WITHOUT exaggeration. One can affirm that the incumbent administration in Anambra State under Governor Willie Obiano, since its assumption of office on 17th March, 2014, has continued to pilot the affairs of the state very efficiently, selflessly, transparently and prudentially.
Indeed, Governor Obiano has impressively continued to implement his campaign promises through proper and dogged execution of the multi-faceted people-oriented policies and programmes whose welfare and living standards incontrovertibly rank topmost in the priority of the present state government to the admiration and commendation by the visibly excited generality of peace-loving and development-conscious Ndi Anambra, both at home and in the Diaspora.
Governor Obiano apparently made a covenant with Anambra electorate soon on assumption of office through his bold declaration to anchor his blueprint on what he called the ‘Four Cs’ which he translated to ‘Continuation, Completion, Commission and Continue’ specifically with reference to inherited (on-going) and new projects.
So far, he has doggedly and meticulously kept faith with his avowed commitment and determination to take the ‘Light of the Nation’ to the next level and greater pedestal socio-politically, economically and otherwise, notwithstanding the lingering downturn and dwindling national resources trickling down to the state from the federation accounts allocation (FAC) in recent years, coincidentally, since the inception of Akpokudike’s era, but the man at the helm of affairs has proven his mettle as a thorough-bred manager of men and materials or lean resources. In other words, Governor Obiano has steadily demonstrated an uncanny knack for achieving so much with so little, which has now become the acronym of his administration.
It is noteworthy that the incumbent All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government in the state also introduced the famous ‘Pillars of Development’ anchored on Mechanised Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Oil and Gas and Industrialisation with a wide range of ‘Enablers’ to facilitate seamless achievement of the aforementioned pillars of development, which include but not limited to security, education, quality healthcare services, water and sanitation, etc.
These array of well-articulated policy thrusts and economic blueprint made possible by the visionary leadership of Governor Obiano, have invariably collectively contributed to the success story of the present dispensation in the state. There is no gainsaying that Anambra State has recorded an unprecedented quantum leap in all ramifications within the past six years under the stewardship of Akpokuedike’s administration. He has convincingly laid a very solid foundation for greater future of the state and her citizenry.
Apart from the egalitarian and transparent manner of implementation of his electioneering manifestoes for the betterment of the populace, the governor has by far exceeded the expectations of the electorate (and even the most gullible doubting Thomas in our midst) by relentlessly continuing to pursue the onerous goal of making Anambra the safest, most competitive and first choice destination point for local and foreign investors amongst the 36 states in the federation. The governor’s foresight and highly commendable innovative initiatives have invariably resulted in the current widespread rapid grassroots’ development and infrastructural transformation now taking place in all nooks and crannies of the state.
From the onset, Governor Obiano cut a very distinctive niche for himself through a paradigm shift from the insensitive and lackadaisical styles of the past dispensations which merely concentrated on building strong individuals who acted as demigods and godfathers, pompously lording over the hapless masses.
But, Governor Obiano has rather swiftly and successfully established various strong platforms, institutions and fundamental springboards to fast track the actualisation of his master-plan of lifting up the state and Ndi Anambra to greater height, such as the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), Anambra State Community and Social Development Agency (ANSCSDA), Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) and the recently inaugurated Anambra State Vision 2070 Economic Advisory and Development Team, headed by Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with its expert membership cutting across vast divergent fields of human endeavor, who are saddled with the onerous responsibility to fashion the master-plan for far-reaching 50-years development strategies for the state.
The motive behind this Soludo-led ‘think tank’ revolves around the governor’s desire to set in motion a systematic and strategic road map for the journey of the state and Ndi Anambra to the Promised Land within the next 50 years, which none of his predecessors deemed expedient and necessary to venture into over the years since the creation of the new Anambra State almost 29 years ago. Governor Obiano has convincingly demonstrated his resolute commitment and indomitable zeal to uplift the state through meticulous execution of his campaign promises beyond any reasonable doubt, applying his Midas’ touch simultaneously in all sectors of the state’s economy.
Indeed, Anambra State under Governor Obiano’s watch has greatly expanded its agricultural prospects with the bumper harvest of over 425,000 metric tons of rice, in 2019, from paltry 80,000mt maximum output in 2014, when he took over power. The same sharp increases were also recorded in livestock production, fishery, piggery and other spheres agriculture. In the coming 2020 farming season, the state government plans to disburse N3.5 billion sourced from the World Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to women and youth cooperative societies, while gigantic fish ponds are to be set up soon for clusters of 1,000 fish farmers in each of the three senatorial zones of the state.
Without security, no society can boast of any socio-economic stability and meaningful development, whatsoever. It is therefore, quite commendable and amazing that Anambra State which hitherto suffered mercilessly in the hands of violent criminals like armed robbers, kidnappers, human traffickers, vehicle snatchers, cultists, fraudsters and hostile ‘gentlemen’ of the highways, who were unleashing atrocious onslaught on the hapless citizens which sadly scared away potential investors and even demoralised well-meaning indigenes and investors from visiting the state under the previous successive administrations over the past years (commonly referred to as “the years of the locusts”), now stands out as the safest, most viable and first choice location for local and foreign investors throughout the country is a clear testimony of the efficacious security structure perfected by Akpokuedike’s administration.
