By Okechukwu Anarado
THE ethno-economic content of Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s ‘Anambra: An Emerging Start-Up State and Our Collective Challenge’ and the eloquence of its delivery are deserving of prime recognition and honour. The piece was the erudite economist’s Public Lecture on March 17, at the 3rd Anniversary celebration of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration in Anambra State.
Put in the context of Chief Obiano’s equally revealing self-assessment of his stewardship in the most turbulent macro-economic environment in Nigeria in the past three years, Soludo’s was a treatise that jolted the audience to a reawakening; a renaissance consciousness, a call to self-reinvent, a to and fro counsel that urged group exodus from ‘Lamentations to the Songs of Solomon’.
Given the far-reaching essence of the lecture and his support for Obiano, Soludo literally ruined (if only in the public space) the ambition of those sworn to Obiano’s ouster. As he put it, “we have carefully gone through Governor Obiano’s plans and performance vis-à-vis the resources at his disposal in the context of Nigeria’s current economic and political situation, as well as in comparison with other states and even previous governors in the first three years of their tenure. Governor Obiano is certainly holding the torch higher!”
This assessment is not surprising. Early in the life of Chief Willie Obiano’s administration, indeed from the Governor’s Inaugural Address on 17th of March, 2014, the tone of a structured strategy for a private sector-driven economy was set, hence the vision and mission statements of making ‘Anambra State the first choice investment destination and hub for industrialization and commercial activities,’ and ‘a socially stable, business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities,’ respectively.
The Anambra narrative has since then maintained a glorious ascent, with the state economy surviving the contraption Prof. Soludo described somewhere else earlier in the year as a ‘national economic compaction’. The simple reason for this growth is the fact of Obiano’s strategic plan in governance: his continuity model which advantageously meets with his cardinal pillars of development founded in Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Trade and Commerce, and Industrialization; and the enablers of security, health, education, transportation, women and children’s welfare, youth empowerm ent, road infrastructure, water and sanitation, environment, housing and urban development etc. The administration’s aggregate performance in delivering on these benchmarks provides evidential measure of its success.
When, for instance, the records report Anambra’s capacity to produce over 330,000 metric tons of rice by the end of 2017 from the present 240,000 tons production, against the mere 80,000 tons it did three years ago; when DelFarms of Igbariam, Anambra State, is set to supply SABMillers’ 2.7 hectolitre capacity brewery’s whole sorghum demands; when the state’s e-agriculture room provides us vital information on locations and activities of well over 97,487 farmers in their cooperative clusters scattered across the state; when the committee of agronomists on agric land acquisition readily feeds us data on the potentialities of a land bank of about 67,000 hectres of arable land, and when we know that the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) has disbursed about N1.9bn in microcredit with single digit interest rates to Ndi-Anambra, we begin to appreciate the role of statistics in measuring the value of governance.
How about the essence of promptly paying salaries and other emoluments which is generally taken for granted by Anambra workers? What of the cumulative effect of Gov. Obiano’s economic recession stimulus to private low income earners in Anambra, and the furtherance of cash flow in the state through the funding of the N20m “Community Choose Your Project Initiative”, made available to delineated 181 communities in the state? These efforts have succeeded in oiling the wheels of governance; they curtail tensive tendencies and better the lives of Ndi-Anambra.
In the past three years, Chief Obiano’s administration has been able to reduce crime in Anambra to its barest minimum. Among other aids, the regime has provided over 150 trucks and 25 smart cars to the Police, 10 trucks to the Army, five trucks and one gunboat to the Navy, and two trucks to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Most of these vehicles are specially modeled as command and control centres with the capacity to talk to one another. There are occasional air surveillances to ensure safety of lives and property in the state.
Under Obiano’s watch, Anambra has continued to tower high in education. With improved students’ welfare, teachers’ motivation and infrastructural upgrade, Anambra has maintained top positions in academic performances in national and international competitions as well as in WAEC/NECO examinations. Over 1,400 classroom blocks have been renovated, 60 laboratories upgraded and installed with state of the art equipment, potable water provided in schools, and many Girls’ Schools securely fenced.
In encouraging improvements in standards, the administration has disbursed N1.1bn to faith-based schools and has continued to meet its other obligations. More importantly, Obiano’s belief in strong institutions has led to the establishment of statutory governmental agencies like Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, (ANSIPPA); Anambra Small Business Agency, (ASBA); Awka Capital Territory Development Authority, (ACTDA); Anambra State Market Agency, (ASMA), and other such bodies designed to superintend over vital aspects of developmental governance that would thrive beyond the bounds and limitations of one administration.
For these and many more verifiable attainments of Chief Obiano’s government, and for the governor’s dynamism in adhering to an economic strategy whose effects are both immediate and futuristic, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, in undiluted terms, lent weighty support to the governor’s bid for a second term.
Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu.