ONE major attribute of good leadership is investment in infrastructure for long term sustainable growth. From ancient civilisation to the present dispensation, one major feature that stands out nations and empires that etched their name in the annals of history apart from human capacity building is infrastructural development. Many have gone on to become landmark monuments or historical reference points. In other instances, even when not acclaimed, such structure has continued to engineer economic growth.
The past seven years is a testament that Gov. Obiano is giving Anambra State an infrastructural facelift with economic gains even when critics are singing a different song? Among the infrastructural legacies Gov. Obiano intends bequeathing is the Anambra International Airport City.
Anambra State is long overdue for an airport beyond economic reasons. A domestic airport wouldn’t have raised the call for an international airport. Even with a domestic airport, the state, given her prominence in Nigeria deserves something better, even the best.
Despite the badmouthing, if the airport remains the only solid infrastructure Gov. Obiano bequeaths the state, he will still be judged to have performed well. Internationally, some airports stand out and that is what Gov. Obiano envisioned for the state. Anambra State is a leading state in Nigeria and the most populous and economically viable in the South East region. The state feeds the Enugu, Asaba and Owerri airports. It’s worth noting the economic value that Anambra adds to these states.
Critics forgot the struggle the state had with the previous administrations in building an airport for the state right from the old Anambra State. Recall that Anambra Airport Project was initiated in 1986, under the military administration of Group Captain Emeka Omerua in response to demand for an elusive seaport for the commercial city of Onitsha and its environs. Onitsha is home to the famous Onitsha Main Market, the largest market in West Africa, while Nnewi hosts the Nnewi Motorcycle Spare Parts Market, the largest in West Africa and now a burgeoning automotive city.
The frequency of commuters in the commercial and industrial cities of Onitsha and Nnewi is non-stop. The sheer number of commuters is in hundreds of thousands in South-East Nigeria most populous and economically advantaged state.
There are also people flying outside the country, who leave from the state on a daily basis. These are people who advance the economy of the state and comparatively makes Nigeria thrive.
Gov. Omerua administration recognised the economic merits of the airport scheme and the Oba – Onitsha Airport Project was initiated. Gov. Omerua was reposted after land was acquired and cleared at Oba, for the airport project. Unfortunately, Gov. Omerua’s successor, Group Captain Rufai Garba sowed a bad seed towards the airport project when he declared, “On the airport thing, I looked at it and said why should I build an airport when it will take me 45 minutes to get to Enugu and equally take me 45 minutes to get to Oba, from Awka?”
Currently, the Government of Anambra State, under Gov. Willie Obiano is building the Anambra International Airport City in Umueri, Anambra East Local Government Area. Beyond any political motive, Umueri was technically chosen over Oba for the reasons of limited land for expansion and a site that would provide about 5.64km in length by 3km wide on a tableland, with two parallel runways and space for other ancillary facilities needed for an airport of international standard. And beyond these factors, the need for even development in the state by citing a capital project in the Omabala area which needs the most development in the state.
The Anambra airport project is being developed on two runways, an aviation fuel facility, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre. The airport project is conceived to be among the most advanced airports in the world with a capacity to land any of the most sophisticated aircrafts known today. Among others, the project is expected to generate 1,200 direct jobs and 3,600 indirect jobs.
Already standing as a landmark in the Awka Capital Territory are the road interchange flyover bridges located at the popular Arroma Junction on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. The second road interchange and flyover bridge is at Kwata Junction, while the third road interchange and flyover bridge is located at Amawbia Junction, along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, adding to the aesthetics and beauty of the capital territory. These road interchange flyover bridges have transformed Awka into a modern and befitting capital territory such that it has become a reference point in the city.
From one giant developmental policy to another, Anambra has become a state to be emulated with its ‘Community-Choose-Your-Project’ initiatives that has produced outstanding contributions to infrastructural and social development in the state. The initiative creatively redefined governments’ traditional approach to community development effort. Under this revolutionary development initiative, each community in the state is at liberty to select a development project that is dear to it, which the state government would execute with a sum of N20m.
Since the launch of the scheme, communities in Anambra have completed various development projects such as civic/health centres, skill acquisition centres, building of libraries, among other projects. The ‘Choose-Your-Project’ initiative has not only brought development closer to the people but also spanned off jobs in its localities. The scheme is about entering its third phase.
Governor Obiano, in line with his administration’s efforts to actualise infrastructural development growth, and a social enabling environment is constructing the Awka International Conference Centre (AICC).
The iconic structure on completion will be the biggest and most modern of its type in South East Nigeria. The AICC will represent the Awka Capital Territory City’s vision of a cosmopolitan city with excellent infrastructure – a new urban statement of changing ideas and for the construction of a prosperous future. The design is of ultra-modern international standards with a minimum seating capacity of 10,000 persons. The superstructure will feature all the facilities and equipment necessary for international conferences.
The ultra-modern structure will also offer facilities like sub – dividable grand auditorium/ ballroom that can double as a mini – stadium, an exhibition hall, meeting rooms, green room, storage spaces, restrooms, indoor sports, civic symposiums and variety of outdoor events associated with 1200 parking lots.
The economic impact of the AICC will create economic activities that will generate jobs and wealth for the people, boost the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) as well as improve the aesthetics of the Awka Capital Territory.
Road construction is another area where Governor Obiano infrastructural legacies speak. Many communities with no asphalted roads, most of which are in the Omambala region and hinterland, now have roads. It’s on record that the Gov. Obiano administration built the longest bridge in the South East, measuring 280 meters across the Omambala River. The bridge is on the Aguleri-Uno to Aguleri-Otu road.
The state government has completed the 36 metres-long Nengo Bridge, alongside the 3.6 kilometers stretch road, at Nteje,Oyi Local Government Area. The all-important bridge serves as a bye-pass to the Enugu-Onitsha expressway at Umunya, as well as an access to Nteje town, stretching down the Omambala region.
Before Gov Obiano mounted the saddle of leadership, Enugu-Otu, Eziagulu-Otu, and Mkpunando, that hitherto had no tarred roads, now has a 42-kilometre road connecting the communities and others in the areas. Nzam, Anambra West Local Government headquarters used to be the only council authority without a tarred road. The narrative has changed with the 14-kilometre road construction and a completed bridge linking the local government with other communities nearly completed.
Gov. Willie Obiano administration’s giant stride in road infrastructure enjoys equitable distribution among the three senatorial zones of the state. As demonstrated, among other roads commissioned in the state was the 6 kilometres road with seven culverts started from Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu to Onitsha-Enugu expressway, with a spur to Nawfia community. In Nnewi, Gov. Obiano commissioned 2.4 kilometres Nnobi to Nnewi road, 2.4 kilometres Ozubulu road and 2.4 kilometres road in Oraifite, the 4.3 kilometeres long St Peter’s University, Achina- Onneh Road in Aguata LGA.
So far since inception in office, Gov. Obiano has built over 1000 kilometres of roads, and promised to complete hundreds of road projects scattered across the state before the end of his tenure, besides uplifting the infrastructural development of the state, which the state sets the pace with as one of best road network in the country. It will stimulate and strengthened the state’s economic base of the state.