The historic event of Chief Willie Obiano's assumption of office as the Governor of Anambra State on the 17th of March 2014 was refreshing to Ndi-Anambra. The Governor's fidelity to the social contract with Anambra people in the past three years, particularly in relation to his walking the 4pillar cardinal development agenda of Agriculture (mechanized), Industrialization, Trade & Commerce and Oil & Gas, as well as the effective application of his enablers of Security, Education, Health, Environment, Youth and Sports Development, Transportation, Housing and Urban Planning, Civil Infrastructure, Women and Children, Social Infrastructure etc, presents a pleasant picture of a state obsessed with instituting and consolidating the culture of good governance.
In celebrating the change of guard from Chief Peter Obi to Chief Willie Obiano, the people majorly sought expression for the expired governor's notable times, just as they were hopeful that Chief Willie Obiano would live his declaration to take Anambra ahead of its peers. Chief Obiano's early avowals to 'expand the frontiers of good governance' by fostering his vision of making Anambra State 'the first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities,' and his resolve to actualize this mission through 'creating a socially stable business friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth creating opportunities in Anambra State' soon took material forms. Anambra now counts among the very few states in Nigeria with sustainable economies.
In April 2014, barely a month in office, Chief Obiano assented to the bill establishing the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA). The agency serves as the clearing house for notable investments coming into Anambra State. It is a one-stop shop for prospective investors. Using international best practices indices, ANSIPPA subjects investors to standard generic assessment viability exercises to determine their credibility, competence and capacity to deliver. The agency's achievements bringing good investors to Anambra in less than three years constitute a major part of Gov. Willie Obiano's success in growing a vibrant economy in the state.
Both in volume and spread, the agricultural sector is evidently the highest beneficiary in the inflow of investments in Anambra in the past three years. It has attracted greater percentage of the total value of the multi-sectorial investments in the state. Some of the investors here are Coched Farms Ltd with an investment portfolio of over $150m in an ultra-modern rice farm at Anaku (highest single contributor to Anambra Rice brand); Joseph Agro Ltd, $150m (with optimal proficiency in innovative instrumentation); Ekcel Farm Ltd, $220m; Silos and Grains Ltd, $20m, and Delfarms Ltd, $40m. It is noteworthy that Delfarms' expansive whole organic production, has recently gained them SABMiller Group's approval to apply for their “'RFP BM Adjunct Sorghum Nigeria 2017' tender process for the supply of sorghum in the 2017 procurement period”.
The ultramodern Lynden Poultry Farm at Igbariam, with capacity of producing two million birds annually, is the largest of such venture South East of the Niger. While Anambra Rice has become a brand to beat in the rice market, high quality organic vegetables like ugu and onugbu are now exported from Anambra State to Europe. Just recently a demand for one million tubers of yam from Anambra State has been made from the United States of America. Anambra Yam, like Anambra Rice, will soon be a brand to beat. With Agriculture attracting well over $1b (USD) in the past three years, the economic activities in the sector, which spread through farming to storage, processing and packaging of rice, cassava, tomatoes, maize etc, are already generating thousands of employment opportunities in direct and indirect jobs. This supports the Governor's design to fight crime with job creation.
Trade and Commerce sector has also enjoyed huge investments in the period under review. The West African International Trade Centre Ltd is deploying about $320million on a top class Anambra International Trade Centre at Ogbunike. The project's job generating capacity is averaged at about 600 direct jobs and well over 12,000 indirect jobs. Markets now have functional conveniences and gargets that assist in checking crime.
The Tourism and Hospitality Sector has equally posted significant investment portfolio in the state within the past three years. Cardinal Developers and Trust Ltd is putting in $70million into tourism, hospitality and real estate at Onitsha, while putting in $28million into the sector at Awka. The Onitsha and Awka ventures will generate 800 direct jobs and over 2900 indirect jobs. This is as the government seeks further partnerships in developing the rich potentials in the tourism sector within the state, with Ogbunike and Owelle-Ezukala Caves in critical stages of conclusion.
In seeking to maximize the Oil and Gas potentialities of Anambra State, this administration has in the past three years, apart from supporting the efforts of Orient Refinery, attracted investors like UD Integrated Petroleum Production Company (UDIPPCO) and Falcon Corporation Ltd. These investments will improve the gains of the state in petroleum and power generation. While UDIPPCO is investing $150million with the capacity of generating over 500 direct jobs and well over 42,000 indirect jobs, Falcon Corporation Ltd's investment of #100million is generating over 240 direct jobs and more than 54,000 indirect jobs. Richbon's $40million investment in heavy duty automobile plant is billed to generate over 200 direct jobs and more than 1,500 indirect jobs.
These achievements have been made possible by the success of the State Government in providing unprecedented security for people and property in the state. A few weeks into the life of this administration, the security equation in Anambra changed. Since then, the state has increasingly maintained the lead as the safest state in Nigeria. This administration continues to fund and support the national security agencies: the police, the military, NDLEA, and highly improved home grown vigilante group. It provides them functional vehicles for effective patrol and communication. With adequate security and stable polity in place, Gov. Obiano's administration has succeeded in ventilating the entrepreneurial bent of the citizens who are now more expressive in exploring the huge economic possibilities in the state. No gainsaying therefore, Anambra State is today the 'first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities in Nigeria.' For this, the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has continued to enjoy prime recognition for good governance.
Gov. Obiano has kept faith with his 4Cs promises of continue, complete, commission and commence. A look across Anambra landscape today confirms his belief that governance is a continuum - insofar as the demands of the people are served. The Governor pledged to continue work on inherited uncompleted projects. Today, even roads that were awarded at the twilight of the past administration which were barely funded, count among the beneficiaries of his belief in sustaining functional development in the state.
Anambra has continued to excel in the Education Sector, winning sterling laurels at national and international competitions at all levels. It has maintained its lead over the years in West African School Certificate examinations. The government has continued to improve the infrastructural needs of schools, colleges and universities in the state, just as teachers of special subjects of great interest to the government (like core science subjects, mathematics and Igbo) as well as teachers in remote villages are paid extra monies as incentives for enhanced performance.
Chief Obiano Administration's most innovative '#20m Community Choose your Project Initiative' has succeeded in making his government more participatory. This initiative has effectively allowed the designated 181 communities the liberty to freely choose any project that will add the greatest value to the greatest number of the locals. Apart from the liberty of choice, the initiative serves as further caution for the pains of economic recession. Recall the Governor's last year relief to Ndi-Anambra at the height of the recession: tax reductions for low income earners on the streets and markets.
Chief Willie Obiano has effectively acquitted himself as a team player in governance. This is most evident in the prime presence of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, in policy formulation and execution. It is further expressed in the strategic schedules of his senior Political Appointees and Civil Servants whose understanding of and commitment to the Governor's vision and mission informs the giant strides the government is making in translating democracy to both physical development and value reorientation.
A dispassionate juxtaposition of Chief Obiano's campaign promises, the hopes in his Inauguration Address vis a vis significant pointers to their attainment, gives the discerning public cause to celebrate committed leadership; it also invigorates the Governor's resolve to cautiously drive the affairs of State, and enhance the values of life and property in Anambra.
Okechukwu Anarado is a Special Assistant to the Governor on Media.