Soon after mounting the leadership saddle, Governor Obiano introduced his famous ‘Operation Kpochapu’ (Operation Wipe Out) to effectively combat the underworld elements, which he had also launched its second phase with the distribution of an intimidating array of modern sophisticated security patrol vehicles, crime detection and prevention equipment which the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, described as the first of its kind in the country and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The anti-crime campaign precipitated a functional synergy among all the existing security agencies in the state to join hands together in the fight against crime, including the Nigeria Police, Army, Navy, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), etc. working collaboratively with the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) to ensure maximum safety of lives and properties in the state which has been yielding huge and inestimable dividends.
Infrastructural development of the 179 communities in the 21 local government areas of the state has immensely received unprecedented priority under the present state government through the inception of the ‘Community Choose Your Project’ (CCYP) initiative by the Obiano administration whereby the government has so far disbursed N40 million to each of the communities throughout the state to execute any project of their choice according to the pressing needs and desires of the people. Over N8 billion had so far been evenly disbursed by the state government under the first and second phases of the CCYP initiative.
As you read this piece, funds have already been set aside for the commencement of the third phase of the unprecedented grassroots’ emancipation strategy, made possible by Akpokuedike’s magical managerial financial jurisprudence; as not every governor in this generation and corruption-ridden political system, will muster such courage and political will to enforce such capital intensive egalitarian distribution of much-needed dividends of democracy in a similar manner like Governor Obiano, with the sole aim of improving the living standards of the masses, especially the rural-dwellers in the hinterlands.
Similarly, Governor Obiano’s masterful strides can be visibly seen and felt in the attraction of direct investments in the industrial sector with the massive influx of investments estimated at over five billion American dollars (US $5bn), as the mechanized sprawling rice fields in Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Oyi, Anambra East, Anambra West, Orumba South and Awka North LGAs with massive assistance by the state government through its agencies like the FADAMA and Value Chain Development platforms.
The very salutary consequences of these huge investments in modern agriculture had given birth to the popular brands of ‘Anambra Rice’ found in surplus supply in local markets around the country in recent years which also compete quite favourably with the foreign (imported) rice now banned by the federal government ostensibly to promote local rice production in pursuit of national food security by the present administration.
It is no longer news that Anambra State now exports agricultural produce including vegetables, fruits, yam tubers and cassava, etc, to the USA, Europe and West African countries, thereby creating huge opportunities for local farmers to generate foreign exchange for their economic empowerment and a better standard of living, as a result of the ongoing agricultural revolution being championed by the Obiano’s administration.
In the educational sector, the massive investment by the state government through the provision of necessary requirements and training programmes for teachers, backed with exciting incentives, had also continued to yield handsome dividends with series of national and international prizes and awards being won by Anambra students in various competitions since the Akpokuedike’s administration came on board. For instance, Anambra students emerged the champions at the World Technovation Competition held at the Silicon Valley, USA, where our students triumphed over stiff challenge from many so-called advanced countries like USA, Japan, England, China and Canada, etc, to win the coveted Gold Medal.
The state also achieved similar feat at the 2019 International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology, hosted by Tunisia, where Anambra students won a Bronze Medal, capped with the 2019 Presidential Debate at Abuja, where Anambra contingents dwarfed other states of the federation to win a record fourth consecutive time, and the array of enviable accolades won by the state under Obiano’s leadership actually stretches too long more than available space here can contain.
Governor Obiano equally scored another distinction in his ‘Operation Light-up Anambra State’ scheme by installing street lights in all the major cities and virtually throughout all the 179 communities across the 21 LGAs of the state which not only helped to reduce crime-wave but also immensely promoting night life activities and tourism in the state. To ensure the hitch-free operation of the street light project for maximum effects, the governor established an institutional framework purposely to maintain and coordinate the management of the network of electrification programme, particularly taking care of the refueling and servicing of the giant power generators procured by the state government to maintain the street lights and generators on daily basis because they are not connected to the national electricity grid. No doubt, only a seasoned, focused, prudent and responsible administrator can achieve such innovative feat and still keep the flag flying throughout the entire nooks and crannies of the state since the enforcement of the state-wide street light programme.
All these uncommon accomplishments and far-reaching policy thrusts by Governor Obiano have also encouraged Ndi Anambra within the country and overseas to flock homewards for the celebration of the Christmas and New Year festivities and other social events that made the last 2019 yuletide very exciting and unforgettable in the minds of the masses and equally endeared Governor Obiano to the generality of the citizenry and well-wishers of the state.
Likewise the transport sector, as the state government had swiftly fixed all the bad portions of public thoroughfares to facilitate easy traffic movement throughout the state. The governor had gone ahead to mobilise the contractors handling various ongoing road projects back to site immediately after the rainy season last year, with resultant accelerated tempo of construction works for timely completion and delivery of the roads within the stipulated deadline. Infact, the people of Anambra State have never had it as good as being experienced or witnessed now under the incumbent APGA administration.
