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Anambra… greater, defying skeptics


THE odds were not really positive from outset. 27 years after the birth of Anambra State, some of the forecasters have eaten their words.


Against the odds, the state is posting impressive strides and beating the doubts of naysayers. Even those who initially thought in 1991 that they would soon see tigers fight against lions and elephants bodyslam hipopotamus in the new state are now surprised  to behold speedy transformation in the state. Some  still point at the hiccups of the past 27 years to underscore that the doom and gloom they anticipated are bound to manifest.

Some deem the feats recorded so far as flash-in-the-pan or day dream. Leaving in chests and cocoons of phobia and fables, they shut their senses to reality and opt not to wake up and smell the coffee.

Having beaten fears that marked her coming as one of Nigeria’s 36 state, Anambra seems is finding her swing and waxing ahead with it in surefooted steps.

The home of many ebullient leaders, assertive politicians, billionaires, brave and enterprising persons with extremely insufficient land space, insignificant federal government and establishments presence, neither social facilities nor any existing cultural coalition machinery at the time of creation, was projected to be marked by one upheaval after another in quest for inadequate resources.

It was a forecast of furry and frenzy to come in a flurry of on a land of little resource. Even the most informed pundits then foresaw frenetic scramble for the scarce means available.

There was no history of mineral resources which was the big elephant in states’ economy, locally and globally then. There was not enough

land  for habitation for the high-population density area, let alone imagining sufficient supplies of arable lands for agriculture anywhere there.

As at the time the new state came into being, there was almost nothing on ground beyond raw human capital. Things as basic as roads, pipe-borne water and even residences for worker were rarities. One could count less than a dozen tarred roads, even if collapsed ones, across the state as at then. There was only one urban city, Onitsha.

Even in the area of things that spur development, such as the mass media, there was only one outstation of a state-owned radio station. In the education sector, there were only three tertiary schools – a college of education, one polytechnic and one university – all state owned.
There were  no ports for air or marine transportation. And no railway route passed through the state. In fact, in Enugu during the 1970s and 1980s children while playing would mimick the sound of locomotive engines with folk songs that spells out the railway routes that passed the East of Nigeria. At the sight of a train the children would sing thusly:

“Poooo!

E je m Port Harcourt, E je m Ngwo!

E je m Port Harcourt, E je m Ngwo.

E je m Port Harcourt, e je m Ngwo.”

The song strives to establish that the rail route only trails from Port Harcourt (capital of Rivers State) to Ngwo (ie Enugu, capital of Enugu State). The states that the rail line touches are Enugu, Imo, Abia and Rivers. So, Anambra had and still has no rail link.

Created on August 27, 1991 during a federal military era that, two years after, held an inconclusive general election which led the country into a stalemate and lulled development nationwide for six crisis-riddled years, Anambra was lunched into harsh times from infancy.

Basic infrastructural, social and administrative developments that are vital for the take-off of a budding state could not be undertaken in Anambra during, at least first nine years of the state which was marked predominantly, by military rule.

Succour would have come with the birth of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic which ushered civil, democratic rule but the peculiar trait of the land’s politics manifested. Like rattled dogs without reins, released from nowhere, rabid red neck politicians besieged the state and bad news became her second name as Anambra politics spurred nationwide condemnation and ridicule.

country into a stalemate and lulled development nationwide for six crisis-riddled years, Anambra was lunched into harsh times from infancy. Basic infrastructural, social and administrative developments that are vital for the take-off of a budding state could not be undertaken in Anambra during, at least first nine years of the state which was marked predominantly, by military rule.

Succour would have come with the birth of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic which ushered civil, democratic rule but the peculiar trait of the land’s politics manifested. Like rattled dogs without reins, released from nowhere, rabid red neck politicians besieged the state and bad news became her second name as Anambra politics spurred nationwide condemnation and ridicule.
So things started from outset on the note of gloom and bedlam. But currently, the story is not what those who thought getting our own state, was akin to buying our coffin and beckoned vultures to wait for our carcas expected.

The same Anambra they deemed the undertaker’s  commodity is attracting rave headlines across country. Other states now look at us with envy. In peer reviews among Nigerian states, Anambra now features as reference point on good governance, peaceful polls, impressive rural-urban development, economic growth, education excellence, agriculture, industrialisation – and especially security.

The land once dreaded for armed robbery, kidnapping, crazy cult clashes, illiterate traders and egotic upstrats – with disgusting traits – is now the ranked number one in security even by the Inspector-General of Police.

In almost every field of hitherto lack, there are overwhelming success stories to tell. Beyond individual and social security there is consistent excellence in the education sector where in the past decade Anambra has retained top positions ahead of other states in WASCE, NECO and other nationwide basic school examinations. Along with these the state’s teachers, in the past three years, have been winning top prizes for basic school teachers across the country. Similarly, the state has become used to winning local and global schools’ debates.

The intellectual leap in schools comes along with material advancement too. As at 1991 there were just three tertiary schools, but currently there are six universities (one federal-owned, one state-owned and four privately owned).

There are also three polytechnics (one federal polytechnic, a state-owned and one privately owned). There are two colleges of education owned by federal and state government respectively. Schools of nursing are five among others.

The Anambra of a handful of roads now boasts of a vast network of well-tarred roads, arguably

the best link of roads in any state.

Even in the mass media there has been a huge growth both in number of stations and in quality of output. From  just one station, the state now hosts 14 private radio stations; three state-owned stations; four television stations and a plethora of newspapers.

The state is now among oil and gas hosts. She is building an airport. From a one roundabout stopover city, Awka the capital is now very urban with three state-of-the-art flyovers; untramodern shopping malls, hotels, banks (comprising the Central Bank of Nigeria) and event centres. There is a stock exchange, a dry port and industries springing up as months pass.
The story is heartwarming though the road to the feats is marked by huge sacrifice. This was what I told a friend of mine from the north. The Abuja-based director in a federal government agency, Titus (surname withheld) has become a fan of Anambra State particularly, Gov. Willie Obiano.

During one of his recent visits to Awka, he enthused:

“Chuka you people are very lucky here. Every time I come here, I see new things. You are are lucky to be having good governments.”

I laughed and replied him:

“Thank God my brother but it did not come easy. We have discovered our path to good governance and concentration on relevant socio-economic development. Our focus on a political party that understands our direction is one factor. Another is a keenness on who leads us and refusal to be distracted by senseless politics.”

I however reminded him that all those factors notwithstanding, the main thing to note is that some persons in government opted to offer themselves as sacrifice for the betterment of the state. Being a political science scholar with a doctorate degree, he seriously picked my head on the matter. As we discussed, I made him know that purpose alone does not win projects, especially social ones but goals with genuine demeanor and providence do.

Hence the fact that Anambra is turning around under Dr. Obiano’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government and the state is boasting of a succession of good governance is aided by a well communicated mission and mien that the populace accept.

It was a long discourse over some snacks and drinks with some other friends present. It was such that, even with days after their return to Abuja, we still spent some phone call time on the matter. But our conclusion remained that Anambra has a lot to thank God for after 27 years, at least for proving naysayers wrong.

That is why I celebrate today.

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