economic Pillar is Oil & Gas

Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Our target is to have a fully developed Oil & Gas sector by 2018. We intend to achieve this through 3 broad areas of intervention – policy formulation & infrastructure development, private sector participation and community re-orientation.

In the area of Policy Formulation, we have crafted far-sighted policies to drive the development of this sector. In fact, my bill proposing the establishment of the Anambra State Oil & Gas Development Agency has already been passed into law. As a follow up, we have also set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by Dr. Emmanuel Egboga, the former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters. This committee is charged with drafting a comprehensive Blueprint for the Oil & Gas sector and advising the State on the necessary steps that would ensure the recognition of Anambra as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria. We have opened access to the oil fields by building Anambra’s longest bridge across the Omambala River in Aguleri. The bridge is 280 meter long and the road is 42KM. This bridge has since been completed. We are also building two other bridges to the oil fields through Umueje in Ayamelum and Umudiora in Anambra West Local Government Areas. The importance of these roads and bridges can only be understood if we remember that there was no access to the oilfields of Aguleri before now from Anambra State. It could only be accessed through Enugu State. Similarly, we have concluded plans to pipe ATK (aviation fuel) from the Orient Petroleum Refinery to the proposed cargo Airport in Umueri where a storage facility will be built for it. The idea is for the airport to serve as a major hub for the re-fuelling of international flights in West Africa. We have since flagged off the construction of three dual-carriage ways that will open up access to the proposed airport from three strategic directions – Umueri, Awkuzu and Nteje axis. .

Now, I shall take you through some Key Enablers

The Enablers are the basic foundation upon which the Four Pillars of Development stand. There are 12 of them but I am constrained by time to give you an update on only a few of them –

I will start with Roads and Infrastructure -

Ndi Anambra, the two flyovers in Awka and the one in Amawbia speak eloquently of our ambition to give our state the 21st Century capital it deserves. The gleaming Kwata Bridge is not only a beauty to behold but a monument to the pride of our people. Similarly, we have built two bridges and a 5-Cell Culvert in Awgbu-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma axis and asphalted over 102 roads. And I want to put it on record that there is no single road we inherited from my predecessor that we have abandoned. Things may have slowed down a bit because of the state of the economy but we have not abandoned any projects in Anambra State.

Next on my list is Education

Our achievements in the Educational Sector have been outstanding in the past three years. Essentially, we approach education in three broad areas – infrastructural development, pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare.

Under my watch, we have maintained our enviable position in all external examinations like WASC, NECO and JAMB examinations. Indeed, Anambra children took the world by storm when they took the Bronze Medal in the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore last year. In January this year again, they emerged winners of the Mock Debate Contest held in Singapore to prepare the finalists participating in this year’s edition of the World Schools Debate Championship holding in Germany. This same team is the current champion in Nigeria, having defeated other debate teams from the 36 states of the federation. Indeed, our educational exploits are on all fronts. In 2015 Anambra swept the medals table at the Presidential Schools Awards. Teachers from the state won various awards while the state won the Best Overall Senior Secondary School in Nigeria and the Best Junior Secondary School and the 2nd Best Primary School; a feat no other state has ever achieved.

We take the Welfare of Teachers very seriously in Anambra State. As some of you may well recall, my father was a Teacher. So, my administration does not joke with teachers. In fact, in March last year, we sent 23 teachers to an offshore training in Singapore to update themselves in global best practices that will help our children. We also pay incentives of 20% of basic salary to teachers who teach in hard-to-reach areas and those who teach core sciences and Igbo Language.

Meanwhile, we have increased the subventions of Chukuwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and Nwafor Orizu College of education, Nsugbe to N150m and N90m respectively. In addition, we also set a new standard when we ensured that the College of Medicine of Odumegwu Ojukwu University gained full accreditation and went further to give automatic employment to the set of pioneer medical doctors who graduated this year after spending 10 years pursuing a medical degree in the university. Ana akukwa aka ebea???

Indeed, we have continued to fund education in the state. We have disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools, renovated 1000 units of 10-classroom blocks and awarded scholarships estimated at N30 million to over 200 students. We would have done more but for the bleak state of the economy.

