The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has expressed great optimism for the New Year, assuring the people that in spite of the severe economic recession experienced in the outgone year, there is so much to be hopeful for as the New Year breaks.
In a special New Year Message titled Making the Most of this Turning Point, Governor Obiano described the outgone year as a particularly difficult year for Nigeria, recalling that apart from being an election year, it was also a year of severe economic recession with oil prices dropping to an all-time low of $35 per barrel and analysts predicting that it would take years before it returns to $90 per barrel.
Painting a realistic picture of the outgone year, Governor Obiano observed that “the hard fought electioneering campaigns that led to the last general elections sought to deepen the country’s fault-lines and widen the ethnic gulf between Nigerians. The situation was made more intense by the rising audacity of Boko Haram which led to more attacks against soft targets. The country tottered on the brinks for long moments and was only saved from total collapse by sheer providence.”
Governor Obiano however observed that while the general picture across the country was gloom and doom, Anambra presented a slightly different scenario. Said he: “We had foreseen the approaching storm and made adequate preparations for it. That was why in my New Year Broadcast for 2015, I had assured Ndi Anambra that our dreams would not crash with the falling oil prices. I had assured that with our enormous human and material resources, we would not surrender our ambitions to the falling oil prices in the international market. To the Glory of God, we have kept our promise. Not only have we paid salaries regularly while others are looking for bailouts, we were courageous enough to increase salaries in the midst of economic adversity.”
Offering a panoramic view of his achievements in the outgone years, Governor Obiano noted that he imposed his full weight on the security situation in the state with a highly successful Regional Security Summit that attracted the governors of the South East and Delta State.
“We further strengthened our hold on security by donating 25 Smart cars to the Nigerian Police. We also donated a gunboat to the Outpost of the Nigerian Navy in Onitsha to keep vigilance over our waterways which have been identified as the main conduit through which illicit arms had flooded the state in the past. We took our campaign for a safer Anambra higher this Yuletide Season when in partnership with the Nigerian Police we launched an aerial surveillance with a helicopter hovering across our skies, ensuring a total coverage of the entire state. With this effort, we have effectively made a rapid transition to crime detection and prevention in the war against crime and criminality in Anambra State. As it stands today, Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria!” he declared.
Governor Obiano also recalled the giant strides of his administration in the drive for investment, revealing that with an estimated $2.5bn attracted in 19 months, Anambra ranks next to Lagos and Ogun States in investment inflow. According to him, “the influx of foreign investors began early in January 2015 with the arrival of a 28-man Trade Delegation from Thailand. Unmoved by the bleak domestic economy, we continued to push for more investments, leading to the visit of the Irish Trade Mission and finally the arrival of the UK Trade Mission in November 2015.”
The governor also pointed out that despite the obvious challenges, 2015 represented a watershed in the Agricultural Revolution in Anambra State.“Not only did we witness the first rice harvest from mechanised farming, we also increased our rice production from 80,000 metric tonnes to 190,000 metric tonnes. I am optimistic that by the next harvest season, we would have surpassed our local consumption of 320,000 metric tonnes and commenced the process of exporting Anambra Rice to places where they are on demand.”
He also noted that the stifling economic environment failed to distract him from delivering on his legacy projects, pointing out that two of the three Flyovers in Awka were 95 percent completed while the longest bridge in the state which cuts across the Omabala River to AguleriOtu and the oilfields had also been completed.
Obiano also lauded the new leadership of APGA for its experience and enthusiasm saying that both qualities showed during the last elections leading to the great comeback the party recorded in the House of Assembly Elections. “Indeed, the new APGA has not only demonstrated a healthy appetite for winning but also a great capacity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.”
Governor Obiano however mourned the wanton loss of lives in the various auto accidents and other tragedies that happened in the state in the outgone year, citing the petrol tanker explosion in Upper Iweka, the carnage in Umuchu, AguAwka and Nnanka as well has the Christmas Eve domestic gas explosion in Nnewi and the loss of lives during the IPOB demonstrations in Onitsha as “the dark spots in our collective memory of year 2015.”
On his plans for the New Year, Governor Obiano declared that his administration is determined to pursue a more aggressive growth in its fundamentals.Said he:“we shall explore new growth prospects and review government policies that are inimical to domestic production. We shall stimulate production in the real sector through a strategic collaboration with select MSMEs. Already, the Anambra Small Business Association (ASBA) is spearheading this quest. In June last year, ASBA disbursed the sum of N1bn in small loans to MSMEs in the state in the first phase of our programme to galvanise that important segment of the economy and boost job creation.”
Speaking further on what the state must do to excel in the New Year, Governor Obiano declared, “we shall rise above the present difficulties to reclaim our position as Nigeria’s true centre of innovation and excellence. We shall do this when we continue to earn the confidence of our brothers and sisters at home and in the Diaspora and win them over to become the champions of the change that we have brought to Anambra State. No other state in the federation has half of the human capacity that Anambra has scattered across the world and pushing for positive change in their respective communities. This great state needs just one third of what our gifted brothers and sisters can offer to leapfrog into the frontline position in Nigeria.”