ANAMBRA @ 20
A state rich in human resources but until recently plagued by monstrous proxy rulers counts its blessings at its twentieth anniversary.
By Charles Kumolu
The ceremonies that marked the twentieth anniversary of the creation of Anambra State provided opportunity to showcase the positive side of a state that had for long been enmeshed in the throes of darkness.
The galaxy of stars that gathered at the Women Centre, Awka, WCA, for the anniversary lecture, in their radiance covered for the moment the legacy of political mischief, banditry and misrule that had shadowed the state, at least, until recently.
The lecture and award ceremonies at the WCA also provided an opportunity for the state's indigenes at home and abroad to articulate their commendation of what they described as the positive re-direction in the governance of the state under Mr. Peter Obi.
Those at the lecture chaired by a former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku included; Governor Obi and his Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah, the Minister of Power Prof Bath Nnaji, former minister of education and now Vice-President of the World Bank for Africa, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Prof. Charles Soludo, former Minister of Health Prof Dora Akunyili, Chief Ralph Uwechue, Prof Laz Ekwueme, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Others are; Prof Laz Ekwueme, Mustapha Chike-Obi, Bianca Ojukwu,Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Prof Chukwuemeka Ike, Chief Ifeanyi Uba among others.
The anniversary with the theme; A call for collective Action was not just a formal event as it subsequently turned into a carnival, with musical shows and comic interludes to the lecture and award giving sessions.
Speakers at the lecture were unanimous in admitting that the state is truly the ALight of the [email protected] given their claim that the state has produced super-stars in every field of human endavour.
That assertion was upheld by the achievements of the seventy-five persons honoured by the State Government during the anniversary for their contribution to the development of Nigeria and humanity.
In the literary world were Prof Chinua Achebe, the booker prize winner Chimamanda Adichie, the late poet, Pius Okigbo, first Nigerian winner of a Commonwealth gold medal and second graduate to be commissioned in the Nigerian Army late Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Chief Emeka Ojukwu who was himself the first graduate to be commissioned in the Nigerian Army and his father Sir Loius Odumegwu Ojukwu, the first President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Others honoured included Prof Philip Emegwali hailed as the father of the internet, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr Alex Ekwueme, the late Dr Nwafor Orizu, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice-President for African Region; foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Sen. Joy Emodi, Francis Cardinal Arinze and the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo among others.
Gov Obi said the award was recognition of the contribution made by the awardees to the development of the state in different fields of human endeavour.
Given what he claimed as the surplus of human resources from the state, Mr. Obi appealed to those not recognized by the award committee this year to be patient as he promised that the state would henceforth organize annual awards for outstanding indigenes of the state.
While raising the curtain for the ceremony, Governor Obi said the State has every course to celebrate because for the first time, Anambra is experiencing peace and steady growth.
This was also corroborated by Anyaoku, in his speech as he noted that the anniversary was worthy of celebration, noting that the State now has evidence of development.
Quality human resources
In a lecture entitled, A call for Collective Action, the Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the National Economic Management Team, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala observed that Anambra is one of the foremost states in the country with quality human resources who are making waves in the country and across the world. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala stressed the need for the state's intellectuals to come together and work as a team to achieve the desired goals.
She praised Governor Obi for his exemplary leadership and good governance that have brought new innovations in spite of obvious challenges including involving communities in governance and carrying the people along. She equally commended him for his drive to achieve the MDGs and notably the promotion of education, health delivery and other goals she claimed would produce the manpower and skill to run the economy.
The Minister assured that the Federal Government will partner with the State to tackle the challenges of neglected federal projects including the Niger Bridge and federal roads.
In another lecture titled AFramework and Opportunities for developing Sustainable Energy Supply in Anambra State,' the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji said the State would benefit from on-going Federal Government Power Projects including new dams that will generate power. Prof. Nnaji also said that Geometric Power Company was working with the State government to boost power supply in Nnewi and Onitsha.
Even though, the highpoint of the event was the presentation of awards to recipients, Dr. Ezekwesili's lecture attracted loud ovations while it lasted.
The Vice President of the World bank commended Gov. Obi for remaining focused on issues of governance despite uninformed criticisms.
Ezekwesili, in her paper condemned the craze for wealth among public office holders, asking Ahow can someone suddenly become rich, it shows the level rot in our society.
Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, wife of Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu received his award affirming it a great honour for her husband to be selected among many other indigenes of the state to be honoured.
'My husband would have loved to be here to personally receive the award but because he is far away in England, he could not come,' she added.
Akunyili, commended the governor for giving honour to who it was due.
'I am very happy. I feel elated and very convinced that this will be inspiring to the youths for them to know that if they work hard with sincerity of purpose, they too can be honoured', Akunyili said.
Dr Chukwuemeka Ezife, a former governor of the state, said; 'I feel happy seeing a galaxy of stars still living in the state and remembering doyens of persons who have contributed immeasurably to development of Anambra and Nigeria in general'.
Soludo on his part said 'it is landmark recognition from the people of the state and I believe that there are many more people who need to be celebrated.
The anniversary came to an end on Saturday night with a state banquet in honour of the awardees. It was a night when political and personal differences were set aside by some of the personalities that had in the recent past been drawn in battle for the soul of the state.