Anambra @ 30: People’s expectations
Some elites and notable people aired their views on how Anambra has fared at 30 and how they would want it to be in the next 30 years. They spoke to NKECHI IKENWOKE, CHIKAODI CHUKWULETA, IZUNNA OKAFOR, BLESSING NNABUIFE and CHINWENDU UZOATU. Excerpts:
I’m expecting properly planned cities – Nnabuife
WHAT was Anambra like before 1991?
Before Anambra was created, Awka was not a capital but a village town but with the creation of Anambra State, the development in Awka begins and the design of a new capital was made and Awka started expanding beyond express. Before, Awka was only in the old town around Eke-Awka Market, the Express then was just bush; most of the things you are now seeing along Express in Awka were built after the creation of Anambra State
What do you expect to see in Anambra State in the next 30 years?
I am expecting to see a properly planned city in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia; a properly planned city where you will have dual carriage ways, street light, well laid out city where magnificent and beautiful buildings are built and traffic is flowing freely without any problem and also new cities will spring up.
Places like Ihiala that has remained a village will now be better planned and developed; places like Nkpor and Ogidi will be properly laid out is such a way that the present commotion that is in those places will not be there again.
I expect that if we have a good government and people who understand how cities are developed , we have a good town planning authority and development authority, they will plan the place very well, open it up so that there will be space for different social amenities.
How has the traditional institution of Anambra State been since the state was created?
When Anambra was created, ndi Igwe were existing in their respective communities in isolation but then we had something that was a committee of traditional rulers under Mbadinuju. He created the Council of Traditional Rulers and made Orizu the chairman. He was the chairman until when Mbadinuju left. Ngigi came and Peter Obi came too.
Peter created a much more responsible institution of traditional rulers whereby we now have State Council of Traditional Rulers- the forum of traditional rulers in the three senatorial zones. Because of this structure of traditional institution in Anambra State, it now made a room for the traditional institution to tap positively in the running of the state. So the traditional institution from the time of the creation of Anambra State and the activities that took place thereafter enhanced the participation of the traditional institution in government.
Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife is the traditional ruler of Isseke, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State).
Anambra youths should to go into technical work – Okeke-Ogene
WHAT was Anambra like before 1991?
Anambra was just like every other community and local government in Anambra State. For a long time before the creation of the state, there have been agitations for creating more states but Anambra by then, did not exist as a state. Even Awka, which is the state capital, in as much as it was the local government headquarters of Awka Division from the colonial times, but the development was nothing to write home about. It’s just like a community. Even Onitsha and Nnewi were more organised than Awka.
How has Anambra State been since it was created?
You can see what is going on in the state and there is a lot of development in Anambra. I can say that UNIZIK contributed a lot in the development of Awka. Our people were happy that the state was created but the ability to invest is not there. So, Okwadike at that time gave lot of incitements to indigenes of Anambra State. He created a think home philosophy were 10 plots of 100 x 100 was given out at N100,000 only. He mapped out the entire industrial area and wanted our people to come home but only few of them came back.
The civil servants from Anambra did not help issues. From the one year up to like 10 years, people are still coming to work from Enugu so you can see the kind of economy we have then. It affected us very much but now, it’s only about two or three per cent of civil servants in Anambra are still living in Enugu.
So it means that their money is being circulated in Anambra and Awka is gradually growing. Then our brothers and sisters normally invest in Enugu, Lagos, among others but you can see they have started investing because of the security in the state and we give the credit to Governor Willie Obiano and the previous Governors, Peter Obi, who continued from where Ngige stopped by constructing roads.
Modernisation of our schools by handing over to missions made people not to take their children to Asaba, Imo, Lagos, among others but today, the best primary schools and secondary schools in terms of structure and sound teachers are here in Anambra. Then Gov. Obiano came in with security.
Immediately people saw that the kidnapping and other evil that were going on in Anambra are no more, you can see that under few years, Awka alone can boast of having three -star hotels.
What do you expect to see in Anambra State in the next 30 years?
It depends on the governance; if we are moving within this direction and improving more, within the next 20 years, Anambra will be the best in the whole world but the problem is on leadership. If we cannot get a leader that will continue from where others stopped, we will have problem but history has been made in Anambra.
