Countdown to Obiano's 7th Anniversary.


Touching the Softside of Leadership

 Day 12

By Ejike Anyaduba

Seven years down the line Governor Obiano has moved development in both the tangible and intangible sectors of the state economy fairly equally. His administration appreciates the fact that development is not all about bricks and mortar alone and has pursued that religiously.

On assumption of office the Governor did one very uncommon thing. He gave up his salary for four years to be used for the upkeep of the less privileged in the society. He followed this up with building of a convalescent home - a sanatorium - at Nteje where the sick and others on the wrong side of life are daily attended to. The home, structured to accommodate inmates with varied forms of disabilities like the mentally sick, beggars, waifs and others, is run by qualified caregivers and medics.  

It is important to say that one or two positive experiences have since followed on from here. One is the de-escalation of the unsightly presence of beggars and waifs on the streets of Anambra. The other is the healthy sustenance of security of lives and properties in the state. On the face of it, the effect on security may not be easily noticeable. But an example or two would suffice.

In not so distant past two “beggars” in Lagos were arrested for different criminal offences. The one, and more notorious, was Clifford Orji, now late, arrested for cannibalism at Toyota bus stop along Apapa – Oshodi expressway. The other a cripple who solicited alms on Bush Street between Anthony village and Maryland was arrested an armourer for a notorious criminal gang. Prior to being arrested their threat to security would be generally disclaimed. They were seen and appreciated as mere beggars. Thus ridding the streets of Anambra of these tenants-at-will does not just augur for urban renewal, but also for security.

Within the same period, the Obiano government offered scholarship to the disabled, but able persons in the state from primary through secondary to the university with a caveat - to have them employed on graduation. Others who were denied employment not on grounds of qualification, but physical disability were revisited. To that end, two physically challenged persons were made permanent secretaries in the state civil service. Also within the Governor’s aides are to be found a blind man and a walking paraplegic. To cushion effect of their work, the heavily subsidized government transport service was directed to carry them gratis. The limbless among them were provided with prosthetics while those with cleft palate had them fixed. This effort is boldly complemented by the First Lady of the state, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano. Through her Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a Non-Governmental Organization, she has lifted a number of despairing lives. It will belabor time and space, itemizing beneficiaries of her charity. However, hundreds of those born with physical disability were provided with artificial body parts while others, especially those with cleft lips had the repaired through correctional surgery. Those who were able to surmount their disability to acquire skills have been equipped with required tools to earn a living. But it is in building houses for indigent widows in all three senatorial zones of the state that the First Lady’s charity communicated uncommon compassion.

The state work force is not without noticeable improvement in the last seven years. Apart from resisting pressure to relieve workers employed in the twilight of the previous administration, more workers were employed and those requiring training sent on courses. In this category are teachers whose efforts have continued to manifest in the general educational development of the state. Payment of salaries, pensions, gratuities, allowances etc which is the bane of many a government has been prompt even in the unusual economic squeeze.  

Strengthening of the institutions of government has been pursued with uncommon dedication. The tax system and health insurance scheme have seen great improvement within this period. Tax returns for example has notched up from N8 billion in 2013 to N26 billion in 2019. Using data collection, the Anambra State Internal Revenue has been able to nip off leakages and established through collaboration with National Bureau of Statistics that about 1.2 million people are doing business in the state. It is not any different in what has been done with introduction of the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme (ASHIA). Well over 90, 000 persons are on the scheme. This is twice the number of enrollees on a standard health insurance scheme.

Industry and business development have not fared less. Micro, small and medium businesses development in the state took some giant leapt in the last seven years.  The Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA), established by the government in 2014 has greatly improved the efforts of small business owners in the state through issuing of soft loans.  

Truth is that but for the diligent effort in the intangible sector, security of lives and properties will still be in a whirl as would the achievements in education, health, environment, infrastructure, transportation, and of course human capital development.

Some still wonder what gave the APGA government its unprecedented win in the 2017 re-election of the Governor and which has a chance of repeat in November. Others mischievously allude to all manner of influences. It is important to say that the effort in the intangible sector of the economy holds all the aces and promises to be louder in the months ahead.

Ejike Anyaduba




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