The practical results of Obiano’s leadership of Anambra are evident. To start, consider the emphasis it places on the welfare of its workers.
The drastic fall in national revenues owing to the steep fall in global oil prices exposed the terminal weaknesses of the country’s economy as well as the vulnerabilities of a majority of the states. Though states are expected to possess some measure of financial self-sufficiency, once the financial flow from the center stops, the states go limp.
Since the financial crisis started couple of years ago it’s been a familiar refrain: non-payment of salaries, lack of infrastructure projects amongst several other challenges of governance. It is, therefore comforting to observe that a few amongst them have shown remarkable internal resilience and are, in fact, making commendable progress on many fronts despite the shrinking federal allocations amongst other odds. This is in large part thanks to the ability of their governors to leverage internal resources, strengthen internal revenue generation, promote a culture of good governance – prudence and fiscal discipline – as well as bringing innovation and creativity to bear on the conduct of government business. This small group of exemplary leaders are proves that we are not cursed and that if the right persons are given the opportunity to lead, they can set us on the path of social, economic and infrastructural development.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra stands out even within this group of performers as an outlier for good governance. The Governor’s adeptness at managing the state’s finances, aggressive pursuit of infrastructure development, and farsighted development initiatives are gradually consolidating Anambra state as a state where things generally work.
The practical results of Obiano’s leadership of Anambra are evident. To start, consider the emphasis it places on the welfare of its workers. Anambra state is one of the few states that are up to date in the payment of workers’ salaries. It is also the only state that has not only conducted an upward review of workers’ salary in the last five years but has been consistently paying workers on the 25th day of each month.
On the back of its healthy financial status made possible by the discipline of the Governor, the state has been able to successfully meet its obligations in a timely manner to its workers without seeking external help. In fact, Anambra is one of the very few states that did not apply for bailout from the Federal Government. It simply did not need to. Another interesting statistic is the prudent and far-sighted manner the State Governor is managing the debt profile of the state. At a time when the economic downturn justifies borrowing to fund infrastructure development projects, the Governor has resisted the temptation to go on a borrowing binge. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Anambra currently ranks as the least indebted state in the country. This is impressive work and speaks to Obiano’s capacity for resource management.
The governor has demonstrated this proactive and committed attitude to good governance in his engagement of international development partners to good results not only for the people of Anambra but as a good example for the rest of the country. Recently, an assessment report conducted by the World Bank on projects that it has sponsored in the South East and South-South in 2017 showed that Anambra state emerged the clear winner in project delivery, monitoring, accounting and transparency.
On a visit to the state, the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, could not hide the excitement of the Bank in finding a committed development partner in the Governor. He expressed his pleasure at the handling and monitoring of projects going on in the state. The Governor’s adept management of the relationship with the World Bank, with massive financial capacity to finance development projects in state, has enlarged the space for further collaboration that will deliver even more projects for the people of Anambra.
It shows leverage that is only possible leaders show they are committed to promoting the good of the community and not their pockets.
As proof of what to follow, Mr. Bebmessaou during the visit revealed that Anambra would benefit more from the World Bank as the institution has already resolved to execute about four more projects in the state in rural electrification, rural access and agricultural projects and other intervention projects.
This feat is significant and adds zest to the Governor’s efforts to achieve his development blueprint that is anchored on Agriculture, Industrialisation, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas. Winning the confidence and trust of key international development finance institutions such as the World Bank and engaging them on strategies to drive development projects is key to opening doors to concessionary funding.
Again, the governor’s ability to achieve this speaks to his commitment to transparency, a passionate desire to impact the people and make a difference in the state. He deserves the support of all those who mean well for the state and nurse the desire for an environment that will be convenient for individual and collective growth and prosperity.
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Amobi, a pastor, author, and a princess from Ogidi, Anambra State, is the founder of Miriam Stephen Stroke Foundation. 08131323937