Saturday

AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASATU, DR JUDE A. P OKOLO, TO THE PRESS ON FRIDAY EVENING 28™ APRIL, 2017 AT THE ASATU SECRETARIAT, GOVERNMENT HOUSE AWKA.


PREAMBLE: ASATU, acronym for Anambra State Association of Town Unions, is the umbrella body of he 179 communities in Anambra State as represented by the President General (PG) of each town. It was founded on 13th April 1996 by a legal luminary, the Late Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, Oboli Obosi (SAN).



ASATU has been able to serve as a veritable platform for the Presidents General from the various communities to meet, interact and foster intercommunity relationships.


It has remained a central rallying point for all the communities in the State and, indeed, a bridge between the communities, the State Government and other major stakeholders in the State. Let's begin by looking at our vision, achievements and challenges.


ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE CURRENT LEADERSHIP OF ASATU

1.        ASATU was able to move its office from a rented apartment to a more conducive ASATU Hall within the Government House premises. Thanks to the Anambra State Government.

2.        The current ASATU Leadership was able to host a successful event tagged "Award of Excellence" to prominent Ndi Anambra in 2015.

3.        Instituted a weekly ASATU Hour known as 'Development Digest' on ABS Radio during which topical issues relating to the development of Anambra State are discussed.

4.    ASATU, represented by the PGs, organized a peaceful protest in 2015 to draw the attention of the Federal Government to effect the re-location of Boko Haram detainees at Ekwulobia Prison in Anambra State.

5.          We  have  also  recorded  substantial  successes  in  managing  intra  and intercommunity  conflicts  between  PGs  and  Town  Union  Executives  and Stakeholders.

6.        Arising from the robust working relationship with the State Government, ASATU recently got allocation of a parcel of land for the construction of the Chimezie Ikeazor Cultural Centre, in Awka.

7.          This Administration integrated the ASATU Women Wing, ASATU Youth Wing and  Students  Wing  with  ASATU  National  as  bridge  between  the  State Government and the communities.

8.        We formed and inaugurated the ASATU General Assembly in March, 2017. This Assembly will bring past and present PGs together under one platform, to continue to strategize with their wealth of experience on how to develop their various communities and the State at large.

9.        ASATU similarly published a book in March 2017 titled "Anarnbra Community Developers" to honour key individuals who have been making invaluable contributions to the development of their various communities.

10.      ASATU also in March 2017 organized a successful Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Chimezie Ikeazor Centre located in Mgbakwu Awka. This Centre will serve as a  common  asset for all the  communities  in the State. Actual construction of the centre has started. It was named after the founder of ASATU to immortalize his name.

11.      ASATU a few months ago had Town Hall meetings across the three Senatorial Zones with our elected representatives. The discussions were very fruitful.

12.        ASATU equally on 28/3/2017 organized a Grand General Meeting of Ndi Anambra  at Alex  Ekwueme Square  in which  about  30 thousand  people participated including the State Governor and some Ndi Anambra in Diaspora.


During the epoch-making event, the following resolutions were made among others:

a.        That Igbo language shall be the official medium of Communication in each of the 179 Town Union Meetings.

b.        That all Ndi Anambra both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora shall adopt the philosophy of Akulue Uno. We should bring major part of our wealth home to help develop Anambra State.

c.        The meeting also resolved to adopt Chief Willie Obiano and request him to do a 2nd Term in office as Governor, Anambra State come November, 2017.


13.        Spearheading the formation of an Association of Presidents General of Town Unions in the Igbo Speaking States.


COMMENDATIONS TO STATE GOVERNMENT

ASATU wishes to use this forum to commend the;

a.          Anambra State Government Special project Intervention in communities. We commend  the  State  Government for the  wisdom  in  graciously  allowing communities to come up with special projects of interest for construction within H2Q million budget line. We however, opine that in subsequent ones, consultants should be involved in assisting the communities to nominate what they need.

b.          State Government Economic Stimulus Package:

We convey ASATU's appreciation to the State Government for various stimulus packages doled out to help cushion the adverse effect of the current economic challenges/recession on Ndi Anambra.

c.        We also commend State Government's efforts at diversifying the economic base of the State and the impressive growth in the IGR profile of the State.

