CITIZEN Chinaza Okoli wrote what he entitled an “Open Letter to Governor Peter Obi” on the Tuesday, October 11, 2011 issue of the DAILY SUN.
He expectedly raised a number of issues in the said letter, chief among which is his confusion over the concept of ANIDS – Anambra Integrated Development Strategy – which in his very words is “so confusing to me”. His other concerns include the state of education in Anambra State, the bad roads, the filth on the roads, the offensive sight of the Bridgehead – Upper Iweka axis at Onitsha and other sundry matters.
Normally letters beget replies and an open letter by a citizen to the governor of a state should get an open response, hence this piece.
Okoli is worried about the need for ANIDS which, he admits, stands for Anambra Integrated Development Strategy. He does not understand why a government should waste its time talking about the idea of developing all sectors of the economy simultaneously when ordinarily, to use his words: “It is indeed the policy of every government to maintain a tolerable level of development in every sector”. He does not perhaps know that some governments adopt a two-point or five-point or seven-point agenda where they concentrate their energies on tackling only certain sectors of their economies.
For your information, dear Okoli, contrary to your view (to which, of course, you are entitled), Anambra State under Governor Peter Obi has markedly moved away from “the administrative morass” in which it had wallowed from its creation in 1991 to March 2006 when Governor Obi assumed office.
The reasons I argue as I do are obvious: The pre-Obi era was characterised by “war of one against all and all against one”, if I may borrow that Hobbesean thesis.
It was an era when godfathers fought godsons with reckless abandon; when public and private buildings were burnt with impunity; when scores emanating from Anambra State were constantly settled by neighbouring governors in neighbouring states, etc. Above all, during that era, Anambra State had no vision. There was no destination as it were.
Having realised all these, Governor Obi came into office and adopted the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, as the vision of his government and to achieve this vision, he needed a strategy – a vehicle which he christened Anambra Integrated Development Strategy. These steps which he has taken are contemporary – they are moves made by visionary leaders in civilized societies to turn around their societies.
So, my dear Mr. Okoli, ANIDS is a strategy which allows the present Anambra State Government to plan properly, budget properly, execute the budget properly, supervise the projects, obtain feedback from the people and keep pace with development trends all over the world.
Under ANIDS, Anambra State budgets have become demand-driven, meaning Anambra people are now consulted through workshops, seminars, symposia, etc and they suggest what they want which are then included in the budgets as opposed to the pre-Governor Obi era where budgets were supply-driven (governments budgeted without consulting the people).
Mr. Okoli, you can agree with me that the present state of affairs has paid off tremendously. Again for your information, Governor Obi’s Anambra State has numerous projects already completed which can favourably compare with, if not outweigh “Calabar’s TINAPA and Lagos’s Mega City Project, among many” others. The automated Onitsha Stock Exchange which is part of the financial centre built at Onitsha by Governor Obi commands international respect. At the Onitsha Stock Exchange, you can trade with anyone in any part of the world – from Johannesburg in South Africa to New York in the United States of America!
The second phase of the financial centre is nearing completion. As I respond to your letter, a Fortune 500 company is setting up shop at Onitsha where innumerable citizens of this country have secured employment, thereby reducing the large army of jobless people with all its attendant implications. This is in keeping with Governor Obi’s campaign promise to fight crime with jobs, not guns. He has also employed several people in the civil service.
But let me go into the area of Education where you admitted that Governor Obi has provided buses for most of the public secondary schools, but has apparently failed to realize that “the school blocks are almost in a state of ruin”. I am happy that you know that the Governor has provided buses to many schools. But I am worried that you are not aware of the fact that this same governor has renovated a lot of old schools’ blocks, provided science laboratories, water boreholes, computers and generators for innumerable schools in Anambra State.
In fact, the former Principal of one secondary school in Onitsha is under investigation as to why he failed to renovate an old school block where he had held sway with the money given to him by the State Government for that purpose.
You wrote about the strike action of teachers as if you were also ignorant of the fact that the minimum wage issue had led organised labour (of which teachers are an integral part) into downing tools in many states of the Federation. Anambra was by no means an exceptional case. Thank God that the strike was called off in the State on October 12!
A cursory look at the fees paid in different state-owned tertiary institutions clearly shows that those paid by students of Anambra State University are not the highest in the country. Governor Obi has clearly distinguished himself as one person who is education-friendly and children-friendly.
He has transformed the Anambra State-owned university by building many structures, including the Mass Communication block, the Law Faculty Library and hostels at the Igbariam campus while doing much more at the Uli campus.
The Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe owned by the State has got more than its own fair share of the largesse of the Government of Mr. Peter Obi.
Mr. MIKE UDAH is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Obi of Anambra State.