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Willie Obiano and the imperatives of laying a solid foundation for Anambra State

By James Eze on 17/03/2015

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As Governor Willie Obiano faces Ndi Anambra today to give account of his stewardship, he must be filled with the confidence of someone who has acquired enough boldness to look the sun straight in the face. After 365 days of breathtaking performance, Obiano has fully taken care of the fundamentals and prepared the super-structure for the rapid development of Anambra State. That was probably what informed the flurry of activities witnessed in Anambra State last week – the formal flag-off of operations by Ekcel Farms Limited in Omasi and the inauguration of an auto-assembly plant in Ozubulu by Richbon Automotive Industries Limited, among other projects. It would seem that Obiano wanted to re-enforce his statement of intent and drive home the point that the various MoUs  signed in the state in the past five months were not a mere political gimmick as had been rumoured in some quarters.

Indeed, it would seem also that in the past one year, Governor Willie Obiano has made frantic efforts to rebuild the confidence of the people in the capacity of the leadership class to work for the general good of the state. It was very useful that he took over the reins of leadership from his friend and brother who was largely adjudged to have done very well. It was also crucial that he came into a party tradition that invoked a certain level of consciousness that compelled anyone in a leadership position to shape up or ship out. Yes, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) indeed has an admirable philosophy which combines very effectively with its acute consciousness to prod everyone in its fold to a predetermined direction. Still, looking back, it is interesting to see how in just one year, Governor Obiano has forced a new and overarching consciousness on Ndi Anambra… this new belief that indeed, success can also be achieved as a group; that individual success is, in fact, incomplete after all, once there is a group failure.

Shortly after his inauguration, a few commentators whose eyes were closed to realities had wondered what Obiano would be doing in office. After all, they argued, all the roads had been built in Anambra State and the schools had been handed out to the Missions. But the governor had answered in thunder. The no-holds-barred crackdown on kidnappers and other violent criminals ensured that less than two months after his inauguration, Anambra State celebrated Easter for the first time in living memory, without a single incident of crime in the police records. The sustained offensive which led to the arrest of a kidnap kingpin aboard a South Africa-bound aircraft in Lagos, the arrest of major suppliers of arms to violent criminals, the destruction of warehouses used by kidnappers to detain their victims as well as the swift rescue of kidnap victims were to finally establish Obiano as a leader who is not only in office but in power. He showed that he had his hands fully on the control levers of the machinery of government.
Perhaps, no one has quite nicely linked up Obiano’s exploits in the area of security to the influx of investors in the state as Engr. Emeka Okwusa, Chairman of Ekcel Farms, did. Speaking at the
inauguration of his $100 million tomato and cassava farm project in Omasi last week, Engr. Okwosa reasoned: “If Anambra were not secure, Ekcel Farms would not be here today. Most investors like me will not invest in any place where we do not feel secure. It became very obvious from the way he went about tackling the challenge of insecurity in the state.”

The organic relationship between security and the confidence of investors and economic risk-takers is indeed remarkable. And so, with the tightening of the screws on security, Anambra had her face made up for investment-suitors. One of the state’s latest suitors, Richbon Automotive Industries Limited, is about to plough N10 billion ($50 million) into the first phase of its vehicle assembly plant that Governor Obiano inaugurated over the weekend in Ozubulu. Offering insight into the values the company is bring into the state, the Chairman of Richbon Group, Chief C. J Muonagolu, revealed that “the project and its value chain shall produce over 10,000 jobs and employment opportunities.” This projection tallies with Ekcel Farms’ projection of 10,000 direct jobs. Thus in one week, the Obiano administration quite successfully laid a solid foundation for the creation of 20,000 direct jobs and perhaps twice that volume in indirect jobs. Similarly, during the same week, the governor inaugurated an Agricultural Training Institute with an
initial intake of 250 prospective agro-entrepreneurs who would be given the seed money start their own businesses upon completion of the course.

Also during the outgone week, Governor Obiano turned his attention to the healthcare delivery sector. The governor had often shown a strong disapproval of the near comatose state of the 37 General Hospitals that are strewn over the state in various stages of disintegration and neglect. Determined to turn things around a bit in the sector, he approved the sum of N800 million for the purchase of crucial items for the hospitals. He also set out to leave his imprimatur on the Onitsha General Hospital, which is being re-invigorated to serve as a centre for medical excellence. However, what really ties in with Governor Obiano’s inclination to finishing strong is the signing of an MoU with Rise Global Health Initiative, USA, for Hospital Re-engineering Project that would transform the healthcare sector in the state. This agreement will see Rise Corporation launching out with the General Hospitals in Ossomala, Ogbaru Local Government, and Orumba in Orumba Local government.

In one of his recent blistering pieces on the coming elections former CBN Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, made a sweeping take at past leaders of the state, deriding them for not leaving any signature projects.
Again, it is remarkable how in just one year, Governor Obiano seems to have laid a solid foundation for what would eventually become his legacy projects or signature projects as the case may be. The three flyovers that are at various stages of completion in Awka, the proposed Umueri International Cargo Airport, the proposed all-new city of Awka as well as the Three Arms Zone that will house the seat of government are all well-conceived legacy projects that will all bear eternal testimony to Willie Obiano’s grasp with the challenges that dominated his time as the governor of Anambra State.

As he rounds off his first momentous year in office, Governor Willie Obiano looks set to walk straight into the pantheon of gods if he continues to stay above the shenanigans of some gods with feet of clay.

•Eze is Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Obiano (shown in photo).

Source News Express

Posted 17/03/2015 1:27:11 PM


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