Encomiums have continued to trail Governor Willie Obiano on his birthday celebration, its low key notwithstanding. This, no doubt, is owing to the impactful nature of his style of leadership on ndi Anambra and beyond. In this discourse, a stakeholder, community leader and industrialist, Chief C. U. Mbaji, Chairman/CEO, Lake Petroleum Ltd gave an insight into some aspects of the impacts of the governor’s administration that have so much endeared him to the state’s citizenry. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:
ON THOSE impacts on ndi Anambra and the gains so far
It’s now about seven and half years that Governor Obiano took the baton of leadership of our state. Immediately he took over the position of helmsman of the state, he took far reaching decisions in tandem with his administrations blueprint, mission and vision to achieve good results that’ll be beneficial to the majority of ndi Anambra.
Coupled with the various bodies he set up, he began implementing his policies and programmes. In executing them, various innovations in governance came up. His four pillars of development and their enablers were outlined as education, agriculture, commerce and industrialisation, environment, etc.
Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) was established, followed by Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Anambra Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA).
Of course, his committees were on board to help implement his strategy of governance and when these machineries were set in motion, ndi Anambra witnessed what I’ll describe as a special administrative mechanism in which both the locals, those at the grassroots and those at the centre of administration, in Awka and other major cities work together to achieve the common goal of inclusive government, participatory democracy and even distribution of dividends of democracy with the principles of equity, justice and fair play in place.
Governor Obiano, at the onset of his administration understood that integrity, selflessness and right focus constitute the hallmark of a good leader. He believes that a good leader must be responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of his people. He saw also the importance of prudent management of whatever resources available and their direction to areas of priority. With all these as his base, his administration went to work.
Civil servants, since inception of his government, receive their salaries and allowances as and when due, teachers receive theirs too with additional 27% increase and those in hard-to-reach areas also get special allowance. Ease of doing business is well streamlined and looked into to ensure that all critical bottlenecks that inhibit easy access to doing business are clearly removed.
Today, we see great improvement in the Anambra State ranking in the ease of doing business. Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs) have got a great boost with ASBA doing its job of funding to ensure businesses are sustained. That you see keke and shuttle bus operators in all the nooks and crannies of the state is no news. What is news in that ASBA grants them loans to purchase these vehicles, pay back when necessary and it gets to others as a revolving, repayable loan.
In agriculture, revolution in this sector has launched our state on the course of exporting agric products. Here we see the importance of government belief in the need for development partners in agric, in commerce, in industry and even in the ease of doing business.
In fact, through strategic partnership with private sector, the Obiano administration has transformed agriculture into a viable option for economic prosperity. This administration has given youth empowerment premier position.
From skill acquisition, some have specialised in some fields with ASBA support when they’re ready to set up their own businesses. This is capacity building to better empower the youth for quality service delivery. Of course, human resources are key to entrenchment of quality governance. With all these, government is providing the right institutional frame work to turn around the economic fortunes of the state.
Here, I’m itemising, explaining as I see them, those features of his administration that place him above his contemporaries in governance. You remember that the Obiano administration attaches great importance to agriculture. It believes that diversification of the economy away from oil is key to stimulating, boosting SMEs, and curbing unemployment.
I’ll state here without any equivocation that since 7 ½ years Governor Obiano has been at the helm of affairs here in Anambra, ideologically, socially, economically, culturally and even politically, things have evolved to a higher level. Welfare of ndi Anambra is adequately taken care of by this government.
Multi-sectoral development crisis cross the length and breadth of the state.. His security blueprint is a model. I’ve seen three governors and one West African country leader who were in Anambra to copy Governor Obiano’s security model. Never mind the general insecurity, insurgency seen in the country today. Whatever is the situation, Anambra remains the most secured state in the country. One aspect of grassroots development witnessed in this administration is the Community Choose Your Project Initiative.
It’s operational in all the communities in Anambra. Some towns are in the 3rd or 4th phase of the programme which gets development closer to the masses, and at the same time, creates jobs. The awards won so far by the governor are so many. They are the result of good governance; awards that show that the governor is a pragmatic and dedicated leader with passion.
Back to where we started, I do not know of any governor, president, even leader who performed like Anambra Governor and his birthday was not celebrated. Governor Obiano’s birthday should be eventful, auspicious and epoch-making in view of his numerous achievements.
You see, this birthday, the 66th birthday was low key, yet people celebrated with him because with his robust style of leadership, he won the admiration of every onye Anambra. Governor Obiano has successfully redefined governance. His programmes and policies and their implementation have given the assurance that Anambra is on the right path for socio-economic development.
He is successfully repositioning the state, taking it to an enviable height and making it the first choice of investment destination in Nigeria as well as transforming it as a major player in Nigerian economy. In fact, our state is becoming one of the fastest growing states in the country. Today, it is ahead of other states in development indices. With innovation in agriculture, great boost in SMEs and with the preparedness of ASBA, the state evolved concrete strategic fight against unemployment and it is succeeding.
