No state in Nigeria has, in the last four years, recorded as much progress as Anambra State in various areas. Here is a cursory look at the achievements, which have made the state the most competitive in the Nigerian federation.
Anambra students won the Golden Prize in the highly prestigious Technovision Competition held in San Francisco, United States, on Thursday, August 19, 2018. Students from Regina Pace Model Secondary School, Onitsha, defeated students from the United States of America and many other countries of the world right in the home of information technology to get this global award. The Internet application, which they developed, is known as Fake Drugs Detector. When fully commercialised, it will help tackle the global scourge of counterfeit drugs.
Anambra State students represented Nigeria in the 2017 World School Debate in Germany and took the third position.
In a mock debate held earlier in Singapore, they defeated a highly-respected Catholic convent school, which was more than 100 years old, to win the first prize.
Also in the same year, Anambra State excelled in other educational competitions. A significant example is Loretto Special Science Secondary School, Adazi, in Anaocha, which won the first prize in a performance assessment conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education for all senior secondary schools in Nigeria.
In the same performance evaluation by the federal ministry and agencies under its supervision, Queen of the Rosary College (QRC), Onitsha, won the first prize in the Junior Secondary School category. Mr. Clement Okodo of Central School, Abagana, in Njikoka Local Government Area, won the first prize in the teacher’s category.
The following year, the state continued on its trajectory of excellence. It clinched the overall best prize in the assessment of school administrators. The prize went to Amala Ezenwa, headmistress of Awada Primary School Four, in Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area. The state also clinched the fourth prize, which went to Vera Uju Ikegwuani, principal of Anglican Girls Secondary School, Onitsha.
Anambra is the first state to have won in four consecutive years the School Debate Competition endowed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having won it for three years, the federal educational authorities decided that the competition be held in the state in 2018. At the last debate held last December, it defeated Benue State by four points to one.
Anambra State has been leading in examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), and National Examinations Council (NECO). It records the least number of examination malpractices among states in the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
Anambra State is the only state in the last six years to have reviewed workers’ salaries upwards, despite receiving one of the least monthly allocations from the federation account and despite the fact that its monthly internally-generated revenue (IGR) is not yet anything to write home about for reasons beyond the scope of this brief essay.
Anambra State pays workers before any other state in Nigeria. Workers receive their salaries on the 24th or 25th of every month, come rain or shine. Not just workers but also pensioners and political office holders. It is among the first three states to agree to pay workers the minimum wage once the appropriate law is in place.
Anambra State is the only state, which from time to time gives bags of rice to workers, including part-time workers. This noble gesture is to supplement their income. Needless to state, the rice is home-grown. Anambra Rice is now a famous brand throughout Nigeria.
Anambra is the only state to have increased yearly rice production from 80 metric tonnes to 340 metric tonnes. It has done so well in the rice value chain that it is now helping other states. For instance, Lake Rice, a joint venture between Kebbi and Lagos states, may be planted in Kebbi State and sold in Lagos State but, unknown to a lot of Nigerians, this brand is milled in Anambra State. In fact, it is milled at Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area by a firm known as Stine Mill.
The mill was one of the companies attracted to the state by the excellent security situation it has been enjoying and the state government’s policy or strategy, known as Think Home. This is a strategy of encouraging the people to always consider investing at home, no matter where they may be in any part of the world. It has, of course, proved effective.
Anambra, which has the best road network in the federation, has now emerged the fourth largest economy in Nigeria. If it were to be a country, it would be the 13th largest in Africa. It is the state with the the least poverty index. And it is the least indebted state in the whole country, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The World Bank, last September, declared Anambra the state with the best record in the implementation of World Bank-assisted projects throughout the South-East and South-South geographical zones. This declaration was made by Rachid Benmessoud, the World Bank country director for Nigeria, at a two-day portfolio review, which began in Awka on September 27.
The next day, Anambra State received the first prize for successful implementation of the immunisation campaign, under the supervision of the World Bank. The prize was given to Anambra State by the Vice President of Nigeria and the Minister of Health, and received in Abuja on behalf of the state by the state’s Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Health.
The police authorities, on Thursday, March 29, 2018, declared Anambra the safest state in the country. It has since emerged that the state is the safest place in both West and Central Africa. It has also become the most peaceful state in the country. For instance, during the gubernatorial election of November 17, 2017, there was not even a single incident of violence before, during or after the election, in which Chief Willie Obiano became the first governor in history to win by a landslide in each of the 21 local government areas in Anambra State.
Candidates of the major political parties that contested against him congratulated him in writing. Some of the candidates even attended the governor’s second inauguration last March 18 in person. This is unprecedented in a state where, only a few years ago, members of the same ruling party kidnapped the serving governor over a mere disagreement and went ahead to burn all key institutions for three days in an orgy of violence.
It is wonderful that Anambra State has now become synonymous with social harmony. As the electioneering for the 2019 general election is going on, parties in the state and their candidates as well as supporters have conducted themselves with a higher level of civility than in any other state in the federation.
God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
• Nzeribe wrote from Awka, Anambra State