Sunday, 4 September 2016

After 25yrs of Chequered History, Anambra on the Path of Sustainable Growth


Anambra State, the Light of the Nation became 25 penultimate Saturday. Anayo Okolie, in this report, looks at how the state has feared under Governor Willie Obiano

To historians, celebrating 25 years of creation of Anambra State is worth it, considering the political, economic and social development of the state and its citizens.

Today, the indigenes of Anambra State, both at home and in Diaspora are doing great in different sectors and they have brought respect to Light of the Nation in their different adventures.

Anambra possesses a history that stretches back to the 9th Century AD, as revealed by archaeological excavations at Igbo-Ukwu and Ezira. But Anambra as a state first came into existence few months after the end of the civil war in 1976. The old Anambra State, which comprised the present Anambra and Enugu states old East Central State with capital in Enugu.

The present Anambra State was created by former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1991, with its capital in Awka. Since the creation of the state 25 years ago, 20 people have steered the ship of the state either as military or civilian governors.

They are; John Atom Kpera (March 1976 – July 1978), Col. Datti Sadiq Abubakar (July 1978 – October 1979), Jim Nwobodo (October 1979 – October 1983), Christian Onoh (October – December 1983), Allison Madueke (January 1984 – August 1985), Samson Omeruah (August 1985 – December 1987), Robert Akonobi (December 1987 – August 1990), Herbert Eze (August 1990 – January 1992), Joseph Abulu (August 1991 – January 1992), Chukwuemeka Ezeife (January 1992 – November 1993), Dabo Aliyu (November 1993 – December 1993), Mike Attah (December 1993 – August 1996), Rufai Garba (August 1996 – August 1998), Emmanuel Ukaegbu (August 1998 – May 1999), Chinwoke Mbadinuju (May 1999 – May 2003), Chris Ngige (May 2003 – March 17, 2006) and Peter Obi (March 17, 2006 – November 3, 2006).

Also due to political crisis in the state, Obi’s deputy, Dame Virginia Etiaba governed Anambra between November 3, 2006 – February 9, 2007, while Senator Andy Uba was at the helms of affairs for 14 days between May 29 and June 14, 2007 before he was removed by a Supreme Court decision on 14 June 2007.

After successfully steering the ship of Anambra for two terms, Obi handed over to the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano on March 17, 2014.

There is no doubt that some of the past Anambra State governors did their best in governance since the birth of the state in 1991, but the achievements of Governor Obiano in the last two years is commendable, having used his wealth of experience and managerial skills to turn the fortune of the state around.

Today, Anambra is a model to many states in Nigeria. Looking on how he has been able to implement several positive changes in Anambra within his two years in office, there is no doubt that Governor Obiano, a banker turned politician is one of the examples of technocrats and professionals who have proved their onion in Nigeria politics as good administrators of capital and human resources.

When Obiano declared his intension to contest in 2013 to succeed then Governor Peter Obi, many people thought that the road may be tough for him since he was not an astute politician but Obiano, who many regarded to then as greenhorn in politics shocked many by not only emerging as All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for the November 17, 2013 governorship election, but also defeated Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a veteran in Anambra politics, Senator Chris Ngige, who contested on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).

During his swearing in on March 17, 2014, Governor Obiano said his Vision is ‘to make Anambra State the First Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities’ while his Mission was ‘to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities.” For him to guarantee the realisation of his Vision and Mission statements, Governor Obiano crafted a Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development which revolves around Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas.

To achieve the Vision and Mission Statements, which come together in a perfect synergy with the Four Pillars of Development to make up my dream for Anambra State, Governor Obiano immediately swing into actions after taking oath of office to ensure that dividends of democracy were made available to people during his four-year tenure.

Obiano had never treated the mandate given to him by Ndi Anambra as child’s play and that was why he had been able to silent his opponents with sterling achievements in different parts of the states. Today, there are many visible laudable projects which the people of Anambra State can point to as Obiano’s government achievements.

