A Call for Greatness: Gov. Obiano Speaks!
Ndi Anambra udo dili unu!
Exactly two years ago today, I assumed office as your governor on a cloud of hope. Umu nnem, two years down the road, I am proud to announce to you that we have laid a very good foundation for a better Anambra State. After two years of applying myself to the service of Anambra State, I am happy to look back at what we have achieved and thank you all for your support and prayers.
Ndi Anambra, before I tell you exactly what we have done, it is important to remember that in the past two years, our country Nigeria has passed through one of the worst periods since independence. Oil prices have crashed to the lowest possible point and the Naira fell with it. Most of the allocations from the Federation Account have dried up and left huge gaps in the revenues of states. The consequences are severe and unpleasant. But the good news is that our story is different in Anambra State. We foresaw the impending storm and made adequate preparations for the rainy day. The fact is that when I took over the leadership of Anambra State, my first impulse as a financial expert was to organise a Strategic Retreat for my Executive Council Members to prepare my team for the task at hand. It was at the Retreat that we brain-stormed on the economy and detected the impending fall in oil prices. We have also had more retreats and a Summit on IGR. All these prepared us for the tough times at hand. The result is that while other states are grappling with this new reality, we are not only increasing salaries but we are busy building bridges.
Now, the basic question to ask is ‘how did we do it?’ The answer is simple. We began by defining our Vision and Mission in Anambra State. I stated that my Vision was to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. I also declared 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. To guarantee the realisation of these two Statements, we crafted a Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development which revolves aroundAgriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas. The Vision and Mission Statements come together in a perfect synergy with the Four Pillars of Development to make up my dream for Anambra State.
However, from the very beginning, it was clear to me as daylight, that the major obstacle that stood in the way of my dreams for Anambra State was the challenge of Security. The undeniable fact before us was that since the end of the Civil War, Anambra State had been the theatre of crime and criminality in the South East of Nigeria. I figured out that there could be no meaningful progress in this state without a successful attack against crime. I knew that no investor would go to a crime-ridden environment. So, we launched an all-out war against kidnappers, armed robbers, drug-dealers and child-traffickers. We smashed crime syndicates and pulled down the warehouses used for keeping kidnap victims. We donated smart cars to the police, a gunboat to the Navy and last Christmas, we launched police helicopters to watch over our skies. And so, for the first time since the creation of this great state, we made sure that Anambra was effectively covered on the land, in the waters and in the sky! With that effort, we achieved 360 degrees security coverage of the state! Not only that, we also solved the 46-year old puzzle of crime in Anambra State! With that effort too, it is no longer in doubt that Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria. And for the second time since the creation of Anambra State, we celebrated Christmas last year without a single incident of crime! Ndi Anambra, that is how far we have come on the journey to a safer Anambra State.
Opening Anambra up to the World
The immediate benefit of ridding Anambra State of crime is that we have also opened our dear state up to the world. We have made our state attractive to our great sons and daughters and to wise investors. However, to harness the opportunities created by our emergence as Nigeria’s safest state, we established the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). This Agency has the mandate of attracting investments and fast-tracking the process of investing in Anambra State. To date, ANSIPPA has attracted investments valued at $3.2billion to Anambra State. All the investments we have attracted so far cut across Agriculture, Trade & Commerce, manufacturing, hospitality, housing, electricity generation, waste management, health and oil and gas. More investments are coming.
The Employment Values we have created so far.
Ndi be’anyi, when I asked for your votes in 2013, I promised you that I would give you jobs, jobs, jobs! Today, I am proud to declare that with the quality of investments we have attracted so far, the unemployment problem we have in the state will be drastically reduced in no distant time. Here is our projection for the jobs that will be created from the investments we have attracted –
Agriculture – 27,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs
Industry, Trade & Commerce – 12,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs
Real Estate & Hospitality – 11,000 direct jobs and 39,500 indirect jobs
Power & Transportation – 2,000 direct jobs and 8,200 indirect jobs
Health – 500 direct jobs and 1,900 indirect jobs
Total number of jobs expected – 52,500 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs
We have also effectively trained 500 youths in diverse skills and crafts at the Technology Incubation Centre in Nnewi while 500 other youths have been trained at the Agricultural Training Institute in Mgbakwu. We have great plans for our youths and the unemployed in Anambra State!
