A Bounteous Harvest, Promising Tomorrow
An Address by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano on the occasion of the First Anniversary of his Administration on March 17, 2015.
As I stand before you today, I stand in the shadow of our great political leader, the EzeigboGburugburu, Chief ChukwuemekaOdumegwuOjukwu who invested his twilight years in building our great party, APGA. I also stand in the shadow of all our great ancestors…NnamdiAzikiwe, NwaforOrizu, Kenneth Dike, Alex Ekwueme whose name adorns this historical place and other illustrious men and women who showed the light to help us find our way in today’s complex world.
365 day ago, we all gathered in this place to begin a journey of colourful dreams. But we have travelled through the stony path of reality. We have experienced a tremendous leap of the imagination. We have gazed into the eyes of tomorrow… and we have returned to this great place, after 365 days… with a great harvest and a bouquet of new dreams!
Now, before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge the good foundation laid by my brother and predecessor, Chief Peter Obi. I will also not fail to express my gratitude to the National Chairman of our great party (APGA), Chief Sir Victor Umeh, Ogbunigwe, and other party members, traditional rulers, the clergy and the youths of Anambra State whose firm support we needed to embark on the big task of building a New Anambra State. NdiAnambraogaadiliunumma o!
Looking back, ladies and gentlemen, before our ship set sail in March last year, we dreamt of a New Anambra State … A state that would become the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities…a socially stable, business friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. Ndi Anambra, to the glory of God, today, 365 days after, our dream is almost fully realized.
You may ask me why I say this. Fellow citizens, the answer is there for all to see. In the past one year, we have dramatically re-positioned Anambra State. We have transformed Upper Iweka and the great commercial city of Onitsha from being a den of robbers into one of Nigeria’s leading business-friendly cities. We have cleaned Anambra up and returned our beloved state to the path of renewal and rapid progress. We have kept faith with our campaign promise – to continue, complete and commission all the projects I inherited from my predecessor. There is not one project that we inherited that we have abandoned. Not one! And above all,Umunnem, we have returned Anambra State to the global investment map!
Beloved Ndi Anambra, you may ask me, “how did you do it?” Again, the answer is there for us to see. The strategic thrust of my administration is anchored on what I call The Four Pillars of Development, namely – Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade & Commerce and Oil and Gas (AITO). These Four Pillars are firmly supported by what I call the 12 Enablers without which every effort to develop the Pillars would have been in vain. The Enablers are made up of fundamentals like Security, Education, Healthcare, Power Generation, the Environment, Finance, Social & Civil Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Hospitality & Tourism, Transportation, Water & Sanitation and Youth and Sports. The Enablers are the basic spadework we must do to lay a solid foundation for the pillars to stand.
The First and Most Important Foundation
Beloved Ndi Anambra and friends of our dear state, when I stood on this podium to share my dreams of a New Anambra State with you one year ago, I declared that in Nigeria today, offering a secure environment for life and property and finding a permanent solution to the challenges of electricity supply are paramount to any viable economic blueprint. I also opined that for many decades, these twin challenges had stood in the way of the full manifestation of the ingenuity that Ndi Anambra are known for. I further reasoned that the realization of my dreams for Anambra State depended on how well we tackled these challenges.
Fellow citizens, looking back at how far we have come since I made these observations, we can all see that our efforts to define our realities at the take-off point have paid off. When we look at how safe Anambra has become in the past one year, we will all understand how accurate our definition has been. As the Chief Security Officer of thisState, I have a full understanding of the enormity of the challenge that security presents to my people. I understand what it means to conduct sacred traditional ceremonies like a marriage in the cities for fear of kidnappers and other violent criminals.I understand the full meaning of going to sleep with one eye open. Consequently, I am strongly persuaded to accept that one of the greatest gifts anyone can possibly give Ndi Anambra is the gift of a secure environment – a place where our people’s famous enterprise and creative energy can find the greatest expression. A place where the redeeming light that we bear will shine the brightest and illuminate the pathway for the greatness of others…
Fellow citizens, 365 days later, we have all but achieved that dream. We have flushed out kidnappers from Anambra State. We have cut off their weapons supply lines and sealed off their supply routes. We have pulled down their physical and psychological empires. Ndi Anambra when those bulldozers mow down the warehouses where kidnappers hold their victims in captivity, when we bring down the mansions they built with the blood-money they made from their human cargoes, we pull at the psychological root of their business; we hack at the very source of their evil energy. Today, we breathe a new air of freedom! Today, we give our loved ones out in marriage under the wise gaze of our elders in the village. Today, we feel free to bring our children home from the cities to listen to the fantastic tales of their grandmothers under the gaze of the full-moon. Ndib’anyi, Anambraadigokwanumma!Oburoeziokwu?