Within one year, without borrowing money, an airport is built and completed. Anambra people are the most travelled and I believe the governor, who thinks towards that direction have a good mission for the state. This International Conference Center will compete very well with the Yaradua Conference Centre. Before now, Nigeria Medical Association, among others never hold their annual conference in Anambra because of lack of sizeable conference center but today, you can see a conference centre that will comfortably accommodate 10,000 people; that is a major achievement.
When we talk about sporting, it has been under proposal to build a stadium – one in Amansea, Awka and Onitsha. In Onitsha, Peter Obi did well; he took courage to demolish all the buildings and move them back to near GRA, where they belong and built a stadium for sporting activities in Onitsha. Today, Gov. Willie Obiano is striking another gigantic movement by nearly completion of Awka Township Stadium for sporting activities.
What is your advice to ndi Anambra?
We must know and believe that we are the most envious state because we are hardworking and I will tell you, any crime committed in Anambra State is being committed by non indigenes. An average Anambra person is busy.
They compete on how to progress in their lives. That’s why you can see an Anambra person at the age of 50 or 60 years still trying to attend university to obtain a degree. Even the tomatoes sellers also go to evening schools to improve in their education. Every Anambra person wants to be rich and they work hard for it, Anambra State is the United State for other states in the South East.
I am advising the Anambra youths to go into technical work. You can see some of the buildings going on, 80 per cent of them are being built by non indigenes. Most people are saying government don’t give us job but the truth is that if you are schooling now and not schooling to be self employed, it is not good because the internet age we are in is taking a lot of jobs out of people.
What we saw in America; you can come to a very big bank and you might not have up to five or six people. Here in Nigeria, I started banking; for example when you open an account in First Bank that is at Regina Junction, Awka, it is only there you can withdraw.
When you get there, they will bring your file and start checking which is wasting a lot of time. But today, everything has changed; one person in the bank will be in his or her table and do 10 people’s job at once. We need to work towards that direction. (Ichie Damian Okeke- Ogene is the Vice President , Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide)
Govt should encourage industrialists – Okeke
I AM not a politician but an academic. Anambra state is marvelous now. It is not good to criticise people at the top. Otherwise, go there and stay for a second and greet people, you will collapse. Willie is not my best friend but he is my governor. He is breaking a jinx.
In our academic sector, the Vice Chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli Campus, Prof Greg Chukwudi Nwakoby, since his regime, pays salaries of the previous month in every new month, between 7th to 10th of the month. It is a very big credit both to the VC and to His Excellency, Chief Dr Willie Mmaduaburochukwu Obiano.
When you come into the school management and so many things he has put in place, you will see a reason to applaud him followed by accreditation of departments every year. If you take it far to the creation of Anambra State in 1991, it was never like that. This is to tell you that every staff of the university can plan effectively with his salaries.
Of course, you know that this is a state university. To cap it up, Anambra State University, now Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University is the only busy university in the whole country today. We are now in the 7th week of the second semester 2021. Seventh week just ended on Friday.
You can imagine that in the next seventh week, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University will be getting prepared for second semester examination. No university in the country has completed their first semester examination of 2021.
On the average, His Excellency, Chief Dr Willie Obiano is doing his best. Sincerely, we have never had this kind of experience; moving this university to this level. Even all the first class universities in the country, we are ahead of them. Therefore, I’m of the opinion that to whom much is given, much is expected. And for others who have contributed to the development of this state, the governor is trying to give them certificates and recognition, that they have really helped the state.
Moreover, the International Passenger and Cargo Airport at Umueri is a huge landmark for him because no government has tried to do that. Some that tried did not initiate it at all. But look at the young man completing the airport at the most official time. I heard it through the radio that it is 80 per cent completed. At the same time, look at the International Conference Centre built at Agu-Awka, including a well structured stadium. These are things we have never had before.
Building of roads is very important but they are local arrangements but the airport conference centre and stadium are the things that will attract and develop the state far beyond road constructions. We need good roads quite alright but these developments are the very gigantic ones that can take long time to complete.
We must credit him again for the Second Niger Bridge which happens in his own time. According to Chinua Achebe, in one of his books, ‘How the Leopard Got His Claws’, “this hall is yours to enjoy. You worked very hard together to build it. I am proud of you.”
