My Dream Of A New Anambra: The Journey So Far, By Willie...

My Dream Of A New Anambra: The Journey So Far, By Willie Obiano

By Wires | The Trent on September 28, 2015
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Anambra, Cattle Colonies, Herdsmen Settlements
Anambra Governor Willie Obiano at First Security Fund Raising Dinner by Ndi Anambra held at the Muson center in Lagos, Friday, 26th September 2014 (Anambra Gov't Photo)

by Willie Obiano

Ndi be anyi, nke onye chilli ya zelu-oo!

On behalf of my cabinet, I welcome you all to this great occasion. First, I must thank you all for honouring our invitation. Your response is a reassuring indication of your commitment to the good of Anambra State and an affirmation of the faith you have in my team and I. I must thank you for this.

Umu nnem, I have always believed that democracy and accountability are like Siamese twins – you cannot have one and leave out the other. I have always believed that accountability is the essence of democracy; it provides democracy the moral weight to exist as the best model of governance known to mankind. This belief compelled me to convene the first Stakeholders’ Meeting in June last year, three months after I assumed office as the governor of Anambra State. At that Meeting, I shared with you, my dream of a New Anambra State. I asked for your support, your assurances and your wise counsels as my team and I sought new ways to build a prosperous and proud state.

Ladies and gentlemen, one and a half years later, I am delighted to stand before you this evening to give an account of what we have done with the mandate you bestowed on us. However, before I proceed with this account, I must thank my beloved Ndi Anambra for the huge support they have given us in the past one and a half years. I must also thank the critics of my administration for providing the sharp edges that have helped us to keep our eyes on the ball; reminding us that governance is a social contract between the state and its citizens and that the power we exercise truly belongs to the people. I must also thank our great party, APGA, for the overwhelming support that we have enjoyed since the inception of my administration. A-P-G-A! A-P-G-A!! A-P-G-A!!! Kokoronkoo!!! And finally, I must thank my brother and predecessor, former governor Peter Obi who as the first APGA governor laid a good foundation for my administration to continue the journey for a better Anambra State. Government is a continuum and though administrations may come and go; the concept of the organised society and the merits of purposeful leadership shall never change.

The Anambra that we met

Ndi Anambra, when we took over the reins of leadership one and a half years ago, we realised that my predecessor had done a lot of work in the aspect of setting the fundamentals or what I call the Enablers. He had built quite an impressive network of roads that linked up our communities effectively. He had laid a good foundation with the return of mission schools to their original owners and provided the necessary funding for a sustainable development in education. He had made bold interventions in mission hospitals and done a lot of work in primary healthcare delivery. We found that he had laid the basic foundation for us to build on and justify my campaign Promise of Continuity. We remain grateful to him and his team for their great service to Anambra State.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we should put our hands together for Peter Obi and his team!
Nevertheless, experience has shown that no human society is perfect and that there is always a room for improvement even in the most advanced civilizations. So, it was no surprise to realize that we inherited a state that was unsure of itself…a state that lived in fear – fear of kidnappers, violent armed robbers, brutal drug dealers and several child-trafficking syndicates. The dread of kidnappers chased many illustrious citizens away and forced most families to conduct traditional marriages away from their ancestral homes. We inherited a state that had yet to plan its future along the lines of its natural endowments and the talents and abilities of its human capital. We inherited a proud people who had no proud capital city that would reflect their sense of worth as great pioneers and merchants of light in the whole of West Africa. But perhaps more pointedly, we realised that our people wanted a new order in their lives. They wanted a new approach to governance, a new vision of society and perhaps more importantly, a new sense of freedom.  They wanted to be able to give their children out in marriage under the wise gaze of their elders in their ancestral homes. And quite interestingly, we discovered that Anambra’s numerous billionaires wanted to bring their investments home but did not feel safe enough to do so. Ndi be anyi, we inherited a society where successful citizens drove around in tight security convoys and wiling sirens that drive home the general sense of disorder! A society living on a knife edge!

The Anambra we have created

Umu nnem, as we are well aware, the clock of sustainable progress is usually slow.  Nevertheless, my team and I have tried to define the challenges of our times and provide answers to these challenges.

Brothers and sisters, any fair and objective assessment of the efforts of my administration in Anambra State so far must take off from our clearly stated Vision and Mission Statements. Ndi Anambra, when I asked you to vote for me in the gubernatorial elections, I promised you that my Vision was to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. I also assured you that my Mission was to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities.