The unique thing about Obiano’s performance is that he has used his wealth of experience as a financial expert to manage the resources of Anambra State effective despite global economic recession.

His government performances and successes in office as a result of his creative approach in generating revenue and doing more with less resources has also endeared him to the people of the state despite the dwindling economy in the country.

In fact, while some governors are finding it difficult to provide dividends of democracy to the people, Governor Obiano has many projects to point to as his remarkable achievements within two years in office.

Despite meeting the need of the people through several infrastructures and commendable projects, Obiano’s administration has not faulted in payment of staff salaries, compared to other states owing catalogues of salaries running to about four to eight months.

The governor has also been able to increase the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state from N500 million to about N1.2 billion monthly without heavy tax burden like other state governors are doing presently. He is also working hard to increase the state IGR to N2.2 billion monthly for the survival of the state.

Knowing the importance of security of life and property in a state, Obiano has done a lot in addressing security challenge in Anambra State to secure the state and its citizens by launching an all-out war against kidnappers, armed robbers, drug-dealers and child-traffickers.

Obiano has been able to smashed crime syndicates and pulled down the warehouses used for keeping kidnap victims.

For security agents to fight crime effectively, the governor donated smart cars to the police, a gunboat to the Navy and launched police helicopters to watch over the state skies. Today, for the first time since the creation of the state, Anambra is effectively covered on the land, waters and sky.

The governor has also opened Anambra up to the World by making the state attractive to wise investors. He has been able to attract investments and fast-tracking the process of investing in the state through the establishment of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA).

To date, ANSIPPA has attracted investments valued at over $3.2billion to Anambra State, which cut across agriculture, trade and commerce, manufacturing, oil and gas, hospitality, housing, electricity generation, waste management, education and health.

Knowing the importance of diversification with the fall in price of oil, which has led to reduction in federal allocation to states, Obiano has made significant progress in the area of his Four Pillars of Development which revolves around Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas.

The governor made agriculture, the leading pillar of his Economic Blueprint and today the state government is reaping a lot from agriculture sector to achieve its aim of being in the top-three agriculture states in Nigeria.

Today, Anambra has become an exporter of farm produce to Europe. Songhai Farms has reached an agreement with SABMiller for the supply of Sorghum, produced in Igbariam for brewing beverages. The state government has also flooded the market with a wholly indigenous brand of rice known as Anambra Rice which is competing favourably with other brands in the market.

Obiano-led administration so far has attracted $150m from Coscharis Farms Project in Anaku, $50m from NOVTEC Farms Ltd in Ndikelionwu, $160m from Joseph Agro Ltd rice project in Omor, $220m from Ekcel Farms tomato production farm in Omasi and $50m from the Songhai/Delfarms integrated organic farm project in Igbariam.

There are also Grains & Silos with $40m investment in storage facilities, Lynden Farms with the $61m poultry farm in Igbariam and Tricity Integrated Farms with $11.4m ultra-modern abattoir in Awka. Indeed, the fire of agricultural revolution is raging in Anambra State.

In the area of industrialization, Obiano administration has created modern Industrial Parks and Small-to-medium Enterprise Clusters, improved Investments and better Access to Financing and Strategic Capacity Building. His government have so far attracted over $140 million investment to the manufacturing sector and also set precedence in the area of building critical alliances with foreign trade delegations.

One of the objectives of Governor Obiano administration is to move Anambra to the top-three states in Trade and Commerce in Nigeria. To achieve this, the governor rehabilitated many existing markets and building ultramodern shopping malls across the state.

He also flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping complex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA, which is first of its kind in Africa in term of commercial and lifestyle complex. Onitsha Shopping Mall a legacy project of his predecessor is now in operation.

He has also increased the pace of work on the two other malls in Awka and Nnewi. Other achievements in the area of Trade and Commerce include the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area valued at $75 million dollars and the installation of Close-Circuit TV Cameras (CCTV) in Onitsha Main Market.

