One remarkable feature of this year’s anniversary of the creation of Anambra State is the encomiums galore trailing the event and its focus on Governor Obiano’s pragmatic leadership, his giant strides and innovations in governance. Chief C. U. Mbaji, Chairman and Managing Director, Lake Petroleum, in this discourse, highlights some of these developments and made an appraisal of Governor Obiano’s administration that earned him credit in this auspicious occasion. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:
ON HIS general perspective of Anambra State’s administration under Governor Obiano’s leadership.
Since Governor Obiano came on board in March, 2014, we’ve witnessed a plethora of developments in virtually all sectors of the state’s economy. Much progress has been recorded in security.
On the onset, the governor had set up various security committees- the joint security network comprising the army, the police, the navy, Civil Defence, the vigilante, and equipped them with the necessary tools to achieve results. Anambra was adjudged the most secured; the safest state not only in Nigeria but in the West African sub-region. He and his administration have received many awards both national and international that testify to this. We have serious security challenges across the nation but Anambra State has remained peaceful and tranquil. People are going about their normal businesses without fear of molestation. One striking feature of the general insecurity in the country today is the challenge posed by the cattle herders. Under this circumstance, we must take cognisance of the special committee the governor had earlier set up comprising the herdsmen and ndi Anambra; outlining the conditions both must abide by to make way for peace. I think the committee is working. Its terms are followed by the herders and ndi Anambra. I think Governor Willie Obiano has special foresight, right focus, and he has the ability to deal with, contain emergencies no matter their scope. This is a great credit to his administration. I can say without any equivocation that ndi Anambra are enjoying relative peace today. We need not talk again here of his administration’s chase on criminals who have almost ran away from the state. One typical example here is the hitherto notorious Upper Iweka axis in Onitsha, a den of criminals who are now nowhere to be found. The area has been beautified for recreational purposes. I’m not saying there can be no occasional security challenges. They seldom occur but are dealt with promptly. If we take a cursory look at what the state was before this administration came on board, we realise that insecurity was the order of the day – murder, arson, kidnapping, armed robbery. In fact, the peaceful and stable nature of Anambra State today has made everyone busy with his or her business which has made way for productivity.
In the same vain, much progress has been made in industrialisation and commerce, especially in agro based industries. Many industries have been set up like JOSAN Farms, Excel Farms, abx World Agro-Allied Industries, Novtec, Mass Devan, Delfarm And Coscharis, as well as Lynden Farms to mention but a few. They produce various agro based products and even export. I stand to be challenged when I posit that Anambra State was the pioneer exporter of agric products in this country.
In the education sector, the feats achieved by our students under this government are enormous. We remember the students from Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, who stunned the world by their brilliant, exceptional performance at the Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley in the United States, the four Anambra girls- Blessing Agunwa, Ezinne Joan Chukwuneta, Lilian Umeakunne and Oge Oputa, who were selected from over 50,000 applicants received worldwide for a United Kingdom postgraduate grant under the Chevening Scholarship. Of course, our students’ wonderful performance in internal and external exams like GCE, WASCE, NABTEB, and in National and International debate and quiz competitions are great feats known by everyone. The point I’m making here is that these great achievement were not just made easily. Education sector here in Anambra has undergone total positive transformation under the present administration with schools well equipped; teachers well cared for with special allowances paid to those handling core subjects and those teaching in hard-to-reach areas. The Obiano administration with its robust policies and programmes and the right vision and focus has taken appropriate measures to reposition all sectors for better result.
We will not conclude this part of our discussion without saying a word or two on the ease of doing business as seen in this state. We all know things are hard, especially in this COVID-19 pandemic period. Businesses are stagnating but they receive cushioning effects. Some taxes are reduced. Some low income, petty traders, truck and wheel barrow pushers, even hawkers are exempted from paying some daily levies, and this administration is working assiduously to ensure that multiple revenue collection, taxation, especially as they apply to touts harassing keke operators are curbed. Those who manage micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) received soft loans from Anambra Business Agency (ASBA) to keep their business afloat. I think presently, the encomiums showered on Governor Obiano by ndi Anambra are apt. I make bold to say here that when we celebrate this 29th anniversary of the creation of the state, we also celebrate the governor’s wife, Chief Mrs. Obiano, who is equally busy with her pet project, Caring Family Enhancement (CAFÉ) Initiative, reaching out to thousands of women and children; mostly widows and orphans, the less privileged, the vulnerable, offering them succor. This is almost a daily occurrence. Just recently, she presented keys to a fully furnished bungalow to a widow, Mrs. Eucharia Nwakibie from Ozubulu. Ndi Anambra should be happy in this anniversary, I think we are better in comparison with others states.