The basic question to ask is; has Governor Willie Obiano kept faith with his Vision and Mission Statements? Some people might consider it rather too early to ask this question, considering that we are a year and half old, but each time I ask myself this question, I find myself nodding in the affirmative.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think the answer is yes! We have kept our promise. And this is how we did it –

Security as the bedrock

To achieve our Mission Statement, we had to do something drastic about the security situation in our dear state. We began with a hi-impact Security Summit that attracted a top Israeli security expert, Moshe Keinan which finally dovetailed into the launch of an all-out war against criminals with the inauguration of Operation Kpochapu, the Joint Task Force on security that I established to rescue Anambra State.

It is essentially to the glory of Almighty God and the audacity of our collective hopes that our waves of successful attacks on the men of the underworld were enough to sweep out crime and criminality from Anambra State.

Our onslaught was so clinical that in a very short time, we wiped out their weapons supply lines, pulled down their command and control centres and inflicted a psychological trauma on them by razing the warehouses where kidnappers kept their victims in temporary hostage. The turning point in our heavy-handed assault on the underworld was the arrest of Alphonsus Ngwu; the notorious illegal arms dealer who supplied most of the weapons used by violent criminals in this state and beyond.

There was also the arrest of Okechukwu Nnaegbo, a kidnap kingpin, in an aircraft in Lagos when he was about to escape from the country.  With those two arrests, we won both psychological and moral victory over criminals in Anambra State and swiftly put the remnants of the bandits to flight. With our sustained crackdown on criminals, it soon became clear to everyone that Anambra was on rebound. With that victory, we also fulfilled our Mission to create a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners. Consequently, we began to receive serious enquiries from investors who wanted to exploit the investment potentials of the state. Not only that, we have also seen the return of traditional marriages to our villages and the return of nightlife to our cities. We are not even stopping here ladies and gentlemen. Our drive for a safe and secure Anambra State has gone beyond the boundaries of our dear state.

On August 22nd, we organised a highly successful Regional Security Conference involving the entire South East and Delta State. The idea is to cleanse the entire region of crime and criminality. The response we received from our brothers was overwhelming. It is a thing of pride that Anambra State is leading the charge to free the entire region from violent crimes.  Ladies and gentlemen, unu anakukwa aka ebe-a?

Update on the Four Pillars of Development

As we all are aware, we came into this administration armed with an economic blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development. They are – Agriculture; Industrialization; Trade & Commerce; Oil and Gas. However, a 5th pillar that focuses on Anambra becoming the logistic hub of Nigeria and West Africa is being developed. This pillar will leverage our natural advantages of being a gateway to the South East and South South and our position as one of the most established trading centres in West Africa.  I shall start with the first pillar –

Agriculture.

Our projection in Agriculture is to be among the Top-3 agricultural states in Nigeria. Our efforts in this regard have yielded remarkable results.  So far, we have attracted over $660m investments to this sector. Some of these investments are:

The $150 million investment in rice production and processing in Anaku, Ayamelum Local Government Area (LGA) by Coscharis Group.

Over $160 million investment in Omor Rice Mill and 5,000 hectares farmland for rice cultivation and processing by Joseph Agro Limited of the Aiteo Group.

The $220 million Tomato and Cassava production and processing farms in Omasi Community, Ayamelum LGA by Ekcel Farms Limited.

The $40 million investment by Grains and Silos Limited to construct an ultra-modern grains storage facility to support our thriving brewery industry in Onitsha and other parts of south Eastern Nigeria.

The $50 million agreement with Delfarm and Songhai Regional Centre to transform the farm settlements of Igbariam into another Songhai agricultural marvel of Nigeria.

With all these investments, we have moved to ensure that our local farmers are well positioned to take advantage of the agricultural revolution in the State. We have organized our farmers into 1,500 cooperatives.

We have also equipped them with 100 Tractors, 45,000 tons of high-yielding rice seedlings, 18,000 tons of highly improved maze seedlings and 700 metric tons of fertilizers.   In addition, we have since commissioned the first Agricultural Training Center in Mgbakwu with an initial intake of 250 youths who are undergoing training in the areas of staple crop cultivation and processing, aquaculture, piggery and horticulture. These youths will be empowered with the initial capital to start their own micro-small-medium enterprises upon graduation.

My dear Ndi Anambra, our efforts in agriculture will enable our state produce over 300,000 metric tonnes of rice, 150,000 metric tonnes of cassava and 240,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes in the next 24 months. This will transform Anambra from a net-importer today to a self-sufficient and net exporter of staple foods in Nigeria tomorrow!

Ndi Anambra, I am happy to announce that Coscharis Farms has given us the first harvest in mechanized agriculture in Anambra State. I was filled with pride and joy when I visited the farm recently to witness this historic harvest. With this symbolic first fruit, our drive to become a leader in Agriculture has gone beyond rhetoric! I think we deserve applause here!

