Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Prior to the advent of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the administration and governance of Anambra state in 2006, the state had been in the hands of other political parties. The state at some point in its political history had a government that described its workers as dead woods and confiscated workers’ salaries and emoluments for an upward of 12 months. That period in the history of Anambra state was referred to as hollocaust because the state economy was crippled and the entire citizenry plunged into abject penury and squalor. The state was held hostage by an administration that diverted public funds into frivolities and ostentation. Human capital and infrastructural development were at their lowest ebb because the government in power had no robust long term economic plan for the state. Anambra state then was referred to as “Home For All” because insecurity and lawlessness took the centrestage and many fled for safety resulting in capital flights and massive economic breakdown. As a result, Anambra state became very sick and hospitalized.
The citizenry had wished and prayed for a breath of fresh air when another dispensation came on board but to the consternation of all and sundry, the state suffered another round of hollocaust. This time it was the burning and outright destruction of public institutions such as the Anambra State Broadcasting Service Complex in Awka amongst numerous others. Anambra state was seen in bad light by the rest of the world due to incessant uprising and pandemonium. For many years, Anambra state was at the mercy of tyrants and marauders who looted the state coffers leaving a crippled economy for successive governments. That was before the APGA government came into power. Today, the story is different in Anambra state. APGA emerged and returned the state to its lost glory. The APGA government under Governor Willie Obiano has placed Anambra at a vantage position such that the state has continued to excel in all its endeavours. This new dawn is clearly captured by the state commissioner for information and public enlightenment, Mr. C.Don Adinuba.
He said, “No state in Nigeria has in the last four years recorded as much progress as Anambra State in various areas. Here is a cursory look at the achievements which have made the state the most competitive in the Nigerian federation. Anambra students won the Golden Prize in the highly prestigious Technovision Competition held in San Francisco, United States, on Thursday, August 19th, 2018. Students from Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, defeated students from the United States of America and many other countries of the world right in the home of Information technology to get this global award. The Internet application which they developed is known as Fake Drugs Detector. When fully commercialised, it will help tackle the global scourge of counterfeit drugs. Anambra State students represented Nigeria in the 2017 World School Debate held in Germany and took the third position. In a mock debate held earlier in Singapore, they defeated a highly respected Catholic convent school which is more than 100 years old to win the first position. Also the same year, Anambra State excelled in other educational competitions. A significant example is Loretto Special Science Secondary School, Adazi in Anaocha which won the first prize in a Performance Assessment conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education for all the senior secondary schools in Nigeria. In the same performance evaluation by the federal ministry and agencies under its supervision, Queen of The Rosary College (QRC), Onitsha, won the first prize in the Junior Secondary School category. Mr Clement Okodo of Central School, Abagana in Njikoka Local Government Area, won the first prize in the Teachers category. The following year, the state continued on its trajectory of excellence. It clinched the overall best prize in the assessment of school administrators. The prize went to Amala Ezenwa, headmistress of Awada Primary School Four in Obosi, Idemmili North Local Government Area. The state also clinched the fourth prize which went to Vera Uju Ikegwuani, principal of Anglican Girls Secondary School, Onitsha. Anambra is the first state to have won in four consecutive years the School Debate Competition endowed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having won it for three years, the federal educational authorities decided that the competition be held in the state in 2018. At the last debate held last December, it defeated Benue State by four points to one. Anambra State has been leading in examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), and National Examinations Council (NECO). It records the least number of examination malpractices among states in the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Anambra State is the only state in the last six years to have reviewed workers salaries upwards, despite receiving one of the least monthly allocations from the federation account and despite the fact that its monthly internally generated revenue (IGR) is not yet anything to write home about for reasons beyond the scope of this brief essay. Anambra State pays workers before any other state in Nigeria. Workers receive their salaries on the 24th or 25th of every month, come rain or shine. Not just workers but also pensioners and political office holders. It is among the first three states to agree to pay workers the minimum wage once the appropriate law is in place. Anambra State is the only state which from time to time gives bags of rice to workers, including part-time