By Christian ABURIME
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”– Jonathan Swift*_
In the annals of human history, the birth of great societies has often sprung from the fervent visions of imaginative leaders, thinkers and pathfinders.
These human agents of change possess the remarkable ability to see beyond the limitations of their environment and envision a better world, inspiring them to embark on transformative journeys that ultimately lay the foundation for significant progress.
Thus, great societies often emerge from the flames of passion and unwavering commitment to turn dreams into reality. But it is not everyone that sees what a visionary sees or shares his passion to attain the vision. It may also happen that some would be impatient, expecting an instant miraculous realization of an expressed vision. Yet, the fact remains that Rome was never built in one day.
Present-day Asia’s pride, Singapore, was not transformed in one year or two years by its iconic leader Lee Kuan Yew. It took Yew well over 30 years. Malaysia was behind Nigeria in the 1970s in terms of development before getting palm seedlings from our country, but today Malaysia is the world’s second biggest producer of palm oil after Indonesia.
In the cases of Dubai and Taiwan, neither of them became a thriving global destination for investors and tourists today in the twinkling of an eye. In fact, history affirms that the founding fathers of modern Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, led by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, initiated the city’s transformation in the mid-20th century. The significant stages of development, including the construction of iconic landmarks, took place over several decades, with continuous efforts to shape the city’s future.
Taiwan’s own development can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it implemented various infrastructure and economic reforms that laid the foundation for its contemporary modernization. Long, painstaking planning was common to all the above mentioned transformed nations.
The foregoing are few of several advanced societies that inspired Prof.Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR, to begin to envision that a similar replication of transformation is possible in Africa, starting from Anambra State.
It was after he became the CBN Governor in 2004 that he began to reference the vision of making Anambra State the African Dubai-Taiwan (ADT). Specifically, he first publicly mentioned the vision in a keynote address he delivered at the Second Anambra State Development Summit hosted by the League of Anambra Professionals in May 2006. The title of the keynote then was ‘Anambra 2030: Envisioning the African Dubai, Taiwan and Silicon Valley’. The vision, codified as ADT, began to possess the visionary.
In 2009, while campaigning to be the governor of Anambra State for the first time, Prof. Charles Soludo again expressed the same passion about making Anambra the African Dubai-Taiwan (ADT). Again, he repeated the idea during his campaign for the governorship of Anambra State in 2021.
Obviously, Soludo’s recurring ADT vision involves transforming Anambra State into a socio-economic and technological hub that could emulate the successes of Dubai and Taiwan in an African context, and he believed so much in its possibility.
If Dubai could be known globally today for its rapid transformation from a desert city to a flourishing global business and tourism hub, and Taiwan is recognized for its technology-driven economy and industrial advancements, why not Anambra State?
By his sublime, patriotic ambition, Prof. Soludo aims to tap into the immense multi-faceted potential of Anambra State to become a thriving economic centre, attracting investments and tourists, fostering innovation, creating job opportunities and inspiring human flourishing.
However, since Prof. Soludo became Governor last year, impatient tongues have been wagging, wondering if the ADT vision is no longer happening. Of course, the vision is fully on course.
The governor has barely spent only one year and five months in office and it is therefore premature to conclude that his grand vision is no more.
Most times, rain doesn’t suddenly start falling without first gathering clouds. It is necessary to note that the implementation and realization of such a vision as ADT would involve various challenges, including infrastructure development, investment attraction, policy dynamics, resource allocation planning, and more.
As naysayers ponder the feasibility of Governor Soludo’s ambitious quest, they must be reminded that the path to greatness is never linear. The governor’s far-reaching vision is not just an arbitrary dream, but a calculated and informed aspiration that holds within it the seeds of a prosperous Anambra. History is replete with instances of visionaries who faced initial skepticism, only to prove their critics wrong with resounding success. Anambra’s journey won’t be different.
Now, what is really happening? How is the vision shaping up? Well, the right foundation is being laid, block by block. The enabling environment for ADT to emerge a reality is being quietly and steadfastly created. Governor Soludo’s multi-faceted approach, characterized by ongoing infrastructural investments and projects across various sectors, is a clear testament to the meticulous groundwork required for transformation on such a grand scale.
Diverse sectors such as security, road infrastructure, energy, ICT, education, healthcare, transportation, housing, urban renewal, ecology, agriculture and so on are all integral components of this visionary project. For example, security remains a critical enabler of the ADT vision and it is a foremost priority of the Soludo government.
Anambra State’s security architecture is being strengthened every day with committed human, material and technological resources.
On road infrastructure, over 300 kilometers of road network across the entire state are currently at various stages of completion, with more on the way.
Transportation systems will be boosted with light rails and waterways transit facilities too. On energy, the State government has been partnering with the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, to secure 24 hours electricity, starting with the four major strategic towns of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia.
In the area of human capital development and flourishing, education and healthcare are getting massive investment attention from Governor Soludo. He has saved the State from an era of schools without teachers and hospitals without doctors.
In fact, Anambra State is today reaping laurels of educational excellence nationally and globally. As there can be no sustainable human flourishing without food security, the government has also embarked on an agricultural revolution by regenerative farming practices and distributing coconut and oil palm seedlings to hundreds of thousands of households across the State to boost the economic status of the citizenry
That is not all. Anambra State’s landscape will be getting expansive transformative facelifts to modernity. Slums are being planned to give way to new revitalized communities of decency, just as the existential twin-threat of gully erosion and flooding is being controlled through re-channeling and desilting of waterways.
Awka, the state capital, will be creatively remodeled and transformed into a model city to behold. There are ongoing plans and strategies to turn Awka into an environmentally friendly, beatific, alluring green city with massive planting of palm trees. Major landmarks around the city will be rebuilt with gorgeous finishing, and magnificent statues of our revered state legends and heroes will be built and mounted at strategic places. The Fun-City entertainment hub to be domiciled in the city of Awka will spice up family entertainment etc
Indeed, nothing will be left undone until Awka becomes an enviable capital city like Abuja. The state’s commercial city, Onitsha, is also getting due attention to bring it back to its former glory through rebuilding of infrastructure and extensive urban renewal. Okpoko the once forgotten slum is massively wearing a fascinating look even to the amazement of the residents
As grandiose skyscrapers rose from the once-barren desert sands of Dubai, so too will Anambra’s landscape transform with modern architectural marvels in no distant future.
Like Taiwan’s technological prowess, Anambra’s investments in Solution Innovation District for deep technology, inventions, startups, etc will undoubtedly propel the state into the digital forefront of Africa. All these preparatory strides and more are not mere happenstances, but intentional steps by Governor Soludo towards fulfilling his sublime vision.
The strength of a great vision lies in its planning and resilience. Can Soludo’s African Dubai-Taiwan vision eventually become a visible reality? Yes, it can and it will.
All the ongoing actions and infrastructure projects by Governor Soludo are part of realizing the vision. As the foundations are being laid, let us all be the ones who stand in support, not in skepticism or toxic pessimism, believing that the journey to greatness has already begun and is fully on course.