The gigantic Umueri International Cargo Airport site, in Anambra East LGA, is bubbling actively with heavy-duty earth-moving machineries running all over the whole vicinity and engineering experts assiduously working round the clock to ensure quick completion of the project within schedule which is set for commissioning before the end of this year (2020), according to the expatriate Chinese conglomerate firm sponsoring the multi-billion-naira project in collaboration with the state government. When the chips are finally down, the Umueri Airport will stand out as an outstanding legacy flagship achievement made possible only by the Obiano’s administration to the admiration of the populace and envy of his political foes and critics, being the first of its kind in the entire South-East Geopolitical Zone.
When the Umueri International Cargo Airport hits the ground running, it would not only boost the economic fortunes of the state government and the entire Ndi Anambra, but will also catapult the status of the state to greater height as a major international gateway into the country; promote trade and commerce, tourism, communication and industrialization of the state, and equally generate massive employment opportunities for the jobless youths directly and indirectly through the value chain business activities associated with such gigantic ventures. The airport will surely engender the influx of foreign investments, international trade adventures by local businessmen and put the state on the global travelogue directory, while accelerating infrastructural development of the communities in Anambra East and other neighbouring LGAs including Ayamelum, Oyi, Awka North, Anambra West and generality of the state, and the nation at large.
The health sector is another area the Obiano’s administration has recorded tremendous landmark achievements with the inception of the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme with an agency (ASHIA) put in place to superintendent over the cheap, accessible and affordable healthcare delivery services to both the indigenes and residents of the state irrespective of ethnic, tribe, creed and linguistic and sectarian cleavages, as far as one can afford to subscribe with N1,000 (monthly) or N12,000 per annum for the scheme. Between September 2018, when the ASHIA was launched and now, over 81,000 people have enrolled in the ASHIA programme. Philanthropic individuals and top government functionaries have also generously sponsored thousands of their kith and kin to benefit from the scheme on proxy or adoption basis, with total cash inflow exceeding several millions of naira which made the Anambra model of the health insurance scheme the best and fastest growing system in the country.
Governor Obiano’s administration equally established the largest state-owned medical oxygen plant throughout the federation at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka, in addition to the upgrading and refurbishing of virtually all the existing Public Health Centres and other health facilities across the 179 communities in the 21 LGAs of the state.
Awka Capital City that used to be jocularly referred to as a ‘dignified local government headquarters’ has magnificently transformed into one of the fastest and rapidly developing state capitals, courtesy of Governor Obiano administration’s patriotic zeal to convert the ancient Blacksmith Kingdom into a modern 21st Century megacity to bequeath Ndi Anambra a befitting capital. This bold move by Akpokuedike which was heralded by the establishment of Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) marked a clear departure from the lackadaisical attitude and lip service paid to the critical issue of the development of the long-neglected capital metropolis by all his predecessors.
The ACTDA was specifically charged with the task of designing and supervising the development of the envisaged megacity out of the present amorphously developed capital city. Really, Governor Obiano tasked the Venerable Dr. Amaechi Okwuosa-led authority to aim at surpassing Paris and Dubai. The outfit had since settled down to work and the immediate results include the three magnificent flyovers at Amawbia Junction, Kwata Junction and Arroma Junction, both along Onitsha –Enugu Expressway, Awka; numerous housing estates replacing the vast jungles of AguAwka and other areas covered by the radius of the capital territory; ongoing construction of 10,000 sitting capacity International Conference Centre, at Agu Awka; the Three-Arm Zone to accommodate the permanent Government House/Governor’s Lodge Complex with Legislative Complex and Judiciary Headquarters, etc.
Pope Francis’ recent conferment of the highly esteemed and prestigious Grand Commander of the Papal Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (GKSG) on Governor Obiano signified global recognition, commensurate reward and befitting honour for the governor’s outstanding achievements as a great warrior, conqueror, passionate and empathetic leader worthy of emulation. Ndi Anambra obviously acknowledge and generally appreciate the yeoman leadership style of Akpokuedike, who they regard as a God-sent redeemer who has practically demonstrated deep commitment to uplift the state to the next level.
Above all, with the recent successful hosting of the 12th Nigeria Police Games, christened ‘Anambra 2020’ which featured over 15,000 sportsmen and women from the 12 zonal commands of the NPF and the force headquarters contesting in various games during the week-long sports festival, which was the first to be held in the South-East Geographical Region and adjudged the best since the inception of the games, Governor Obiano once again, proved that he is a man with large heart and the liver to deliver. Apart from the economic windfall of over N1.5 billion estimated capital inflow, the state would forever enjoy the modern state-of-the-art sporting facilities which will be used to groom budding young sports stars that will fly Anambra State flag in future national and international competitions.
Kudos to Akpokuedike and his hardworking wife, Chief Dr. Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), who also compliments the enviable strides of her husband in uplifting the people of the state through her Caring Family Enhancement (CAFE) Initiative, a non-governmental charitable organisation which has continued to render unquantifiable humanitarian services to the poor widows and vulnerable members of the society especially the mentally ill and people living with disabilities, who have been treated at the expense of the CAFÉ and reunited with their families over the years since the Obiano’s era.