The Second Crucial Foundation
Ladies and gentlemen, the second most significant foundation we have laid in our journey to a New Anambra is in the area of electricity generation. Apart from the problem of insecurity, there is no greater obstacle to the full manifestation of our people’s famous can-do spirit than the challenge of electricity supply. For several decades, our people’s inherent inventive genius that sparkled through the dark years of the Civil War appeared to have been cut off by a failure of leadership. We failed once again to harness this ingenuity which showed itself shortly after the Civil War, in the manufacture of quality household products that were generally referred to as “Igbo-made.” Ndi Anambra, I stand before you today to invoke the spirit of “Igbo-made” and to reclaim that genius! Yes! We must bring that spirit back! Ndi b ‘anyi, okwaanyigaemeya?
I am delighted to announce that we have laid a solid foundation for the provision of reliable electricity that will help us recover our Midas touch. Late last year, we concluded arrangements with UD Independent Petroleum Production Company (UDIPPCO) to build a gas-powered plant that will generate 80 mega-watts of electricity. Similarly, barely a fortnight ago, we signed on Falcon Corporation Limited to build another gas-powered plant that will generate 100 mega-watts of electricity. When fully operational, the combined output of these two power plants will wipeaway our tears over poor power supply in Anambra State.
Report Card on our Four Pillars
NdiAnambra, when we recovered Anambra State from kidnappers and violent criminals, we successfully set the stage for the full exploitation of the Four Pillars of Development. To facilitate this, we set up the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) on 15th May, 2015. The results have been tremendous. ANSIPPA has made the investment climate in Anambra state simple, transparent, efficient and free of the usual bureaucracy. This is not surprising. ANSIPPA is led by a Governing Council which boasts of over 300 cumulative years of experience in development finance, investment banking, investment promotion and policy formulation.
With the efforts of ANSIPPA,Anambrais currently Nigeria’s number 1 investment destination. With over US$2.0billion attracted from 16 major investors in the past 12 months, we are well on our way to achieving our economic mission.
Our target in Agriculture is to be among the Top-3 agricultural states in Nigeria. Our efforts in this regard have yielded remarkable results. So far, we have attracted over $660m investments to this sector. Some of these investments are:
a. The $150 million investment in rice production and processing in Anaku, Ayamelum Local Government Area (LGA) by Coscharis Group.
b. Over $160 million investment inOmor Rice Mill and 5,000 hectares farmland for rice cultivation and processing by Joseph Agro Limited of the Aiteo Group.
c. The $220 million Tomato and Cassava production and processing farms in Omasi Community, Ayamelum LGA by Ekcel Farms Limited.
d. The $40 million investment by Grains and Silos Limited to construct an ultra-modern grains storage facility to support our thriving brewery industry in Onitsha and other parts of south Eastern Nigeria.
e. The$50 million agreement with Delfarm and Songhai Regional Centre to transform the farmsettlements of Igbariam into another Songhai agricultural marvel of Nigeria.
With all these investments, we have moved to ensure that our local farmers are well positioned to take advantage of the agricultural revolution in the State. We have organized our farmers into 1,500 cooperatives. We have also equipped them with 100 Tractors, 45,000 tons of high-yielding rice seedlings, 18,000 tons of highly improved maze seedlings and 700 metric tons of fertilizers. Before the end of this year, we would have prepared over 1,000 hectares of land in readiness for mechanized farming. Five days ago, we also commissioned the first Agricultural Training Center in Anambra in Mgbakwu. 250 youths are currently undergoing training in this facility in the areas of staple crop cultivation and processing, aquaculture, piggery and horticulture. These youths will be empowered with the initial capital to start their own micro-small-medium enterprises upon graduation.
My dear NdiAnambra, our efforts in agriculture will enable our state produce over 300,000 metric tonnes of rice, 150,000 metric tonnes of cassava and 240,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes in the next 24 months. This will transform Anambra from a net-importer today to a self-sufficient and net exporter of staple foods in Nigeria tomorrow!