workers. This noble gesture is to supplement their income. Needless to state, the rice is home grown. Anambra Rice is now a famous brand throughout Nigeria. Anambra is the only state to have increased yearly rice production from 80 metric tonnes to 340 metric tonnes. It has done so well in the rice value chain that it is now helping other states. For instance, Lake Rice, a joint venture between Kebbi and Lagos states, may be planted in Kebbi State and sold in Lagos State, but unknown to a lot of Nigerians this brand is milled in Anambra State. In fact, it is milled at Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area by a firm known as Stine Mill.The mill is one of the companies attracted to the state by the excellent security situation it has been enjoying and the state government’s policy or strategy known as Think Home. This is a strategy of encouraging the people to always consider investing at home, no matter where they may be in any part of the world. It has, of course, proved effective. Anambra, which has the best road network in the federation, has now emerged the fourth largest economy in Nigeria. If it were to be a country, it would be the 13th largest in Africa. It is the state with the the least poverty index. And it is the least indebted state in the whole country, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) of the Federal Ministry of Finance.The World Bank last September declared Anambra the state with the best record in the implementation of World Bank-assisted projects throughout the Southeast and South-South geographical zones. This declaration was made by Rachid Benmessoud, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, at a two-day Portfolio Review which began in Awka on September 27. The next day Anambra State received the first prize for successful implementation of the immunization campaign under the supervision of the World Bank. The prize was given to Anambra State by the Vice President of Nigeria and the Minister of Health, and received in Abuja on behalf of the state by the state Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Health.The police authorities on Thursday, March 29, 2018, declared Anambra the safest state in the country. It has since emerged that the state is the safest place in both West and Central Africa. It has also become the most peaceful state in the country. For instance, during the gubernatorial election of November 17, 2017, there was not even a single incident of violence before or during the election or after the election when Chief Willie Obiano became the first governor in history to win by a landslide in each of the 21 local government areas in Anambra State. Candidates of the major political parties that contested against him congratulated him in writing. Some of the candidates even attended the governor’s second inauguration last March 18 in person. This is unprecedented in a state where only a few years ago members of the same ruling party kidnapped the serving governor over a mere disagreement and went ahead to burn all key institutions for three days in an orgy of violence. It is wonderful that Anambra State has now become synonymous with social harmony.”
Apart from the foregoing, the most recent political feat achieved by the APGA in the just concluded State House of Assembly Elections in Anambra where the party won 24 out of the 30 state constituency seats is an eloquent testimony that Governor Willie Obiano’s pragmatic approach to developmental issues has received the blessings and endorsements of the citizenry. To this end, a former commissioner for information and culture and member Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Grand Alliance Chief Maja Umeh said that “for us in APGA it’s a good one. What that portends is that there would be better working relationship between the House and the Executive because what majority in the House means is that the party people in the executive and the legislature are working with the same party programme. For instance, the campaign promises of the Governor would be facilitated easier because it is the same belief that the House members have. If for instance there are ideological differences between the legislature and the executive, the execution of the Governor’s campaign promises might get stalled. But since you have a majority of the House from the same party with the Governor, then those campaign promises would be what the majority would stand for.”
The former Anambra state spokesperson emphasized that there was a compelling need to sustain the tempo of development in the state for the betterment of the entire citizenry even though he observed that opposition was necessary for adequate checks and balances. He also said that rather than constitute a cog in the wheel of progress, opposition elements succumbed to Governor’s Willie Obiano’s good governance model. Umeh opined that it was expected that the 7th legislature would cooperate with the executive to further deepen execution of policies and programmes that would enhance welfare and well-being of the people .
As Chief Willie Obiano marks his 5th year anniversary in office as Governor of Anambra state on 17th March, 2019, it is pertinent that the legislature and the executive work harmoniously devoid of rancour in order not to retard development. Hon. Leo Nwuba the council chairman of Awka-South local government area had attributed the resounding success APGA recorded in the State House of Assembly Elections to the good works the governor has executed in the last five years. Nwuba said the 7th Anambra State House of Assembly where APGA has the majority would further lead the state to greater achievements under Governor Willie Obiano.