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‘Anambra ensures socio-economic growth via human devp’

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While most Nigerian governors were at loggerheads over minimum wage and other issues relating to workers welfare on May Day, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Anambra State branch honoured Governor Willie Obiano and his wife, Ebelechukwu, with awards of excellence. In this discourse, an Oil Mogul, Chairman and CEO, Lake Petroleum Ltd., Chief C. U. Mbaji (Ide Oha of Achina) gives an appraisal of Governor Obiano’s leadership style that qualifies them for this award. He also identified ways the governor has been ensuring socio-economic development in the state. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:

WHY do you think the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria gave Governor Obiano and his wife awards of excellence at this dire period? Do they merit it?

As long as the governor maintains his style of leadership – leadership by example and  value-driven leadership characterized by inclusive governance, believe he and his wife, Dr. Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano merit these awards, and will get more of such honours. The significance of the awards is that they came on May Day and from the Labour union (Workforce), who are at loggerheads with their governors in most states of the federation.

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria is an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and from their name and position in the nation’s Labour Force, one will believe that they did their homework well, examined all issues and made all necessary analysis before coming up with the award.

Governor Obiano himself, you remember, has won more awards from the Labour Force. The first from Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) as the Most Labour Friendly Governor, the other from the Presidency and this time, from the senior cadre of civil servants, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria.

I understand the chairman of this very association, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu is a very scrupulous person. One who looks at things critically well before taking action, who believes in merit and does what he does on merit. Doubtless, he must have looked at everything, examined the overall performance of the governor and his wife before agreeing to give them the all important Excellence Awards.

Governor Obiano’s style of governance is contributory to his getting these honours. In fact, since he came on board as the state’s helmsman, Anambra has witnessed transformational leadership. He has exhibited uncommon attribute and exemplary leadership.

He has always shown good will of favourable disposition to workers, building bridges of true love and neigbourliness with them, maintaining his name as “Alert Governor”, paying pensioners regularly and enhancing welfare packages of civil servants like the provision of buses which send them to and from work at highly subsidized prices, giving them relief materials during festivities like Christmas, Easter, etc.

He gives them bags of rice, vegetable oil, etc. and makes working, particularly teaching in rural areas in hard-to-reach places attractive through provision of allowances and other benefits.

In fact, I see this governor as an architect of uncommon transformation, one with unique and visionary leadership and his giant strides as an icon of excellence and a mile stone for sustainable economic legacy and an achiever with uncommon record of accomplishments.

His tenacious pursuit of the common good of all is legendary and this is clearly manifested in his administration’s total commitment to the welfare of the masses, especially the down trodden, the most vulnerable in the society.

Most of his innovations in governance like his unprecedented security blue print, the Community Choose Your Project Initiative, his unique revolution in agriculture, the establishment of such business support agencies like Anambra State investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) and Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA), as well as Anambra Community and Social Development Agency are all enduring legacies that are being copied by other state Chief Executives, and all these have impacted positively on the lives of the people.

Obiano has exhibited share focus, selflessness and total commitment to leadership. In fact, this administration has brought a new dawn and restored the core values of Ndi Anambra, their indomitable spirit, and he remains a reference point for good governance.

Let me make bold to state here without any equivocation that his robust programmes and policies and their efficient implementation have given the assurance that Anambra is on the right path for socio-economic development. The governor’s integrity, prudent management of resources and fairness in dealing with issues are visible pointers to the fact that he is a committed leader and quintessential administrator.

From all indications, it can be said that human development is at the centre of the Obiano administration. This does not end with paying salaries and pensions, and providing for the welfare of the citizenry; it goes further to boost human capacity building-training and retraining of workers, a sure way of maximising productivity and output of the workforce. This is a strong base for socio-economic advancement.

All good policies of Obiano’s predecessor are retained and nurtured by this government. A good example is the handover of schools to original church owners to restore sanity, academic excellence and moral values.

The present administration is succeeding not only because it places premium on prudent management of scarce resources but also because it re-directs those state natural resources to priority areas, and, at the same time, ensures that the people are secured. The state is a pacesetter in security architecture, and believe it or not, those miscreants, armed robbers, 419ners, kidnappers, pickpockets and even fraudsters in the state are now on the run.

These hoodlums have at last found Anambra State unconducive for their nefarious activities. The recent attack and assassination of Nimo President-General and the state government’s swift action, in conjunction with security agencies that led to the immediate arrest of the alleged murderous gang is a clear evidence of the Obiano administration’s readiness to tackle the issue of security with dispatch. He even pledged millions of naira reward to those who will help find the perpetrators of the dastardly act and I understand he has redeemed the pledge.

The present administration has done much for the good of the masses and this has endeared it to many. Governor Willie Obiano administration has broken new grounds in governance. Anambra State is gradually and steadily moving forward, socially and economically, leaving no one behind and at the same time, taking appropriate measures to ensure that efforts are made to sustain the current high tempo of development going on in the state.

