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WE'VE STARTED A QUIET REVOLUTION IN ANAMBRA – ONUEKWUSI

By NBF News
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Onuekwusi
An investment holding company, Ambra Investicorp Trust Limited, is planning to raise N1 trillion in the next five years for the transformation of Anambra State into the most commercialized and industrialized state by the year 2030.

In an interview with Daily Sun, the Managing Director of the company, promoted by the League of Anambra Professionals (LAP), Dr. Ndi Onuekwusi, said they had started a quiet revolution, with a plan to develop the state through massive investment activities that would create massive employment opportunities within the state in the next 20 years.

According to him, the company is at the verge of concluding a private placement offer opened last year to raise an initial N10 billion as a take-off fund, stressing that its first project, a N600 million large expanse poultry farm built at Nkwelezuna, had taken off.

He said the first phase of development would be spread along extractive sector covering agriculture, raw materials and manufacturing and, with time, expand into other areas of development like stable power supply, commercial services, as well as qualitative education. Explaining their planned development model to be delivered through the company, Onuekwusi described the planned development model as an adaptation of a hybrid of Isreali and Dubai developments to suit the Anambra State circumstance.

While stating that the generality of Anambra people are stakeholders, the company boss explained that the Isreali model was a proof that partisan politics is inimical to development, and that people in diaspora can get together and transform a difficult terrain. He further explained that the Dubai model is proof that massive development could be actualized through a good financing mechanism for planned, sustained and sustainable development.

All these, he said, would reduce migration out of the state and, at the same time, attract high skilled labour back home with a multiplier effect that could spike development in the rest of the sectors of the economy about 13 years after. Conceived as a vehicle for raising the N1 trillion funds towards the actualization of the development programme, Ambra Investicorp becomes a model for development, a model that seeks to maximally leverage on the huge but largely dormant economic base in the state to create a world class commercial enterprise to facilitate the emergence of modern businesses in the state and in the process make the state a choice residence for professionals and business men and women.

But it is also an investment window for any investor interested in high returns on investments since the promoters are creating productive, profitable companies that are going to make profits. With impressive profits crystallizing from numerous streams of well thought-out activities, paying mouthwatering dividends to the stakeholders is a given.

'And there is going to be capital growth, too. So it is not just about creating employment and reducing poverty, it is also about the people who are investing having capital growth and earning dividends and recouping there investment within the shortest time frame possible', Onuekwusi stated. Continuing, he said 'We have a target to raise N1trillion in this development fund in the next five years. And the private placement we did was to start to raise N10 billion as a take-off fund. The first project we are battling with is a N600 million project, which is the livestock farm.

'The issue is not really the numbers, the issues are in mobilization and right now that the government is involved in the process, the potentials are there. In Anambra State we have more than 100 persons who can write N1 million cheque without sweating and that is worth N1trillion, something that can actually be raised in one year but we have given five years'.

Throwing their weight behind the ennobling project, great industrialists, business moguls and politicians from the state closed ranks and forged a common ground towards the transformation of their state of origin by investing massively in Ambra Investicorp Trust Limited. And at the unveiling of the offer in a ground breaking fund-raiser in Lagos March last year, over N1.5 billion was realized as part of the N10 billion first phase projects development fund.

It was as if all were agreed they could do much better for the state by pooling their resources together for the development of their home state which has been a tumble-down despite talented human capital and other abundant resources the state is blessed with. At the end of the ceremony, about N1.5 billion was realized as part of the first phase projects development fund of N10 billion.

'The contributions we want from our people is not just money. We want money and messengerial effort, and we want ideas. No body has the monopoly of good ideas. So that is very important. 'The activity will go round other towns like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha, and subsequently overseas. So it is a special mobilization and advocacy effort by our governor. That is wonderful and the first in history, a collaboration between the people and their government in this new way that we must go in order to emerge as a vibrant economy', Onuekwusi said.

He speaks further:
Industrial revolution, solution to degeneration
The country has degenerated so much that militancy and kidnapping which should have been treasonable offences are now popular. Yet we gloss over it as if it is nothing. We have gone into the tradition of glossing over things. We have recently glossed over one of the worst news that we have heard about our youths which is about the foundation of nation building, education.

Some weeks ago, it was announced that 75 percent of our children failed Math and English Language at WAEC level. And it just passed as ordinary news but I assure you that this is an occurrence that is worse than a tsunami. The news of 75 percent of our children failing both subjects which is the foundation of education is worse than tsunami that killed several thousands in recent past. And nobody said anything about it. So we have got used to being in comfort living in the gutter. And this is actually the proper definition of poverty. Poverty is living in the gutter and enjoying the odour.

We are living in a precarious time in Nigeria. Apart from the political tension, all the factors of our national life is also in dire straits. The key is not partisan politics, and the solution is not in partisan politics. Partisan politics can be part of the factors. But the key issue is our relegation of development as a non issue in the country. What has put the country in the present situation is that we have relegated development to be a non issue and our core goal has been partisan politics.

Development as core goal
What should be the core goal of the country is development and partisan politics should be a way to maximize development. But we have made partisan politics the core goal of the country, and so in planning every other thing. And this has been so from pre-independence till today. And unless we correct this by a planned sustained effort, the discussion about bloody and about non bloody revolution may become more common place in the near future. I want to promise you that nothing will change even if we have a free and fair election if we do not change to development as a core goal because you can have a free and fair election and elect a very bad government.

