Countdown to Obiano’s 7th Anniversary. Focus on Industrialization: Day 9.

By James Eze
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In his inaugural address, Governor Willie Obiano had declared that the time had come to remind ourselves that “a people who astonished the world with their ingenuity and resourcefulness in wartime can lend a hand to remake our world in peace-time.” This statement has turned out to be the ultimate call to arms for many industrialists in Anambra State. It has woken up the entrepreneurial spirit of the people and today, Obiano’s vision has been validated by the number of new businesses springing up across the state.

Governments all over the world are not often rated by how many industries they establish but how well they have enabled the private sector to establish industries. Governor Obiano has done well in this regard by creating an enabling environment for industries to thrive in Anambra State. One of his earliest steps on assumption of office was to hold a ‘Business Roundtable’ with industrialists of Anambra extraction at the Executive Chambers of Anambra State. This gathering had manufacturers, investors, investment bankers, venture capitalists and other categories of entrepreneurs in attendance. It was at this gathering that the Aku luo uno philosophy which emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurs giving roots to their businesses by setting up a presence at home was birthed. Governor Obiano gave the industrialists at the meeting two assurances; that he would clean up Anambra and make it safe for investors and that he would work hard to improve electricity supply in the state. Seven years down the lane, Obiano has kept his promises. Anambra is Nigeria’s safest state. Power supply has improved significantly in the state.

Along this line too, efforts were made to restructure the industrial base of Anambra State. Governor Obiano was intentional when he declared that roads leading to industrial clusters and agricultural settlements would be given priority attention. The need to give a backbone to the industrial landscape eventually led to the establishment of ASBA (Anambra Small Business Agency). This agency has played a big midwifery role in the emergence of industrial clusters in Anambra State. The Shoe Making Cluster in Nkwelle Ezunaka which was funded by this Agency is the crown jewel of Obiano’s industrial drive. The cluster currently exports Made-in-Anambra shoes and other foot wears to several West African countries. The success of the Shoe Making Cluster has led to the setting up of a Clothing and Textile Cluster in the same location, which the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo will be commissioning any moment soon. The Agency has also been responsible for the sprouting of many Small and Medium Scale industries in the state like Stine Industries who are the brand owners of Anambra Rice, Lifestyle Electronic Shops and several other small businesses.

Indeed, since the creation of Anambra State, no governor has investment so much in electricity supply as Governor Willie Obiano. This is because, Obiano believes that without electricity, his Industrialization policy would be dead on arrival. In this regard, from Oji River in Enugu State, the administration ensured the installation of a 33kv line to supply power to Orumba North and South. It benefitted 31 communities. This particular initiative was so transcendental that an unintended beneficiary, the Isuochi Community in Abia State had to send a delegation to specially thank the governor for giving it a rare access to electricity. In fact, it is on record that the Isuochi community had even made a subtle request to officially become a part of Anambra State. Another 33kv line was extended to Anambra North Senatorial zone which benefitted many communities too. And yet another 33kv line was extended from Otuocha to Nkpunando community. It brought electricity to so many communities that had no access to power supply in their entire existence.

The administration has also installed another 33kv line from Awada through Idemmili to Nnewi to improve power supply in 43 communities. This is a priority line because of the heavy industrial activities in the area it covers. Another 33kv line has also been installed from Ogborji in Orumba North to Peters University in Aguata. As a further reinforcement, a total of 400 transformers have been distributed to several communities in Anambra State to strengthen electricity supply in rural and urban areas. Meanwhile the administration has also signed an MOU with the Transmission Company of Nigeria to build 6 Transmitters in Anambra State covering Nnewi, Onitsha, Aguleri, Umuchu and Ogidi/Ogbunike. When fully operational, these transmitters will change the electricity supply situation in Anambra State for good. These efforts are expected to give industrialists and would be manufacturers in Anambra State a big elbowroom to operate from.

It must be noted that manufacturers in Anambra State have also enjoyed a tremendous support from the Obiano administration. For instance, the governor rallied round manufacturers during the 2015 economic recession. He rolled out a comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package which offered a lot of waivers and incentives to manufacturers and SMEs in the state. He did not stop at that; Governor Obaino wrote a letter that ensured the visit of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to visit key manufacturers at the Onitsha Industrial Layout. He quickly organized a Townhall Meeting for the Vice President to address the leaders of Anambra Business Community where manufacturers were assured of reasonable palliatives that would save them from being wiped off by recession.

Indeed, governor Obiano has remained a champion of ‘made in Anambra’ goods and services. He ensured that the Government of Anambra State is one of the biggest patrons of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Limited, Stine Industries, JOSAN Agro Farms, Coscharis Farms and several other medium-sized players in the agro-industrial sector of the state. This has served as a tonic to many prospective investors and entrepreneurs who now throng Anambra to take advantage of the emerging investment safe haven.