People from all walks of life have been commending Governor Willie Obiano for offering employment to 150 disabled persons in the state, which is unprecedented in the history of Anambra State since its creation in 1991, especially at this critical period when all countries of the world are plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanied economic downturn. In this discourse, a community leader and Chairman/CEO, Lake Petroleum Ltd, Chief C.U. Mbaji says by this singular act, Governor Obiano has left a legacy that will linger for years. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA: Excerpts
Overview of the great act of magnanimity
THIS is a great feat never witnessed in the history of Anambra State and Nigeria at large. Everyone knows what we are now in the second wave of coronavirus pandemic and its devastating consequences on government and the people. Businesses are crippling. All economic activities are collapsing. Nothing is moving.
Governments at all levels find it increasingly difficult to meet up to even half of their financial obligations. Even before this pandemic, countries all over the world have been struggling, working assiduously to come out from global economic recession. And this pandemic worsened the already bad and gloomy economic scenario.
Developing economies like Nigeria are worst hit so much so that they hardly meet up their daily overhead cost. Government find it more difficult in discharging its financial responsibilities like paying salaries, engaging in development projects, honouring its welfare obligations to the people.
Of course, some state governments in Nigeria owe workers over five months arrears of salaries, not to talk of paying allowances. Some have been paying half salaries. Here in Anambra, Governor Willie has been paying full salaries and allowances as and when due from the inception of his administration from March, 2014, to date; the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating and crippling economic consequences notwithstanding.
That under this serious economic consequences, Governor Obiano could in addition to sustaining regular payment of workers’ salaries and allowances and meeting up his government’s other responsibilities to the masses could employ 150 disabled persons to add to the state work force and drastically increase his administration pay load is really a great feat, unprecedented and never witnessed in the history of Anambra State and indeed the entire nation.
And my kudos go to him for this singular act of magnanimity. This will remain a great legacy in this country. What will he benefit from this gesture? He seeks nothing from the disabled in return. This is real work of charity.
On factors that stand Anambra out and made this great feat possible
Thorough allocation of scarce resources to priority areas; whatever resources, capital, labour, land and optimum utilisation of these resources; prudent management of them and religious utilisation. This is the cornerstone, the bedrock on which the progress, the unprecedented development of all sectors of the state economy stands. The governor himself is a banker, therefore an accountant and an economist.
He knows all about the interplay of supply and demand, opportunity cost, economy of scale in mass production of goods and services and possesses huge wealth of knowledge in the utilisation of money to achieve best results. He’s selfless, has interest of ndi Anambra at heart.
As a great and experienced banker, he knows what areas to invest for the state and how the masses will benefit. Acquisition of these characteristics and capabilities is not easy. He has listening ear, works in harmony with his lieutenants. He holds regular meetings with them. I know two states that have never conducted any Exco meeting for almost a year now.
In terms of emergency, he summons his team and they put heads together, cross fertilise ideas. His administration with regards to the input of his lieutenants contributes to innovation in governance. I’m explaining all these to arrive at why he’s able to have enough funds to cater for the needs of the people when some state chief executives can’t even pay full salaries.
His administration has introduced such innovations in governance like the establishment of Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA) which encourages Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MEMEs). That Anambra emergence as the best supporter of MSMEs in 2019 is a testament to the positive impact of the policies enacted by this administration to support SMEs, start-ups with soft loans, repayable to get to others. We will get to the importance of these SMEs in growing State Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), another innovation, is one STOP Service Centre always available to assist and guide all investors to ensure that the process of doing business is streamlined and managed efficiently, and with their guidance, investors make some gains and under strict economic situation as we are in now, they at least, break even.
The Anambra Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) is always helping in its own way to make sure that the capital territory is worth it for investors to come, see where to invest and have conducive environment.
Now, I come in to the main pillar, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and its management and utilisation. There’s no gainsaying the fact that prudent management and utilisation of this IGR enables government have the much desired revenue to adequately cater for the needs, the welfare of the citizenry. Anambra State has oil but it’s not yet oil producing state, hence it doesn’t benefit from that additional revenue from the federation account accruable to oil producing states like Delta, Imo, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
It’s this prudent management of whatever Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) it gets monthly; coupled with its paltry monthly allocation that it funds all its programmes and was able to employ additional staff like the disabled we’re talking about. As a retired banker and a well known accountant, Governor Obiano believes that it’s not how much you have that matters but how well it is utilised.
Obiano administration has zero tolerance for corruption and I’ve two or three facts to justify this. I know of one, two or three highly placed appointees who were suddenly thrown out of office in Anambra. Government has plugged all loop holes that will give room for corruption or even carelessness in public spending. I make bold to say that the Obiano administration is God sent and one which is determined to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of ndi Anambra as far as its provision of dividends of democracy is concerned.