In Oil and Gas sector, Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic feet of gas and to benefit immensely from the sector, Obiano government set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by the renowned Dr. Emmanuel Egboga, who was former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters to ensure the recognition of Anambra as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria. He has also constructed Anambra’s longest bridge, measuring 280 meters long, across the Omambala River as part of the 42kilometre road that opens access to the oil fields in Aguleri.

The state government is also building two other bridges to the oil fields through Umueje in Ayamelum and Umudiora in Anambra West Local Government Areas. He has also partner with UD Integrated Petroleum Production Development Company, UDIPPCO, and Falcon Corporation Limited to invest in the development of gas-to-power initiative in the State.

In the area of roads and infrastructure, Obiano administration has his promise to Ndi Anambra in building and maintenance of roads and bridges in this state.

The construction of three fly-overs between the Amawbia and Aroma end of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, a distance of about three kilometres within Awka city, speak eloquently of his ambition to transform Anambra with world class infrastructure. The administration has also built two bridges and a 5-Cell Culvert in Awgbu-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma axis and asphalted over 102 roads. It is also on record that there is no single road the incumbent administration inherited from his predecessor that had been abandoned.

In the area of urbanization and structural planning, Governor Obiano-led government in October 2015 signed memorandum of understanding with Galway modular housing company, Affordable Building Concepts International for 10,000 housing units in the State.

Obiano is not playing lip service to education and the achievements of his administration in the educational sector have remained impressive in the past two years. Anambra State under Obiano’s government has maintained enviable position in NECO and WAEC examinations.

Similarly, students from Anambra State took the Third position at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore last year. In terms of funding for schools, Obiano administration has disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools, renovated 1,000 units of 10-classroom blocks and awarded scholarships estimated at N30 million to over 200 students.

In fulfilment of his campaign promises to provide thousands of jobs for people of Anambra State, Governor Obiano through quality of investments attracted to the state so far, have drastically reduced unemployment problem in no distant time by projecting over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The governor in his two years in office broadcast disclosed that the projection for 52,500 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs in the state includes; 27,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs in agriculture; 12,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs in Industry, Trade and Commerce; 11,000 direct jobs and 39,500 indirect jobs in Real Estate and Hospitality, 2,000 direct jobs and 8,200 indirect jobs in Power and Transportation; 500 direct jobs and 1,900 indirect jobs in Health. In term of youth empowerment and youth employment, the state government have also effectively trained 500 youths in diverse skills and crafts at the Technology Incubation Centre in Nnewi while 500 other youths have been trained at the Agricultural Training Institute in Mgbakwu.

Obiano, born on August 18, 1957 is a native of Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area. He had his primary education at the Holy Trinity Primary School, Onitsha and preceded to Christ the King College, Onitsha for secondary education. As a man thirsting for knowledge, Obiano attended the University of Lagos where he obtained a B.Sc. (Second Class Upper Division) in Accounting in the year 1979 and an MBA in Marketing in the year 1993.

Obiano, an experienced banker and seasoned administrator, started his banking career as Officer in First Bank in 1981 from where he moved to Texaco Nigeria Plc as Accountant. He was promoted four times in his eight-and-half-year-service at Texaco to become Chief Internal Auditor. Obiano, a specialist in Bunkering, Lube-blending and Refinery Audits, was part of the team that audited Texaco Refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1989.

He joined Fidelity Bank from Texaco in 1991 as Deputy Manager and head of Audit and was promoted Manager in 1991, Assistant General Manager in 1993, Deputy General Manager in 2000 and General Manager in 2002 and Executive Director in October, 2003. He was part of the great team that saw Fidelity Bank through the Bank’s Consolidation process.

Obiano, who was a member and patron of many professional bodies and organisations, with awards and recognition in different areas of endeavours, was sworn in as Anambra State governor on March 17, 2014, and since then he has not look back in touching the lives of Ndi Anambrans.

Without any iota of doubt, Obiano is one of the performing governors in Nigeria who have proved to the world that people can enjoy good governance and dividends of democracy, having steered the ship of the state successfully in the last two years by showing the commitment, determination and capacity to take Anambra to a greater height.

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