The only time people elect good government is when they development as a core goal. So they are looking for the people who will deliver the indices of development. But if you are looking for people who will give you federal character, people who will give you zoning, who will give you entitlement, then we are going to continue along the track and values of partisan politics. All the values of Nigeria that are described as negative now are all things that are normal in partisan politics.

The only thing is that Nigeria being young society is crude but even in Britain or America, for partisan politics, you have all the intrigue, the lying and sharp moves of one to out-smart the other, the brinkmanship, and blackmail and so on and so forth. But in Nigeria, it is crude and violent. But the difference between us and the society that has developed is that the societies that have developed, throughout history, from the beginning of creation till today, all the societies that have developed are those who have taken development as their core goal and subdued partisan politics at the beginning of their development either by force or by consensus. Right now, Nigeria must find a way to subdue partisan politics either by force or by consensus and make development our core goal.

In the course of making development our core goal for 50 to 80 years, we will now develop the political culture to support development. The key issues in development are always measurable, they are always objective, they are safe, they have time value for money, they re high quality production, they are competitive production, they are all things that make a society grow and provide for the welfare and wealth for every individual in the society according to his contribution. But in this situation where once you make partisan politics the core goal, sharing becomes the major activity.

And once sharing is the major activity it can never be shared equitably. What should be the major mechanism of allocation is earning. What you earn is what you deserve. You cannot negotiate equity because equity is getting what you deserve. It is the quality we are looking for that we want to get back sharing. And these are the key things we need to change to. And we cannot change to it if we continue the dance that we are used to; the dance we have been dancing sine independence.

We have started a quite revolution in Anambra State

And this is the area where we are going to give example of having sown a seed for making development the core goal. And we are trying to realign politics to drive development. So we are trying to unveil this quite revolution. In a way, we must give credit to all the governors of Anambra State since this process started and especially our current governor, Mr. Peter Obi. For the fact that all the governors in Anambra State recognized, accepted, supported and have been part of this exercise, both Ngige in whose regime we started to Virgy Etiaba and then to Peter Obi again.

This is the people's movement; all our town unions are part of it. All the churches are part of it; and all segments of our society are part of it. The key thing here is that the LAP, an umbrella organization of all Anambra people irrespective of their religion, where they come from or what they do, as long you are 18 years and above, and has a legitimate means of income, you are a potential member of the League of Anambra Professional (LAP).

Defined that development must now be our core goal, and development becoming our core goal, we are in subtle way managing the politics in our state to realign it for politics for development. So that after election, everybody can close ranks and support whoever is governor in the state so that we are all developing the way we agreed to develop.

It is important to now go back to history and give a few example of what we are saying which is to establish that the kind of politics we play is not important. Whether in democracy, autocracy, or military regime, it does not matter, if make development your core goal, you can develop under any form of government. Europe started developing under king; that was autocracy. America started developing under democracy, but that was a collegiate democracy. For about 60 to 80 years, there were no political parties in America. It was only the middle class that voted in an electoral college. So it was not a free democracy with universal suffrage.

The reason is that they were targeting development as their core goal. And only those that understood what development was were allowed to vote and be voted for. Right now in our country we have a situation where the large population of the people who vote and who will be voted for do not really know what they are voting for. The easiest reason to vote is that the person is their relation or has given you bribe whereas even the least of them who can analyse do not go to vote on voting day.

May be they think that the large pool of people will neutralize their vote. So, what I am trying to say is that the process we are undergoing is not dealing with core issue. The type of voter education we require in order to begin to ask questions about when will our politics lead to development and who and who in our politics will give us development, have not been structured. As our current voter education is to have automatic turnout and let people vote, free and fair voting in our current operating environment will not deliver the result we require.

Having given a bit of this background, a lot of which country we can copy, we can take China is a communist country, Dubai is an autocracy, and Isreal which is the country we should copy. We should copy Isreal because it is a country where you have democracy but after elections, people come from all kinds of parties and teem up to focus on the development and security of the country. So, all the other countries playing politics non developed.

Efforts towards developing Anambra
On the effort we are making in Anambra State, Ambra Investicorp Limited, having been adopted by the people has done a private placement which is being concluded. Ambra is really a development fund. The Dubai model shows that you can raise development fund and use it to transform society. It is the private sector that develops the economy under an enabling environment created by government. This is another key fundamental. And so, you may ask: what have we achieved in Anambra?

First of all, we have set down the institutional frame work for making progress. Two, we have set down the ideological frame work for growing. And without this institutional an ideological frame work, you cannot get anywhere. This is part of the problem of the country. We have tried to muddle through without the proper institutional and ideological frame work. Without building a vibrant organized private sector in Anambra State, we can never come out of our trouble. You can never grow an economy that is just based on one-man businesses doing just what they like. Those SME's are very important but they must operate in an environment that has an over-lapping vibrant organised private sector. Then will SME's blossom because they will add supply and demand side to the organized private sector.

To this end, we now have this frame work, and we have done our first project, the Nkwele-Ezunaka livestock farm which is located on a 110 hectres of land. It was a run-down farm which we are now beginning to rehabilitate and want to transform it to the biggest farm in the Eastern part of the country. Note that at the moment you can hardly buy a day old chick in the whole Eastern part of the country. And of course if you want to get it from the Southwest, you know the risk of mortality of conveying them to Anabra, it becomes a very hazardous venture.