Notwithstanding the deft moves and covert plots by opposition politicians to take his job, Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano remains confident he will win a second term in office. Chioma Obosi tells us why
In the build up to the primaries of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State, when the Chief Martin Agbaso faction planned a factional primary in what was considered part of moves to destabilise the party and tweak with its chances at the governorship election, Governor Willie Obiano of the state was already looking beyond the primary, because he had at the time procured branded campaign buses, assembled them at the Government House, Awka.
The governor and his loyalists are not oblivious of the covert ploy by some political mongers at the federal level to do all that is possible to defeat Obiano in the forth-coming governorship election slated for November 18, not necessarily because the administration has underperformed but because the other parties wanted to create an inroad to the South-east region, where all of them were rejected in the 2015 elections.
But, for the governorâ€™s team, such aspirations are simply wishful thinking taken too far in the sense that unlike in most other parts of the country, where voters are easily bought over with, the electorate in Anambra State is among the most enlightened and sophisticated in decision making. So, while it is possible to play money-politics, the people are not easily bought over by money or other pecuniary attractions. They can accept such inducements and still vote their conscience.
Though already, issues of godfatherism, power rotation, the agitation for the breakaway state of Biafra and intra-party disagreements and such others have been highlighted as some of the factors that will shape the November election, in the midst of all that, the governor has some things going for him, which is part of the reasons those in his camp are showing a high degree of confidence that the governorâ€™s second term ambition is certain.
First, the governor is particularly favoured that the lot naturally falls on Anambra North Senatorial District, his very zone, to produce the next governor. That is a major breather which came his way when he was unanimously adopted in March 2017 by a reputable non-partisan consultative forum, Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA) and the reason is not farfetched. The banker-turned politician has carried on with such administrative skills of a thoroughbred administrator, churning out impactful policies even as the dividends of democracy have continued to trickle down.
The Obiano leadership has enjoyed accolades for some of its giant strides and they are expected to swing the tide for him come November. He is recognised as a leader with an uncommon penchant for building strong institutions, some of such are the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) and the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA).
With the likes of former Vice President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Igwe Cyril Enweze and Mr. Joe Billy Ekwunife sitting on the board of ANSIPPA, the investment analysts who speak the language of the investment community have been providing remarkable professional services and advisory tips that are giving investors a sense of validation and acceptance and as at the last count, the sum total of investments attracted by the body was pegged at $7.5bn.
Similarly, as part of efforts to make his state the hub for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in Nigeria and as a form of weapon against the economic recession that recently ravaged Nigeria, Obiano created ASBA, a development financial institution for the main purpose of financially empowering and developing the Anambra people, who are genuinely engaged in legitimate businesses.
Setup with the capacity to provide single digit interest funding for micro-enterprises and SMEs; ASBA has the mandate to fraternise with local, national and international financial institutions like World Bank to secure financial help for the people, embark on capacity building through training and advice to be able to ultimately make the state the hub for enterprises in Nigeria in a long run.
As at today, the body has provided single digit loans running to several billions from CBN for SMEs in Anambra State. The simple requirements for this loan are; proper registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission; robust financial statement and collateral. The loans come at an interest rate of 9 per cent per annum or three-quarter per cent monthly.
The loan covers aspects of agricultural value chain, cottage industries, trade and commerce, services or any other economically viable business that could be accommodated within the limited amount which is N500,000 for an individual and N5m for cooperatives. The tenure of the facility is 1 year at the nine per cent interest rate per annum and it is structured for 60 per cent women and 40 per cent men.
The positive impacts of these two policies on the people of the state and the potential consequential effects on the outcome of the November governorship election cannot be remotely assessed let alone underestimated, because the beneficiaries of this scheme are numerous and they all have good tales to tell about the initiatives. Some graduating students in the state recently implored the governor to extend the scheme to them as well.
In a recent publication, the governor’s Director of Media Relations, Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam, rated his principal as having recorded more achievements than two of his predecessors combined. With three years of solid accomplishments, Iloegbunam said that the reviews of their achievements within the same timeframe with Obiano, revealed an inevitable conclusion.
