By Okechukwu Anarado
The frugality of humans in contending with target attainments is appraised by the degree of their accomplishments in space and time. In this context, Governor Willie Obiano’s fidelity to the social contract with the people of Anambra in the past two years, particularly in relation to investments, provides a crucial study.
On the March 17, 2014, Anambra State celebrated a change of government from Chief Peter Obi to Chief Willie Obiano. The sustained clarity of the historic act, two years after, gives it a recentness that belies receding time. The power transition was celebrated for two reasons: the people sought expression for Peter Obi’s notable times. They were optimistic in their cheery trust that Chief Willie Obiano would give flesh to his declaration to take Anambra beyond the reach of his predecessors. At the threshold of his reign, Chief Obiano vowed to ‘expand the frontiers of good governance’ through strategic fostering of his vision of making Anambra State ‘the first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities.’ He equally pledged to actualize his mission of ‘creating a socially, business friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in Anambra State.’
Given the thrust of the Governor’s 4 -pillar economic agenda of Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Trade and Commerce and Industrialization, against the backdrop of his afore stated vision and mission, it is evident that the quest for a vibrant economy underpins his administration’s development creed. Being investment-biased, it is not out of place therefore for critics to evaluate Chief Obiano’s midterm performance by judging the consistency of his attainments with his avowals on investments vis-a-vis the people’s expectations.
In April 2014, early in the life of the administration, Chief Obiano gave impetus to his projections on investment by assenting to the bill establishing the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). This Agency which was duly inaugurated in May 2014 serves as the clearing house for significant investments coming into Anambra State. It provides a one-stop shop for prospective investors; assists prospective investors resolve the usual bureaucratic bottlenecks surrounding land titles and duly advises government on necessary infrastructures needed to entice investors. The Agency puts investors and their proposals through standard ‘generic assessment viability exercises’ which assess their credibility, competence and financial capacity in respect of their proposals. ANSIPPA does not only advise the State Government on the way to go on investments, it goes even further to conclusively negotiate investment packages between the State Government and prospective investors. The sterling achievements of the agency in less than two years of its inauguration justify its constitution.
Both in volume and spread, the agricultural sector is evidently the highest beneficiary in the inflow of investments in the state in the past two years. It has attracted over 43% of the total value of the multi-sectorial investments in the state. Some of the investors here are Coshed Farms Ltd with an investment package of over $150m in rice farming at Anaku; Joseph Agro Ltd, Ekcel Farm Ltd, Silos and Grains Ltd and Delfarms Ltd investing $150m, $220m, $20m, and $40m respectively. The economic activities of these companies which spread through farming to storage, processing and packaging of rice, cassava, tomatoes, maize etc, are already generating thousands of employment opportunities in direct and indirect jobs. This supports the Governor’s construct to fight crime with job creation.
Trade and Commerce sector has also enjoyed huge investments in the period under review. The West African International Trade Centre Ltd is investing about $320million on a top class project, Anambra International Trade Centre at Ogbunike. The project’s job generating capacity is averaged at about 600 direct jobs and well over 12,000 indirect jobs in two years.
The Tourism and Hospitality sector has equally posted significant investment portfolio in the state within the past two years. Cardinal Developers and Trust Ltd is putting in $70million into tourism, hospitality and real estate at Onitsha, while putting in $28million into the sector at Awka. The Onitsha and Awka ventures will generate 800 direct jobs and over 2900 indirect jobs. This is as the government seeks further partnerships in developing the rich potentials in the tourism sector within the state.
Oil and Gas is one of the cardinal pillars in the economic agenda of Willie Obiano’s administration. In seeking to maximize the Oil and Gas potentialities of Anambra State, this administration has in the past two years, apart from supporting the efforts of Orient Refinery, attracted investors like UD Integrated Petroleum Production Company (UDIPPCO) and Falcon Corporation Ltd. These investments will improve the gains of the state in petroleum and power generation. While UDIPPCO is investing $150million with the capacity of generating over 500 direct jobs and well over 42,000 indirect jobs, Falcon Corporation Ltd’s investment of #100million is generating over 240 direct jobs and more than 54,000 indirect jobs. Richbon’s $40million investment in heavy duty automobile plant is billed to generate over 200 direct jobs and more than 1,500 indirect jobs.
From the foregoing, it is evident that the Anambra State Government, in the past two years, has been able to attract reputable private investors to invest in the various sectors of the state’s economy. This achievement has been made possible by the success of the State Government in providing optimal security for people and property in the state. With adequate security and stable polity in place, Gov. Obiano has succeeded in ventilating the entrepreneurial bent of the citizens who are now more expressive in exploring the huge economic possibilities in the state. No gainsaying, therefore, Anambra State is today the ‘first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities in Nigeria.’ For this, the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has continued to enjoy prime recognition as the cynosure of good governance; his recent receipt of the prestigious 2015 Governor of the Year Award from the Sun Newspapers Consortium refers.
•Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu