Any sincere and rational apolitical thinker can affirm that Anambra state has trogged and limped forward many times ahead of its contemporaries.
Since he came to board, Governor Willie Obiano, Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of Saint Gregory the Great, has demonstrated that he is a proactive, visionary and foresighted leader. And foresight is like a pregnancy; only time reveals it. However, a leader without foresight is blind in one eye.
The founding fathers such as the great Zik, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello all demonstrated remarkable foresight which can be seen in the legacies they left behind. The landscape of the old Eastern Region bears the indelible marks of Dr Michael Iheonukara Okpara. These men were farsighted leaders who could see beyond their noses.
In Anambra, even a blind man can see that the state has been so transformed in the seven years in which Governor Willie Obiano has piloted the affairs of the state. Akpokuedike has positively touched all sectors. Obiano has written a fascinating piece of history for himself and Ndi Anambra.
Seven years of sustained investment in security has created a social capital which will take a while to expend. It took hard work to bring the state to a point where the country’s security establishment unanimously declared Anambra the safest state in Nigeria, hence, the invasion of both local and foreign investors.
The World Bank, in 2019, rated Anambra among the Top-5 Most Improved States in ease of doing business in Nigeria. Remarkably, this was once a state where no serious entrepreneur would risk a visit, only a few years earlier as a result of brigandage, crime, mayhem and despondency.
Again, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2020, Anambra attracted foreign investments worth 10.2 million dollars, even in the midst of COVID-19. The same Bureau equally reported that in 2010, the level of poverty in Anambra State stood at 53% on the national average. Interestingly, ten years later, under Obiano, Anambra rates 14.8% on national average.
Meanwhile, the crowning glory of the Obiano years is the Anambra International Airport, Umueri, Awka City Stadium, three flyovers in Awka capital territory and the International Conference Center in Awka. These are audacious legacy projects that have given Anambra a sturdy foot into the future.
On Agriculture, Anambra state has advanced remarkably towards food sufficiency. Today, rice production in Anambra state increased from 80,000 metric tons in 2014 to 345,000 metric tons in 2020. A projection of 525,000 metric tons yield has been made for 2021. Popular indigenous brands of Anambra rice are competing strongly in the markets.
To create employment Governor Obiano recently embarked on the building of three fish villages in the three Senatorial zones of the state. In the villages, youths are trained in the entire value chain while active production and processing of fish continues for local consumption and for export.
Akpokuedike equally believes in stomach infrastructure. Suffice it to say that increase in and prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions is a tradition since Obiano came on board, especially, bearing in mind that many states owe months of salary arrears. Time was when workers were owed over ten months’ salary arrears in Anambra; when schools were shut for almost one year.
There is massive construction of new legacy projects such as roads, bridges, and provision of road infrastructure such as traffic lights in different parts of the state. Night life has returned to Anambra, thanks to the glimmering street lights in all communities, making it a one-community-state.
Obiano also introduced a health insurance scheme, ASHIA. The scheme provides healthcare to people, almost free, including laboratory, drugs and surgery. He equally constructed the biggest oxygen plant in the south east at COOU Teaching Hospital, Amaku Awka as well as equipped the hospital with modern health facilities and personnel.
For the first time in Nigeria, a government started a people-oriented program, “Community Choose Your Project Initiative”. Under this arrangement, each of the 181 communities in the state is given twenty million naira in phases to execute any project of its choice.
Golfers can attest that what makes a great golf course is continuity and variety; right-to-left holes, left-to-right holes. A great Economist, Lewis, once said that mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, but where there is no continuity, there is no growth.
We congratulate APGA for its wise choice of nominating a socioeconomic expert, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, as its flag bearer in the forthcoming governorship election. Ndi Anambra, let us make further progress.
WRITTEN BY DR. NNAMDI NWADIOGBU