He said: â€œObiano is close to completing his third year. The trio of Ngige, Obi and Obiano has imbued Anambra with a legacy of performance to be proud of. It was Ngige, who first demonstrated to Ndi Anambra that human beings drove on tarred roads instead of through ponds and potholes. Peter Obi continued the road construction legacy, topping it with the Odo Bridge in Awgbu, which, in 2010, was the longest bridge in Anambra State.
â€œWell, Obiano has since upped the ante. In less than two years, his government constructed the new, longest bridge in the state, the Anambra River Bridge, with a span of 280 metres. Besides, the governor has changed Awkaâ€™s skyline with three magnificent flyovers on the Onitsha-Enugu expressway that splits the state capital in two. Apart from the aesthetic value of the flyovers, they have removed the tedium of travelling through Awka. Obiano has transformed Awka from a provincial enclave to a state capital worth the name.
â€œIn a dozen years, therefore, Anambra State has gone through the positive, comparative and superlative stages of good, better, best. Obianoâ€™s administration is the superlative bit. This calls for people to remember the saying that you canâ€™t change a winning team. Americans have a different way of putting it: â€˜If it ainâ€™t broke, donâ€™t fix it.â€™ It elicits joy that in less than three years, the goveveror has amply demonstrated that he empathises with the people; fate dealt him the card to govern.”
Also affirming Obianoâ€™s commitment to the development of Anambra State at a stakeholders forum, held at the Muson Centre, Lagos, last year, CEO of Capital Oil and publisher of The Authority Newspapers, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, gave him a thumbs-up, affirming that he is working and his accolades were in agreement with what was then an emerging consensus from diverse stakeholders that a combination of two things stand Obianoâ€™s government out. First is the improved security and welfare. The second is the infrastructure development and investment.
Development analyst, Ejike Anyaduba, on his part said Obianoâ€™s government had improved with great commitment on the issue of welfare. The administration, he confirmed, has increased workers salary both civil servants and political appointees. It has also provided comfortable, but cheap, transportation services, first for civil servants, and now other commuters.
A builder, Rockland, has been commissioned to build over a thousand units of houses for civil servants in the state. Arrears of salaries owed some categories of civil servants like Anambra Water Corporation workers and â€œout-of-favourâ€ public servants, running into billions, were offset.
The construction of the Awka capital to meet, and possibly surpass, any state capital in Nigeria is in the offing. As a man of cosmopolitan bent, the governor has charged the board, Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), to spare nothing, including money, in giving the state the best. The construction of a hanging bridge at ARROMA junction and two more others within the city will help decongest traffic and add to the aesthetics.
To the governorâ€™s credit, over 500 youths have been effectively trained in diverse skills and crafts at the Technology Incubation Centre, Nnewi while 500 other youths have been trained at the Agricultural Training Institute, Mgbakwu. In the area of agriculture, he launched the Agricultural Revolution in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area, which two years after, has placed the state among one of the top-three agricultural states in Nigeria and has become exporter of farm produce to Europe.
Now, Anambra boasts of wholly indigenous brand of rice known as Anambra Rice, which now competes with other brands in the market and Obiano has attracted investment worth $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 fact.
Not only has the state government under Obiano asphalted over 102 roads, which include the three flyovers in Awka and the nearly completed Arroma bridge, which is not only beautiful but a monument of pride to the people, it has also built two other bridges and a 5-cell culvert in Awgbu-Ndiukwuenu-Awa-Ufuma axis.
In the aspect education sector, Obianoâ€™s development approach to education was founded on the tripod of infrastructure development, pupils/students development, and teachersâ€™ welfare. The administration has 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, and the resultant effect is such that the state is one to be reckoned with in NECO and WAEC examinations results.
In the health sector, the governor added new units to the Onitsha General Hospital and built a helipad for air ambulances for emergency cases. He has also built several blocks of houses that would serve as Isolation Units in cases of epidemics. The complex has been designated as the Centre for Tropical Disease Control. In addition, he is 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. This is in addition to the fact that Obiano has set machinery in motion to ensure the provision of a comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme for Ndi Anambra.
Obosi wrote in from Awka