Industrialization

Industrialization is a major Pillar of my economic blueprint for obvious reasons.   Anambra is a major hub of the Nation’s industrial activities. Our objective is to become one of the top 3 industrialized states in Nigeria. We are pursuing this in four key areas – creation of modern industrial parks and small-to-medium enterprise clusters, improved drive for investments, better access to financing and capacity building.

Today, we have so far attracted over $140 million of investment to the manufacturing sector. These investments include –
Richbon Automotive Industries Limited – Richbon which has already moved to site is investing over $50 million to build an automotive assembly plant in Ozubulu. This project, in addition to Innoson Motors and our auto spare parts business in Nnewi will re-affirm our position as the auto-capital of Nigeria.

Under my administration, Intafact Breweries Limited has successfully expanded its operations to 2.5m hectolitres valued at 150 million dollars. This represents a 400% increase!

In addition, we hosted a 40-man Trade Mission from Thailand in January this year and signed a bilateral agreement with the Thai Business Community that will enable them invest in industries across Agriculture, Manufacturing, Gas and Solid Minerals, Waste Recycling, Healthcare, Power and Education sectors. We have also hosted a trade delegation from Ireland and held fruitful bilateral talks with China and the European Union. Ndi be anyi, odi ofele?

Trade and Commerce

Our objective in Trade and Commerce is to move Anambra to the Top-3 states in Trade and Commerce in Nigeria. To achieve this, we are rehabilitating our existing markets, building ultra-modern markets and shopping malls and introducing a robust e-commerce platform.

Here are some of our key achievements over the last 18 months:

We flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping compex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA. This commercial and lifestyle complex will be the first of its kind in Africa. The retail outlets will be operated by leading brands from across the world.

Onitsha Shopping Mall is one of the legacy projects of my predecessor that my administration has continued as part of our promise of continuity. With shoprite, a cinema and several global retail outlets, Onitsha Shopping Mall will offer a world class shopping and entertainment experience right here in Anambra. We have also increased the pace of work on the other two modern shopping malls in Awka and Nnewi.

Similarly, the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area valued at $75 million dollars is nearing completion while work has commenced at the Umunze International Market.

Other notable achievements under the pillar include: the Modernization of existing markets through the provision of basic social amenities required; the relocation of illegal street markets; and the relocation of William St/Ogalonye St Traders to their Ogbunike building materials market, amongst others.

Finally, work is progressing on the three buildings that will form part of the Second ICT Business Park in Onitsha and installed Close-Circuit Cameras (CCTV) in Main Market, Onitsha which has completely eliminated pickpocketing and reduced petty crimes by over 80%!

Oil & Gas

Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels and 30 trillion cubic feet of oil and gas. Our target is to have a fully developed Oil & Gas sector by 2018. We intend to achieve this through 3 broad areas of intervention – policy formulation & infrastructure development, private sector participation and community re-orientation.

In the area of Policy formulation, we have ensured that do not make the same mistakes of our neighbours by crafting far-sighted policies and statutes to drive the development of this sector. To facilitate this, my bill proposing the establishment of the Anambra State Oil & Gas Development Agency was passed into law on April 17, 2014 by the Anambra State House of Assembly.

As a follow up, we also set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by our very own Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, the former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters. This committee is charged with drafting a comprehensive Blueprint for the Oil & Gas sector and advising the State on the necessary steps that would ensure the recognition of Anambra as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria.

Work has reached advanced stages on the construction of access roads and bridges to the oil-fields in Aguleri. We have revalidated our license to build an international cargo airport in Umueri. The economic importance of the proposed airport cannot be over-emphasized. We have concluded plans to pipe ATK (aviation fuel) from the Orient Petroleum Refinery in Umuleri to the Airport where a storage facility will be built for it. The idea is for the airport to serve as a major hub for the re-fuelling of international flights in West Africa. We have since flagged off the construction of three dual-carriage ways that will open up access to the proposed airport from three strategic directions – Umueri, Awkuzu and Nteje axis.
Still on Oil & Gas, we are partnering with UD Integrated Petroleum Production Development Company,

UDIPPCO, and Falcon Corporation Limited to invest in the development of our gas-to-power initiative in the State.

UDIPPCO has already commenced the building of a central gas processing facility in Umerum, which will produce lean gas that will serve as feedstock for various gas utilization projects, including an 80MW power plant in the first instance; and subsequently, a urea/fertilizer plant, and a methanol plant.

