Sunday, 26 March 2017

‘Why we took Anambra compendium to IBB’

Chief Emeka Okonkwo, editor-in-Chief of Anambra, Light of the Nation, A Compendium, which documents the history of the state in pictures, speaks in this interview on the project as well as why former military president Gen Ibrahim Babangida had to pen the book’s foreword. Excerpts:

Why is it important for Anambra State to document its history now?

As we all know, a people without history lack identity. It is important for us in Anambra to know who we are, where we are coming from and the achievements our people have recorded both at home and in the diaspora. It is disheartening to observe that we don’t have a detailed information bank of Anambra State and its people. That was what we noticed when we were working on the Anambra @ 25 events and we now made a proposal to the state government in order to produce this compendium, in which  we will have a comprehensive history of Anambra, its people, culture and rich tourism potentials in pictures, with little prose that will make it reader- friendly. This is not just for today, but a material for posterity.

Is this a project of the ruling APGA government?

This project is for Anambra State people irrespective of political parties. I want to appreciate His Excellency Governor Willie Obiano, who has not only detached the party from the project but also given the editorial team of the compendium the needed independence to collate and put together the information in the book. The government is only a catalyst by giving the book an official seal. Government is not paying for the production of this book and doesn’t dictate its content or interfere on the professional work the editorial team is doing. This is a project of Ndi Anambra. This has nothing to do with politics.
The compendium has a dedicated section on tourism. Of what importance is this to the state?
Tourism is a hugely untapped potential revenue earner, especially in this era of diversification. As you know, Anambra has rich natural tourism endowments. Look at the Agulu Lake with its famed crocodiles. See the beautiful scenery of the waterfalls at Owerri Nzukalla, or the Ogbunike Cave and several others. So, we decided to tailor our 25th anniversary programmes to draw attention to these God-given tourism sites in order to draw attention of the people  to them so as to possibly kickstart the tourism business in the state as an alternative revenue earner, just like they do in Cross River state with the Calabar carnival which comes every Christmas.

What is your take on the assertion that tourism cannot thrive in an environment that lacks security?

In Anambra State we have attained almost a perfect, secure environment. Over time our leaders have tried to address the problem of security in the state. Former Governor Mbadinuju started it, although not perfect. Former Governor Peter Obi took it from there and did some good job but the current governor, Obiano, has shown unequal passion and commitment in fighting crime and criminality in the state. Today, Anambra is rated as one of the best states, security-wise. This in itself should encourage tourism in the state and also engender development. That was even why we had a four-month anniversary celebration programme without fear. And to the glory of God we didn’t witness any ugly incident of armed robbery or kidnapping throughout the events. That is a testimony to the fact that Anambra is now very safe. Anambra is ripe for tourism.

What informed the decision to have the former President Ibrahim Babangida to do a forward of the book?

President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida created Anambra 25 years ago out of the old Anambra state, which had Anambra, Enugu and part of Ebonyi states. So, in doing this compendium, we thought it wise to seek him out to contribute to this historic book by way of writing its foreword. We reasoned that it will be interesting to find out the reason why his government took the decision to create Anambra state. We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to find out from the elder statesman if his vision for creating Anambra state has been met. Therefore, I think there is no other person more suited to do the foreword than Babangida. And in his words, when we visited him in Minna,”you guys are doing a very historic work, I’m willing to be part of it.” We thank him for graciously accepting to be part of this project. And we are excited about it.

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