On the situation of Anambra State before the present administration took over the mantle of leadership.
Yes, in this period under review now, there were developments in all sectors but to a certain extent. Right from the military era, from Joseph Abuh to Col. Mike Attah, developments were sketchy. Under Chief Ezeife’s brief regime and when we had what I may call now lasting democracy, there were developments but not elaborate, not as we witness now. They were not co-ordinated. The present Obiano administration has what I’ll term a thoroughly co-ordinated approach to multi sectoral development- developing all the sectors simultaneously and ensuring continuity. Governor Obiano’s innovations in governance come into play here. Various committees and agencies were set up. Equally, various programmes were introduced and implemented. The Anambra Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) is an innovation in his administration. So is the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSSIPA) – one stop service centre ready to assist and guide investors in doing business. Same is Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA), saddled with the responsibility of answering small enterprises calls for funding. There is no sector in this regime where we’ve not witnessed one form of innovation or the other. In the education sector as said earlier, some categories of teachers receive special allowances owing to the nature of their locations or the subjects they teach. So, we’ve seen a plethora of developments in this administration and the citizenry have enjoyed better welfare. I’ll even say here that the responsibility is for every onye Anambra to give maximum support to this government, especially now to do more. Government is a serious business and it may not succeed without the support, co-operation of its citizenry. In fact, this present administration needs greater support now than before and all hands must be on deck to realise it.
On the general overview of the present state administration.
All in all, this administration has fared better. Obiano administration is pragmatic; it’s dynamic, it’s purposeful from what we’ve seen since its inception in March 17, 2014; much effort has been made and successes achieved. It’s been working assiduously to create jobs, by creating the enabling environment to boost investment confidence in the state to ensure sustainable solution towards ending poverty. It is working hard to successfully imbibe in our youth quality value-system knowing the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. In fact, this administration is committed to breaking new grounds in governance with its innovations and policies. Its robust policy plans are advancing the pace of socio-economic development in the state – avoiding waste, re-directing scarce resources to priority areas for efficiency, minimisation of waste and at the same time unlocking business opportunities for our youths through various agencies, all aimed at stimulating economic growth, driving the economy in a positive direction. This administration firmly believes that youths are catalysts of positive economic transformation, hence it leaves no stone unturned to see that they are meaningfully engaged. It recognises SMEs and power as engines of growth and is on course funding the Anambra Business Agency which takes care of financing small businesses – hairdressing, barbing, tailoring, soap and cosmetics manufacturing and transportation. It gives loans to our youths who purchase mini buses (shuttle), tricycles (keke) and even wheel barrows. Our youths are busy in this regime and they’re generally peaceful. Take a look on our streets as early as 5-6am; they’re out; hustling with their commercial buses and keke. It depicts an interesting scenario and gives hope to parents, the state and government.
In fact, right from the onset of his government, the governor placed the peoples’ welfare and sustainable development at the front of his goals. Leadership requires ability to manage human and material resources for the common good of all and Governor Obiano is well grounded here. From the score card of this government, one will boldly state that Obiano has performed and whenever his administration ends, he’ll leave a legacy of dedicated service and professional excellence.
From all this, you can see that ndi Anambra are happy to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of their state, Anambra, Light of the Nation. No amount of celebration is too much, corona or no corona; if we see what to celebrate with (as things are hard world over) provided we follow all coronavirus protocols.
It’s my belief that at the end of his administration, the incoming one, may, copy some of his innovation for continuity and good governance. I’ll not end this discourse without calling on ndi Anambra to give total support to this government. This can be done by paying their taxes and levies regularly and living peacefully in unity. Unity and mutual co-existence is crucial for progress. We must shun violence. The youth must abhor restiveness.