Similarly, Falcon Corporation plans to pipe Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas across 3 strategic locations in the State. This initiative will facilitate the transportation of natural gas across the state.
We also have a PPP arrangement with STANEL Petroleum for the construction of tank farms for the storage of petroleum products in the State.

These investments will spur the Industrialization of our dear state, drive Agriculture, most especially agri-business and Trade & Commerce which are all key economic pillars of my Administration.

A quick take on key enablers

The Enablers are the basic foundation upon which the Four Pillars of Development stand. There are 12 of them but I will give you an update on a few of them because of time constraints –

Roads and Infrastructure –

Ndi Anambra, we have kept our continuity promise in the building and maintenance of roads and bridges in this state. Work has reached advanced stages on the three flyovers that will change the landscape of Awka. We have asphalted 100 roads and flagged off 30 new roads to link up strategic locations, opening access to the agricultural, industrial and commercial areas of the state. Please note that all the roads my administration has flagged off so far have strategic and economic importance. We are not constructing roads just to please the people but to open a new economic chapter in their lives. The prestigious Agulu Lake Hotel Resort is almost ready to open to customers while work is progressing at a steady pace on the Onitsha Hotel Project handled by Cardinal Developers and Trust Limited. I have the assurances of the Africa Project Finance Development that the $250 million project that will transform the historic Ogbunike Cave into a World Class Resort and Theme Park will take off very soon. Work is also progressing rapidly on the Three-Arms-Zone and the new seat of government in Agu Awka.

Finance – The IGR revolution

Ndi Anambra, the precarious economic situation of the country has forced all the states in the federation to look for alternative revenue sources. As a matter of fact, the new revenue generation mantra seems to be – innovate or die! As some of you are aware, long before I took the oath of office, I had organized a strategic retreat to prepare for the challenge of leading Anambra State. It was at this retreat that we realized that oil prices would soon crash in the international market and that for states to remain solvent, something dramatic would have to be done. Armed with this knowledge, we swiftly swung into action and in less than one year, we were able to increase our IGR from the N500m we inherited from my predecessor to N1.3bn.

Our target is to hit the N3bn threshold and we won’t relent until we have achieved that. We have continued to tinker with our revenue structures to plug all the loopholes and enhance efficiency and transparency. We are deploying technology to offer us the cutting edge we need in this regard. Thankfully, we are not only seeing the rewards in terms of increased revenue but also in terms of honour and recognition. Yes, in March this year, the Federation Accounts Sub-Committee on International Public Sector Accounting System (IPSAS) ranked Anambra as the highest in Transparency in governance. The Survey reviewed the Initiation, Activation and IT Support of states which involves proper procurement procedures and the adoption of the accounting software, as well as GO-Live which means deployment readiness, budget conversion, data migration; and IPSAS-compliant book-keeping. Anambra was rated the highest in all the states of the federation. I think we deserve another applause here!

Ndi be anyi, there have been speculations on why Anambra State has been able to pay and increase the salaries of workers at a time when other states are looking for bailouts. There is no magic to it. Our ability to forecast economic trends is the answer. That was what made us embark on aggressive revenue drive through a robust deployment of technology. That was also the reason why in June this year, we held a strategic retreat for the members of my Executive Council and invited top-flight experts like Bismark Rewane, Eileen Shaiyen and Mac Atasie among others to provide a comprehensive overview of the global economy and distil it down to Anambra State and how to survive the present economy crunch. Since then, the new mantra of my administration has become how to do more with less. This is the spirit of the season. This is the road to the future. Tomorrow belongs to those who can foresee it today. Ndi Anambra we shall continue to pay salaries as long as God Almighty lives.

Education –

Our objective in education is to become one of the Top-3 states with the highest literacy rate in Nigeria. Already, we are closing all the gaps that once existed in this sector. In recent times, Anambra has consistently come tops in WAEC and NECO exams in the past three years. Just the other day, I awarded scholarships to school children drawn from some public schools in this great state who represented Nigeria at the World School Debating Championship in Singapore. The performance of these children has assured me that there is hope for Anambra State. Bikonu kuolunu umuaka anyi aka!

Essentially, we approach education in three broad areas – infrastructural development, pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare.

In Infrastructure, we have renovated 862 units of 10-classroom blocks across the 21 Local Government Areas in the state. In addition, we have disbursed the sum of N733 million to the missions for the renovation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) mission schools.

In Pupils/Students Welfare, we have kept faith with our “No-Child-Left-Behind” policy in education. Under this, we have given free education to all physically challenged children in the state and awarded scholarships to over 200 students at all levels of education. Just the other day, we awarded scholarships to the children of Boko Haram victims and other children who lost their parents while on active duty for the state. In all, we have awarded scholarships of over N30 million since the inception of my administration and we shall continue to do so as the need arises.

