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Obiano still working with zeal – Mbaji

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THE importance of good governance to socio-economic development cannot be over emphasized. It endears the citizenry to the man at the helm of affairs and brings dividends of democracy nearer to them. In this context, many in Anambra State see Governor Willie Obiano’s second term as one that will bring more developments to the people and attribute the landslide victory secured by his party,

All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), in the recently concluded state House of Assembly election to his pragmatic leadership. An astute business executive, Chairman/CEO, Lake Petroleum Ltd. and Ide Oha of Achina , Chief C. U. Mbaji, in this discourse with RAY UDEAGBARA, gave an overview of Obiano’s administration, highlighting those vital aspects of his governance that endeared him to the citizenry and secured this overwhelming victory to his party in the House of Assembly election. Excerps:

What is your perception of Governor Obiano’s administration generally?

In fact, I call him an architect of uncommon transformation, an icon of service, a bridge builder, a trail blazer. His outstanding accomplishment in all sectors of the economy, his uncommon sense of patriotism and his unwavering dedication to duty, as well as commitment to the security and welfare of ndi Anambra have placed Anambra State on a better stead.

Within this five years of his administration, Governor Obiano has exhibited focus, selflessness and total commitment to leadership and this is verifiable from the score card of his administration in such areas like education, which is the bedrock of societal development and catalyst for progress; agriculture, commerce and industry, as well as in such vital areas like infrastructural development, tourism and employment generation, as well as the ease of doing business.

His value-driven leadership and development oriented administration has entrenched quality service delivery in all sectors. Let me state that the good governance enjoyed by the citizenry- quality education, food security, security of lives and property and the enabling environment conducive for progress in commerce and industry are all clear testimony of his unique visionary leadership and robust programmes and policies. But let me ask, why should someone, a state chief executive who has done so well for his state, not be endeared his people? Governor Obiano’s drive for homeward investment is working successfully, creating and sustaining enabling investments for investors both local and foreign. Our state is today a model of transformational leadership for other states.

The first one year of his second tenure has shown ndi Anambra and indeed all Nigerians that he’s ready to work relentlessly. As I said earlier, immediately he was sworn in for the second tenure, he swung into action and embarked on inspection of 45 projects on  daily basis till he completed the job. He began executing more projects. There has been no break. Anambra State is definitely ahead of other states in Nigeria going by development indices, and the present administration is providing the right institutional framework to turn around the economic fortunes of the state for the betterment of the citizenry.

Do you believe strongly that the governor, in this second tenure, still demonstrates the same seriousness and zeal as seen in his first tenure?

Your guess here is as good as mine. Leaving politics apart, you can see with me that the high tempo of development is unabated. Right from the first tenure of his administration, developmental programmes have been going on. All promises are being fulfilled. In the agric sector, we have seen unprecedented development – a great revolution which kind has never been witnessed in this country which has brought about export of agricultural products that earn foreign exchange for the state. I strongly believe that the federal government copied the Anambra State programme in this sector. It has transited from subsistence to mechanized farming which is a guarantee for increased yield, food security and job opportunity. The governor’s visionary leadership has transformed the state into a renowned agro industrial hub and doubtlessly, the state is now placed on the agric map of Nigeria and it is left for our youth to queue into the administration’s agricultural blue print.

His achievement in the education sector is seen clearly from the exceptional performances of our students in national and international competitions. In Singapore; they came tops in debates and quiz competitions. In USA, they broke record in the World Technovation Challenge and even in National and International Examinations, Anambra State students have been maintaining their lead in WAEC, WASC, GCE, NABTEB. In this very sector also, our teacher, Mr. Akudo, won the Best Teachers Award in Nigeria  and two teachers, also from the state, Mrs. Amalachukwu Ezenwa and Mrs. Vera Uju Ikegwuani, last year, won the President’s Teachers And Schools Excellence Award in the country. This is so because of Governor Obiano’s robust intervention in the education sector, his provision of necessary equipment to all schools, human capacity building, training and retraining of teachers and  his administrations special allowance to some categories of teachers especially those who teach core subjects like English, Mathematics and Social Sciences and those who teach in hard-to-reach areas.

In grassroots development, government is pursuing it vigorously. Its innovation in this area – the  ‘Community Choose Your Project Initiative’ which it introduced three years ago is going on with more vigor. It has now gotten to its third phase. And from all indications, the programme will be a continuous process. This not only brings development nearer to the people but creates job opportunities because natives of the various communities executive the projects of their choice. Surely, it will not be long before other states emulate this grassroots developmental programme.

