Anambra: Two Years Of A Renaissance Governor
It was Willie Nwokoye, the often cerebral Principal Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State who scored the bull’s eye with the choice of ‘renaissance’ Governor to condense the narrative of Willie Obiano’s exploits at mid term of office. In my view, it is a description that captures the essence of Obiano’s socio - economic engineering in Anambra State’s development journey.
For, as impressive as the scope and pace of the two year old administration’s physical projects have been, it is in the enduring intangible structures, in the reign of standards, that we locate the regime’s greater accomplishment. From security to social services, from infrastructure to investments, Obiano makes the statement: we’re here presently; why can’t we move on to the next level? Proceeding from this plank, it is inevitable that the regime is concerned not merely with sustaining inherited legacies but in surpassing these and attaining greater heights.
There is a tendency by the Willie Obiano administration to take a holistic view of issues that bear on the critical needs of society. Anambra has fast – tracked from a besieged state to one the three safest states in Nigeria since the advent of Governor Willie Obiano. What changed? An extensive security action – plan was introduced and continues to be intensively implemented. Beyond the usual support to security agencies with upgraded equipment, security has taken on a systemic approach that spans Intelligence gathering, synergy of operations and complement of food security.
Hosea Karma, Anambra State Commissioner of Police sheds some light on the merits of the new formula.: ‘Governor Obiano has not only encouraged the security agents in the state, he has gone out of his way to ensure that all the security agents in the state work together….The unity that he has fostered among the security agents has gone a long way to achieving major results because instead of the security agents fighting each other, we now see ourselves as brothers.’ [Daily Sun, March 2, 2016.]
With the network approach driving the regime’s interventions in the state’s political economy, security finds expression beyond its formal space into other sectors and vice versa. The complement of food security is recognised in the street wisdom that a hungry man is an angry man. It is heart – warming to observe that the working Willie has followed up to his proposal shortly after assuming office: ‘We are well aware that if we replace the guns in the hands of our youths with employment letters and seed monies for small – scale businesses, Anambra would be freer from criminals and social miscreants…’ Not only does the agro – allied sub sector take a sizeable portion of the $2.9b investments Governor Obiano has attracted to the State, each of the four pillars and a dozen enablers of his programme has job creation links.
The insistence on high standards has assured continuity of the policy on regular rehabilitation of schools and provision of equipment. Raised the bar of teaching and learning in Anambra’s public schools has led to a harvest of laurels in national and international educational competitions. It is no surprise that in the past three years, the state’s candidates took lead positions in WAEC and NECO conducted examinations. A Mathematics teacher from Anambra, Mrs Rose Nkemdilim won the best Nigeria teacher contest in 2015. The state’s contingent to the World School Debate emerged victorious also in 2015.
In the past two years, Governor Obiano has succeeded in making Anambra State an investor’s haven, striking significant partnerships with a variety of entrepreneurs. Some legs of the investment bang are the $100m natural gas project being undertaken by Falcon Corporation Limited and the $50m vehicle assembly plant by Richbon Nig Ltd. The strategic importance of these ventures in the quest for an industrialized economy cannot be over – emphasized. In the face of the nation’s energy crisis and the statutory limitations of state governments on power, a gas distribution initiative represents about the best intervention in the power supply chain.
With this facility, the Obiano leadership aims to shore up energy delivery to the state’s industrial zones, thus, boosting capacity utilization of entrepreneurs. The Agreement with Richbon shows that its automobile plant will assemble buses, light and heavy duty trucks, construction as well as agricultural equipment.
It is of much significance that some of these ventures have capacity for ripple effect on other new and old investments such as the assembly plant promises to impact on the agricultural revolution in the area of equipment. It is also interesting to note that the location of the vehicle assembly plant is Oba, close to the Nnewi auto industrial centre. Oba incidentally is the site for the proposed commercial airport for the State.
About a week to Christmas in 2015, Governor, Willie Obiano declared two of the three flyovers under construction in Awka, the state capital, serviceable and open to motorists. At ninety – five percent and eighty percent completion stages, the projects initiated by the Obiano regime, were on course for commissioning sooner than later. But the arrival of the Christmas season with its characteristic mass movement of people necessitated an immediate presentation of the facilities to the public. As it were, the unveiling of the flyovers to road users could not have been more timely, underscoring once more the priority nature of the projects.
Awka increasingly comes across as a town in two parts – the old and the new Awka demarcated by the Onitsha – Enugu expressway. Consequently, the flow of traffic from the various axes finds intersections on the expressway. Inevitably, these meeting points had thrown up huge, safety and commuting concerns.
There is no gainsaying that opening of the flyovers to public use at the time the Governor did took away much of the stress that road users in the state would have been subjected to at this time. It is even more heartening that on return from the Christmas break, work resumed in earnest on the finishing touches that would have the projects sealed and delivered.
The traffic hazards the situation presented was in a sense, an extension of the underdeveloped status the capital had suffered since creation of the state twenty – four years ago in 1991. Many are rightly placing great store on the utilitarian and aesthetic benefits of the three flyovers. Awesome in scope and invaluable in services, the three flyovers stand out as alluring landmarks of a long – neglected capital city. In a sense, their construction signals the beginning of the long - awaited transformation of Awka to the status of a modern capital city.
The state’s mass transit scheme is thriving. To the surprise of some who gave the project a year to collapse, the scheme is in its second year with the buses well maintained and a ubiquitous sight on the roads. It is important to note here that infrastructure maintenance had also become a distinguishing feature of the Obiano administration. Roads and street lights are being serviced all over the state in a systematic manner that leaves you in no doubt about a resolve to deliver and make things better for the populace. The subsidized fares charged on the mass transit vehicles demonstrate the point eloquently. And these are distinct from the buses earlier provided for commuting public servants.
Committed leadership endeavours to serve, not to be served by the people. You can never mistake the passion to make things better. That seems to explain Obiano’s resolve to deliver on those indices that add value to the standard of living - even in the face of dwindling revenues. It is a vindication that Ndi Anambra made a correct choice when they elected him Governor in 2014.