Next on my list is Health

We have adopted an ambitious approach to healthcare in Anambra State. We have commenced the construction of 63 Primary Healthcare Centres covering all the 21 Local Government Areas of the State. A breakdown of this shows that we are building 3 Healthcare Centres per local government. This will ensure that there is an easy access to quality healthcare to everyone in Anambra State. We have also added new units to the Onitsha General Hospital and built a helipad for air ambulances to speed up emergency cases. We have built several blocks of houses that will serve as Isolation Units in case of an outbreak of epidemics. The complex has been designated as the Centre for Tropical Disease Control. Other facilities have also been refurbished in hospitals at Umunze and Atani. We are in a historic partnership with the Rise Health Incorporation of America to strengthen rural health delivery in the state. The partnership gave birth to a specialist outfit known as the Anambra Business Coalition (ABC) through which the Orumba General Hospital has been refurbished and re-equipped to deliver a world class medical service to the people of Orumba North and South. The ABC has also set up an ultramodern Rise Clinic in Adazi Ani and Onitsha respectively to offer quality healthcare to the people. Ossamola General Hospital Ogbaru will be given a similar attention this year. Meanwhile, we have set machinery in motion to ensure the provision of a comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme for Ndi Anambra.

Next is The Environment

The Environment is one of the key Enablers in my blueprint. With a land mass of 4.884 Square kilometres, Anambra is Nigeria’s smallest state in geographical size after Lagos State. And with over 960 gully erosion sites, Anambra is probably smaller than Lagos at the moment. It was this stark reality that made me to call on the federal government to declare Anambra an Ecologically Endangered State. Happily our efforts to draw attention to our plight have started yielding results as the World Bank has graciously listed Anambra among the 7 states that will benefit from its Erosion Control Projects. The institution also indicated its readiness to be more directly involved in checkmating the menace of gully erosion in Nanka, Agulu, Oko Ekwulobia and Nnewi South Local Government Area respectively. Similarly, just last month, our efforts paid off when the World Bank again approved four sites in Ugamuma Obosi, Ikenga Odidi, Enugwu-Ukwu and Abidi Umuoji for immediate handling. Meanwhile, the gullies in Nnewi-Ichi, Ire Obosi, Nkpor Bridge by New Tarzan, and Ojoto will be ready for approval later this month while the sites in Akaamato Ifite Nteje, Umobi/Ukpomachi Awkuzu, Ideani and Nimo are in the final stages of engineering design and will be tentatively ready for approval in early August this year. Agulu, Nanka and Oko will be ready for approval in October due to their peculiar sizes and erosive mechanism. Edeoji-Uruagu Nnewi and Okpo-Utuh in Nnewi North will also be ready at about this time next year. Ndi Anambra, these are some of the things we have done so far. Meanwhile, we have mounted a serious campaign to retrieve our cities from the menace of filth and dirt. As you may all remember, we demolished a 30-year-old mountain of refuse that was several stories high in Okpoko last year. We have also succeeded in cleaning up the eyesore that used to be the refuse dump on Owerri Road, Onitsha. Indeed, Ndi Anambra, our records speak for us!

Next is Mass Transit Scheme

Umu nnem, we have made bold attempts to change urban transportation in Anambra State. We initiated the modern mass transit scheme that links up the three major cities in the state with 200 brand new taxis and 40 luxurious buses. We followed that up with the construction of modern bus stops and bus terminals in strategic parts of the state. This initiative was recently expanded to include marine transport with 24 Speedboats and Water Ambulances and one Gunboat for the Nigerian Navy. The idea is to open access to the riverine communities in the state and ensure that no part of the state is cut off from the phenomenal development spreading across the state. We are also building a comprehensive vehicle inspection workshop in Awka that will check the road-worthiness of vehicles in Anambra State to minimize the carnage on our roads. At the same time, I personally made sure that the Smart cars we donated to the police in December last year are equipped with Speed-tracking Devices that would help us enforce sanity on our roads.

