One of the easiest ways to increase efficiency and output is to create competition. In a competitive environment, rival counterparts employ ingenuity to outsmart each other.
This concept of competing for rewards is as old as time itself, playing out in the story of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and several other ancient tales.
Growing up, we competed for positions during exams, and coming tops meant a prize and bragging rights for the whole term.
This healthy competition drives big economies, where industry players create opportunities, advertise Unique Selling Propositions, and convince the consumers why they should abandon other products and favour theirs. Without exception, a competitive economy will outperform a monopolised business environment that is devoid of innovation.
In many cases, big firms create their competition by launching similar products to rival their already existing brands. Examples are Toyota and Lexus, Volkswagen and Audi, Hyundai and Kia, Honda and Acura, Infinix and Tecno, and many more.
Nigeria’s economy is a bundle of contradictions that have been affected by adverse market conditions, unfavourable government policies, regressive cabals sabotaging progressive concepts, and many other hostile market forces.
While we acknowledge the difficulty of revamping Nigeria’s economy, there are avenues for developing subnational economies that will be independent and self-sufficient.
Examples of such thriving subnational economies are California (USA), Guangdong (China), and Tokyo (Japan). The economies of these cities/states have evolved and can function without influence from the central government.
In Nigeria, we can boast of only one actual subnational economy in Lagos, although there are glimpses in Kano, Aba, Port Harcourt, Nnewi, Onitsha.
Asides from Lagos, very few states possess the innate potentials to thrive as a subnational economy for obvious reasons, and Anambra happens to be the brightest chance for that possibility.
I reached this conclusion after studying the economic blueprint outlined in the “Ka Anambra Chawapu” Manifesto, the campaign document of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) frontrunner ahead of the 2021 Anambra governorship election, Valentine Ozigbo.
A study of this well-designed document paints a clear picture of the enormous possibilities of economic prosperity for Anambra State.
So, what makes Anambra special?
As someone who has lived a large majority of his life in Anambra State, it is a fact that Ndi Anambra are one of the most entrepreneurial people you will find anywhere in the world. In every corner of the state, you will find entrepreneurs breaking even and enlarging the economic space.
Anambra is blessed with unique human resources that are naturally wont to prosper in business environments. The entrepreneurial spirit of Ndi Anambra is visible in other parts of Nigeria and diaspora, where our people have stood out for their natural business acumen.
So what’s stopping Anambra from becoming a competitive subnational economy? Leadership. Modern, focused leadership with relevant experience in the financial sector and a track record of excellence. These qualities are part of Valentine Ozigbo’s DNA.
Valentine Ozigbo is the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, a diversified conglomerate with interests in hospitality, power, agribusiness, and oil and gas.
Ozigbo is an alumnus of the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, where he was the best graduating student in the Department of Accountancy. He also got his MBA from the same university before winning the prestigious Chevening Scholarship and proceeding to Lancaster University, where he completed his second masters, graduating with a distinction. Ozigbo also completed the Global CEO, a program that saw him study in three universities worldwide, and he was made the president of the class, a position he holds to date.
His first working experience came as a youth copper in NAL Merchant Bank. He moved to Diamond Bank, Warri, where he was named the best staff of the bank in Nigeria within just six months. Within five years, he was appointed as a branch manager and a regional manager within seven years, an astronomical feat in the banking industry.
His outstanding performance saw him work at the top echelon of the banking industry, including serving as Head of International Banking, Head of Global Transactions, Head of Embassies, and Multilaterals. In that period, he became an international banker and was majorly responsible for the global spread of the United Bank for Africa, UBA. He later rose to the position of Vice President in Bank PHB, a position equivalent to General Manager.
Ozigbo took his know-how to Transcorp Hotels and later Transcorp Plc, where the awards and accolades received are a testament to the incredible transformation that took place within that period.
With such an intimidating background and career in the financial sector, I am confident that he can create Africa’s most competitive subnational economy in Anambra. It’s all there in the Ka Anambra Chawapu Manifesto.
Ozigbo, a global kaizen champion, is promising Ndi Anambra a conducive environment that will increase the ease of doing business. Concessions will be made, and business-friendly policies will make Anambra a hotbed for commercial enterprises.
Ozigbo, who has strong ties with Ndi Anambra in Diaspora, plans on leveraging the enormous spending power of Anambra indigenes abroad. This way, funds that would have been spent abroad will be funnelled into the development of Anambra and Ala Igbo in extension.
Leveraging his rich experience in liaising with embassies, multilateral and the diplomatic corps, Ozigbo is poised to drastically reducing Anambra’s debt profile and attracting major developmental projects through collaboration with Developmental Financial Institutions (DFIs).
As a veteran of the Nigerian private sector, Ozigbo understands the value and financial strength of the private sector and the many merits of a well-executed Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
Ozigbo, an investor in technology, plans to introduce transparent e-governance, where technology, data, and artificial intelligence will increase accountability and improve economic processes.
The icing on the cake of these modern economic strategies is Ozigbo’s Cluster Approach to economic development.
While speaking at a town hall meeting he organised for political stakeholders in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Ozigbo took time to explain how the cluster approach will get every part of Anambra developed at the same time.
“In our 5-cluster development plan as highlighted in the Ka Anambra Chawapu manifesto, the untapped tourism potential of Anambra Central will be exploited through the ‘Visit Anambra’ agenda,” Ozigbo remarked.
“Awka and environs will be developed into a befitting state capital worthy of our state. We will invest in developing our tourism and attraction centres within the state capital and other places around the zone.
“Our ultimate aim is to make the zone a welcoming environment for tourism, travels and tours as well as a hub for massive educational development and transformation,” he revealed.
“The Nnewi Cluster, as captured in our development strategy, will be positioned as an industrial hub where the government will encourage local manufacturing and export. We will ensure investment incentives to ensure that it becomes fashionable to invest in Anambra,” Ozigbo continued.
“The world is currently technology-driven, and Anambra State cannot be left behind. We will focus on the Old Aguata Zone as a cluster for technology, ICT, and digital development. We plan to launch a State-sponsored start-up investment program to provide seed capital to technology entrepreneurs.”
“Omambala and Ogbaru Clusters have been mapped as agricultural havens. We will give special attention to Omambala, Ogbaru, and Awka North to ramp up production, and expand the value chain and create jobs.”
“Another important cluster in the Ka Anambra Chawapu manifesto is the Onitsha and Idemili Cluster, which will be a commercial mainstay for Anambra, and in extension the South East region,” Ozigbo explained.
Need I say more? If all these are achieved, we must have created a competitive subnational economy that can not be rivalled in Africa.
Ndi Anambra, the ball is in your court. All eyes are on the PDP to show their seriousness in unseating the incumbent APGA. The primary is a few days away, and history beckons. Let’s ensure that history is kind to you for insisting on competence, excellence, and professionalism.
Choose Ozigbo, Ka Anambra Chawapu.
Ejike Umeh is a computer scientist, writer, and political analyst. He writes from Igbo-Ukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.