Leaders are born, not made. The path to success is rough and rugged, and only those who’re ready to take challenges triumph. His likes fit into this category. His birthday celebration is a celebration of the positive impact of his development-oriented administration and value-driven leadership, and his commitment to building worthy legacies as a dynamic, resourceful and efficient administrator.
It’s a celebration of fulfilled campaign promises, his capacity to run an inclusive administration and ability to fight multiple infrastructure battles to the satisfaction of ndi Anambra. The governor has conducted the affairs of the state with fidelity, courage, humility and fear of God. We’re in the twilight of his administration and he’s not resting or “jamboreeing”. More legacy projects are springing up.
The Umueri airport is there, test-run few months ago and is almost completed. The International Conference Centre (10,000 capacity seater) and the stadium all nearing completion are there. This is a pointer to one fact- that he’s ready to leave Anambra much better than he met it. Akpokudike has exhibited uncommon wisdom, remarkable vision and exemplary leadership in steering the ship of our state, Anambra, Light of the Nation, and his dedication, selflessness and unshakeable commitment to governance serve as a model and great inspiration to many in leadership positions.
In fact, I salute his courage, doggedness, resilience and assiduity, and above all, his strong political will in piloting the affairs of our state.
For years, one refuse dump at Okpoko in Ogbaru LGA, near Onitsha, was there. Successive administrations have come and gone, by passing it. It’s called “Sakamori”. May be due to its grandiose size and the huge money it required for evacuation. These governments never thought of it. The Obiano administration came, saw it, budgeted for it and successfully cleared it. God knows the amount it gulped. The place is cleared now. That area of Okpoko is free. We’ve now free flow of water, free flow of traffic, no more traffic gridlock. Business is moving there.
This is what we call good governance and political will to surmount barriers, major obstacle that’ll hinder progress. Obiano has broken new grounds in governance. Under his administration, Anambra State has established itself as a global destination for investment. Today our state has remained the least indebted in Nigeria. This administration believes that women are nucleus of development in society. Their role is indispensable. It has given equal opportunities to both men and women in the running of its affairs. In some countries, women are cornerstones of national development.
Anambra State enjoys preeminence in educational standard from primary through secondary, to tertiary levels and our students’ feat in this sector is well known. The governor’s initiatives and innovations in governance have brought a new dawn in the state. Here in Anambra, we’ve the lowest poverty level.
The Obinao administration places high premium on the fundamental interest of the citizenry, and I assure you Anambra has never had it so good. That is why our prayers have been for God to give us someone who’ll work hard; a selfless leader who has the interest of the people at heart to succeed him.
On other aspects of governance where the Obiano administration excels
Giving soccour to the less privileged is one unique feature of the Obiano administration. He sees the welfare of ndi Anambra as one of his major priorities and here, his government right from the onset recognises the plight of the vulnerable in society. At this dire period, it’s rare to see any state chief executive or even head of an organisation remember the aged, the widows, the physically challenged.
These groups of people abound in our communities, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, etc. The present administration excels in this regard. You remember sometime, early last year, he gave appointment to over 85 of these people; full employment into civil service. Most of the physically challenged are in his government as special assistants, heads of non ministerial departments, etc.
He’s able to pay them owing to his government’s prudent management of scarce resources. I’ve said it again and again that ndi Anambra are lucky to have as their governor an astute banker who knows well the features of the interplay of supply and demand and how to utilise whatever fund available for the common good of all. The whopping amount spent in paying this set of people is not the subject of this discourse but suffice it to say that the fund expended on paying them is enormous as they increase the state workforce. This is one aspect of his leadership that endears him to many.
There’s a saying, “like father like son”, in the same vein, like husband like wife. Our governor’s wife, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano took after her husband. She set up the nongovernmental organisation (NGO), the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) to supplement her husband’s efforts in this regard; to help the needy. We all know of her exploits in this very circumstance – building toilet facilities in markets and other strategically located areas, construction of houses (bungalows) for aged women and widows, offering free surgery to cleft lips patients. This is pure work of charity.
One special attribute of this very administration is that in doing these works of charity, it transcends religious and political boundaries. Whatever they do, they do it to the best of their ability and for the benefit of all. As he’s racing towards the twilight of his administration, I’m sure he’ll finish his tenure very strong and leave behind iconic legacies.
I wish our governor happy birthday and God’s guidance. I must stress the importance of loyalty and support to government. I therefore use this discourse to challenge the entire ndi Anambra to remain loyal and supportive to this government. I’m very optimistic that our working governor will remain active till the end. His administration cannot do much alone. All hands must be on deck. We must also pray fervently for God to give us a good successor. I advise the youth to avoid restiveness and untoward behavior, any act that’ll bring our state, Anambra, to disrepute.
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