On Anambra the Governor says "To Be"


The Governor responds by himself.

By Mr Peter Obi

Reading Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s column of last Friday(Anambra's budget of misplaced priorities), it became clear that the only way to react to his ‘expert’ analysis of Anambra State is to dispel some of his incorrect assertions about the state; but without recourse to technical data that is now confirmed to be largely incorrect. An expert making categorical pronouncements on any state in Nigeria ought to first ensure that his data on the state is gathered from ‘experiencing’ the state, preferably first-hand, rather than from second-hand information; much of which may be flawed by ignorance or outright malice. We note the comparative data on indices of development, but their value is marred.
As seen through el-Rufai’s prisms, Anambra is adjudged to be witnessing increasing crime rate, infrastructure deficits, a number of strikes over minimum wage, higher tax burdens, exodus of  the elite, lack of solid industrial base, etc.
Without pretending that all is perfect in any state of the federation, Anambra State can be said to be the opposite of practically everything suggesting by the indices marshalled in last week’s write-up. This government adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as its vision, and because the MDGs are multi-sectoral, the state adopted a multi-sectoral approach towards achieving it. This gave birth to the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) as the vehicle for driving the vision simultaneously in every sphere.
An overview of the efforts to achieve some of the specific MDGs referred to in el-Rufai’s analysis will help the reading public on our work in Anambra State. It may also show the writer how much damage many people believe he has done to himself as an ‘expert’ columnist who staked his reputation with such flawed categorical pronouncements.
Anambra State began with a poverty mapping of the state (the first ever in Nigeria); supported by one of our international development partners – The European Union (EU), via its Support to Reforming Institutions Programme (SRIP). The poverty profile led to the design of poverty reduction strategies, to specifically target the poorest local governments; without neglecting the other. We began work on a new network of roads, particularly in rural areas, giving roads and bridges to remote communities, where no previous administration had shown any government presence.
In this regard,, the following  can be verified: The 45-kilometre  Anaku-Omasi-Ifite Ogwari-Igbakwu Road in Ayamelum LGA ; the 43-kilometre Amansea-Ebenebe-Awba Ofemili Road in Awka North, with a bridge (N5 billion); the 67-kilometre Onitsha-Atani-Ossomalla-Ogwuikpele Road in Ogbaru LGA, with three bridges (N17.8 billion); the Umueze Anam-Mmiata Road in Anambra West LGA, with a bridge; the Nibo-Umuawulu-Awgbu-Amaokpala-Umunze Road, with the famous Odor bridge etc. Incidentally, most of these communities are food producing. Understandably, therefore, the effect of this intervention on poverty reduction, food security, and overall economic growth has been remarkable. This is more elaborately treated in the inside pages.
This year’s budget is only another brick on our continued reconstruction of education in Anambra State. We began with short-term interventions, by equipping  and refurbishing  science laboratories in secondary schools, constructing primary school classrooms in all 177 communities of the state, and providing water boreholes, toilet/sanitation facilities, computers, electricity generating sets, buses etc.
Currently, our medium to long-term measures revolve around our acceptance that government has no business managing schools, and that the rot in the education sector stemmed largely from mismanagement and poor supervision of schools. Our landmark return of primary and secondary schools to their original missionary owners signalled the beginning of a partnership with the church, in which the state government will continue to pay the salaries of teachers and non-teaching staff, in addition to providing strong financial support for the running of the schools. The government will provide as much as N10 billion for this purpose.
At the tertiary level, the state university and college of education have undergone remarkable transformation in infrastructure, accreditation of programmes and general welfare. Details of this can be seen in the inside pages of today’s papers.
Government’s multifaceted efforts to empower women have been largely through the state Poverty Eradication Programme, Women in ANIDS Micro Finance Scheme and in collaboration with National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and development partners like UNICEF. In this regard, numerous pro-poor programmes have been implemented, targeting mostly vulnerable women such as widows, poor women, and female care-givers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) etc.  We have Anambra State Poverty Eradication Programme (ASEPEP); women in ANIDS Micro Finance Scheme; and Women Fund for Economic Empowerment (WFEE), among others.
