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Obiano’s rare skill… Stimulating economic growth through private sector partnership – Mbaji

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Chief C. U. Mbaji, also known as Ide Oha of Achina is the Executive Chairman/CEO, Lake Petroleum Ltd. In this interview with RAY UDEAGBARA, he describes the seven-year period Governor Obiano has been at the helms of affairs in Anambra as one of solid development in all spheres of governance. Excerpts:

ON GOVERNOR Obiano’s achievements so far and those attributes of his administration that score him highly

  When Governor Obiano took over the mantle of leadership on 17th March, 2014, he immediately swung into action. He set up various committees with specific assignments to ensure that the act of governance is streamlined, and that in the provision of dividends of democracy, every community is carried along.

He took time to bring into his cabinet persons of proven integrity and high sense of responsibility; those who are ready and willing to serve and to serve selflessly. Various innovations were introduced in his administration.

For example, aside Ministry of Works, he set up the Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency, now under the leadership of a qualified engineer. Under this very circumstance, while the Works Ministry is performing its duty, we see personnel of the Road Maintenance Agency working round the clock, reconstructing all dilapidated roads in all the nooks and crannies of the state. As I said earlier, no section of the state is left out.

Of course, the importance of good road network to the socio-economic development of any country cannot be over emphasised. His government took appropriate measures to establish a model, unparallel security architecture to get rid of criminals, free Anambra State from the grips of hoodlums and create a condusive atmosphere for businesses to thrive.

While boosting the efforts of this security outfit, his administration co-opted the military, the Air force, the Navy, the Police and the Civil Defence, even the vigilante. Many committees were set up here in the onset and some Fulani herders were among. You can agree with me that minus a few skirmishes, breaches here and there, our state has remained quite peaceful.

  In fact, his administration’s unique security blue print has earned him and the state a plethora of awards both nationally and internationally. Surely, Anambra State is adjudged the safest state in the country today. Again, the issue of civilian – herders clash is almost non-existent in Anambra.

If you look into what’s happening in other states, not necessarily northern states but in most part of southern states, you can agree with me that ndi Anambra are lucky to have such a governor with such wealth of experience.

  This relative peace and calm enjoyed by Anambra State citizenry today is one of the consequences of the pro-active measures taken by this administration right from its inception; measures to forestall impending disaster before it occurs.

On investments and supporting businesses

  Also, earlier, I spoke of his innovations in governance. This government understands the important role small and medium enterprises play in the economy of any nation; that it serves as a catalyst for self reliance and industrialisation.

In some countries, it counts for over 70% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is why the Obiano administration set up the Anambra State Business Agency (ASBA) that grants soft loans to small businesses (repayable loans, of course, to get to others) to enable small entrepreneurs carry on with their businesses.

 You can see, when motor cycle operators were banned, this ASBA was on hand to grant loans to our youths to purchase buses (shuttle) and tricycles (keke). You can imagine the kind of job, opportunity this (the agency) created for the youth; stimulating environment for business. Anambra emerged as the best supporter of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) in Nigeria in 2019, and this is a testament to the positive impact of the policies enacted by this administration in support of private businesses. It also lends financial support to agriculture and agro industries. We have many agro investors at Amichi (Stine Industry), at Umunze, Umuchu and at Ufuma,etc, where domestication of Efi Igbo is ongoing.

  One remarkable feature of this government’s pro-active measures is vividly made clear here because this agro-support agencies were set up on the onset of this administration. Government did not wait for herders-southerners clash to ensue before domestication of Efi Igbo or mechanisation of agriculture.

It gives great joy seeing our youths busy plying along the road with their shuttle buses and keke. Some of them have families who they fend for.

 The Anambra State Investment Protection and Promotion Agency (ANSIPPA) is another important innovation; a vital support agency that makes investment in Anambra State easy for investors. The agency directs, guides and supports these investors, giving them guidelines and information when necessary. I think this agency is contributory to the success of various industries springing up despite the current harsh economic situation.

With its helping hand, these businesses break new grounds. The agency also helps in easy land allocation and registration. ANSIPPA, in fact, is a ‘One Stop Service Centre’ quite available to assist and guide all investors to ensure that the process of doing business is streamlined and managed efficiently.

Our state occupies approximately 4844km of land space with three major cities Awka (the capital), Onitsha (the commercial nerve centre) and Nnewi (the technology hub). There’s also a growing urban trend in rural areas. Thus, it needs providers of digital solution for proper management of land allocation, sales and registration of title deeds.

On other sectors

  When we come to the education sector, I believe the governor is a trail blazer here. The unprecedented development witnessed in the education sector is enormous. This very government believes that this sector is key to success.

 Even in primary level which is the supper structure around which other levels of education revolve, much effort has been made there to give it a sound footing. The only way to highlight the great progress made in this sector in the state is to take cognizance of great laurels won by our students in the state, their exceptional performances in national and international quiz/debate competitions.

