From Maureen Ikpeama
TODAY, we celebrate the birthday of the executive governor of Anambra State, Dr Willie Obiano.. On August 8, 1957, precisely, in Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State,this promising man was born.
On assumption of office, Willie set the drum of his vision for Anambra State rolling. He embarked on so many projects cutting across infrastructural development , security, agriculture, among others.
Determined to make Anambra State an investment hub in South East, Nigeria, Governor Willie Obiano wooed both local and foreign investors into the state. He had Four pillars of Economic development. Investment in the Oil and Gas sector is one of the four pillars of economic development of Governor Willie Obiano ‘s administration.
In one of his official trips to the United States of America, Governor Obiano made efforts to woo prospective investors who participated in the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, United States of America to Anambra State. He also held discussions with prospective investors and technical partners of the proposed International Cargo Airport at Umueri.
It is good to note that the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) which commenced since May 4, 2015, is sponsored by 13 industrial organizations and societies and work cooperatively to develop the technical programs is where energy professionals meet to exchange ideas and opinions to advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters. Founded in 1969, OTC’s flagship conference is held annually at NRG Park (formerly Reliant Park) in Houston. OTC has expanded technically and globally with the Arctic Technology Conference, OTC Brasil, and OTC Asia.
Speaking on the benefit of the Conference, Governor Obiano said: “OTC presents us with a viable platform to engage with industry experts and hold further talks with the aim of converting prospective investors to active partners in the development of our immense Oil and Gas deposits in Anambra. The fact that Oil and Gas ranks second amongst our four Pillars of Development gives you an idea about the importance we attach to the realization of our set goals in the sector.
The governor pointed out that having been an active player in the sector, he was ” leveraging some of the contacts to ensure we get the best to come and join us in developing our Oil and Gas deposits in a viable and eco-friendly way.”
Governor Obiano’s decision to attract foreign investors to develop the oil and gas deposit in Anambra was not out of place. Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels and 30 trillion cubic feet of oil and gas, most of which are relatively unexploited.” Our objective is to have a fully developed and self-sufficient Oil and Gas sector in Anambra State by 2018. We intend to achieve this through three broad areas of intervention – policy formulation and infrastructure development, private sector participation and community re-orientation”, he said.
Some programmes were put in place in support of Anambra State’s Oil and Gas ambition. Some of the programmes included investment in infrastructure , construction of access roads and bridges to the oil-fields in Aguleri and revalidation of license to build an international cargo airport in Umueri, among others.
He stressed that the economic importance of the proposed airport is hinged on plans to pipe ATK (aviation fuel) from the Orient Petroleum Refinery in Aguleri to the Airport where a storage facility will be built for it in order to serve as a major hub for the re-fueling of international flights in West Africa.
Governor Obiano threw more light on previous partnership the state has entered with UD Integrated Petroleum Production Development Company, UDIPPCO, and Falcon Corporation Limited towards investing in the development of the gas-to-power initiative in the state.
Said he: “UDIPPCO will develop a central gas processing facility, which will produce lean gas that will serve as feedstock for various gas utilization projects, including an 80MW power plant; and subsequently, a urea/fertilizer plant, and a methanol plant. Similarly, Falcon Corporation plans to pipe Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas across three strategic locations in the state to facilitate the transportation of natural gas across the state.
Recall that on inception of office, Governor Obiano introduced the Four Pillars of Development which drives the Economic Agenda of the Obiano administration. They include Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade & Commerce and Oil and Gas (AITO). The Four Pillars are firmly supported by the twelve Enablers, which support efforts to develop the Pillars. The Enablers are made up of fundamentals like Security, Education, Healthcare, Power Generation, Environment, Finance, Social & Civil Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Hospitality & Tourism, Transportation, Water & Sanitation and Youth and Sports.
