Christian Madubuko is the Anambra State Commissioner for Trade, Commerce, Markets, and Wealth Creation.
WHAT was the situation in the sector in 1991?
The new Anambra State was created by the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida and given the nature of military regime, much was not done as regards the expansion of markets at that time, neither was commerce and industry encouraged to grow.
But then, in Nigeria, most successful business people and industrialists are found in Anambra State, and as such, 98 per cent of ndi Anambra are traders and industrialists. From 1991, when Anambra State was created with the first military administrator, Capt Joseph Abulu, down to the first indigenous governor, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, to the time this present administration took the mantle of leadership, you will see that they tried in their various capacities to introduce new agenda in markets, commercial and industrial developments in Anambra State. But really, not much was achieved.
How is it today in Anambra State?
Very simple, Anambra State has become the investment destination in Africa, not just Japan of Africa but investment destination. People from all works of life come here to invest their goods and services, invest their money and of course, you know when you come for an investment, you become part and parcel of the place. We encourage people to come here to live, buy land, inter-mingle with us, inter-marry and get acculturated into the Anambra system. We encourage people to come and the state is ready to ensure security. Anambra is number one secured state in Nigeria .Actually, what we have in 1991 is not what we have now, Anambra State has undergone tremendous development. We have witnessed enormous development in commercial activities. Anywhere you go, you find that Anambra State is at the nucleus of development compared to other states in Nigeria. Our markets are now developed. In Onitsha, for example, we now have many markets that have emerged and many more are springing up. In Building Materials International Market, much expansion has taken place and is still on-going. In Awka, besides the main market, (Eke Awka), many other markets have sprung up. When you put all these things together, what it means is that really, we have grown from where we were in 1991 and that a lot of development has taken place.
Nnewi is referred to, from time immemorial, as the Japan of Africa, and today, there are whole lots of development in commercial activities at Nnewi. In fact, it is at Nnewi that you will find industrialists in good numbers in Nigeria. No other city in Nigeria can be compared to Nnewi in terms of innovation, industrialisation, trade and commerce.
Our people there are doing their best to ensure the development achieved in the state is sustained. Our governor, Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano, on his own part, is a man that came on board with the idea of developing commercial activities and true to his word, has been doing just that.
The ministry of Trade and Commerce has been engaged in making sure that some of the new markets that have sprang up are being relocated to their new sites and you know that building of new markets also goes with general development because when a market is moved to Ogidi, for example, it determines movement of people to that zone, and it comes with housing development, urbanisation, construction of roads and so on and so forth. So, you find that in Anambra State, there has been a whole lot of development when compared to other states and when you compare it to 1991.
In 1991, you really talk of few markets but now ,even at the back of your house, you can buy something; you see big markets everywhere and people are moving from here to there, establishing new businesses. I believe this current administration has recorded more investment both locally and internationally. Again, more influx of foreign investors has been recorded in the state with this present administration.
These investors are coming because the governor created enabling environment. You know these foreigners; they won’t like to invest their money where there is no security. So in a state of insecurity, nobody can come. Insecurity means the flight of capital development; those who are already on ground will also run away. But Anambra State has been described as the most protected state, most secured and most friendly; no Boko Haram here, no religious riot here, and so on. You find out that Anambra is doing well in trade, commerce, industry and so on. You can also find out that the number of unemployment in Anambra is no longer high compared to what we had in 1991and what you find in other states. The state government is working to make sure that the youths are gainfully employed in all sectors. So, I believe that what we have now and what we will have in the future, we cannot in anyway compare it to what we use to have in 1991.
Why is it as it is today?
Well, I think it is because we have competent hands, because, leadership determines everything. Presently, we have a leader who knows his onus; a leader who knows what he wants in trade and commerce, so he is the driver. He drives the development, investors and investments in the state. Our governor has gone digital with his operation and he is not stopping half way. Some people say, ‘the sky is their limit’, but no, that is wrong, with what is currently going on, the sky is the starting point for Anambra State. Anambra State takes the first position in everything, because we have a leader that knows what he wants and he has generals that work with him; the generals that listen and dance to his tunes. And that is also why we are doing well in industrialisation, trade and commerce.
How do you want it to be tomorrow?
I want Anambra State given the option, to look like Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Those places are heaven on earth and we are the people that will make it happen. It is not only the duty of the government to make our home abode, it is the collective function of every citizen to do that. How do we do it? By honestly doing what we supposed to do, by our commitment, sincerity, when we do these things, you find out that in a couple of years, Anambra State will be ranked number one in the whole world. I believe it will happen with time.
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