The women empowerment programme in Anambra State has benefited immensely from the activities of my wife, Mrs Margaret Peter Obi, who goes round the state meeting with women, the needy and the vulnerable. She has visited each of the 177 communities in the state, at least three times. Apart from the financial/economic benefits, the psychological benefits of this personal attention cannot be quantified. Anambra is gender-friendly and many women have worked with me as commissioners, permanent secretaries, judges, special advisers etc. Women also now have a strong political voice in communal affairs, through the establishment of women wings of town unions for grassroots political participation.
MDGs 4, 5, 6: HEALTH:
From the establishment of the state University Teaching Hospital at Awka, which with Onitsha General Hospital has gained accreditation, the state is constructing new primary and secondary health facilities and renovating existing ones. El-Rufai’s pronouncements on our health sector is erroneous, because the government has done a lot here, along with support from its development partners, which is not usually captured in the state’s budget.
We have the UNICEF intervention in maternal health, immunisation and infant health generally; World Bank support for combating malaria, construction and equipping of health facilities etc; DFID support for the Roll Back Malaria programme; MDGs funding for the construction, renovation and equipping of health facilities at primary and secondary levels, capacity building for various categories of health personnel, provision of boreholes and toilet/sanitation facilities in health centres, and construction of hostels in Schools of Nursing and Midwifery. The state has budgeted as much as N5 billion for her 2011/2012 MDGs programme; with much of this going into the health sector.
Like the education sector, our health sector is reaping the benefits of the state’s partnership with the church whose health facilities and training institutions have acquired state-of-the-art equipment and achieved accreditation with the strong financial support of the government. It is common knowledge that the construction of 10 hostel blocks in church-owned Schools of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Technology by the government is ongoing at N60 million per hostel.
The government is achieving verifiable results in its effort to ensure environmental sustainability. Work on many erosion sites is either completed or ongoing and proper designing of roads with good drainages to minimise the appearance of new erosion sites is now a condition for all road works. The dredging of the Sakamori and Nwangene creeks to prevent flooding in Onitsha is progressing; the opening up of the Iyiagu flood channel in Awka saved the state capital from the imminent danger that faced it when this administration took off in 2006 etc.
Part of the MDG on the environment has to do with access to safe water and basic sanitation. In 2006, all public taps in the state were dry. As an interim measure, the government quickly began to provide boreholes in schools, health facilities and other public places in communities; with support from its development partners. Current government is scaled up from boreholes to small town and medium water schemes in various parts of the state.
The huge expenditures made by the government and its development partners have not been captured in the state’s budget. For instance, UNICEF has spent hundreds of millions of naira to give water to schools and communities, especially in the five UNICEF Focus LGAs of Aguata, Anambra East, Idemili South, Nnewi North and Ogbaru. So has the EU on water projects like the Obizi Water Scheme in Uga, the Udoka and Arroma Water Schemes in Awka, the Amawbia Water Scheme in Amawbia, as well as water projects in Nnewi and other parts of the state.
Given the meagre resources of Anambra State, collaboration with development partners (global, national & local) is of utmost importance. We have attracted, and are sustaining several strategic partnerships and we have left no stone unturned to create an enabling environment for their operation. Our efforts in this regard include being among the first to provide Government Counterpart Cash Contribution (GCCC) for development partnership activities. We passed the test of accountability and transparency in the management of funds from development partners, by using the money for the intended purpose and by undertaking the necessary reforms to engender confidence in our partners etc.
We are not perfect, but whatever indices are used today to measure the progress of states in Nigeria, we shall come out in shining colours, once knowledge is the basis of our assessment.

