“ANAMBRA is not an oil producing state, yet it does not take loans or owe workers salary. It has made the best improvements in education in the whole nation such that the state government even supports private schools financially.
A look at those states that thrive by depending solely on federal allocation reveals how broke, how debt ridden they are; their inability to access loans as a result of piled-ip-debts, as well as inability to pay worker’s salaries. But the stroy is different in Anambra. Anambra proves that True Federalism can work in Nigeria.”
The statement above was made by senator Ben Murray Bruce in 2016, a year that was not kind financially to Nigerians as it was the year recession was at its peak.
As we celebrate the governor of Anambra state Chief, Willie Obaino. We can also analyse and reminisce his work as a leader with vision.
Anambra State is known as a state of commerce. Towns and cities such as Onitsha, Nnewi, Nkpor, etc. are all an examples of that given fact. But even at that, Anambra used to be known for serious crimes such as kidnapping and armed robbery. In fact, the issue of kidnap was so bad that a former governor of Anambra State was abducted once upon a time.
But slowly, silently, progressively, Anambra State, under the leadership of Willie Obiano is being transformed into a metropolitan state.
One of the things that Willie Obaino has done is encouraging business to be registered or known or to have an identity on the internet, thereby promoting E-commerce, electronic banking and cashless policy. For example, over 289 hotels are registered online in Anambra state.
This means hotel rooms and services can be booked online. Not just that, one needs to ask the question, why hotels in Anambra state suddenly have an online activity and identity?
As a matter of fact, hotel.ng, a Nigerian recognized hotel booking agency, claims to list over 7,138 hotels from 320 cities in Nigeria and hotels from Anambra makes up 289. Another instance took place last year.
Through the Ministry of Lands, an exercise was conducted towards ascertaining the genuine plot owners and to determine the current status of every allottee. It also ensured that genuine plot owners receive the new digital Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
Another area Gov Willie has influenced is ‘night life’. One of the legitimate reasons why Lagos is considered a metropolitan state is because of her night activities, which promotes a two shift system in which some people work in the day time while others work at night.
And in the world of entertainment, night time is considerably the best time for such in hotels, beer parlours, award ceremonies, carols, etc. In order to achieve this, security must be guaranteed. Governor Willie Obaino has done a lot in installing street lights.
Already, over 100 kilometres of street lights have been installed in the three senatorial zones of the state and the governor however, promised to cover almost 44 kilometers with streetlights alone this year.
It was under Obaino’s administration that three flyovers were decorated with street lights in strategic places of the state capital which are Arroma, Amawbi, and UNIZIK junctions.
Another trademark of a metropolitan state is the ability to encourage and promote small scale businesses (SMEs) by making loans accessible or setting up seminars. It was under the administration of Willie Obaino that an agency, tagged Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA ) came up.
ASBA is the state’s special purpose economic vehicle charged with developing a framework for assessing the CBN MSME Development Fund and also creating other financial sources for the empowerment of micro, small and medium enterprises in Anambra State.
In addition, ASBA engages in entrepreneurship support services, business incubation services and business development advisory services. In other words, ASBA helps Anambra people to develop an idea about a business, offers necessary information about a proposed business, mentors start-up businesses, gives advice on financial management to business owners and offers funds in terms of loans to businesses in Anambra State.
In spite of the crushing economic recession bedeviling the country, Obiano’s ASBA has developed various sectors of the Anambra state economy. It has lent funds to and thus expanded the frontiers of agricultural value chain activities, leading to an unprecedented production of rice, vegetables, tomatoes, fish and other agricultural products in Anambra State.
ASBA funds too, have been deployed in the establishment and expansion of industries like the shoe and plastic industries, to mention but a few, as well as in the expansion of trade and commerce in the four commercial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia and their environs.
In more concrete terms, out of the N2billion CBN MSME development fund assessed by ASBA from the CBN, it has lent funding support to the tune of N1billion to small and medium industries, culminating in the establishment and/or expansion of innumerable small and medium enterprises at the four commercial cities of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia, as well as commercial rice farms across the state.
On youth development, the governor has encouraged various programmes and engagements amongst youths in the state ranging from ‘one youth, one skill initiative’ to Digi-prenneur hub.
Willie obaino is so youth and online oriented that he carved out an office for digi-preuneur, online platform meant to promote digital marketing, website designing and so on in 2018.
He appointed Ifeanyi Anagoh (Digipreneur Coach & Planning Strategist) as a special advicer to the office. Digipreneur has organised two seminars within the last two years.
Also, real estate businesses are now blossoming under the governor’s watch. It was under the governor’s administration that shopping malls came to limelight in Anambra State such as Shoprite Onitsha, Stanel, Roban Stores, Awka, amongst others.
No wonder Senator Ben Murray Bruce was forced to admit and sing praises of Anambra State, though the state is being governed by an opposition party.