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Anambra @ 30: From trader mentality to educational excellence

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…‘Think Home’ our magic wand – Ex-gov, Ezeife
…New orientation came with new name – Elder statesman, Simon Okeke

IN A way, no epic tells Anambra’s odyssey through the last 30 years more evocative than one of the state’s new leading lights, Chief Cosmas Maduka’s journey through life.If, like a Trojan horse, Maduka dusted vicissitudes of his early beginning as a precarious primary four auto spare parts trader to become a global brand in automobile under Coscharis Group, Anambra also waded through sludge, brushing off trader mentality epithet to emerge Nigeria’s new postercardof excellence.

  The cynicism seemed so sticking that immediately after former Anambra metamorphosed into two states, many predicted that new Anambra State was headed for self-destruct. Although the prediction was predicated on mischievous convolution of the state’s rich tapestry as an open commercial arcade into a sort of genetic faultline, it nearly turned out true when the new cadence was ‘tested’ by residues of dislodged big masquerades. Many wondered how a state whose biggest players were mainly illiterate, itinerant, merchandise traders coalescing in Onitsha markets as their Meccaor semi-literate transporters – of the Ekene Dili Chukwu and New Tarzan et al fames – ferrying these traders and their commodities, would seamlessly participate in the new millennium’s global economy.

  But the new state is standing this cynical prediction on its head to make its proponents eat their words by boasting of highest number of millionaires per capita in Africa with largest industrial capacity in Nigeria, headlining Nigeria’s educational leverages by winning national and international prizes,apart from having best performing students in West Africa School Certificate Examination (WASCCE) every year.

  The question now becomes how a state written off not long ago, suddenly becomes toast of a ballistic 21st Century economy? Or put differently, how come a state where ill-educated merchants once called the shots, became homeland of laser technocrats such as Chief Allen Onypuema of Air Peace, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Prof. Charles Soludo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kingsley Muoghalu, who are billionaires without traditional trading shops?

  Baring his mind in a telephone interview, governor of Anambra State in defunct third republic, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, explained the puzzle as a product of Think Home clarion that kicked off in his time and continued by his successors.

  According to Ezeife, Anambra had no choice than taking its destiny in its own hand by mustering every forte within reach to get its acts together and prove cynics wrong.

  The elder statesman further said the state reaped re-engineering from a streak of savvy governors – from himself, a Harvard-trained economist – to Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju – a cerebral lawyer and media administrator – to Dr. Chris Ngige –a physician –to Mr. Peter Obi – a philosopher and shrewd business tycoon – to Chief Willie Obiano – an innovative banker, accountant and serial winner from school days – whose academic sophistication rubbed off on governance to consign ‘leadership’ by strong mento history. Little wonder, from traditional rulers to presidents-general up to legislators and other strata of public office, including Anambra contingents at national level, leadership selection process took new educational slant that weeds out people without academic pedigree.

  Ezeife spoke in similar strand with former Chairman of Police Service Commission, Chief Simon Okeke, who said the state started on new orientation to deliver.

  For Okeke, with the world becoming a global community, there was a compelling need for new templates, building governance around cutting edge policy framework, opening up neglected areas where Anambra has comparative advantage – such as human capital – with strategic investments to make the state competitive. The result, he explained further, is Anambra metamorphosed from land of local champions to homeland of global superstars.

  A University of London trained estate surveyor and valuer, himself, Okeke cautioned against nonchalance because though on an irreversible journey to stardom, more work still lies ahead if Anambra would consolidate recent successes to do more exploits. This, he also said, makes the forthcoming November 6 gubernatorial election a litmus test for the state.

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