Anambra State is a great state that His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano has tried to harness the areas of commerce and industry. We are almost having 30 per cent industrialisation in Anambra. Government should do their best just as they are calling on people from outside the state to come and invest in Anambra.
We are talking about Anambra rice, we are talking of Anambra exporting bitter leaf (Onubu) to Singapore and some other far Eastern countries, yet we are lacking completely in area of industrialisation.
Look at where we have about 21 local government areas, if government can tag themselves to all these local councils, believe me, we will have 24 productive industries and then, it will reduce unemployment in our environment. One of the major basic problems of industrialisation in Anambra State is how people are taxing the industralists.
Arch. Sam Okeke is of the Dept. of Environmental Management, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Uli Campus.
Expecting an Anambra like Dubai – Omachonu
ANAMBRA State, compared to her contemporaries has not done badly. It has done relatively well; giving us resources available to us. We don’t earn extra by way of derivation like other people apart from IGR and federal allocated revenue. There are other states created at that time that enjoy 13% derivation. There are those also that enjoy intervention of Niger Delta Development Commission and recently also, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. So, we have been limited to what we gain federal and locally.
From education, health, infrastructure, economic development, security, social welfare, we have done well. However, we could do better because every state, every nation is perpetually working in progress. So as we go on, we improve on what we have done and do better because as the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day.
In the next 30 years, I expect to see an Anambra State which is true to its being the Light of the Nation’, that is a leading state in Nigeria and by that, I mean an Anambra State which from year 2022, when a new government will be ushered in, settles down quickly to the effective and efficient implementation of the 50-year development plan put in place by the Obiano administration. I expect a state that becomes the economic hub of the country given the industry of our people.
The strategic engagement of investors both local and international has been started and sustained for some time now through ANSSIPA, ASBA and other related development agencies. I expect an Anambra State that takes advantage of the vast wherewithal of our people both here and in the diaspora, that becomes a Silicon Valley and the Dubai of Nigeria.
Igwe Pius Omachonu is the traditional ruler of Olumbanasa, Anambra West Local Government Area and Secretary General, Anambra Traditional Rulers Council.
Anambra should make rule of law devp cornerstone – Umeadi
HOW has Anambra State fared since creation?
Anambra State, created since 30 years ago has lived up to its billing. School enrollment is high, yet the shame of low male school enrollment seems to be swept under the carpet. However, collectively and individually, schools and students in various grades have acquitted themselves in flying colors. Our secondary schools have ranked very high in the continent. Yet the primary schools still learn in appalling surroundings.
Anambra has defined herself as a place to live and raise families and do business. The social responsibility in the state became enhanced from the time of Ngige to Obi and now with Obiano. The payment of workers salary as and at when due show a stabilising effect.
This phenomenon first manifested after the Biafra civil war when the huge salaries of the ‘victor’ trickled down to water the dry pockets of the ‘vanquished’. The rehabilitation of the road infrastructure began with Ngige, Obi and Obiano. Of all the states in the Southeast zone, only Enugu, between the time of Chime and now Ugwuanyi, hold a candle up to Anambra, coupled with the fact that Enugu was our regional capital and arguably the most beautiful city in Nigeria.
We have human capital development, the academic excellence and favourable business climate, but we lack in development of residential and commercial estates. In the same vein, we have not done enough with Awka, our capital town. I refrain from calling it a city. There are only three major roads in Awka; Expressway, Amawbia bypass, Zik Avenue. These roads become impassable in a flash and could take as long as three hours to unravel. It is not good that such have not been addressed in 30 years. The other ugly side is the rough tactics of those who collect rates and fines on behalf of the government. They give all of us a bad name and no one is sure what percentage of what they force people to pay go into the coffers of the state.
So, on our score card, we are doing well. We changed our logo from ‘Home for all’ to ‘Light of the Nation’. Now like Zik’s newspaper put it ‘show the light and the people would find the way’!!!!
What are your expectations for the state in the next 30 years?
My expectations for Anambra State in the next 30 years would be not to run as slowly as it did in the first 30 years. As an example, the touted linking of Onitsha and Awka has not happened since 30 years ago! One would not overlook the overwhelming development that took place in the Onitsha/33/Nkwelle axis even though they are yet to merge.
