On March 17th 2014, approximately four years ago, His Excellency Gov Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano stepped forward on that podium and delivered an acceptance speech which in a nutshell, laid bare the direction his new government would take in alleviating the many challenges confronting Anambra state which he had been called to lead.
In the said address, he identified four critical areas ( 1. Aggressive Mechanized Agriculture 2. Oil & Gas 3.Trade & Commerce 4.Industrialization) which he termed the FOUR PILLARS of development and vowed to pursue this blueprint with a single mindedness that would surely bring the much needed dividends of Democracy home.
Today we are gathered to witness and celebrate the revalidation of a peoples confidence towards a hardworking leader and it is important we do a review of the past four years with a view to understanding just why and how Ndi Anambra voted enmasse for continuity.
It is instructive to note that at the time he came on board, Gov Willie Obiano was a relatively unknown entity, without a godfather but as he stood on that podium unveiling that family-centric blueprint that talked about job creation, boosting and stabilizing the earnings of workers, revolutionizing healthcare delivery and securing our communities, Ndi Anambra got a first seat glance of the good things to come under his amiable leadership.
Hear him, “In the area of security, Anambra will be different under my watch. Not only shall we redraft the operational manual of the entire security apparatchik of Anambra State to ensure a lightning-quick response, we shall also re-orient our people to see that every citizen has a role to play in the security of our communities.”
We’ve all seen how he immediately rolled up his sleeves to live up to his promise of securing our lives by taking deliberate steps to rid our dear state of criminals who had hitherto, sworn to make our lives unbearable.
Upper Iweka which used to be a den of thieves, suddenly wore a fresh welcoming look and security outfits were fully equipped to confront the menace wherever it reared its ugly head and quickly, those who hitherto made lives unbearable began to get the message that a new Sheriff who had no time for nonsense was in town and they had no option but to either quit or relocate.
This move certainly laid the enabling template for commerce to thrive for without security, those who come from far and wide for commercial purposes are not safe.
Again, there is no gainsaying the fact that he has lived up to his inaugural promise of putting Anambra State on the map as far as Agriculture is concerned and nothing bears more eloquent testimony to this than the way fully operational rice farms and mills like Cosharis Farms at Anaku, the rice mills at Amichi and the Lindal poultry farms at Igbariam sprang up with renewed energy to the point where Anambra no longer depends on the outside world for these commodities and we also saw great strides in vegetable production to the point where for the first time, our vegetables earned us foreign exchange.
In the area of infrastructural development, there appears to be a deliberate and strategic move to put up projects that are devoid of the usual political considerations as evidenced in the construction of bridges and roads in the Omambala River and Iyiora axis that links up the agrarian and oil areas of Anambra state.
The importance of that bridge at Anambra river lays credence to his stated commitment to ensure the state is a player in the Oil & Gas business for it links up to the oil rigs.
Hear what he had to say as regards turning Awka the capital city to one Ndi Anambra would be proud of.
“Fellow Anambrarians, your clamour for a Capital City that fully reflects the essence of our people will be addressed by my administration. We shall re-design and remodel Awka to meet the structural and aesthetic requirements of a 21st Century city that we can all be proud of.”
Four years down the line, a drive around Awka reflects the truism in these words for where dilapidated roads once stood, gleaming world class bridges designed to stem the tide of incessant traffic hurdles now bear eloquent testimony to how a people get it right when they put square pegs in square holes and all over the state, there is a deliberate move to light up the whole place to the extent that an old visitor would hardly know the state when visiting at night!
This singular effort of lighting up the entire state further lends credence to his stated resolve to ensure the security of lives and the beautification of the state is at par with what is witnessed in civilized climes the world over.
This naturally, has seen the state’s GDP growing and businesses having longer hours to do business.
Midway into his term, this hard thinking governor came up with the now hugely popular community project that ensures all communities receive a cheque of N20m to finance any project they deem instrumental to their wellbeing and we can only marvel at this highly innovative development which is at its third stage.
Not one to rest on his oars, Gov Willie Obiano redoubled his efforts by making it twice a year as revealed in the 2018 budget and at this rate, each of the one hundred and eighty nine communities would have eight completed projects at the end of his stewardship.
In monetary terms, about N30.2B in direct domestic investment would have been channeled towards this laudable initiative by the time his tenure completes its full cycle.
The world class five thousand capacity International Conference Center which is currently being built would most certainly be a blessing to ancillary businesses that rely on patronage of those using the said facility and we can safely say that given the solid legacy Gov Willie Obiano is building, his successor would most definitely enjoy a kind of soft landing not witnessed in other states.
The great effort put in place to elevate the standard of education which has seen the reduction of teacher to student ratio as evidenced in the ongoing massive recruitment of teachers, bears eloquent testimony to the importance he gave to the oath he swore to on that windy March 17th 2014 afternoon.
We must not fail to mention the government’s great strides in reducing the malpractice rate which has seen our students coming out with quality certificates that can stand the test of time anywhere in the world and as we speak, his government is in the final stages of upgrading the Nwafor Orizu college of education Nsugbe to a degree awarding institution and judging from the way our students have been making waves in nationally organized exams, it is safe to say that Education is in safe hands under the careful watch of Gov Willie Obiano.
Already great effort is being put in place to secure our schools to avoid interference from malicious external bodies and the new teachers being employed would be encouraged to teach in hard to reach areas to ensure access to education in the farthest parts of the state.
The institutionalization of professionalism in the civil service, the building of healthcare centers and equipping them with ambulances that can reach the farthest parts of the state are also worthy of note.
Looking at the above and with an eye to the future, it is evident that the next four years of this administration is a journey towards entrenching his robust legacy and we’re certain more roads linking up more rural areas, especially agrarian ones, would be built.
Ndi Anambra are rest assured of carefully planned model schools that can equate to those found in civilized climes and a more aggressive approach to the implementation of the girl child education.
No doubt also, the ongoing pension reform would be fully entrenched, such that our civil servants and pensioners would be assured of a seamless payment process at retirement.
Finally, as Gov Willie Obiano steps forward today to embrace the renewed confidence reposed in him by Ndi Anambra, we can only pray and wish him Godspeed as he goes ahead to do that for which we trooped out enmasse to vote for him and when we realize that not a word spoken on that March 17th 2014 afternoon has so far fallen to the ground, it is safe to say that Anambra is in for another four years of purpose driven and humane governance epitomized in the person of Gov Willie Maduaburochukwu.