Obiano’s Two Years Of Commendable Exertions
So much has been written on Anambra state and its development efforts since Obiano. How security of life and property as well as infrastructural development gained vibrancy. How human capital development hitherto untouched either because of lack of interest or as a result of minimalist approach to governance has improved. How new frontiers of development were expanded.
There is no doubt that Anambra has gone through the mill since the dawn of this democracy. It may be fair to call her unusual for the simple reason that not many states would have survived what she lived through without being overwhelmed.
At a point she was brimming with political rascals and blazoned impunity as an armorial bearing. So perverse were the activities of the rascals that it was nearly impossible for the early governments in the state to function. What started off as minor political interference soon snowballed into a conundrum of hideous spectacles.
The state snapped up headlines for the wrong reasons. She became the butt of satirical commentaries. The courage of one of the governors to extricate himself from the morass availed little because his office was compromised long before he assumed it.
Small arms proliferation occasioned. Armed robbery and kidnap came in full spate in the state. Investors divested from her. Traders (Onitsha) headed west to Asaba. Citizens of Anambra, those living outside of her, stayed permanently out and held important celebrations outside the state. The rich moved incognito. Others got hemmed in by security operatives. Nothing really worked. Destabilization was nearly total.
The Obi administration made effort. But the situation was a handful. Commendable as it was, it didn’t quite come off. Anambra remained an unfriendly abode. However, few weeks into office, Obiano got cracking. First, his government convened security summit and brought Moshe Keenan, an internationally acclaimed Israeli security expert. It has been a success story ever since – one told by all and acknowledged by the president. No longer have criminals the advantage of a surprise attack against their victims. No longer were they allowed the liberty to entrench in battlements against Operation Kpochapu (a crack team of the Army, Police, DSS, Civil Defense, NDLEA, and Vigilante). With unstinting donation of security patrol vehicles, communication equipment, etc Anambra was reclaimed from men of all criminal hues.
It is amazing what Obiano achieved in two years. The four pillar development strategy of his government and their enablers ensured reasonable growth in almost all the sectors of the economy. By the last count the investment profile of the state was well over $2 billion.
In two years the face of Awka capital city has changed. Three bridges with floodlights and decorative curbs with flowers have sprung up. The fourth bridge, the longest in the state, connects the oil community of Umueje and Aguleri. The long awaited State House (the 3 Arm Zone) has also taken off at Isiagu- Agu Awka. There is no let up in road construction and repairs. The administration’s response has been most gratifying. It saved ndi Anambra a lot of pains at Christmas when it promptly staved off burgeoning cut at Afor Nkpor on Enugu –Onitsha expressway and Okija on Onitsha-Owerri expressway. Housing estates are being constructed in Awka, Umunya, and Onitsha etc.
The administration’s interest in healthcare is evidenced in the holistic improvement of the sector. General hospitals are being renovated and equipped with state- of- the- art medical facilities preparatory to their being accredited by the National Health Insurance Scheme. The effort in the primary healthcare has seen to the provision of mobile ambulances, immunizations and intermittent free medical checks against such diseases like cervical cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, cataract, low density lipoprotein etc, and the prevention of others like Lassa fever, Malaria, Cholera, Zika, Guinea worm, Polio, Ebola et al.
It is difficult to ascertain how the government is sustaining effort in multi-sector development amidst the failing economy. Within living memory, the government has employed more people than any before it. Even the 5000 workers engaged by the immediate past government barely few months to vacate office has remained the responsibility of the Obiano administration. It has not only enhanced emoluments of workers, engaged many more in various government schemes, but has ensured regular and prompt payment of salaries. The amazing thing is that even with limited resources the administration has touched virtually every sector while not abandoning projects started by earlier administrations. For example work is ongoing in the three shopping malls at Awka, Onitsha, and Nnewi in addition to the building of a trade centre at Ogbunike. Ditto for other projects!
Environmental degradation is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the Obiano government because of erosion. Apart from threat to houses and farmlands, the threat to road and road construction is unfathomable. As a matter of fact, it was the same monster (erosion) that nearly halved Enugu-Onitsha and Onitsha-Owerri expressed ways. Unfazed by its seeming intractability, government has mounted intensive awareness campaign and embarked on measures to whittle down the effect. Clearing of drainages and prompt waste evacuation were given a shot early in the administration with procurement of dustcarts, waste bins, etc. This was complemented recently with employment of road sweepers.
Transportation did not receive less attention. Taxis were procured and given out to drivers on hire-purchase while long buses in the manner of the Lagos BRT were pushed into the road at very cheap fare to ease transportation challenges. This was not before a total road decongestion of clunkers on motor ways was carried out. To complement this effort the services of vehicle inspection officers (VIO) were brought back, as were Anambra Road Traffic Management Agency (ARTMA). A new Anambra Carrier, TRACAS, was also set up, fortified with new buses to carry on with inter-state transportation services.
Other sectors like education, public utilities, sports, etc are not developed any less. In fact, the multi-sector development has been quite commendable more so when viewed in the context of scant resources available to government. Any wonder, detractors doubted the possibility of pulling through the many projects, especially four bridges in two years. Willie is indeed working and the people are wishing for more years of positive exertions.