Address By His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi (CON),
Governor Of Anambra State
During Ministry Of Foreign Affairs One Day Sensitization Campaign On “Exploringthe Opportunities In The Ecowas Integration Process And Programmes For Accelerated National Development”
At Suncity Hotel, Awka, Anambra State
Thursday 21 February, 2013
I am delighted to welcome all of you to Anambra State on this occasion of your campaign on exploring opportunities provided by the ECOWAS Integration process and programmes with a view to achieving National Development. On behalf of the good people and Government of Anambra State, I say “Nnoo nu” as our people are wont to say.
We are indeed excited that you have chosen our State as your venue for this gathering. We are excited because this shows that our modest efforts at reversing past ugly trends, have yielded the desired results. In time past, Anambra State was a Pariah State and was dreaded by visitors. At that time, the status of our State was akin to the Hobbesean State of Nature where there was war of one against all and all against one; where life was brutish, nasty and short. This state of affairs reached a crescendo in November 2004 when hoodlums held the entire State by the jugular and private and public buildings were burnt.
OUR RECENT PAST
May I take you back a little into the recent past of Anambra State?
When we assumed office in March 2006, there was no Government House as the one formerly there was burnt; the Government Electronic medium, the Anambra State Broadcasting Service (ABS) was torched and so were a whole lot of other institutions. Fortunately, today the situation has changed for the better, thanks to God and to our modest efforts. That you are here today shows we have succeeded in redressing the ugly and troubling past.
May I use this opportunity to tell you a few things which we have done to achieve this. First, having discovered on assumption of office that there was no vision for the State, we quickly adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as our policy and Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS).
The result is that today, we have transformed all sectors of life: Education, Health, Infrastructure, Security, etc. Doing away with Bakassi Boys,National Association of Road Transport Workers (NARTO) and other clandestine organizations, we have, working with bodies statutorily charged with the maintenance of Law and order – Police, Army, State Security Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps – etc, brought peace to Anambra State. Needless to add that other facets of life have immensely benefited from our transformation agenda.
THE BUSINESS OF THE DAY
There is no gainsaying that the reason for the founding of ECOWAS is to achieve integration of the once disparate countries in the West African Sub-region. Such integration was envisaged to be political, economic, social and what have you. Integration makes for synergy and synergy makes for accelerated development in an ideal situation.
With the founding of ECOWAS, citizens of member countries no longer go through the hurdles of visa application, processing and issuance and the attendant payment of fees. Similarly Protocol and a great deal of security barriers are broken, resulting in the transaction of business and general movement of persons and goods with relative ease. When these barriers are removed, citizens make more income in their businesses; then ultimately their individual growth leads to the accelerated growth of their countries and then the growth of our sub-region.
Unfortunately, 38 years after the founding of ECOWAS, it is not yet uhuru. We have not yet achieved that national, and I dare add, regional development which we had envisaged in 1975 when this regional body was formally founded.
Why is this the case? The main reason is we have not really fully explored the opportunities provided by the formation of ECOWAS. This is why this campaign has become pertinent and imperative. The fact that you have brought it to far-flung Anambra State away from metropolitan Lagos or Abuja makes it even more so. Anambra today represents a choice destination and preferred environment for domestic and foreign investors as well as international donor partners. We continue to rank at the top of Nigerian states, in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI).
It is against ‘this background therefore that I welcome all of you gathered here to the State of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (the first President of Nigeria); Prof. Kenneth Dike (the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University); Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (the first Graduate to join the Nigerian Army); Prof. Chike Obi (the first Mathematician in Africa), Chinua Achebe and of course Chimamanda Adichie, among several other icons.
I sincerely urge you to seriously deliberate on the need for a way forward and to proffer solutions to the problems confronting our sub-region. But more importantly, I call upon you to chart a course which will make for full exploration of the opportunities provided by ECOWAS with a view to achieving national integration and regional development. Meanwhile, enjoy your stay here and our humble hospitality.
Thank you for your kind attention.