The Governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano, recently took his turn to go through the screening process for the governorship primary of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abuja (in which he later emerged as candidate). He spoke with journalists about his scorecard, his second term bid and turbulence in APGA leadership, Onyebuchi Ezigbo was there
We learnt you have scaled through the screening process to qualify for the governorship primary of your party. What is the experience like?
I have just passed through a very rigorous screening exercise in line with APGA constitution. The exercise was very thorough and I am happy that every step in APGA constitution was followed to ensure that everything we are doing is consistent with the constitution which is supreme in everything that we are doing. The party is supreme and every party runs on constitution that is appropriately approved. So I am very happy that we have concluded one aspect of the process. Once again, I want to thank the chairman of the screening committee and all the members of the committee, the National Chairman and the NWC members for the warm welcome that I have been given. Of course, we are our brothers’ keeper and we want to make sure we continue to do so. I am confident that after my election the subsequent elections will bring many more APGA governors from Zamfara, Nassarawa, Abia, Imo and APGA family will grow from strength to strength. So once more I want to thank everybody for this great opportunity and I thank God for helping me to pass through the rigorous process.
We want you to react to what happened in Owerri, Imo state where a faction of APGA held a meeting to choose officials and held its own governorship primary.
I don’t have information on what you are telling me. All I know is that there was nothing that happened in Owerri. If something had happened the police and INEC would be present and I am aware that didn’t happen and therefore nothing happened and that is the best I can tell you.
Why are you seeking a fresh mandate?
I want some of my projects completed so that I will be around to commission them. In less than three and half years, virtually all the communities in Anambra State have felt our presence to the tune of N40 million, So we want to do more, so that by the end my eight years every community would have very significant infrastructure. This is outside the road that we are building, the street lighting that we are doing. In Anambra now, virtually all the roads are lit and we have continued to do more. By God’s grace we are going to win the election and that would enable us to actualise the vision we have for Anambra and that will make the state to be the first choice in investment destination and the mission when we go to work is to create a socially stable and business friendly environment where indigenes and non-indigenes can have the opportunity to create wealth. That’s our vision. If you check my mission and vision so far, you will see that substantially we have achieved that.
So, my dream when I finish my eight years is that Anambra will be self-sufficient in its revenue sources and will not be dependent on Abuja. I have achieved that 65 per cent already and in the coming years I will be able to fully do that and that’s the only way to drive the process; making everybody productive, getting people to generate economic activities and create wealth. Apart from securing lives and property, that’s the core business of a governor.
What are your plans for women in line with the affirmative action?
If you look at my present cabinet, women constitute 27 per cent, and I am coming up to 36 per cent. So, in the things we are doing, women are given priority. By the way, the N1.5 billion that we gave to farmers in Anambra State, women farmers got 60 per cent of the money. So, we are paying attention to women generally and improving their health. We are trying to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the state. We got accreditation for the school of nursing and graduated about 300 mid-wives and they will be sent to the primary health centres in the state. Now we are going to ask those old women in the villages who didn’t go to school but help in child delivery that we pay them what the government would have paid them so that they can refer them to the proper mid-wives. If we do that, you will see considerable reduction in infant and maternal mortality.
You have been in power for almost three and half years and one will like to know the milestones that you have achieved and also the most challenging aspect of governance your administration has had to face?
The last two years have been tough. Nigeria went into a recession and only four states could pay salaries and Anambra is one of them out of 36 states. We have consistently paid salaries, pension and gratuities in the state. We are also working on infrastructure and other things that are required in a recession. So, being able to navigate the challenges of a recession and keeping my state afloat very well was a key challenge and I have had to bring to practice all my banking experience to keep the ship afloat.
Awka modern city is one of the projects you promised to execute. How optimistic are you that you will execute the project before you left office?
I don’t know when last you came to Anambra state, you would have seen that Awka has transformed rapidly from a glorified village to a modern city. Are you are aware of the three fly-overs? Are you aware of the street lights that stretch from Amansea all through the length and breadth of Awka? Are you aware of the shopping complex opened that brought Shoprite? Are you aware of the 24-hour filling station? Are you aware of the bubbling night life that has come to stay in Awka? Are you aware of its massive security? More important, have you heard that someone has been kidnapped in Awka since I assumed office? We are doing area mapping in the whole of Anambra State and we have started with Awka. Area mapping is very useful when you want to do GPRS and GIS. GPRS is for direction that is why we are labelling the streets so that when you come into Anambra all you need to ask anybody is about the street, you will be directed accordingly. You just key in where you are going to and the taxi will take you there and the GIS is very useful for land and erosion site monitoring. And we are doing much more because we have development authority headed by a renowned American architect who is a Nigerian in Anambra. In my second term, we are going to deal with the inner roads of Awka and we have a plan to do another linkage to address weekend traffic jams. A lot of vehicles come into the state on weekends because of the night life, security and because of that, we have many vehicles on the road and sometimes you have gridlock here and there. So, we want to do some road intersects that will fly across one or two towns so that people will be able to get to their destinations faster. We are building an event centre that will sit 6,000 people which is going to be the best event centre in the South East. The event centre is at the DPC level as we speak and I will flag it off once the DPC work is over. We are doing so much not only in Awka but in other cities in the state. We are currently modernising the roundabouts and that is what we want to do in the next one month and we are trying to retouch them so that we can put things that depict what those people from the areas are known for. For example, you find somewhere in Onitsha where we show ‘Odu’ and that is what Onitsha women are putting on.