Monday, 27 March 2017

Ensuring sustainable development in Anambra

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

AS political activities begin to gather momentum in Anambra State, the citizens will be confronted with another opportunity to evaluate the incumbent administration along with other contenders for the coveted office of the state governor.
In doing so, the people are bound to reflect on the state’s development trajectory. What readily comes to the mind of an average Anambra person is the maladministration and perversion of sacred Igbo values witnessed under the People’s Democratic Party era. Government, which ought to serve the overall interest and general good of all, was reduced to a personal fiefdom, and the state’s allocation and revenues were shared among friends and political acolytes.
Anambra was always in the news for the wrong reasons, to the extent that our state legislators relocated to Asaba, Delta State, while impeachment and brigandage became the order of the day. What a shame!
The question is, do we return to the inglorious past or do we continue on the development trajectory and visible record of achievements under the APGA administration of Governor Willie Obiano? As the popular saying goes “the taste of the pudding is in the eating”,  and what this presupposes is that we have to take a hard look at the milestones already attained under the Willie Obiano administration which so many credible voices like the former Central Bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, have already acknowledged.
The third anniversary of the Obiano administration provided me an opportunity to physically witness the development strides in the state. One noticeable sign that things are looking up is that Anambra State has become one huge construction arena with over 1,000 structures going on simultaneously. This is an indication of how solvent the state has become over the last three years.
Realizing the need to reposition the state from a consumer economy, the governor, who is a banker and an administrator,  chose the path of industrial and agricultural development. The resultant effect is the influx of numerous investors, agricultural companies, real estate developers among many others.
Currenly,  Anambra is famous for being the hotbed of agricultural revolution in Nigeria, and this feat was accomplished through a methodical approach adopted by the state government. For example, the State Ministry of Agriculture has put in place a data collection mechanism aimed at having a register of farmers, types of crops they cultivate, contacts and other demographic data. To enable the farmers function seamlessly and more productively, the state government has also organized them into cooperative societies and with this arrangement they are able to access funds, share useful information and have opportunity of networking.
It was also discovered through a demographic grouping that about 56.6% of Anambra State farmers are females, while the remaining 43.3% are males. Similarly by conducting a scientific survey, it was discovered that farmers in the state are mostly elderly people, and several measures are being put in place to redress this imbalance to avoid creating a vacuum in the future. Progress is also being witnessed in the area of roads infrastructure. Currently, strategic roads are being constructed in the three senatorial zones of Anambra State with a view to making the state accessible from different directions. This measure will greatly reduce the traffic congestion that is commonplace during festive periods.
The governor is investing in roads that can open up the state economically and industrially. For example, the 62 kilometer Onitsha-Atani-Ogwuikpele road started under the Obi administration is being completed by the Obiano administration to link Anambra with Rivers State. This particular road will serve as corridor for exchange of goods and services between both states. Again the administration is making deliberate efforts to create an enabling environment for the oil-rich region of the north senatorial zone to boom. Some of the measures include construction of strategic roads and bridges. It must be noted that the Anambra North senatorial zone also serves as the agricultural belt of the state, hence the justification for the attention being paid to the zone.
The state has also  set up the Anambra State Investment, Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). This is a one-stop service centre as all requirements for serious investments are taking in one board room. The unnecessary bottlenecks associated with establishing industries or other huge investments have been removed. The agency also drives the state’s public private partnerships and has so far attracted over Five Billion Dollars’ worth of investments to the state. So far, ANSIPPA has successfully entered into agreements with forty investors and signed memorandum of understanding with thirty four companies.
It is worthy of note that  the governor has encapsulated his vision for the state in what is usually referred to as enablers. The enablers include agriculture, oil and gas, trade and commerce, industries and logistics. In order to stimulate the economy of the state, he set up the Anambra Small Business Agency. As an agency backed by law it has the mandate to support small businesses in the state.
For instance, a 1000 stalls leather market is being constructed at Nkwelle Ezunaka to enable the traders become more coordinated and get more value for their trade and skills. This shoe-making cluster is being done in conjunction with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). The reason behind this collaboration is to ensure that shoes produced in the cluster meet international standard and become competitive.

Enekwechi writes from Nise, Awka South LGA of Anambra State

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