The governor’s job creation programme is intensified in this his second tenure. Of the 189 communities in the state, many have completed their second projects – hospitals, schools, town halls, etc. and have embarked on the third phase. And in this second tenure, skill acquisition programmes and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have received a great boost. Thousands of our youths are trained to acquire special skills, become self-reliant, set up their own businesses and become employers of labour instead of job seekers and contribute meaningfully to nation building.

Again, in this second term of the governor, there has been a great boost in commerce and industry, in tourism and in the ease of doing business. The Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) is working with assiduity, attracting local and foreign investors who establish industries including agro ventures. It seems the governor has shown more vigor and readiness to render selfless service with his lieutenants, aids and the work in harmony with them. This mutual co-operation is another vital factor that makes for successful running of this government.

With recent killings and pockets criminal activities being witnessed in the state of recent, do you think the governor is still keen on welfare of the people and security of their lives and property?

Good. This is at the front burner of the Obiano administration. True test of leadership is not seen in periods of peace but in times of adversity and despair. His administration’s security architecture is a model and the effect is noticed in all the nooks and crannies of Anambra State. In fact, security is his number one development index and so far, I think he has achieved it. Crime is now seen as a rare occurrence.

The efficiency of this security initiative has remained the envy of counterpart states across the federation. What is seen here is clockwork, water tight security. We rarely hear periodic gun shots at night. People now sleep with their two eyes closed. Even in the herdsmen/farmers clash, which is now a national phenomenon, ndi Anambra are still reaping the benefits of this government’s proactive measures/peace committee. No matter what happens now, Anambra  State remains the most secured, the safest state in the federation.

One area that clearly endears this administration to the citizenry is its swift response in times of disaster. Here, we talk of erosion or flood menace. In each case, especially in the case of flood, the entire exco abandoned their functions, moved to those areas for relief duty with the governor and his deputy giving relief materials to the affected persons. No one is left out. Even the first lady, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano takes the lead in this circumstance. Here you see them take charge, tour affected communities in  speed boats. This administration, in partnership  with the World Bank is working on various erosion sites, about 500 in all. Affected lands are being reclaimed and people are gradually being resettled. And one interesting aspect here is that in taking these measures, the governor takes action as if the matter is his personal affair. Governor Obiano has a listening ear, and is ready at all times to respond in matters like this.

What factors in your opinion, contributed to the landslide victory 24/30 by his party, APGA, at the last House of Assembly election?

Yes, the governor’s party secured another overwhelming victory at the recently  concluded House of Assembly election. This is yet another milestone in the history of elections in the country. Here, the Anambra electorate reviewed the performance of APGA administration in all aspects of governance, including the innovations witnessed in the Obiano administration, gave it pass mark and voted massively for the governor’s party to give him a stronger, firmer grip of the legislators; to create better relationship between the executive and the legislature. It’s under mutual co-operation, understanding that the two arms of government could work successfully, form good  policies and pass progressive laws that will move the state forward. So, this  sweeping victory at the House of Assembly election by the governor’s party is the consequence of excellence in governance. It’s expected that better bills will be passed this remaining three years of Obiano government. The situation where the executive and the legislators remain at logger heads is detrimental to good governance.

You can see the cordial relation between the governor and the labour force, relationship so cordial that the workers gave him award as Best Labour Friendly Governor. And you know why there is this good relationship – prompt payment of salaries and allowances, pensions and gratuities, his robust capacity building programmes. He said he’ll be the first governor to pay the minimum wage of N30,000 and surely he will do that. This cordial relationship gave the governor’s candidates massive votes during the House of Assembly Election.

Any advice for ndi Anambra and Nigerians, particularly the youth?

Anambra State citizens should give maximum support to the Obiano administrative. No government succeeds without the support, co-operation of the people. And Nigerian youths should shun cultism, banditry, drug abuse and any form of criminality, avoid violent behaviors, have a sober reflection and as our hope for tomorrow, be determined to face the future. Manna doesn’t fall from heaven. They should use their initiatives and find what to do, ways to be helpful to themselves and the nation. The era of white collar job is over. Our youths must therefore be creative. In fact, create jobs themselves and be ready to work in the field, in construction firms, in restaurants, barbing salons and tailoring industry. As I said earlier, they should key into government’s skill acquisition programmes and learn certain skills

Whatever we’re passing through today, many advanced economies like U.S, U.K , Germany, France, Canada, etc. have gone through them, came out  much stronger and more committed to work harder; hence the attainment of their present global economic status.

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