With government’s support, great talents flourish. Government initiative in education has borne great fruits. Typical evidences is the Technovation Award won by our  young students of Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, when they beat other contestants from the USA, Spain, China and Turkey, to win the 2018 World Technovation, held in  Silicon Valley, California, USA. Also, Anambra students have won presidential debate for four consecutive times.

   I’ve spoken of that unique security outfit in places in the state. A safe and secure Anambra is paramount here. The Obiano administration is relentlessly working with security agencies to secure lives and properties.

In the recent new security challenge in the country, the government got the list of all cattle herders residing in the state. This is crucial as it’ll send a message to them that this administration is serious with security issues.

I will not say much on agriculture and agro based industries here. What I’ll boldly state is that Anambra State under the leadership of Governor Obiano is the first state to export agric products- yams, ugu, onugbu, tomatoes, etc. These generate the much desired scarce foreign exchange. And in the health sector, much progress has been made.

On personal qualities that places him above his contemporaries

  Luckily our governor retired as an astute banker, a great banker of international repute. Therefore, he knows how to manage funds. It’s not getting billions that matter. What’s key here is its usage, proper utilisation of funds; not only funds but the three factors of production- land, labour and capital.

He knows the dynamics of the interplay of supply and demand, and the importance of economies of scale. Hence, he believes in prudent management of resources, including applying them to priority areas for maximum output.

  Again, our governor is patriotic and selfless. He’s not the one that will want to acquire and grab at the detriment of the masses. This is why his administration makes optimum use of whatever resources at its disposal.

This is why the meager fund he gets from the so called federal allocation is well utilised  and this is why in prudently managing the resources from internally generated revenue, he was able to free petty traders, artisans, truck and wheel barrow operators from paying levies. This may sound insignificant, unnecessary, but the amount accruable from this class of people is enormous.

 If he were a greedy person, nothing stops him from levying them and pocketing such money monthly. Anambra is blessed to have such a God fearing State Chief Executive. Earlier, I said in one of the interviews that his government holds Exco regularly where he and his team discuss the affairs of government together. I know of a few states that see such Exco meetings as unnecessary and you know the implication of this in a democracy

On general appraisal of his administration

  Obiano administration is working tirelessly, creating the enabling environment to boost investment confidence in the state. It is working assiduously to ensure sustainable solution towards ending poverty. In all the government does, it focuses on job creation and entrepreneurship development, as well as accelerates plans for techno logical advancement.

His administration works effortlessly to diversify the economy away from oil. It believes in the importance of human capital and embarked on massive human development programme, capacity building. Hence, civil servants periodically go for training. The government is unlocking business opportunities for our youths.

  Skill acquisition centres have been set up in almost all LGA’s of the state. All these efforts are aimed at providing and stimulating economic growth. These innovations spoken of in this discourse are some of the monumental dividends of Governor Obiano’s administration.

Knowing that progress is built on peace, the Obiano administration works to foster peaceful co-existence among all communities and citizens. The award for promoting social harmony in the state given to him by Pope Francis in recognition of his efforts in this regard testifies to the enduring harmony experienced in Anambra today.

  His administration believes in partnership. It works with the federal government, states, local and foreign investors and donor agencies to deliver good government to the people. Anambra State is known foe legacy projects.

The three flyovers are there. One could imagine the volume of traffic gridlock that would have been at Aroma, Kwata and Amawbia expressway were those flyovers not there. We’ve the Anambra International Cargo Airport speedily under construction; also, the International Conference Centre and the Awka City Stadium.

They create jobs and will create more when completed. They’ll also engender more businesses. I must emphasise here that in governance, to the best of my understanding, Governor Obiano does everything devoid of discrimination- without recourse to religious, political or party beliefs. And from the score card of this government, one will say that the governor has performed creditably and that he has exhibited share focus and total commitment to duty.

He has positioned Anambra State as the foremost investment destination in Nigeria and most preferred location to site industries. From what we see on ground in terms of development, I can say that the governor has come to leave the state better than he met it.

Through strategic partnership with private sector, this administration has transformed agricultural sector into a viable option for economic prosperity. The youth now see the sector as a worthwhile venture. In fact, here, he has provided the right institutional framework to turn around the agric fortunates of the state.

 In Anambra here, all the workers, the NLC, TUC, NULGE endorse the governor who pays salaries and allowances as and when due. All support him. They even gave him the award of the Most Labour Friendly Governor. This is never obtainable in other state when some owed over eight months arrears of salaries and majority paid half salaries.

  Mention must be made of this administration’s Community Choose Your Project Initiative. This is grassroots development par excellence. As far as I am concerned, Anambra is ahead of other states in development indices.

As I hinted earlier, his administration recognises quality human resources as key to entrenchment of quality governance and therefore sees capacity building as vital to empower people for quality service delivery. In fact we have witnessed transformational leadership in the state.

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