By Odaa Opuo
(When a good and solids foundation is laid the structure stands the test of time).
When the Enugu Appeal Court nullified the election of Dr Chris Ngige as the governor of Anambra state in 2006 and brought in the legitimate government of APGA led by Mr Peter Obi, it took Mr Peter Obi 2 years to plan and another 2 years to lay the basic foundation for the development of the state. He took his time to plan, analyze and laid the foundation and started the execution. Mr Obi had his priorities and blueprint which was majorly on the economy and road infrastructure. Mr Peter Obi consolidated the development in his second term as the governor. This is the reason for his wonderful performance as the governor of Anambra state.
His Excellency Chief Dr Willie M. Obiano at the inception of his administration, he showcased his priorities around 4 pillars of development and 12 enablers which are pivotal to the classical development of Anambra state. The 4 pillars are as follows:
3. TRADE AND COMMERCE
4. OIL AND GAS
These four pillars of development however could not be achieved if critical enablers like security and infrastructure were not in place. It was worthy to mention that after the civil war, Anambra state had been a horrible zone in Nigeria. It is also pertinent to mention that Anambra state recorded the highest number of brigandage, kidnap cases and hooliganism in Nigeria. Successive governments and some organized groups tried to fight crime through some unorthodox means without success. Onitsha “BOYS OYE, OMATA BOYS and BAKASSI BOYS” are still fresh in the memories of Ndi Anambra. None of these unorthodox method solved the problem of insecurity in the state. Even the erstwhile Onitsha branch chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (Barnabas Igwe)and his pregnant wife were killed by these unorthodox security outfit. The erstwhile Nnewi South Local Government Chairman of All Peoples Party (APP) Chief De Doga of Ekwulumili was also killed by these unorthodox security outfit used by then state government. The height of it was that a sitting governor who is a minister now Dr Chris Ngige was kidnapped, slapped, kicked and beaten like a small boy in kindergarten. There were total breakdown of law and order in the state. All the public institutions and installations were burnt down by criminals and up till now, nobody had been arraigned before the court of competent jurisdiction for these atrocities committed against the state. Such things are no longer happening under Akpkuodike’s watch. Anambra juzili oyi. Ndi afia a na-azu. Ndi madu a na-enwe añuli. Industries started opening up. Investors started trooping into Anambra. Employment opportunities are being created. Economy started contrasting while the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the government started improving.
In the area of Agriculture, nothing was going on well. The food programme in the state was in auto pilot. There was no agricultural blue print for the state. The ministry existed by default. They only shared grants and soft loans given by the development partners and the Federal Government to their brothers, friends and political allies while ignoring the main objective of receiving the funds. Those outstanding loans have crystallized and gone bad long ago. The sticky loans are now standing against the state at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Yet, the immediate past administration gave a green balance sheet position to the world at the end of their tenure without taking into cognizance those loans collected for agricultural purposes. Today, the tune has changed. Akpokuodike had taken Agriculture as a serious business. As he knows that agriculture is the highest employer of labour in the world, he made agriculture a priority ministry. He engaged a commissioner that has the technical know how in the area of sophisticated agriculture and mechanization. Anambra is now know for massive rice, yam and vegetable production. Anambra is the first state in Nigeria that developed a world class rice brand that is known as “ANAMBRA RICE”. Akpokuodike has attracted massive investments into the agricultural sector in Anambra state. In specific term, Coscharis Farms in Anaku, Novtec Farms in Ndikelionwu, Josan Agro in Omor and Ufuma,Ekcel farms in Omasi, Songhai/Delfarms in Igbariam, Lynden farms also in Igbariam. Anambra is tops amongst the food producing states in Nigeria. Today, Anambra yam is the most sought-after yam in America. Our vegetables are still making waves in European markets. Anambra is the first state to sign on to E-FARM initiative. Everybody is going back to farming in Anambra state courtesy of Akpokuodike’s sincere support to the sector. A naghi enyo eziokwu enyo.
In Trade and Commerce, Chief Obiano has accelerated the trade and commerce aspect of the pillars. Before now, it is very difficult for a trader in Onitsha and Nnewi to bring down their goods from Lagos Wharf to Onitsha and Nnewi. There are over 20 customs check points on the road extorting monies from the traders thereby making things very difficult for these traders. Our traders have been encountering untold hardships from the hands of these custom officers. But Akpokuodike went to the customs and negotiated the check points down to the barest minimum. Akpokuodike also met with the authorities of the Central Bank of Nigeria to seek for a concessionary forex rate for traders in Anambra state and the discussion is still in progress. Chief Obiano also pressured Ethiopian Airlines which is the only international airline plying Enugu airport to have a desk in Onitsha in order to ease the hiccups encountered by the traders whenever they want to travel. In Anambra Aerotropolis project, there is a plan to build International Business and Industrial park that can accommodate manufacturers from China who will produce and sell to Nigerians at the same rate they sell in China. Besides, His Excellency also has in mind to make Anambra state top 3 states in trade and commerce. There are expansions in markets and establishments of modern shopping malls in the state. Trade and Commerce is generating thousands of employments to the youths of Anambra state.
There is the need for Ndi Anambra to support Akpokuodike to consolidate on the gains of the first term. We can’t change the winning team in the middle of the March. If not broken, why mend it?
Odaa writes from Amichi