One at the centre of such development should win awards to compensate for his multi-sectoral development and as such, the governor’s Award of Excellency by the Labour Force is not surprising. Remember he has received award of Excellence from the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Good governance must have effect on the youth. How far do you think have they benefitted from this administration especially now that unemployment, high-inflation, and youth restiveness are ravaging the country?

The efforts of the present government in creating employment opportunities are commendable. Government has established skill acquisition centres in virtually all the 21 L.G.As of the state to inculcate in the youths necessary skills to enable them be self-reliant, establish their own businesses, employ others and contribute their quota in growing the economy.

Thousands of our youths have benefitted from this programme. It is remarkable that the revolution introduced in the agricultural sector has attracted local and foreign investors to this sector and employed thousands of fresh graduates.

Agricultural companies like Agro-E-Force, Josan Farms, Coscharis Farms, Exell Farms and Redemption Agric Farms, etc. have all played key role in his employment programme. This sector has been re-focused towards commercialization and our youth see it now as a worthwhile venture. In addition to offering employment, they have made for food security.

Another area where the government has taken appropriate measures to enhance employment is in the area of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), an important catalyst for self-reliance and industrial developmental, which if well pursued and supported, will engage the youths as agents of national development and stem the rising tide of youth restiveness.

Seen as vital engine of growth in advanced economies like US, Germany, UK, France, Canada etc SMEs boost a country’s GDP, drastically curb employment, create job opportunities and enhance the general economic wellbeing of the citizenry. And to boost this employment generating institution, the Obiano government has set up financial institutions that have good track records and pedigree in SMEs development and financing.

Various Micro Finance Banks are at work here and, the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) is on in this category, giving loans to small businesses, monitoring them, offering business advice, and at the same time, ensuring that such loans are repaid as and when due to get to others.

The change or switch from Okada to bus shuttle is well known to everyone. Government banned motorcycle operators and government made plans for provision of shuttle buses to previous Okada riders on hire purchase.

ASBA was at the centre of this “Change over”. The interesting feature here is not so much the switch/change over as the smooth and peaceful nature of the transition. This administration also sees the importance of education- that key to sustainable growth of any nation-and puts in the sector all that is required to give it the much desired lift. It now supplements this with vocational training to produce self-reliant graduands, all aimed at boosting employment.

It’s pertinent to note here that even though unemployment is a global challenge and is ravaging many countries, the Obiano administration, right from its inception in 2014, recognizes the devastating blow of this canker worm and has taken bold measures including those aforementioned to curb it.

Again it is good for any state or local government not to be in isolation, to have good relationship with the government at the centre. The cordial relationship between Anambra State and the federal government is yielding dividends.

The state is benefiting from the federal government’s trader money. Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo has distributed the first phase to traders in Awka and Onitsha. This has positive effect on the traders; it stimulates their businesses, expands them, attracts more traders/workers and enhances employment opportunities.

Let me state here without any iota of doubt that any government that takes the welfare and security of its citizens, including the Labour Force which constitutes the engine room of any government as its priority must be loved by them. It’s not surprising that Labour Unions commend Governor Obiano and give him awards. And believe it or not, more awards are coming his way as long as he continues to run all inclusive government.

Note that the governor and his wife, the First Lady, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano are like minds in development. She leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that the less privileged in the society, the vulnerable, and the aged, particularly women and the physically challenged are given all the help they need. She built houses for aged mothers, built toilets in various markets and offered assorted materials to them.

This is itself a great developmental programme. Even during flooding, when many homes are submerged, she’s seen busy, moving from settlement to settlement; sharing relief materials to the victims.

What is more important and interesting here is the joy and swiftness with which she does this. It’s therefore equally not surprising that the workers remembered her and honoured her with this great and most coveted award of Excellence.

I must commend the Chairman Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Anambra State branch, Comrade Okechukwu Ifeanyi, for looking deep into the mode of governance in the state to observe the quality of Obiano’s administration that accords him and his wife these most coveted honours.

As a man of strong character, he might have done great home work that culminated in granting these awards to the first couple and I urge them to remain undaunted, never to relent.

As a major stake holder and a successful business executive who has passed through many rigours of life, what are your words of advice for the youths this hard time.

The youths are the future leaders as they say. We, the elders hope on them. They should be well educated, queue into governments’ entrepreneurship and acquire necessary skills for self-reliance. They should shun cultism.

In fact, they should avoid all forms of violence and concentrate in their studies to grow as responsible citizens. Here, we parents have vital roles to play by teaching our children and showing them the way to follow in life.

Let me conclude this discourse by letting ndi Anambra know that the present administration needs their support. We must be loyal and supportive to the Obiano administration and contribute our quota to nation building by being law abiding, and paying our taxes and levies.

Government is a very serious business. Under the present circumstance in Nigeria, when the economy is bad with high inflation, no job, poor Gross Domestic Product and high liquidity shortages, efforts must be made to ginger our youths to be active.

They must stand their ground, be ready to work. And they must be honest in all they do and put their faith in God. They must be made to understand that all efforts without God’s intervention will be fruitless.

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