AFTER his election in November, 2013, Governor Willie Obiano made a pronouncement that he would do everything in his powers to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state. Delivering his inaugural speech on March 17, 2014, entitled, “Expanding the Frontier of Excellence’, Governor Obiano unfolded his administration’s four pillars of development, anchored on mechanised agriculture, oil and gas, trade and commerce as well as industrialisation, with their 12 enablers. Six years into his administration’s eight–year term, one is not left in doubt that the governor did not just utter those words as mere political statements but that he knew exactly what he wanted for the state from the onset.
In his quest to make Anambra State the authentic hub for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria, he established Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA), to fraternise with local, national and international financial institutions like the World Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide single digit interest funding for Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs). It also has the mandate to carry out capacity building through training and provide necessary advice for the empowerment and development of ndi Anambra.
Thus, the agency started by providing single digit loan totaling N1b loan from CBN accessible by SMEs in Anambra State which requirements included: proper registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); financial statement and proper collaterals.
Various artisans, cottage industries and market women were able to upgrade their businesses through the disbursement of N1bn Micro-credit facility from CBN which focused on 60% women and 40% men. The interest was 9% per annum or three-quarter percent monthly
In 2014, Governor Obiano presented the State Strategic Economic Blueprint, a multi-sectorial master plan aimed at transforming the state. The economic blueprint with its major objectives such as; job creation, economic growth as well as the urbanisation of the state can only be achieved mainly through an aggressive investment drive, hence, the establishment of state investment hub- Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), aimed at attracting investors to the state.
The agency, having been signed into law as the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Law 2014, swung into action of protecting, promoting, monitoring, coordinating and providing assistance to potential investors to Anambra State.
However, the agency has achieved an unprecedented success as it attracted indigenous, domestic and foreign investment to the state, thereby promoting the governor’s ‘Akulueuno’ philosophy. Standing as a catalyst for business, billions of US dollars worth of investments has been attracted to the state. Among the investments is Stanel World, a state of the art ultra-modern luxury centre which is a one stop mega business center in Awka.
While commissioning the Stanel group in 2017, Gov. Obiano thanked the Chairman of Stanel Group for coming home to put Anambra on the path of development and assured him and other investors of enabling business environment in the state throughout his tenure.
The governor commended the investor, Stanley Uzochukwu for the giant strides to have acquired Chicken Republic franchise in the entire South East Region and for employing over 700 youths before the takeoff of what he described as the first to none mega complex where everything is available.
Recall that the Stanel group was established in Jos, Plateau State, but in pursuance of the governor’s ‘Akulueuno’ philosophy, he appealed to Mr. Uzochukwu to replicate such investment facility in Anambra for the benefit of ndi Anambra and to boost the economy of the state.
While making his opening speech, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Stanel Group, Stanley Uzochukwu expressed gratitude for the opportunity accorded him to invest in the state. He however, disclosed that similar investments currently exist in Jos, Plateau State, Suleja, Niger State and other states.
According to Mr. Uzochukwu, “history is replete in Anambra State as Stanel Group is also unveiling its high quality products such as Stanel Tyres, Stanel Engine Oil, Stanel Gas Cylinders, among others. He therefore enjoined Nigerians to imbibe the culture of patronising made in Nigeria products, for that is the only way to grow the economy and make Nigeria great.” He further disclosed that his group has built the best and biggest Chicken Republic store, big Farmers’ Market with standby home delivery vehicles, French Bakery, pharmacy store, automated car maintenance center, car wash, 1000 sitters capacity chapel, warehouse, supermarket, staff quarters, among other facilities.
In 2018, the state recorded another feat in indigenous investment as a global agro-business outlet known as Olams Company (Crown Flour Mill), situated in Awka, owned by Mr. Emeka Christian Emeka came on board.
Inaugurating the outlet, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the governor on Fishery, Emeka Iloghalu said the establishment was a welcome development in line with the governor’s ‘Akulueuno’ investment philosophy.
“This kind of gesture and `think home philosophy’ of our governor is what Emeka and his wife, Mrs Ngozi Emeka have heeded to and we want others to emulate them,” he said.
In further response to the Akulueuno clarion call of the governor, a United States based indigene of Ukpo, Dunukofia LGA, Tony Adibeh built a world-class students hostel, “Royale Garden Hostel Complex,” at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam Campus.
The Ultramodern hostel built on 70 plots of land has 285 well furnished rooms with gymnasium, restaurant, multipurpose hall, with 200 capacity shopping mall, business centre equipped with 30 computer sets for students’ use.
The hostel equally contains pharmacy, barbing salon, hair dressing salon, maintenance yard, two borehole facilities, and uninterrupted power supply with 250kv standby power generating sets, as well as Sola system.
Other investments attracted under Obiano’s administration included; Songhai farms, Lynden farms, Coscharis farms, Joseph Agro, the Stine Farms, among others.
In addition, the governor inaugurated a committee to strategize and come up with a 50-year development plan for the state. The committee which is headed by a former Central Bank Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo was upon inauguration charged to craft a 50-year development plan that will ensure development in the state by the year 2070.
Governor Obiano maintained that the effort falls in line with his administration’s determination to seek for workable solutions that will project the state to limelight and ameliorate the sufferings of ndi Anambra.
He however, called on the committee to educe a vision and mission statement for the state, pointing out specific sectors that the state should focus on, develop measurement frameworks and determine critical milestones and success factors.
Reacting to the charge, the chairman of the committee, Prof Chukwuma Soludo expressed delight and commitment toward building the plan. He promised to work hard to ensure an expansive participatory process, which would create a sense of ownership of the plan for indigenes of the state.
Obiano had in 2017, launched the Umueri Cargo Airport Project in Anambra East LGA, which he said would be developed on 1500-acres of land and would feature two runways, aviation fuel facility, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre.
More over, in 2020 budget, Anambra State Government set aside the sum of N6 billion for the construction of the Cargo Airport to forestall delay in the project and ensure delivery at the stipulated period.
More so the governor’s concern to offer quality medical services to ndi Anambra at a reduced cost brought about the establishment of Anambra Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA). The agency, established under the state Health Insurance Scheme Law 2016, aims to provide mandatory health insurance which enables the insured persons benefit from the prescribed good, quality and cost effective health services in Anambra State.
As at January, 2020, about 80,000 residents of the state have been enrolled into the scheme while 263 health facilities are implementing the scheme in the state. Even though the governor, while inaugurating the scheme, described the plan as a visionary policy tailored towards transforming the health sector in the area, the scheme has proven to be a way of making the people to jettison the age long habit or practice of embarking in self medication and patronising quacks. This is because it is so cheap that with N1000 a month or N12, 000 a year, one can go to access quality treatment for any ailment in the health facilities under the scheme.
Having achieved these unprecedented feats and many more in different sectors using his four pillars of development and their enablers in six years, Governor Obiano has proven that democracy is all about the dividends getting to the populace. With these and such projects like good roads, lighting projects, security, payment of salaries, the governor has not only written his name in gold but laid growth- sustaining foundations that cannot be ignored by his successors for further development of the state.