Governor Obiano has also continued to urge the international business community and Nigerians in the Diaspora who wish to invest in the state to take advantage of the one stop agency, the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) to make such investments without the rigmarole of dealing with multiple, incoherent agencies and offices.
On agriculture, Governor Obiano has done a lot with both local and foreign investors. In partnership with Triton Aqua Africa Ltd., Alluvial Farm Nigeria Ltd., and Choice International Group, his administration attracted a sum of N60 billion investment for establishment of 4,000 hectares of Commercial Agriculture Project.
Also, recall that during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Governor Obiano said that Anambra State, under his administration, had promoted agricultural production to strengthen the economy and create food sufficiency for the state. The governor disclosed that he had invested not less than N2 billion in supporting farmers and that Anambra has 500 registered cooperatives that had commenced recruitment of youths in various segments of the economy.
The governor ‘s quest to promote agriculture in Anambra State was not just to enhance food production but it was an avenue to create more jobs and add to youth empowerment. In his words, ” We have started recruitment of youths, especially in agriculture to give them basic rudimentary training in agriculture. Before my administration, the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of the state was 1.8 trillion, but currently, it has grown to N3.9 trillion.”
Governor Obiano ‘s journey with foreign investors and Anambra State in the area of agriculture, commerce and industry paid -off . With sense of pride and humility, Governor Obiano made it known that the GDP of Anambra State had grown, saying, “From records, my administration has contributed N200 trillion to growth, making it N300 trillion.”
An activist, Comrade Arinze Awogu rightly observed in one of the interviews he granted to a print medium that ,”The story of Anambra state has long changed since the inception of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration with the provision of effective security of lives and property to the people of the state, attracting investments worth over 4 billion US dollars, renovation of our schools and improving the standards of education in the state, prompt payment of workers’ salaries and increasing same, not minding the economic challenges, infrastructural development, prudent management of resources and achievement of maximum output with minimum input – a product of Gov. Obiano’s doctrine of “doing more with less.”
He went further to note that, “Road infrastructure and beautification of our cities are visible effects of Willie Obiano’s sterling achievements. Everywhere in Anambra state is lit up in ecstasy; from Awka to Onitsha to Nnewi and others, the skyline is lit up in rapture”.
Nwogu emphasised that ,”Governor Willie Obiano is running riot with massive road construction in the hinterlands. There is the provision of N40m to each of the 181 communities to execute whichever project that suits them. Our markets are wearing new look because of the infrastructure the governor is putting in all the markets in the state. Our hospitals are refurbished and made functional. Ambulances and fire trucks are common sights in the state now for rapid response to emergencies.”
Foreign investors ‘ partnership with Anambra State in the area of Commerce and Industry yielded positive result also. Awogu noted that, “Hospitality industry is booming in Anambra State and people now have longer hours to do their businesses owing to adequate security and availability of street lighting system. We can only but ask Governor Willie Obiano to keep doing the good work.”
“Governor Willie Obiano has spun the nylon yarn, he has reserved no ounce of energy in replicating the famous Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew’s Midas touch in Anambra State; Awka is now a world class city from a glorified capital it used to be before , Awogu stated.
In his first tenure, Obiano promised to attract foreign investors that will support the state in infrastructural development, construction of Airport , Flyover among others. At the flag-off of the Cargo airport in Umuleri, the governor said, “Against all expectations and at a time of great economic recession, we have established our beloved state as a compelling investment destination and attracted investments valued at over 5 billion US Dollars.”
Governor Obiano further said, “And with this airport city project, the figure now stands at 7.2 billion US Dollars. We have also successfully placed Anambra on the agricultural map and blazed a trail with the exportation of our farm produce to the UK.”
No doubt, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has re-engineered the social architecture of the state, re-awakened self-belief among the people and provoked their can-do spirit. Obiano ‘s trips abroad, wooing foreign investors were of great benefit to Anambra State. Today, Anambra is not just a business hub of the south east but a little heaven in the zone.
From Maureen Ikpeama