Now, I’ll talk about Public Utilities

Our flagship in public utilities at the moment is the Operation Light-up Anambra Project that is fast transforming our towns into cities with dazzling streetlights across the three Senatorial Districts. We have almost covered the long stretch of road from Amansea in Awka South to Boromeo Junction in Onitsha. We have also covered substantial kilometres of roads in Nnewi and Awka. Similarly, we recently commissioned 47 solar-powered boreholes that will serve 27 communities in Aguata and Anambra East Local Government Areas respectively. We are not relenting on rural electrification as we have expanded the 33KVA line that supplies power to Anambra North and installed 250 transformers in strategic locations across the state. Meanwhile, Anambra North Senatorial Zone has just been linked to the Agu Awka sub-station and for the first time in five years, the zone now enjoys a regular supply of electricity. We are working very hard to ensure that Anambra South Senatorial Zone will soon begin to enjoy stable power supply.

Again, in line with our aggressive programmes in Public Utilities we have rolled out a revolutionary Choose-a-Project-Initiative for the 177 communities in Anambra State. Under this scheme, each community is expected to choose a project worth N20m; that is dear to it. My administration is determined to execute all these projects to the letter. This initiative is not only a novelty but also truly democratic.

Next is Workers Welfare

Umu nnem, Anambra is second to none in the welfare of workers in the whole of Nigeria. We are the only state that increased the salary of workers by 15% in 2015 at a time when many states were looking for bailouts. We have also shown the humane side of governance with a series of worker-friendly policies and gestures. For instance, we have since cleared the N1.9bn arears of salaries owed the State Water Corporation staff as well as the approximately N1bn pension the state owed Local Government retirees inherited by my administration. Similarly, I granted amnesty to 25 prisoners serving different jail terms in Anambra State to mark Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary last year. These ex-convicts are currently undergoing training in a school for skill acquisition at Umueri and will be handed N1m each at the end of their training.

Ladies and gentlemen, I won’t end this account without talking about what we have done in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)

Ndi Anambra, we have set an impressive record in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with a remarkable increase from the N500m monthly that we inherited from my predecessor to N1.2bn per month at the moment. Coming at a time when many states in the federation are desperately looking for alternative revenue to stave off the shock of dwindling allocations from the federal government, this is a great feat. We achieved this through a timely deployment of cutting edge technology and a strategic overhaul of our revenue collection mechanism. We have made several efforts to boost our IGR; the last one being the IGR Summit we organised in partnership with Fidelity Bank in January this year. Before that, we had organised a Strategic Retreat for my EXCO members to seek new ways of raising our IGR without increasing taxes. Right now, our mantra in Awka is “doing more with less,” and our target is to achieve N2.2bn in monthly revenue before the end of this year.

Ndi Anambra, I must now tell you about our new plan to Expand the Frontiers of Excellence in Anambra State.

Having strengthened our core development sectors, we are now well positioned to take Anambra to the next level. Over the next two months, we will expand our focus to other areas of our Economic Blueprint and consolidate our efforts in a new developmental initiative that I call the Anambra Economic Transformation Program (AET-P). The AET-P will drive the development of key infrastructural projects which are critical to accelerated economic development and the industrialization of our great state and the wider region. The goal of AET-P is to introduce a private sector approach to conceptualizing, financing and executing infrastructure projects for greater efficiency. The AET-P will ultimately be vested with the mandate to -

1. Operationalize the Onitsha Inland River Ports
Upgrade the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway into a world class highway with ultramodern ancillary services.

2. Diversify Anambra's economy further by boosting activity and participation in the Anambra Basin.

3. Develop the Anambra International Cargo Airport.

Ndi Anambra, I am confident that these transformational initiatives will redefine the economic landscape of Anambra and the region at large. It will take us to the Anambra that the Great Ikemba and all our other forefathers dreamt of. To make this work, we will require strong participation from our captains of industry at home, across Nigeria and in the diaspora. Over the next two months, we will present to you the economic roadmap that will drive the AET-P. This is the new direction of growth in Anambra State and I count on your support on this.

Finally, I wish to make a Passionate Appeal to Ndi Anambra all over the world, to lend a hand to the efforts going on at home to build Anambra State. There is just so much that the state government can do. I deeply believe that we have the know-how and the resources to turn our beloved state into a model. I appeal to you to bring your money home to Anambra State and invest it there. Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria today and our rating is growing every day in the investment community! I challenge you to do something ennobling and good for Anambra State today – The ball is now in your court!

As I take my seat, I ask for your patience as we now show you what we have achieved in pictures -

Dalunu!

Thank you

Willie Obiano
Governor

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