Trade & Commerce
My people, we all know how dear trade & commerce is to Ndi Anambra. It is one area where we have shown incomparable competence both in Nigeria and across the world. My administration seeks to elevate this trend. Specifically, our objective is to have Anambra listed among the Top-3 states in Trade and Commerce in Nigeria. We will achieve this by rehabilitating our existing markets, building ultra-modern markets and shopping malls and introducing a robust e-commerce platform.
Here are some of our key achievements over the last 12 months:
a. We flagged off the construction of a $350 million wholesale shopping compex in Ogbunike in Oyi LGA. This commercial and lifestyle complex will be the first of its kind in Africa. It is designed to host a large number of wholesale and retail plazas, restaurants, state-of-the-art residential estates, a convention center and a hotel. All of these will be operated by leading brands from across the world.
b. Onitsha Shopping Mall, which is a public-private-partnership initiative with Africa Capital Alliance, will open its gates to NdiAnambra in October, 2015. With shoprite, a cinema and several global retail outlets, Onitsha Shopping Mall will offer a world class shopping and entertainment experience right here in Anambra. We have also increased the pace of work on the other 2 modern shopping malls in Awka and Nnewi. ANSIPPA is currently in discussions with reputable investors to partner with the State to ensure we complete them in record time.
c. I am also happy to announce that work has reached advanced stages on the 1st Phase of the 20,000-unit International Market at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area.
d. Finally, we have also started work on the three buildings that will form part of the Second ICT Business Park in Onitsha and installed Close-Circuit Cameras (CCTV) in Main Market, Onitsha which has completely eliminated pickpocketing and reduced petty crimes by over 80%!
Ndib’anyi, I am certain that these initiatives will revolutionize trade & commerce and improve access to a wide range of quality goods and services.
Our choice of Industrialization as one of the Pillars of my economic blueprint is strategic. Ndi Anambra are at the centre of the Nation’s industrial activities. Our objective is to become one of the top 3 industrialized states in Nigeria. We are pursuing this in four key areas – creation of modern industrial parks and small-to-medium enterprise clusters, improved drive for investments, better access to financing and capacity building.
Today in Anambra, we have two main industrial parks located in Onitsha and Nnewi – improving the infrastructure in these 2 parks is a priority. We are installing over 20 new transformers and completing numerous strategic roads. Over the past 8 months, my administration has earmarked and acquired land for three new industrial parks in Oba and Orumba for medium-to-heavy non-agric industries and Awka North LGA for agro-allied industries.
Investments in the Industrial Sector
We have so far attracted over $140million of investment to the manufacturing sector. These investments include –
a. Richbon Automotive Industries Limited – Richbon which we flagged off 4 days ago, is investing over $50million to build an automotive assembly plant in Ozubulu. This project, in addition to Innoson Motors and our auto spare parts business in Nnewi will continue to cement Anambra’s position as the auto-capital of Nigeria.
b. The operations of Intafact Breweries Limited, the 2nd largest brewery facility in South Eastern Nigeria, continues to expand at an impressive rate. Recently, they invested over $150million to expand their facility to 2.5m hectolitres. This represents a 400% increase!
c. In addition, we hosted a 40-man Trade Mission from Thailand in January ths year and signed a bilateral agreement with the Thai Business Community that will enable them invest in industries across Agriculture, Manufacturing, Gas and Solid Minerals, Waste Recycling, Healthcare, Power and Education sectors. When this initiative takes roots, Anambrawill be a better place.
Oil & Gas
AnambraState is blessed with over one billion barrels and 30 trillion cubic feet of oil and gas, most of which are relatively unexploited. Our objective is to have a fully developed and self-sufficient Oil & Gas sector in Anambra State by 2018. We intend to achieve this through 3 broad areas of intervention – policy formulation & infrastructure development, private sector participation and community re-orientation.
In the area of Policy formulation, we have ensured that we avoid the mistakes of our neighbours by applying more rigour in crafting far-sighted policies and statutes to drive the development of this sector. It is for this reason that immediately after my inauguration, I tabled a bill in the Anambra State House of Assembly, seeking to establish the Anambra State Oil & Gas Development Agency. This agency is expected to harness all our prospects in the upstream, midstream and downstream value chain and ensure a commensurate return of value to the host communities and the State. The Bill was passed into law on April 17, 2014 and the Agency will soon be constituted.
As a follow up, we also set up the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee headed by our very own Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, the former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters. My mandate to this committee is simple. This committee must draft a comprehensive Blueprint for the Oil & Gas sector within 18 months and advise the State on requisite steps to be recognized as the 10th Oil Producing State in Nigeria.
