Friday, 7 October 2016

Moving from Rhetoric to Action : An Address Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano at the Special Ohaneze Ndigbo Forum in Awka on Friday, October 7, 2016 .

Moving from Rhetoric to Action : An Address Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano at the Special Ohaneze Ndigbo Forum in Awka on Friday, October 7, 2016 .


 Ndi be anyi Kwenu! Kwenu! Ohaneze kwezuenu o!

   Ndigbo Nnonu!

 On behalf of the good people of Anambra State, I would like to welcome you to Awka. Indeed, your presence in Anambra State could not have been better timed. As you may well recall, our beloved state is 25 years old this year and we are observing a period of deep reflection and stocktaking and envisioning a new beginning for our people. So, to a very large extent, this event falls neatly into our present mood and our quest for self-validation.
However, before I go further, I must thank the leadership of Ohaneze for choosing Anambra State as the next venue for your forum after the success of our first outing in Owerri. Your decision to hold this event here is further proof of the safety of Anambra State and our readiness to welcome the world. We are grateful for that. Dalunu!
Next, I must also thank you for choosing a very good theme for this event. Ka Anyi Dozie Ana Igbo is a timely and important theme which tallies with the core philosophy of my administration and the prevailing mood of Ndi Anambra. So, we are fully at home with the message you have brought to Anambra State.
Ndigbo umunnem, on a personal level, it gladdens my heart that finally, our people are waking up to the demands of the seasons on us. I am happy to realize that the current generation of Igbo leaders have come to realize that a time comes when a people must take up the bold initiative of changing their own story; that while we may be a component of a federation, the question of what becomes of our regional wellbeing will always be our collective challenge. Indeed, after decades of seeming helplessness and shouting to draw attention to the deplorable condition of the South East region, it is a huge relief that the Igbo of my time are finally taking up the challenge of turning our well-known community self-help ideal into a model for regional development. Umunnem, this is the hour of decision that Ndigbo have been waiting for!
It is interesting to note that after forty years of individual brilliance and courageous efforts to put the ghost of our rugged past behind us, Ndigbo have eventually come to accept the metaphor of the broom. Individually, the various strands of a broom may be strong, but until they come together in one bunch, they cannot achieve a cleansing effect. That is why I am happy that the basic thrusts of this forum are twofold – Igbo Unity and Igbo Economic Development. We must unite as a people to build an economy. I have repeatedly harped on these themes from the day of my inauguration to my recent address at the World Igbo Congress in New York. And a few days ago, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, delivered a compelling lecture as part of our 25th Anniversary events under a similar theme --- Aku lue Uno.
I consider it an irony that Ndigbo have steadily cried out about the marginalization of Igboland for four decades but have individually contributed significantly to the development of almost every part of Nigeria. I am deeply convinced that if we redirect our thoughts and energies homewards, we shall wipe out the absence of infrastructure which we cry about and build a prosperous homeland for ourselves and for generations to come. This generation owes it to itself to lay a solid foundation that will take away the chants of marginalization from the lips of our children. We have a responsibility to reject the current stigma of backwardness that we seem to have accepted with our disregard of our homeland as a viable investment and economic destination. Umu nnem, the time to change our story is now!
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that we have since moved beyond that rhetoric in Anambra State. We have started to give shape and form to the idea in Anambra State. Our intense crackdown on crime and criminals in Anambra State which we later turned into a regional campaign when we hosted the Regional Security Summit for South East and Delta marked the very beginning of this idea. Our committed drive for investment is also a major part of it. In fact, the secret of our success in our drive for investment lies in our ability to attract Anambra’s numerous illustrious sons and daughters to invest in their home state. Indeed, it is truthful to say that the principle of Ka anyi dozie ana Igbo has long been adopted in Anambra State. We have set up a proper institutional structure that facilitates the process of establishing a business in Anambra State in record time. The Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), makes it very easy to acquire a piece of land and process the necessary papers in a short period of time. My Economic Blueprint also offers a useful guide on the lucrative sectors where any wise businessman can put down his investment. The Four Pillars of Development is a clear guide into the heartbeat of the economy of Anambra State. This helps a prospective investor to understand the basic offerings of the investment environment and make a quick decision on what to do.
My brothers, I have already made my position clear on what we should do to lay a good economic foundation for the South East region. I did that much in my address at the World Igbo Congress. Most of my suggestions agree with your plans to set up strategic committees that will look at how best to approach the development of a Dry Port, build a railway that will link up major cities in the region and then set up a thriving pharmaceutical manufacturing sub-sector among many other ideas.
However, I would like to add that there is a need to close the gap between the Igbo political class and the Igbo business class and the Igbo intellectual class. These three groups must work in tandem with each other to accelerate the wheels of progress in Igboland. This, I recall, was part of the secret that made Ndigbo survive 30 difficult months; from 1967 to 1970. For Igboland to stand tall again, these three segments of society must come together in a perfect harmony.
Happily, Ohaneze is in a great position to lead this charge. So, I would urge you to take up the responsibility of wielding all these strata of our society together for our common objective. Happily, it is not such a difficult challenge to take up considering that there is a clear arrangement already as can be seen in the existence of groups like Aka Ikenga, Otu Okaiwu Igbo, Ndigbo Lagos, World Igbo Congress and the various Diaspora bodies, professional associations, town unions, churches, market associations, chambers of commerce and so on.
Umunnem, as I prepare to take my seat, I wish to remind you that we are on the right path of history. It takes a few determined and perceptive men to change the world. Jesus Christ did it with only 12. Ndigbo have everything that is needed in both human and material resources to change the history of Igboland and turn it into a land of glory. Ohaneze has a catalysing role to play in this regard.
At the moment, all eyes are on the Igbo political leaders, the Igbo business leaders and the Igbo intelligentsia, to forge a common tie that will make this dream a reality.
Ohaneze kwenu! Kwenu!! Kwezuenu o!!!

Willie Obiano

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