Remember this regime liquidated all arrears of salaries and pensions owed staff of ABS and National Light by previous administrations. It is same prudent management of scarce resources that made funds for this programme available.
From the look of things and the happenings in government, I can state unequivocally that government will continue to pay staff salaries including those of the 150 disabled persons newly recruited as and when due. Of course, it’s the responsibility of these staff to work conscientiously, put in their best to justify this kind gesture of government.
It will be recalled that wife of the governor, Chief Dr. Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, through her non governmental organisation (NGO), Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) has earlier embarked on such acts of magnanimity by giving succor to the needy, the vulnerable in the society, the less privileged like the elderly, the widows, even the cleft lip patients who received free surgery and those given artificial limbs.
From the aforesaid, you can agree with me that finance is the life wire of any social and economic activity especially in recession and the Obiano administration recognises this right from the onset and in this circumstance, IGR is the key. The government has set a new standard on generating IGR.
On its programme on this IGR, the administration with extraordinary determination, performs its duties with great zeal and enthusiasm and at the same time, removing critical bottle necks that inhibit easy access to doing business with diversification of the economy as its watchword. Here, we’re in the era of creative economy where oil sector hold less sway. The government takes cognizance of the fact that best investment is in human capital. Hence, the enormous programme of training and retraining of its staff for increased output. All this maximises efficiency, increases output and set the standard for enhanced economic wellbeing of the people.
The Obiano government knows that the best thing we can bequeath to our children is quality education. Hence, it leaves no stone unturned to achieve this. It has seen agriculture now as a sustainable source of income and has worked assiduously to ensure the sector receives a great boot. Here in Anambra, the sector is technology driven.
The benefits of this innovation in agriculture are not the topic of this discourse but we must know that the revenue accruing from it is enormous and helps to fund various projects of this administration. As 150 disabled person are offered employed, thousands of youths are also engaged in this agric sector.
On the general attributes of Governor Obiano and features of his administration
Under Obiano administration, Anambra State has witnessed transformational leadership; in fact, all round development. He’s adjudged the best labour friendly governor and has got award for this. Anambra State will continue to be flying its flag high in education, security, ease of doing business and support to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which is strategic in the acceleration of business. In fact, it contributes 70% of business and 80% employment in any economy be it developing or undeveloped.
It drives the national economy and this government in conjunction with its agency, the Anambra State Business Agency is successfully working to ameliorate its problem which is access to credit. This government is on the match to becoming a creative and technology centre.
It has opened up a new dimension in its efforts to reposition the economy. Its great support to agric sector and SMEs through ASBA are examples. It recognises the importance of workers as the engine room of its economy.
Today, our state remains the foremost investment destination, in fact, a global destination for investment. Governor Obiano has restored public confidence in governance, broken new grounds in this regard. Series of awards, both national and international received by the governor are the result of his good governance. Ours is the least indebted state in Nigeria today.
Governor Willie Obiano administration has consistently, prudently managed its lean financial resources and this makes for unhindered delivery of democracy dividends to ndi Anambra. He has conscientiously and passionately brought smiles on the faces of those living with disabilities. His government sees women as nucleons of development.
Today, our state enjoys pre-eminence in educational standard from primary through secondary to tertiary levels. As mentioned earlier, his administration has shown goodwill and favourable disposition to workers. It recognises the imperative of a motivated work force. As his government implements its programmes, it continuously explores more creative options for growth.
All sectors of the economy are anchored on security and for this, the Obiano government has established a water-tight security architecture to save guard the state. Anambra is today adjudged the safest state in the country. As I mentioned earlier that this administration abhors corruption and in the execution of its programmes ,it maintains high degree of transparency and forthrightness. Anambra economy is development driven. Governor Obiano takes into cognizance the importance of dedication, sacrifice and patriotism in leadership and applied these principles in governance.
From the score card of his administration, one can boldly state that he’s performed creditably and by the time he finishes his tenure, he’ll leave behind many legacy projects. As far as I am concerned, Governor Obiano is a unique and visionary leader who has driven Anambra towards the path of sustained transformation and prosperity.
No tier of government will succeed without the co-operation and support of the people. I therefore use this medium to renew my appeal to all ndi Anambra to give maximum and unalloyed support to Governor Obiano to encourage him and enable him do more for the state. Be your brother’s keeper, take ownership of government establishments in your areas.
Support his administration’s war against crime and criminality by being watchful and informing the law enforcement agents of any untoward behavior by any one. I believe with the firm support of the citizenry, government will do more for the common good of all.
Employing 150 disabled persons at this period by the state government at this critical period of the nation’s history is something to give thanks to God. And to Governor Obiano, for offering this employment, I pray God to bless him and his family, to give him good health and the strength of Sampson and the wisdom of Solomon in his onerous task of piloting the affairs of our dear state, Anambra, Light of the Nation, to greatness.