Update on my Economic Blueprint
Umu nnem, you may recall that in my Inaugural Address, I had declared that “the time has come to prove to ourselves that the enterprising spirit for which our people are known all over the world can take firm roots at home; that together as one, we can be masters of our own house!” I had also assured, that “under my administration, we have no choice than to decide whether we are truly the sons and daughters of our fathers and true heirs to their long history of pioneering excellence!” Brothers and sisters, our achievements in the last two years have confirmed that truly, we are the children of our fathers. Obu nna anyi mulu anyi! A look at what we did with the Four Pillars of Development confirms this. And here is what we did. First…
Agriculture is the leading pillar of my Economic Blueprint. That was why, two months after my inauguration; we launched our Agricultural Revolution in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Headquarters. Our Objective is to be in the Top-Three agricultural states in Nigeria. Ndi Anambra, two years after, we have almost realised this objective. Anambra has become an exporter of farm produce to Europe. Songhai Farms has reached an agreement with SABMiller for the supply of Sorghum, produced in Igbariam for brewing beverages. This will create more jobs. This is the kind of synergy we want to create in Anambra State. We have also flooded the market with a wholly indigenous brand of rice known as Anambra Rice which is competing favourably with other brands in the market. The question here again is how did we do it? We simply made Agriculture a priority and set up a Special Committee on Agriculture with prominent agronomists and charged it to produce a blueprint for revolutionizing agriculture. This committee carried out a comprehensive survey of our soil to determine where each food crop would grow better. We also set up a Committee for Land Acquisition and Mediation. The Committee ensures that all matters pertaining to the availability of land to investors are handled to the satisfaction of all parties. In specific terms, we have so far attracted $150m from Coscharis Farms Project in Anaku, $50m from NOVTEC Farms Ltd in Ndikelionwu, $160m from Joseph Agro Ltd rice project in Omor, $220m from Ekcel Farms tomato production farm in Omasi and $50m from the Songhai/Delfarms integrated organic farm project in Igbariam. There are also Grains & Silos with $40m investment in storage facilities, Lynden Farms with the $61m poultry farm in Igbariam and Tricity Integrated Farms with $11.4m ultra-modern abattoir in Awka. Indeed, the fire of agricultural revolution is raging in Anambra State. A visit to Igbariam or Anaku will validate this. Next is…
Our objective in Industrialization 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 Investments and better Access to Financing and finally, Strategic Capacity Building. We have so far attracted over $140 million investment to the manufacturing sector. But beyond that, we have also set precedence in the area of building critical alliances with foreign trade delegations. At the last count, we had hosted Trade Missions from Thailand, Ireland and the UK and quite recently, a delegation from the British Commonwealth Office in London visited me in Amawbia to explore possibilities of stronger bilateral relations. The Consular General of the United States of America also arrived with his own team a fortnight ago. We have also held fruitful bilateral talks with South Africa, China, Germany, South Korea and the European Union. Sincerely, the future is very bright for Anambra State! Next among the Four Pillars is…
Trade & 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 and building ultramodern shopping malls across the state. We have also flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping complex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA. This commercial and lifestyle complex will be the first of its kind in Africa. Onitsha Shopping Mall a legacy project of my predecessor that we have completed will open for business in April this year. We have also increased the pace of work on the two other malls in Awka and Nnewi. Other achievements include the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area valued at $75 million dollars and the installation of Close-Circuit TV Cameras (CCTV) in Onitsha Main Market. Next is …
Oil & Gas
Anambra State is blessed with over one billion barrels of oil and 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Our objective 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 we do not make the same mistakes of our neighbours by crafting far-sighted policies and statutes to drive the development of this sector. We have set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by the renowned Dr. Emmanuel Egboga, the former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters to ensure the recognition of Anambra as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria.
Other achievements are the construction Anambra’s longest bridge, measuring 280 meters long, across the Omambala River as part of the 42KM road that opens access to the oil fields in Aguleri. We are also building two other bridges to the oil fields through Umueje in Ayamelum and Umudiora in Anambra West Local Government Areas. 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. 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 jumpstart the Industrialization of our dear state, drive Agriculture and Trade & Commerce which are the key economic pillars of my Administration.
Ndi Anambra, this is what we have done so far with The Four Pillars of Development.
Now, let’s look at some Key Enablers.
The Enablers are the basic foundation upon which the Four Pillars of Development stand. There are 12 of them but I will limit my Report to only 8 because of time -
Roads and Infrastructure -
Ndi Anambra, we have kept our Promise in the building and maintenance of roads and bridges in this state. The three flyovers in Awka speak eloquently of our ambition to transform Anambra with world class infrastructure. The nearly completed Arroma Bridge is not only a beauty to behold but a monument to the pride of our people. The two in Amawbia and Kwata are fast nearing completion. Similarly, we have built two bridges and a 5-Cell Culvert in Awgbu-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma axis. Ndi Anambra, in just two years, my administration has asphalted over 102 roads. And I want to put it on record that there is no single road we inherited from my predecessor that we have abandoned. We have also made some progress on Agulu Lake Hotel Resort and the Three Arms Zone. True, we may not be moving at the pace we had hoped for because of the economic meltdown in the country but we have not abandoned any projects in Anambra State. Not one!
Our achievements in the Educational Sector have remained impressive in the past two years.Essentially, we approach education in three broad areas – infrastructural development,pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare. In the period under review, we have maintained our enviable position in NECO and WAEC examinations. Similarly, our brilliant school children took the Third position at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore last year. Meanwhile, we are current champions in the national Pre-basic Debate Competition. The same debate team defeated the debate team from 80-year old Katung Secondary School in Singapore in January this year. To crown our efforts, our own Rose Nkemdilim Obi won last year’s national Teacher of the Year Award to underscore the silent revolution that is going on in the educational sector. However, in terms of funding for schools, we have disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools, renovated 1000 units of 10-classroom blocks and awarded scholarships estimated at N30 million to over 200 students. We would have done more but for the bleak state of the economy.
