“He means well” is useless, unless he does well.— Plautus, 254-184 B.C.
WHEN the Peter Obi administration assumed office in the year 2006, its programme of action was tagged Anambra Integrated Development Strategy [ANIDS].
It is a novel initiative; a multi-sectoral model predicated on the internationally-acclaimed Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] of Eradication of Extreme Poverty & Hunger, Gender Equality & Women Empowerment, Reduction of Child Mortality, Boost to Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases, Environmental Sustainability and Global Partnership in Development.
Even as noble as the intents were, the governor’s critics scoffed at how he imagined he could effect development in all sectors simultaneously in Anambra State – a State without oil resources; a State literally under the steel grips of brigands who had held the apparatuses of governance hostage.
Many of his admirers also wondered if he was not going too far in blending dreams with reality. But most people did not take Almighty God into consideration; that He selects leaders and empowers those who revere Him to make positive impact on their societies.
Now in its second term and six years in office, the Obi administration has made tremendous impact on the polity, economy and social status of the State with its ANIDS model. Across board, there are impressive and evidence-based outcomes with testimonies from the people whose lives these projects have touched.
First are heavy investments to enable institutional structures. These include instilling transparency in the management of public affairs; boosting confidence and efficiency in the three arms of governance [Executive, Legislature & Judiciary and their apparatuses]; strengthening the infrastructural base of the State, most extensive road network in the country today with over 500 kilometres of urban and rural roads majority of them with dual drainages; water schemes; waste and emergency management, generating Master Plans for three major cities [Awka, the State Capital, Onitsha and Nnewi]; housing development; concrete support for primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare and educational services, and many others.
With the broad theme, “Towards a Sustainable Youth Development Culture in Anambra”, the Obi administration is steadily firming up the Youth Foundation through the Anambra State Youth Re-Orientation & Empowerment Programme [ANSYREP], now in its third phase.
Incorporating character development and moral values into vocational training, the governor reveals that “ANSYREP reinforces the basic industrious inclinations of our people and will lead to renewed growth of cottage industries and private initiative”.
Towards the end of 2011, some 1,500 youths were given grants ranging from N25,000 to N100,000 as support in their chosen vocations, skills the Government had sponsored them to acquire. It is planned as an on-going programme.
In sync with today’s best practices, the Government is collaborating with national and international organisations to inculcate Information and Communication Technology competencies in various sectors and sub-sectors to enhance competitiveness and corporate governance. Today, every Local Government Area of the State now has a Microsoft Academy and virtually all secondary schools have computer equipment.
Anyone familiar with pre-2006 Anambra State would appreciate the steady return of peace and stability in the area. Today, citizen’s involvement is at the heart of community policing in the State. As far back as its first tenure, the administration was providing support to the Nigeria Police and Nigerian Army in the sums of N10 million and N15 million monthly respectively.
Similarly, the Governor encouraged all town unions in the State to set up security committees and vigilante groups which, of course, are being supervised by the Nigeria Police Force and provided relevant equipment for clear identification.
The Government funds them! It is also pertinent to note that as part of collective responsibility for security, traditional rulers and Presidents-General of communities with violent crimes rates are removed frequently and handed over to the Police for prosecution.
One of the unique aspects of the ANIDS model is that it cuts across public and private sectors. This has been especially telling in educational and health services. In the third week of November, 2011, the Government formally returned over 1,000 schools to their initial Missionary-owners.
Beyond the hand-over, Government also committed firm financial support for the Missions to the tune of N6 billion, spread over 15 months and subject to satisfactory submission of work plans.
Interestingly, Government will continue to cater to the schools’ staff salaries, while the Missions will be in charge of general administration. Discerning Nigerians would note that prior to the forceful take-over of these educational institutions in 1970, they easily take credit for the grooming of most of the cream of society – in terms of morals, character, discipline, academics and maturity — who could hold their own anywhere in the world.
The Governor put it succinctly: “Our Government’s commitment to delivering quality education for the good people of Anambra State is total. That is why I have decided that our State shall henceforth be speaking only of acceptable global standards in education, instead of minimum standards. This bold measure of the Obi administration should be commended a giant stride towards educational restoration.
Private health services in the State have also received regular support from the Obi administration. More recently, Governor Obi disbursed N1 billion [of pledged N3 billion] to selected missionary healthcare providers. The funds would cover money is to be utilized by the hospitals to improve their infrastructural improvements, including hostels and Accreditation exercises. On the same occasion, MDG medical equipment worth N135 million were distributed to over 105 Government and Mission health establishments in the State.
These unusual gestures – supposedly spending public funds on private establishments – have continued to confound the erstwhile predators on the State Treasury and self-styled social critics. In their selfish considerations, they fail to recognize that the generality of the pupils, students, patients and personnel of these educational, health and related institutions are indigenes of Anambra State!
This Yuletide, the Obi administration launched a N4 billion Security Trust Fund, and also disbursed N354 million to ensure decent security and road maintenance. It is the second State in the Federation, after Lagos, to launch such a Fund.
Similarly, the Government launched a Youth Employment Fund, which has a lot of emphasis on Agriculture and Agro-Business. The Government provided N300 million in seed money, while individuals and private organizations are steadily donating to the Fund. The Governor himself pledged to reach out to eminent indigenes and friends of Anambra to contribute to the worthy cause.
The Obi administration is also actively exploring and exploiting partnerships with the private sector. In the same vein, the State has attracted support and collaboration with Development Partners, including the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD] and European Union [EU], and has not defaulted in payment of its counterpart contributions.
Peter Obi is the first Governor of Anambra State to be elected for a second term. Under his management, Anambra State has not borrowed money from any quarters and is not indebted either. And this covers salaries & emoluments, pensions and payments to contractors.
No less significant also is that the Obi administration has restored confidence and self-worth to the generality of the people. Quoted in Sun Newspaper, the Governor asserted that “People who used to command the old order have been put out of business by us … It is no longer possible for you to be a red cap chief without a day-time means of livelihood”.
In spite of efforts to vilify him, people and organizations with a sense of propriety have acknowledged Peter Obi’s attainments in the management of public trust.
Could the following, among many others, be flukes?: SUN Newspaper Man of the Year; Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum as well as Chairman of both the Southern Governors Forum and South-East Governors’ Forum; Commander of the Order of the Niger [CON]; ThisDay Newspaper award as Best Governor on fiscal management; Honorary Presidential Adviser on Finance and active Member, Nigeria Economic Management Team.
Under his competent and prudent management, the Ship of Anambra State is being steered to safe shores in the development scheme of things. Indeed, with his ANIDS model, Peter Obi has earned a place in as a national leader of clear vision, humane purpose and integrity.
Onukwugha Osuji writes from Lagos