We are also investing in infrastructure to support our Oil and Gas ambition. We have flagged off the construction of access roads and bridges to the oil-fields in Aguleri. We’ve also revalidated our license to build an international cargo airport in Umueri.The economic importance of the proposed airport cannot be over-emphasized. We have concluded plans to pipe ATK (aviation fuel) from the Orient Petroleum Refinery in Aguleri to the Airport where a storage facility will be built for it. The idea is for the airport to serve as a major hub for the re-fueling of international flights in West Africa. Twenty days ago, we flagged off the construction of three dual-carriage ways that will open up access to the proposed airport from three strategic directions – Umueri, Awkuzu and Nteje axis.NdiAnambra, this dream must come true!
Still on Oil & Gas, we are partnering with UD Integrated Petroleum Production Development Company, UDIPPCO, and Falcon Corporation Limited to invest in the development of our gas-to-power initiative in the State.
a. UDIPPCO will develop a central gas processing facility, which will produce lean gas that will serve as feedstock for various gas utilization projects, including an 80MW power plant in the first instance; and subsequently, a urea/fertilizer plant, and a methanol plant. I shall be flagging off the construction of the gas processing plant in Umerum, Ayamelum Local Government Area on Friday, 20thMarch, 2015.
b. Similarly, Falcon Corporation plans to pipe Compressed Natural Gas and Liquefied Natural Gas across 3 strategic locations in the State. This initiative will facilitate the transportation of natural gas across the state.
These investments will spur the Industrialization of our dear state, drive Agriculture, most especially agri-business and Trade & Commerce which are all key economic pillars of my Administration.
In the aspect of Re-Orientation, we have commenced a subtle enlightenment campaign to prepare our people, especially the oil-producing communities on the need to get the necessary qualifications that would help them take full advantage of this emerging industry. To achieve this, we have set up special skills acquisitionprogrammes for the youths in the Federal Polytechnic Okoh and the ChukwuemekaOdumegwuOjukwu University in Igbariam. These training programmes are offered free of charge. Our objective is to ensure that our people are adequately prepared to fill the requirement for local content.
Tourism, Hospitality and Real Estate
In the tourism and hospitality sector, Cardinal Developers and Trust Limited is championing a $75m investment to complete the Onitsha Hotel project, construct a world class 3,000‐seater convention centre and build over 200 luxury flats and townhouses in Onitsha GRA. We will be commissioning the proposed RadissonBlu Hotel, Onitsha on 1st December, 2015; while work continues to progress on the proposed Agulu Lake Hotel. My team is working hard to secure a world class operator similar to the likes of Hilton, Sheraton and Radisson. We are optimistic that we can commission this project before I commemorate my second year in office. Yesterday, I also signed a $250 millionMoU with Africa Project Finance Development to transform Ogbunike Cave into a World Class Resort and Theme Park. In 30 months, it will be one of the premier tourism destinations in Africa!
Job Creation and Economic Growth
Ladies and gentlemen, during the campaigns that made me your governor, I promised that I would not only build roads and bridges but that I would also build the human capacity. I am very proud to say, that through our quality investments, we have increased the possibilities of a brighter future for our youths. In Agriculture alone, we expect over 59,000 direct and indirect jobs. In Oil and Gas, close to 28,500 direct and indirect jobs will be created.In Trade and Commerce about 20,000 new jobs.In Industrialization over 11,500 jobs.In Tourism and Hospitality over 6,000 jobs. In the Real Estate sector over 9,000 jobs will be created. NdiAnambra, this translates to over 134,000 jobs and this is only the beginning! Beyond that, we are currently equipping 500 youths with life-enhancing skills at the technology Incubation Center in Nnewi. The youths will be trained for two months in diverse technological skills after which they will be given the start-up capital to begin their own businesses. We shall continue to train 500 youths in the programme every two months to build up a pool of talents that will fuel the dreams of the New Anambra. Thankfully too, in the past year our State’s economy has grown at the rate of 14%! Over this same period, we have improved our tax receipts by 300%. NdiAnambra, Willie is…W-O-R-K-I-N-G! Willie is W-O-R-K-I-N-G!! Willie is … W-O-R-K-I-N-G!!!
The Scorecard in Some Key Enablers
The Enablers are the basic foundation carrying the Four Pillars of my administration. Time will not permit me to provide a full report of what we have achieved in all the 13 Enablers. Because of that, I will speak on a few key Enablers.