d.        ASATU also wishes to commend the State Government for keeping to its promise of prompt payment of salaries and allowances of Civil and Public Servants together with pensions and gratuity of retirees in the State.

e.        ASATU  is  equally  thankful  to  the  State  Government  for  the  massive infrastructural development projects in the State including roads, flyovers, beautification of townships amongst others.

f.        It is on record that the present Anambra State Government championed the funeral  rites  of  Igbos  that  died  during  the  Civil  War  1967  -1970.  A commendable initiative as it was the first to be done in the entire South East.

g.        ASATU is equally grateful to the State Government for putting in place a water-tight security apparatus in the State. This has enabled the residents in the State to sleep with their two eyes closed. This has also helped to attract investors to the State hence boosting the economy of the State.

h.        On the issue of Poverty Alleviation Programmes:

ASATU is well aware of the creation of various platforms by the State Government for enhancing the well-being of the people, through micro-loans, agricultural value chain business, and other interventions aimed at empowering the Youths, Women, physically challenged and micro-business operators.

i.    We applaud the Government efforts in attracting major investors into the State culminating in multi-billion Naira foreign direct investments. This has resulted in the opening of windows of employment for our youths and the promotion of sustainable growth.




OVERVIEW OF STATE/NATIONAL ISSUES

1.        There is the urgent need for Ndi Anambra, na Ndi Igbo to think home, return and  invest  at  home  and  grow  their  domestic  economies  -Akulue  Uno philosophy.

2.        We also urge all well-meaning and illustrious Ndi Anambra to help empower their less-privileged ones. By doing so, they would be helping to re-distribute wealth thus curbing criminality in the communities-onye aghan nwanne ya philosophy.

3.        ASATU is in support of the rotation of the office of Governor among the three Senatorial Zones, This engenders the spirit of oneness, equity and fair play. This was the message of our recent Town Hall meetings.

4.        ASATU is deeply worried over the burden imposed on the people by the current economic hardship and called on the Federal Government to find ways of ameliorating the difficulties. -Prices of food items have hit the roof¬tops and most parents cannot afford a meal in a day, nor pay school fees for their children. Federal Government should assemble a team of knowledgeable Nigerians to help guide the country out of this economic quicksand.

5.        There is need for the government and organized private sector to invest in power generation to ensure steady power supply. This, no doubt, will serve as a catalyst that will cascade industrialization of the State.

6.        Similarly, it is expedient to apply the principles of justice, equity and fair play in governance at all levels to reduce the feeling of marginalization that retards development thus creating the feeling of insecurity.


It is our thinking that this feeling of gross marginalization has been the major cause of all forms of militancy and restiveness in the different parts of the country.

7.        TOWN UNIONS AS FOURTH TIER:

Those who are championing the cause of Town Unions serving as the fourth tier of government should be advised to have a rethink. Any effort made in that direction is an exercise in futility especially in Igbo land where republican way of life is the order of the day. People would always want to decide who leads them. The ugly experience of events in the local government in all parts of the country is enough food for thought. The independence of town unions should be held sacrosanct.


CHALLENGES FACING ASATU

1.        Dearth of funds for ASATU operations.

ASATU plays a vita! role in supporting the programmes of Government. But we lack the funding to carry out our operations hence the need for government to approve the granting of monthly subvention to the body.

2.        Empowering  the  PCs  with  work tools  and  resources  to  enhance  their performance in their various communities in view of the enormous roles the constitution of their various communities assigned to them.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

We are often told that managers do things right while leaders do the right things. ASATU has always been partners in progress to various administrations at the helm of affairs in Anambra State. Similarly, we urge the people of the State to support their governments and every project built in their community by (the) government.


We have no other State to call our own except Anambra State.

We urge the present Anambra State Government under the leadership of Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, Akpokuedike Global, to continue to touch our people with the better angels of his nature. ASATU, on its own part will continue to offer our various communities quality leadership.

We continue to solicit unflagging support from our people so that together we shall make Anambra State a paradise of wondrous pleasures and blessings.

Thanks you gentlemen of the press for making out time to honour our invitation. Wishing you journey mercies back to your respective destinations.

God Bless.


Dr. Jude A. P. Okolo

National President ASATU
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