Today, Chief Willie Obiano of Anambra State marks his fifth years in office. The state will on this date celebrate five years in office as Governor of Anambra State. The Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, chronicles the major highpoints of the five years in an interview with EZEDINUGWU NKIRUKA. Excerpts:
WHAT are the highpoints of Gov. Willie Obiano’s five years in office?
The highpoints are too numerous that one may not have time to discuss all of them. One, making Anambra the most competitive state in Nigeria. Under his leadership, Anambra has achieved excellence in various fields and in all the sectors, education, security, agriculture, road network, child immunization, payment of salaries, workers welfare, and so on and so forth. I have only mentioned areas where we have consistently taken the first position, where we scored first, even at the international level.
Under his leadership, five children from Anambra State participated in a global context in the application of ICT, in solving serious social and global issues and came first. On Thursday, August 9, last year 2018, the students of Regina Paccis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, represented Nigeria and Africa in the 2018 World Techno versio competition and took the first position, beating participants from the United States of America and other nations, right in Sillicon Valley, which is the headquarters and global source of ICT development.
Again, Anambra is the safest state, the most peaceful and most socially harmonious state in Nigeria. To understand the importance of this achievement, we have to compare the situation before His Excellency took over. Six years ago, the state was practically overrun by kidnappers and other violent criminals like armed robbers. Some people who were kidnapped six years ago or thereabout have not been found till this day, including the traditional ruler of Ihembosi, in Ekwusigo Local Government Area. Sir G.U. Okeke (founder and Chairman of G.U. O. Motors) was kidnapped.
Some people ran away from our state, taking out their businesses from Anambra to other states. My own friend, Sir Elvis Emecheta took his manufacturing business from Abatete to Abuja for fear of kidnappers. The economy was collapsing. Our people even began to do things we considered impossible few years ago.
My own uncle, a high chief in Ihiala, performed the traditional marriage of his daughter in Lagos. But today, Anambra State even has a vibrant night life and night clubs all over the place. People don’t even remember the kidnappers anymore. That’s how safe Anambra is today.
Today also, Anambra is peaceful. Some years ago, a sitting governor was abducted by members of his political party and then taken to Okija shrine in the dead of the night because of a mere political disagreement. Also at that time, there was a four days of mayhem, arson, burning, lawlessness and destruction in 2004. ABS, Ikenga Hotel, Government House, Awka, Governors Lodge, Onitsha, the Judiciary Headquarters here in Awka were all destroyed. Today, Anambra State is peaceful.
About social harmony, there is a high sense of solidarity and camaraderic. It was not like this before. I will give you an instance, on March, 17, 2018, the governor was inaugurated for his second term. The VIP stand was occupied mostly by members of opposition parties.
Senator Ben Obi, who used to be the National Secretary of PDP was there, Senator Uche Ekwunife who was then in APC but now in PDP was there, Senator Andy Uba of APC was there. I can go on and on. Even some of the candidates who ran against the governor were there. An example, Godwin Ezemo who was the PPA gubernatorial candidate was there in solidarity the day the governor was inaugurated, there is no other state in Nigeria something like this has happened.
Again, I will give you another example of what I mean by social harmony, powerful sense of solidarity, camaraderic, togetherness, and oneness. One of the people who ran against the governor in that election was Mrs Chidi Onyemelukwe, the first daughter of the late Dr Alex Ekwueme who was in PDP. Ekwueme as we know is one of the founding members of PDP, His own daughter was a deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in the November 18, 2017 election. She ran against Willie Obiano.
Two days after the election, Dr Ekwueme died, yet it was Governor Obiano who led for seven days, Ekwueme’s burial and funeral and gave him state burial, no bitterness. Have you seen what I mean by solidarity? Tell me any other state that can happen.
In education, last December, just three months ago, Anambra became the first state in Nigeria’s history to win the president’s school debate competition for four straight years. In 2017, Lorreto Special Science School, Adazi won the first prize in Performance Evaluation of Secondary Schools all over Nigeria, conducted by Federal Ministry of Education.
In the Junior Secondary School Category, the first prize went to Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha. In the Teachers category, the first prize went to Clement Okondo of Abagana Central School in Njikoka Local Government Area. Just last September, the World Bank declared Anambra State, the best implementer of World Bank Assisted Projects in the whole of South South and South East.
The following day, Friday, September 26, the Federal Government of Nigeria described Anambra State as the best implementer of the Immunization Campaign in the whole country. Anambra’s prize was given to us by the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and assisted by the Minister of Health and it was collected on our behalf by our Deputy Governor, who was assisted by the Commissioner for Health.
Meanwhile, Anambra State receives one of the least financial allocations every month from the federation account. But we are the least indebted states in the whole country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Anambra State also has the lowest poverty index in the whole federation. Anambra’s economy has become the fourth largest in the whole country. The largest is Lagos, followed by FCT Abuja, followed by Rivers State and of course our dear Anambra. Anambra is also the only state that reviewed workers salaries upward in the last six years. Anambra is the only state that pays salaries latest by the 25 day of every month.
Anambra gives all her workers a bag of rice each at the end of every year, even if you are a sweeper, even if you are a part-time worker, you must receive your own. The state even gives to staff of federal agencies in the state like the NTA, Radio Nigeria, News Agency of Nigeria, and the rice we give is Anambra Rice, bye the way. Anambra will also be the first state to pay the new minimum wage which will increase our salary, our wage bill by N1.4 billion monthly.
Anambra is the only state to have increased rice production from 80,000 metric tons per annum to 444,000 metric tons per annum within just three years and we are going to increase it again by 100,000 metric tons in the nearest future. We could have achieved that already but for the flood that devastated our rice farms.
Bye the way, you may not know that the best brand of rice in Lagos is Lake Rice, which is a product of a joint venture between Lagos and Kebbi states is milled in Anambra State by Stines Milling Company in Amichi, Nnewi South Local Government Area. The rice even though looks like imported rice because of the quality, is more affordable and still meets international standard. So Anambra occupies a critical position in the rice value chain in Nigeria.
Sir, what do you think led to the resounding victory of APGA in the just concluded general elections and what are the people of the state to expect thereafter?
Well, I have more or less answered this question. But let me include that it is because of the state government’s record in grassroots development, as I have just given you the list.
The summary is that APGA is the foremost development-oriented political party in Nigeria. APGA focuses on development more than any other thing.
The other parties are concerned with power for its own sake; power for private gains and not for the good of the larger society — but exercising power and manipulating primordial cleavages in Nigeria. APGA has the kind of ideology practiced in South Asia called ‘developmentalism’, otherwise called developmental-state ideology. That is what really helped APGA to win.
The people should be expecting a more re-invigorated administration with more commitment, more dedication and of course more development.
Sir what are the main legacies of Governor Obiano?
His legacies are the same as all these developmental strides mentioned earlier.