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Obiano Left Anambra Much Better Than He Met It Data Shows

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Five years after being sworn in (on 17 March 2014) as the new Anambra State governor after the expiration of the Peter Obi second term Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano had managed to reduce the poverty rate in the state to the lowest in all of the South East and 8th lowest among the 36 States of the Federation.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) poverty data for 2019 show that the lowest poverty rates were recorded mainly in the South and South-Western states, with Anambra clearly being an outlier.

While Anambra had a poverty rate of 14.8% according to the NBS data, the closest state in the South East was Imo which had a poverty rate of 28.9% and came in at No 15 on the list.

Anambra also outperformed major Nigerian oil producing states including Rivers (which recorded a poverty rate of 23.9%), Akwa Ibom (26.8%) and Bayelsa (22.6%).

The major reason for the low poverty rate is the ex-Governor’s major investments in the state’s physical and human infrastructure.

Ike Chioke, Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited; and Chairman, Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) says Willie Obiano is an advocate of infrastructural development as well as rights and entitlements (welfare) of citizens.

Interestingly, he cleared all arrears of salaries owed local-government employees, the outstanding salaries and pensioned owed the staff of Anambra State Water Corporation, and pensions and gratuity of owed retirees of Anambra Broadcasting Service and National Light’ Newspaper, which had been in default for twenty-five long years.

While some federally-bailed-out-state were struggling to pay workers’ salaries, former governor Obiano raised civil servant salaries by 15 percent and remained tenaciously steadfast that worker’s welfare was his topmost priority.

During his tenure as governor, he cleared N1.90 billion arrears of salaries owed the State Water Corporation staff as well as the approximately N1 billion pension owed Local Government retirees inherited by his administration.

Obiano’s vision was also to make Anambra one of the food baskets of the country and as soon as became governor in 2014 his administration raised its budgetary allocation to Agriculture by 500 percent, to N5.40 billion in 2017.

He created an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and attract the desired foreign direct investment needed to grow Anambra’s economy. The result of the roundtable meeting he had with investment bankers, investors, and venture capitalists.

Little wonder Anambra under Obiano scores so high on ease-of-doing business indices. In 2019, the World Bank rated Anambra as one of the 5 Nigerian states where it was easiest to do business. In 2020, amid the Coronavirus crisis, Anambra attracted foreign investment to a tune of $10.20 million.

The former governor succeeded in creating jobs while at the same time making it easier for small businesses to access loans in a country plagued by poverty as he had set up the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA).

On August 1 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), published its latest summary of unemployment rates in Nigeria. Anambra posted the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria:13.10 percent. The national aggregate is 27.10 percent.

Anambra had a GDP of $12 billion and per capita income of $1750 as of 2020.

Of course, he and his team of technocrats worked assiduously hard to ensure that the state did not have to rely on federal allocation to survive as they were able to unlock the potentials in trade which generated revenue.

Obiano’s strategic planning, human resource-efficiency, and futuristic programs and projects resulted in a marked increase in Anambra’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), which more than doubled in a short time. The sharp IGR rise happened within his first year (2014-2015) in office.

“We have set an impressive record in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with a remarkable increase from the N500 million monthly that we inherited from my predecessor to N1.30 billion per month….we achieved this through the timely deployment of cutting-edge technology and a clinical weeding out of 800 ghost workers from the state civil service,” said the former governor.

It is noteworthy that the Obiano administration drew up a scheme that birthed the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA).

ANSIPPA serves as an investment driver and a special-purpose vehicle for realizing the state’s economic blueprint, with its four pillars.

Within 16 months of Obiano’s inauguration, ANSIPPA had attracted billions of dollars’ worth of investment to Anambra. These investments cut across agriculture, trade and commerce, hospitality, housing, electricity generation, health, and oil and gas.

By July 2016, investors had already committed over $2.23 billion to Anambra.

By December 2016, the number of investors attracted had risen from 28 to over 34, with an executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on investment worth over $2.66 billion. Anambra investors accounted for 54 percent of the investors, other Nigerians 12 percent, and foreigners, 43 percent.

Although committed investment in 2017 stood at $4.3 billion, ANSIPPA’s attracted a total investment of nearly $6 billion.

The Awka International Convention Centre and the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport in Umueri built in the second tenure of Obiano’s administration are testament to some of the infrastructure investments funded solely by the State Government.

As part of Obiano’s legacy the state would also soon begin to earn 13 per cent derivation from oil production as an oil producing state.

“Anambra has 15 oil wells with the Eniye 10940 oil field operated by SEEPCO fully operational and wholly owned by the state,” Obiano said a few weeks before stepping down.

He added: “I have been notified of this (intention of federal government to commence payment of 13 percent derivation to Anambra) by the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Pricing and Regulatory Agency, who had confirmed lifting of crude oil in commercial quantity from the state.”

Obiano also said that the state’s rice production had hit 530,000 metric tonnes yearly from the 85,000 metric tonnes capacity in 2014.

“The revolution my administration brought into the agricultural sector had made the state become not only self-sufficient in production but a net exporter of the commodity.”

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