Roads and Infrastructure –
Ndi Anambra, we have `Sustained the momentum started by my predecessor in road construction and maintenance. We are building three flyovers that will change the landscape of Awka for good. We have asphalted 100 roads, thereby meeting the annual projection for road construction in 2014. Between May 2014 and March this year,we have flagged off 30 new roads to link up strategic locations, opening access to the agricultural, industrial and commercial areas of the state. The prestigious Agulu Lake Hotel Resort is almost ready to open its doors to customers and work has progressed rapidly on the 3 shopping malls in Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka. Work has also reached advanced stages on the construction of the Three-Arms-Zone and the new seat of government.
Finance – Ndi Anambra, you may recall that in my New Year Message, I assured you that our hopes and dreams of a brighter future shall not fall with falling oil prices in the international market. I am happy to announce that we delivered on this promise.We restructured the Internal Revenue framework of the state and laid a foundation for a healthy revenue growth that will insulate Anambra State from falling oil prices. The benefits are there for everyone to see. We have improved on our Internally Generated Revenue, rising from N500m in the previous administration to N1.1 billion as at today. In response to this we have increased workers’ salaries by15%. We shall do more as our revenue base improves.
Transportation – Anambra State holdsthe enviable record of being both pioneers and leaders in this all important sector of the economy. One of our pre-eminent ancestors; Sir. Louis OdumegwuOjuwkwu pioneered the organized Mass Transit idea in Nigeria before the dawn of political independence. Since then, other great entrepreneurs have followed his footsteps. Regrettably, as a state, our efforts in the mass transit sector have not been convincing for a long time. Happily, my administration has broken new grounds in this sector with the launch of a comprehensive Mass Transit Scheme with 200 brand new taxis and 40 Luxurious Buses. We have also trained 150 Traffic Officers in the new Anambra Traffic Management Agency to help instill sanity on our roads and highways and provided 50 ultra-modern Traffic Control Posts with inbuilt solar panels for illumination. We have continued to change the landscape with modern bus-stops.
At the same time, we are remodeling our Motor parks and enhancing our motorways with the necessary infrastructure that will not only create more jobs but add to the overall aesthetics of our cities.
Education– With the foundation laid by APGA government in the past 9 years, Anambra State has bounced back to reckoning in Education. In the past three years, we have topped the charts in WASSCE and NECO Exams. To sustain this performance, we have set ourselves the goal of staying in the Top-3 states with the lowest illiteracy rate in Nigeria. We approach education in three broad areas – infrastructure development, pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare.
In Infrastructure, we have renovated 862 units of 10-classroom blocks across the 21 Local Government Areas in the state. In addition, we have disbursed the sum of N733 million to the missions for the renovation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) mission schools. We have distributed laptops to 220 private schools and commenced our Safe-Schools-Initiative by building walls around them and fortifying them with well-trained School Marshals.
In Pupils/Students Welfare, we have kept faith with our “No-Child-Left-Behind” policy in education. Under this, we have given free education to all physically challenged children in the state and awarded scholarships to over 100 students at all levels of education. We have rebuilt the Special Education Center in Isulo, Orumba.
Teachers’ Welfare – In Teachers’ Welfare, we recently increased the salary of teachers by 15% and assisted the completion of the Teachers’ House, Awka. We have also offered incentives of 20 percent of their basic salaries to teachers deployed to hard-to-reach areas. This has greatly reduced the attrition of teachers in the areas. Teachers who teach core subjects like English, Mathematics and Sciences have been placed on a monthly incentive and we have cleared all arrears of promotion we owed the teachers. In doing all these, we are mindful that for any society to move in the right direction, it must get its education right. We shall continue to invest in education until Anambra becomes a model state in education in Nigeria.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, beyond these achievements, I am delighted to state here that Anambra is truly and fully on rebound. This state is too gifted, too blessed to wander in the wilderness of purposeless leadership for too long. We are too endowed to be without a capacity for moral re-armament…for self-renewal and self-rediscovery.
It is perhaps for this reason that I personally consider the consciousness we are raising in the primary and secondary schools a more profound achievement. When I watched the five-year old Master ArinzeOnyebuchi recite the Anambra Anthem in Nnewi the other day with inspiring passion and zeal, I knew that our tomorrow would be greater than our today. When I hear our school children recite the Shared values of Anambra State, I know that we couldn’t probably have laid a stronger foundation nor left a higher legacy. These are the little fragments that stay with the shores when the tide returns to the sea. These are the things that make us who we are!