Teachers’ Welfare – We are not taking the welfare of teachers lightly in Anambra State. In April this year, we sent 23 teachers to Singapore to undergo training in technical and vocational education. It was a remarkable paradigm shift in our overall quest for excellence in our educational sector.  We have also increased the salary of teachers by 15% and offered incentives of 20 percent of their basic salaries to teachers deployed to hard-to-reach areas. This has greatly reduced the attrition of teachers in the areas. Teachers who teach core subjects like English, Mathematics and Sciences have been placed on a monthly incentive and we have cleared all arrears of promotion we owed the teachers. Our once controversial One-Teacher-One-Laptop Scheme has been largely hailed as revolutionary with other states sending delegations to understudy how we implemented the scheme.  In doing all these, we are mindful that for any society to move in the right direction, it must get its education right. We shall continue to invest in education until Anambra becomes a model state in education in Nigeria.

Transportation –

My administration has broken new grounds in this sector with the launch of a comprehensive Mass Transit Scheme with 200 brand new taxis and 40 Luxurious Buses. Just last week, we expanded our scope to marine transport, with the launch of 15 Speedboats and 7 Water Ambulances to mitigate the suffering of the riverine communities. I have no doubt that these vessels will open access to the riverine communities, making it easier for the people to get quality medi-care, quality education as well as enhance the economic well-being of the communities.

The investment story

You may want to know who how we were able to attract so much investments within a short period of time. Well, my answer to that is that we planned for it and worked for it. Remember success derives from a plan or strategy and persistent drive to execute. In May last year, we set up the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency to act as a clearing house for all investment inquiries in the state. I mandated the Board, headed by our own venerable Igwe Cyril Enweze, to coordinate and monitor all investment promotion activities, initiate and support measures that would enhance the investment climate and to collect, collate, analyse and disseminate information about investment opportunities and sources in Anambra State – essentially focused at our economic pillars thus showing the potential investors we are on a clear journey. Ndi Anambra barely 14 months after ANSIPPA was set up, Anambra has attracted N2.4billion dollars in investments. Attracting this impressive volume of investments is a clear indication that our Vision of making Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination is well within our grasp. However, I must, of necessity, mention that it would have been impossible to attract any investments whatsoever if we had not taken bold steps to realise our Mission Statement of creating a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities in the state.

The Anambra of our dream

Ndi be anyi, as I conclude this address, I want you to know that the Anambra of our dream is not utopia. It is not an Eldorado either or any of the fantasy lands known to man. It is a functional and efficient geopolitical space where the quantum of man’s capacity to remake himself and his environment is equalled by the opportunities for inventive expression. It is a place where our well-known entrepreneurial talent and derring-do will manifest in its fullness for the comfort and prosperity of everyone. That is the dream!
Thankfully, we have already begun a journey into self-rediscovery in Anambra State. Fortunately, we have since realised that it is only in looking inwards that we can realize the fullness of our strength and evolve a clear vision of how to deploy it to our greatest advantage. That is why my administration had evolved the Four Pillars of Development and the 12 Enablers as the ultimate route to the Anambra of our Dream. It must be noted however, that from time immemorial, there has never been a quick fix for economic development. That is why prosperous nations develop Rolling Plans with long gestation periods. However, in Anambra State, we are offering a new perspective on development paradigms.   We can all prefigure the new Awka Capital Territory with its 21st Century blend of functionality and aesthetics. Ndi Anambra when all these things are in place and they will soon be, by the grace of God; we shall hold our heads up high as worthy descendants of Eri the son of Gad and the successors of the great men and women who crafted the ancient bronzes of Igbo-ukwu when the world was still deep in slumber.

Ndi Anambra, that is why we need your support. Ndi be anyi, you know me. You know my background. You know where I am coming from. I am a man of my word. You know where you stand with me at any time. I do not say one thing today and another tomorrow. I am as constant as the Northern Star. I will never let you down. Ndi Anambra this is my story so far. You will all see the rest of the story in the Documentary that we shall soon show you on what we have done with the Promise of Continuity.

Based on our grand vision and plan for sustainable prosperity, building upon the potentials and capabilities of the state, we are passionate, very enthusiastic that this administration will transform our state to occupy its rightful place in Nigeria and Africa with the needed support from great sons and daughters of Anambra like you. All hands must be on deck. Make your support count!

Thank you for your attention and God bless us all.

Being an Address by the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, on the occasion of a Stakeholders’ Engagement held at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia on September 26, 2015.

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