In the Health Sector, we have added new units to the Onitsha General Hospital and built a helipad for air ambulances for emergency cases. We have also built several blocks of houses that will serve as Isolation Units in cases of epidemics. The complex has been designated as the Centre for Tropical Disease Control. In addition, we are in partnership with the Rise Health Incorporation of America to strengthen rural health delivery in the state. The partnership gave birth to a specialist outfit known as the Anambra Business Coalition (ABC) through which the Orumba General Hospital has been refurbished and re-equipped to deliver a world class medical service to the people of Orumba North and South. The ABC has also set up an ultramodern Rise Clinic in Adazi Ani and Onitsha respectively to offer quality healthcare to the people. Ossamola General Hospital Ogbaru will be given a similar attention this year. Meanwhile, we have set machinery in motion to ensure the provision of a comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme for Ndi Anambra.
The Environment is one of the key Enablers in my blueprint. Anambra is one of Nigeria’s smallest states in geographical size, measuring only 4,844 Square Kilometres. I am therefore personally concerned about the perennial menace of soil erosion in the state. Our swift response to the gully erosion that recently cut off the Nkpor Junction in Idemili Council Area is indicative of our sure-fire approach to environmental issues in the state. Meanwhile, we have mounted a serious campaign to retrieve our cities from the menace of dirt and instil a culture of cleanness in our people. To demonstrate our capacity to create a cleaner Anambra, we demolished a 30-year old mountain of refuse in Okpoko last year. Our road-sweepers can be seen everywhere in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi cleaning up the cities and making our environment more liveable.
Mass Transit Scheme
Umu nnem, we have made bold attempts to change urban transportation in Anambra State. We initiated the modern mass transit scheme that covers the three major cities in the state with 200 brand new taxis and 40 luxurious buses. This was followed up by the construction of modern bus stops and bus terminals in strategic parts of the state. This initiative was recently expanded to include marine transport with 24 Speedboats and Water Ambulances and one Gunboat for the Nigerian Navy. The idea is to open access to the riverine communities in the state and ensure that no part of the state is cut off from the phenomenal development spreading around us. We are also building a comprehensive vehicle inspection workshop in Awka that will check the road-worthiness of vehicles in Anambra State to minimize the carnage on our roads. At the same time, I personally made sure that the Smart cars we donated to the police in December last year are equipped with Speed-tracking Devices that would help us enforce sanity on our roads.
We recently commissioned 47 solar-powered boreholes that will serve 27 communities in Aguata and Anambra East Local Government Areas respectively. We are not relenting on rural electrification as we have expanded the 33KVA line that supplies power to Anambra North and installed 250 transformers in strategic locations across the state. Meanwhile, are seriously working on an ambitious project of installing streetlights along the old Enugu Road that will run from Nkpor to Amansea. On completion, the project will change the entire landscape of Anambra State; stimulating commerce, strengthening security and promoting social life in various communities located along that road.
Anambra is second to none in the welfare of workers in the whole of Nigeria. We are the only state that increased the salary of workers by 15% in 2015 at a time when many states were looking for bailouts. We have also shown the humane side of governance with a series of worker-friendly policies and gestures. For instance, we have since cleared the N1.9bn arears of salaries owed the State Water Corporation staff as well as the approximately N1bn pension owed Local Government retirees inherited by my administration. Similarly, we humanised governance by granting amnesty to 25 prisoners serving different jail terms in Anambra State to mark Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary last year. These ex-convicts are currently undergoing training in a school for skill acquisition at Umueri and will be handed N1m each at the end of their training.
The IGR Revolution
We have set an impressive record in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with a remarkable increase from the N500m monthly that we inherited from my predecessor to N1.3bn per month at the moment. We achieved this through a timely deployment of cutting edge technology and a clinical wedding out of over 800 ghost workers from the state civil service. We have made several efforts to boost our IGR; holding Strategic Retreats and Summits to seek new ways of increasing revenues without raising taxes. Right now, our mantra is “doing more with less,” and our target is to achieve N2.2bn in monthly revenue generation before the end of this year.
Ndi Anambra, two years is hardly enough time in the life of any administration to make a lasting impression on the people. But my Team and I have demonstrated a strong ambition for greatness. We have shown that given time and resources, we can turn Anambra State into Nigeria’s new postcard for excellence! The records are there for all to see. But to achieve that, we need your support and prayers. And more importantly; we need your belief! We need your belief in our collective capacity to change our beloved state for the better. We need your belief in our ability as individuals to make a difference in our personal lives, our families and in our communities. Every great society was built by men and women who believed in their God-given abilities to make a change. In Anambra State, we can all be the change we desire! But first; we must believe! We must believe that change is not only possible but can be wrought by us. And as we look forward to another year of great expectations in Anambra State, I urge you all to lend a hand to our efforts to build a strong and prosperous state!
God Bless Anambra State!
God Bless Nigeria
Chief Willie Obiano
Governor, Anambra State