An Address By The Governor Of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano At The 59th National Congress Of ANCOPPS Holding At Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, May 3, 2016

By James Eze

On behalf of the government and people of Anambra State, I welcome you all to Awka. On a personal level, I always look forward to meeting teachers. As a proud son of a teacher, I know that teachers are not only some of the greatest parents anyone can have but also the great pillars of the society. No forward-looking society can ever toy with the affairs of its teachers! Once again, I welcome you to Anambra State, Light of the Nation!

Ladies and gentlemen, I must thank you for choosing Anambra State as the venue for this year’s edition of your National Congress. When Professor Kate, my ebullient Commissioner for Education told me about this congress, I was delighted because it occurred to me that finally, people are beginning to take note of all our modest achievements in education.

Sincerely, ladies and gentlemen, I think that Anambra State has come a long way in Education and the advancement of human thought. Not only have we produced outstanding scholars and pioneer educationists, Ndi Anambra have also made significant contributions to different fields of knowledge and research through the ages. Among Anambra’s many giants are – the great Zik of Africa, Right Hon. Dr.NnamdiAzikiwe, Prof. Kenneth Dike, EmekaAnyaoku, Chinua Achebe, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Prof.Chike Obi, Pius Okigbo, Ben Enweonwu and Cardinal Francis Arinze to mention just a few of them to drive home my point.

Happily, we have continued this tradition of greatness with the likes of novelist ChimamandaAdichi; the first West African to be declared a “genius” by the prestigious MacArthur Foundation,Chuka Umunna and ChinyeluOnuorah who are thefirst Nigerian Labour Party members of the British Parliament. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we need an applause here!

Happily too, our school children have continued to walk in the shadows of our illustrious brothers and sisters. The Anambra Schools Debate Team has won the National Schools Debate Championship twice in the past two years and represented Nigeria at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore twice. In fact, Team Anambra emerged tops at the Mock Debate held early this year in Singapore to prepare the teams that are warming up to compete in this year’s World Championship. Come July this year, Team Anambra will be representing Nigeria once again at the World Schools Debate Championship in Germany. At the same time, our school children have dominated national exams like WAEC and NECO for almost three years. In fact, last year,the Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO, Prof.AbdulrashidGarba applauded the State for recording almost 80% in 5 Credits including English Language and Mathematics. And to add yet another feather to our cap, our own Mrs. Rose Nkemdilim Obi won the National Teacher of the Year Award for 2015! I think we deserve another applause here!

Sustaining the Tradition of Excellence
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a saying that to whom much is given, much is also expected! You may therefore wonder what my administration is doing to preserve this great heritage and sustain our march on the track-road of academic excellence. Essentially, our strategic approach to education is in three broad areas – Infrastructural Development, Teachers Welfare and Students/Pupils Welfare.

In Infrastructural Development; we have renovated 1000 units of 10-classroom blocks. We have disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools and faithfully implemented the computer acquisition scheme for teachers. And in line with the growing security concerns in the country, we have also concluded the perimeter fencing of some schools while others are currently being constructed. In addition, we have issued cheques of N1m to each of our 256 secondary schools to construct sickbays and purchase sporting equipment and another N750,000 each to public schools for the provision of teaching aids.

In Teachers Welfare; Anambra teachers are beneficiaries of the 15% increase in salary that we gave to all civil servants in the state. However, beyond that, last year, we sent 23 vocational school teachers to an offshore training in Singapore to learn the global best practices in vocational education. Our massive training of teachers, principals and education support staff on ICT Literacy is still going onto ensure that our principals and teachers meet acceptable world standards. Indeed, we take our teachers seriously in Anambra State. We are very prompt in the payment of their salaries and allowances. We pay additional N3,000 to motivate teachers who teach English Language, Mathematics and the basic sciences while we pay 20% of the basic salary to teachers who accept a posting to some hard-to-reach locations. Similarly, we have since wrapped up the promotion of teachers who made the mark in 2012 and 2013 and we are making efforts to conclude those that are long overdue.

In Students/Pupils Welfare, we realise that we have a great responsibility to our children. That is why we rolled out the “No-child-left-Behind” policy to ensure that no Anambra child is left out of school. This policy is at the heart of our decision to give free education to all physically challenged students/pupils in Anambra State. We also recently increased the monthly feeding allowance to schools for children-in-need from N50,000 to N500,000 per month. Even with the bleak state of the economy, we have so far doled out the sum of N30m in scholarship funds to 200 students. These include children whose parents were killed by Boko Haram in the North.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are doing our best under the present economic circumstances, to inspire our teachers to offer their best to our children. We shall continue our efforts to reposition our teachers in the frame of reference of our people. Indeed, my administration will not relent in doing what we can to ensure that the Anambra teacher does not wait to be rewarded in heaven for his good work on earth. We must build the Nigerian teachers to help us build a better society!

Ladies and gentlemen, I agree with Alexander the Great; King of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon who once said “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”

It is on this note that I hereby declare the 59th Annual National ANCOPPS Congress Open!

Long live Nigeria
Long live Anambra State
Willie Obiano