•Mr. Obi is the Governor of Anambra State.

y Joseph Anarado

Many informed writers, including those that have been to Anambra recently, have risen in unison to defend what was clearly an assault on truth and clear thinking – Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s piece on Anambra.  However, in his scandalous piece, Mr. Chudi Offodile, removed from the House of Representatives by Hon. Ossy Egwuatu for rigging and who was part of Governor Peter Obi’s impeachment, wrote Anambra: the Limits of Propaganda in his support

Anybody who has been following developments in Anambra State does not need a soothsayer to reveal to him that el-Rufai is acting a well-scripted drama. Recall that at the beginning of the year, a write up circulated on the net warning of impending media war against Obi, as part of the efforts to pit him against President Goodluck Jonathan and portray him as being far from what he preaches. This is the Offodile Syndrome!

“Peter Obi brought civility and peace to governance in Anambra State at a time politics in the state had degenerated to dangerous and unacceptable levels,” so declared Offodile.  By this he has admitted that at the time they held sway, Anambra was home to bedlam as lunatics took over the asylum.  At that time, important institutions of the state were all burnt down; Obi has rebuilt all of them.

For the purpose of setting the records straight, on road infrastructure, as at June 19, 2012, Anambra has asphalted over 600 kilometres of roads. The records are there for everybody to see. Probably intimidated, Offodile suddenly started commenting on qualities of roads; RCC, CCC, Nigercat, IDC, among other reputable companies which constructed roads for the state.  Offodile’s predicament is a classical case of onye amaghi ihe o ga eji koo mmadu onu, o si ya na odi ihu ka nna ya (a person who does not see any valid for castigating another telling him that he resembles his father). The statistics on roads in Anambra are there for everybody to see.

No contract is awarded without going through that board and the State Executive Council for approval. I invite Offodile to verify this.  It is those that deal with him, one way or the other, who say he is prudent.  In 2009, he won THISDAY prize for the Most Prudent Governor in Nigeria as well as many other awards.  While most of the states are borrowing and issuing bonds, he has not done so. The Senate of Nigeria, Debt Management Office, World Bank may be wrong in acclaiming Anambra’s financial stability as against the analysis of a lawyer turned “financial guru.”  In a world where lack of savings is one of the reasons for economic recession, somebody says we should not save?
Seeking for things to deal a blow on Obi, Offodile was everywhere. He even accused him of not initiating Orient Petroleum simply because he was seeking ways to denigrate the fact that Obi was the first and only governor of the state that has invested money – N4 billion – in it.  Through his efforts, the facility is due for inauguration. Sensing that Obi will get the glory, Offodile started early to distract from that by his reference to who initiated what. 

It is on record that Obi built five classroom blocks in each town in the state. The one for Awka, Offodile’s home town, is at Community Secondary School, Nkwelle Awka. He holds strangely that the governor visiting schools, handing over computers to them and finally handing them over to churches is evidence of incoherence. I do know that one of the greatest things Obi does today, which people like Offodile have not understood, is visiting primary and secondary schools for which he has been to over 200 of them. Such visits have long lasting psychological effects on children. I think it was President Bill Clinton who dreamt of being an American president when President Kennedy visited his school.

Realising that one of the strongest points Obi has among development partners is his commitment to immunisation and devotion to primary health, for which he has built close to 200 primary health centres in the state.  It is a pity that he does not know at his level that promoting immunisation culture is one of the most fundamental in the general health of the people globally. It is a major preventive exercise that has attracted the attention of people like Bill Gates, who is committing billions of dollars into it. Under Obi Anambra’s immunisation coverage of Anambra moved from 45 per cent to over 85 per cent.

When Obi came into office, he invited manufacturers and pleaded with them to invest in the state and assured them of government’s support. One of them, the Chief Executive of Innoson Motors Manufacturing, Innocent Chukwuma, in his recent remarks, referring to Obi, said: “We vividly recall that just five years ago, you laid the foundation stone of our motor plant and shortly after, when we faced onerous challenges, you firmly stood by us. Only less than two years ago you brought the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR to commission the plant at Nnewi. We also note with pleasant memory that your Government has so far remained the largest single customer to the factory and your good self “the Chief Marketing Officer.” As I write, the state government has ordered 500 vehicles worth over N2 million from the company out of which she has paid 70 per cent, while even still awaiting delivery.

The Global Chief Executive of SABMiller, Mr. Graham Mackay, made it clear that they came to Anambra on the insistence of Obi and because of the presence of a strong government in the state. It is a pity that Offodile is not concerned with the over 1000 direct employment by the brewery and many other ancillary jobs. He is not delighted that Anambra has 10 per cent shares but he is after the remaining 12 per cent shares owned among prominent Nigerian investors.

Pretending to care for the state, Offodile lamented lack of airport in the state. Obi has said it several times that it is not proper fiscal management to embark on an airport project for N40 billion when it is 45 minutes from Enugu Airport to Awka and 35 from Asaba. Much as the building of an airport is guided by necessity, it is not among the Millennium Development Goals.

Obviously, he is not aware that Anambra State Teaching Hospital located in his home town has started functioning.  The first clinic at the College of Medicine by students of Anambra State University was on June 26. But will it be above him to turn a blind eye to such things because Obi made them possible?

On the issue of Onitsha Hotel and Convention Centre, he mentioned two contractors over the project. He should have gone ahead to tell us their quotations. I thought that at a certain age and with certain level of exposure some of us ought to have overgrown selective biases. Whilst the initial contract was N5 billion, Obi, working closely with Capital Alliance (Protea partners) was informed that a hotel of that size would not take more than N2.5 billion. Eventually it was cancelled and re-awarded to Akiota Works at the cost of N2 billion thus saving N3 billion for the state. Akiota today is one of the best Nigerian construction firms.
•Anarado wrote this piece from Awka

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