Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State Aroma Flyover Bridge Awka

Vision, strategy and courage are some of the important qualities that help define quality leadership, often transforming a leader into a statesman in his/her chosen area of endeavour, and such is the case of Willie Obiano in Anambra State.

While vision informs strategy, courage ensures action or implementation in a manner akin to childbirth and nurture. Men do not become great by nature, greatness is only attained by nurture.

As the November 18, 2017 date fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the Anambra State gubernatorial election draws near, it would be nice to juxtapose the achievements of the incumbent governor, HE Willie Obiano and his predecessor, Peter Obi on the area of infrastructure.

The desire to discuss infrastructure is because it’s one thing, which like education and security impacts on everyone, irrespective of social or economic status, religious, political or tribal inclination. As they say, when the rain falls, it does not fall on one man’s house. These three elements can make or mar, incapacitate or empower, depending on what the government of the day is able to do about them.

The objective here is to make an informed contribution as one in the know and to place things in proper perspective. If it guides the electorate to making the right decision at the forthcoming gubernatorial election, so be it.

 

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

 

But how does one compare three and half years with eight years? Maybe a click at the buttons of vision, strategy and courage will help. It is also good to note that one of the factors fueling popular agitation pan-Nigeria is poor infrastructure, particularly road network. It has become one of the defining factors of urban and rural areas in present day Nigeria.

The objective here is to make an informed contribution as one in the know and to place things in proper perspective. If it guides the electorate to making the right decision at the forthcoming gubernatorial election, so be it.

The major pain of Ndi Igbo has been how to carry on commerce in a conducive atmosphere. This is partly why the clamour for the second Niger Bridge has become an important political gimmick that leading political office seekers are clinging onto to deceive the populace and present themselves as pro-people. Politicians tell themselves, ‘just promise the second Niger Bridge and you have their votes.’

Political analysts see the importance of this piece of infrastructure in the composite socioeconomic benefits the people could derive therefrom, as being of gargantuan proportions.

This makes Obiano’s vision to deliver an Airport City for Anambra a worthy one. The Airport Project is being perceived as a socioeconomic catalyst, capable of reverberating across the southeast and even beyond, with major impacts expected in the areas of employment creation, commerce (local and international), localization of industries which would include oil and gas. This could only be coming from a visionary and strategic leader.

 

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State - Umueri Airport City Project
Umueri Airport City Project

 

A consideration of how long it took the Federal Government of Nigeria to make a move, largely seen as political and lip-service on the second Niger Bridge project will give an insight into what Obiano’s vision and courage to initiate an Airport City in Anambra, so soon after becoming Governor, means to Ndi Igbo. I think that this vision and the strategic execution are some of the things that rank Obiano as a visionary leader.

The most visionary card played by Obi in his eight-year tenure that can be said to have the potential to rub-off on the socioeconomic status of Anambra Stare like the Airport City is the Ikemba Square that leads into Onitsha from the Niger Bridge. Not being a government man, I cannot imagine the cost of the Ikemba Square, but cost alone does not determine value.

Citizens are quick to point out the iconic landscaping, decorative flyovers and footbridges that dot several commercial centres in Anambra State, particularly Awka, the state capital. People can hardly drive through Awka without beholding the beauty of the city as Obiano’s impact on infrastructure is hard not to notice. This is a legacy, particularly given how long it took to put the befitting structures in place and the quality of finishing that have helped to bestow on Awka a unique identity and dignity as a state capital.

 

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

To my mind, these are some of the things Obiano has done to transform Anambra into a first-choice investment destination and hub of commercial activities in Nigeria and by extension, West Africa.

Who would argue that with a memorandum of understanding already executed with the partners on the Airport City Project, namely, Orient Petroleum Resources Limited and Elite International Investment Limited for the $5 billion project, to be sited at Umueri, Anambra East Local Government, it shows that Obiano has achieved in months what Obi could not achieve in years? The joy and optimism which have greeted the project reflect how well it is accepted by the people.

Another point of commendation, which shows vision and strategy is the ability to attract partners. Getting partners from China, a country whose economic prowess is world-dominant for a State project is no mean feat. It flows that the more visionary and strategic a leader is, the easier it would be for him/her to attract the best for his/his people.

 

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Willie Obiano And His Footprint On Infrastructure Transcends Anambra State

Igwe Cyril Enweze, Chairman, Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) aptly voiced it out this way, “the project would promote rapid urbanisation and increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Anambra State.”

Whereas Obi tried to open up some rural roads during his eight-year reign, most of the roads constructed by Obi have all carved-in, because they were done without adequate drainages. What Obiano has done is to ensure value for spend by delivering roads with good drainages. Those who know the topography of Anambra State will understand what a difference this can make. So Obiano’s roads can last 10 years before needing repairs but Obi’s caved in months after construction as the rains came. This is why Obiano embarked on operation “zero pot holes” to ensure Obi’s failing roads are fixed but this is what happens when a leader is focused more on cost cutting than value creating.

This has become imperative because it is palpable that a lot of Ndi Igbo share the opinion that if their kin that occupied top political positions since the return of democracy in 1999 had delivered the so called dividends of democracy to the southeast, the current agitation for sovereignty would probably not have surfaced. I add that top performance by governors in particular would have encouraged the Federal Government of Nigeria and compelled her to seek relevance in the southeast by delivering value to Ndi Igbo. I stand to be corrected.

 

 

This is why my thoughts at this time revolve around vision, strategy and courage as the backbone for quality leadership. If those who led (were elected into political positions; particularly the executive governors) in Igboland had over the years shown themselves visionaries, backed with strategic and courageous execution, projects like the Airport City powered by the Anambra Airport Infrastructure Company Limited would have sprung up in two or three places in Igboland before now and would have helped redefine the flow of commercial activities in Nigeria, thereby forcing the Federal Government to chase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with back-up developmental projects. Economists talk of localisation of industries; probably this would come through as socioeconomic concentration.

It is important to note that Obiano has built bridges to connect the agric and oil and gas zones of the state to the mainland. This presents a platform to drive even further economic growth. His current focus on economic growth helped protect the state from the recession that ravaged the country in the past one year.

Inflow of Domestic direct investments (DDIs) helped infuse funds, jobs and economic activities into the state in the past 3 years such that its GDP grew at 14 to 15 % in the first 2 years and 1% in the last year at a time when the Nigerian economy grew at 6 to 7 and% and declined by about 1%. So Anambra was recession proof. Unlike what would have happened in the previous administration when instead of paying contractors, money was saved and the contractors pauperized, thus starving the economy of funds required to drive growth.

To my mind, vision, strategy and courage that Obiano exudes will always prevail over emotions and sentiments the previous Governor rode on to power and sadly seeks to use in picking another occupant for the Anambra State Government House, Awka. I am optimistic that Ndi Anambra can easily discern why Obiano’s indelible footprints on infrastructure have the potential to traverse the entire southeast.

Fidelis Nwangwu

Awka, Anambra State

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