Government should find the answers why these lands developments did not materialise and facilitate them. We should expect to develop residential and commercial estates as we have done with intra state road networks. Satellite towns should be built. Government should get involved with low cost housing schemes. We should adapt our educational and business infrastructure to realising the necessary tools to join the science, technology, sports, innovation bandwagon. The trend of technology has been here so in the next 30 years, we need to improve on our homegrown science technology and innovation. The collection of internally generated revenues should be digitalised.
This would stem molestation and harassment of citizens and enthrone probity and accountability. Many western countries sustain their high standard of living on taxes alone. Anambra State should embrace the rule of law as the corner stone of its development. Same goes for Nigeria as a country. We have approved plans to build magistrates and high courts across the state which should be implemented.
The Willie Obiano Multi Door Court House attached to the State Judiciary ought to be functional. With the International Cargo and International Airport at Umueri and the many bilateral business agreements entered with foreign countries and enterprises, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) should be on ascendency. The surest and quickest way to attract investments is to have a dependable functional fast corruption free adjudicatory system to attend to disputes which invariably arise out of business transactions.
Prof. Peter N.C.Umeadi, FCArb. is a former Chief Judge of Anambra State and Life Bencher.
Anambra’s grown remarkably – Efobi
AT THE mention of the name, despite that I am from Anambra, it brings some sort of joy in my heart looking at where we are coming from since 1991 till now. But most importantly, we have grown remarkably especially under the leadership of Governor Willie Obiano. Previous governors who have ruled the state contributed their quota. APGA has ruled the state for about 16 years. And in those years, we have been at the top amongst other states in Nigeria. We are grateful to our leaders in the past who layed that foundation.
As we are about to handover power, we hope to have a good leader who will continue from what others have made available for the benefit of ndi Anambra.
I expect Anambra to be bigger and more developed than what it is now. But most importantly, I also want to plead that people should be more conscious towards wanting a development and not when someone is trying to develop, others will be dragging back because of their personal interests. So, let us keep aside our personal interests and seek the best interest of our state. In the next 30 years, we will be way bigger and developed than we are now.
Obinna Efobi, is the SSA to Gov. Obiano on Agriculture)
Govt’s, stakeholder’s efforts uplifted schools – Akujieze
HOW were schools before Anambra was created and after creation?
Before Anambra State was created, schools as we know it today were actually in shambles. The infrastructure were actually in a mess. Back then, most schools had insufficient buildings to accommodate the students and the staff.
Some of the buildings that were in place had leaking roofs; some had no doors and windows. In fact, schools were highly neglected in those days. Principals were actually running the schools on their own. Even after the creation of the state, nothing much was done for schools.
How is it now?
But in 2006, when Mr Peter Obi came on board as the governor of Anambra State, that was actually when schools as we know it today began to take shape. He provided infrastructure like buildings, functional libraries, and equipped science laboratories. He also provided computers for schools. Also, he gave out buses for schools making it easier for students to move around while they partake in inter-school activities like debates and other competitions.
Since then, schools in Anambra State have continued to develop, through the efforts of the government. You go to schools today, you see sufficient structures put in place to accommodate students and staff; there are pipe borne water in many schools, well-built toilets, enough seats in the classrooms. Principals and teachers are not left out in the development.
Today, principals all over the nation attend seminars and workshops from time to time. Even in area of supervision of schools, there is a lot of improvement. Before now, supervisors visit schools once in a year, but now, they do that more often, at least every term. Also, now, the government supply books and other materials to schools through ASUBEB. In all, I am saying that schools have actually improved in leaps and bounds from what it used to be before the creation of the state.
Why is it as it is today?
I think schools in Anambra State developed to this level it is today because of the undiluted efforts of the government and other education stakeholders overtime. In fact, this present administration has really done well in education sector.
How do you want the state to be in the next 30 years?
In the next 30yrs, I will want schools in Anambra State to improve in such a way that when placed side by side with other schools across the world, we will stand out. I wish Anambra state a happy celebration.
Mrs Akujieze Esther is a retired principal, Capital City Secondary School, Awka.
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