It is clear as daylight now, that Governor Willie Obiano has not forgotten Winston Churchill’s memorable quote which he deployed in his acceptance speech as the candidate of APGA in the November 2013 election that made him a governor.
Inspired by the electrifying atmosphere of the day and egged on by the weight of the moment, Obiano had declared to his fellow party faithful in Churchill’s own words “history will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Seven years down the line, Obiano has written a fascinating piece of history for himself and Ndi Anambra. He has changed both the landscape and the mindscape of the state with his compelling vision. He is opening the state up for future growth. He is furiously laying the foundation for Anambra’s imminent rise as a towering economic corridor in Nigeria.
And now, in the closing year of his tenure, the outlines of Obiano’s renascent Anambra have emerged from the canvass. And sincerely, this what everyone has waited to see of Anambra State…a place where the true talent of the people is reflected in the civilization they have built.
Now, here are the building bricks of this coming greatness – Seven years of sustained investment in security has created a social capital which will take a while to expend.
It took hard work to bring the state to a point where the country’s security establishment unanimously declared Anambra the safest state in Nigeria. Security is a consciousness experienced in two layers. One is physical and the other psychological.
On the physical realm is the readiness of the state to bring the full weight of the law down on whoever may wish to take liberties with the law. On the psychological plain is the slow but crucial acceptance by residents and visitors that a particular location is safe enough to live and thrive in and that the law would spring to their protection in the event of a threat.
A free society is a precursor for economic development. A society is as free as the degree of freedom it enjoys in public safety.
No meaningful and sustainable economic progress can be recorded in a volatile atmosphere, plagued by fear and uncertainty. Governor Obiano understood this and he made watertight security his foundation for the Anambra of his dream. The results have been impressive. In 2019, the World Bank rated Anambra among the Top-5 Most Improved States in ease of doing business in Nigeria.
The state was given a presidential award for this achievement. It must be remembered that this was once a state where no serious entrepreneur would risk a visit only a few years earlier.
As a corollary to Anambra’s impressive showing on the ease of doing business index, foreign investments have been flowing into the state. Again, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports that in 2020, Anambra attracted foreign investments worth $10.2 million.
It is interesting to note that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could get in the way of these investments. And of course, we are talking about a state which most people would rather stay away from just a few years ago.
The most distinctive of Obiano’s building bricks of greatness so far is in the fight against poverty. The NBS reports that in 2010, the level of poverty in Anambra State stood at 53% on the national average.
Interestingly, 10 years later, Anambra rates 14.8% on national average indicating a huge drop of 358%. Six out of these 10 years were under Obiano’s watch.
And we may wish to note that within those six years, Nigeria has experienced two recessions but Anambra was totally insulated from the shock of the first recession through Obiano’s competent handling of the local economy.
This is a measure of what Ndi Anambra have done with the confidence inspired by their governor. Meanwhile, the crowning glory of the Obiano years is the Anambra International Airport, Umueri and the International Conference Centre in Awka.
These are two audacious legacy projects that have given Anambra a sturdy foot into the future. But only those with a level of discernment can see the emerging outline.
Only such people can see that if you are adjudged the safest state in Nigeria for many successive years, the world would want to do business with you. And for you to host the world, you need a world class facility; an International Conference Centre.
And if you build a 10,000-capacity Conference Centre, how will the world access it if you don’t have an airport? How would some of the largest professional bodies like the Nigeria Bar Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Nigeria Society of Engineers, the Association of Nigerian Authors and many others access the facility if there is no airport?
If you have the largest retail market in West Africa, wouldn’t building an airport enhance the potentials of that market by increasing the footfalls in and out of it? Can anyone doubt the economic import of hosting major conferences in Anambra State?
When you connect the items on this canvass with a clear line, what will emerge is a solid outline of a new Anambra State; a new economic hemisphere that will serve as a land of dreams for its dynamic people and other dreamers from across the world.
What anyone with a gift of discernment will not miss in this outline is a visionary attempt to finally deploy the essential gravity that will bring Anambra’s famous universe of success back down to the earth of its own roots. God bless Governor Willie Obiano for all these!
• Eze writes via eziokwubundu@ gmail.com