(Yes We Can)
Frantz Fanon it was who said that “every generation must discover its mission fulfil it or betray it.” Anambra state remains a great paradox. Endowed with abundant human and material resources, noted for giant strides in industry and politics yet strangely stagnated with poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. How did such a hardworking, ambitious and industrious people become so stagnated in underdevelopment? How did a people who supply some of the best technocrats and experts to the federal government and international organisations around the world be so incapable and lacking in initiatives/ ways and means to actualise aggressive development in their home state? How did we succeed only in failing and bequeathing to ourselves and the world a 19th century state in the 21st century? These questions underscore the essence of Frantz Fanon’s declaration. Our generation has a clear and urgent mission, to undertake the aggressive development of Anambra state.
We are in the 21st century; an era of breathtaking technology and revolutionary growth in some parts of the world. Models of development abound that can guide us in mapping a formidable trajectory of development. Reformist leaders in China set-up the first special economic zone and industrial park in Shenzhen near Hong Kong in 1980, the Shenzhen initiative has since then unleashed a developmental revolution which has made China the 2nd largest economy in the world and reduced the number of people living in poverty by more than 500 million between 1981 and 2007 according to a world bank report. What is more spectacular however is that China achieved this feat through industrialisation policies that saw to the setting up of cluster industrial parks with special incentives where goods such as shoes, handbags, furniture, plastics, toys, clothes and other low tech goods are produced.
The production of low tech goods that brought unprecedented development to China is an area in which much potential has been demonstrated in Aba, Nnewi and other self made clusters in the Southeast. Unfortunately none of the various governors in the southeast is yet to have the vision to set-up special industrial parks and invest in building the capacity and human resources in an industry that is capable of eradicating poverty and unemployment in the Southeast and creating a sustainable economy weaned of crude oil. China has today become the 2nd largest economy in the world and an emerging world power through her investment in the human resources and productive capacities of her people. Anambra state and the Southeast can likewise become the largest economy in Nigeria and beyond if we commence the journey of industrialisation. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, what we need to do is to model our industrial trajectory to that of China and unleash rapid industrialisation and infrastructural modernisation of Anambra state.
When the visionary initiative was taken to establish the Onitsha international market in the 50’s to create a venue for budding entrepreneurs in the East to trade, it unleashed a momentum that eventually made Onitsha the largest market in West Africa. If investments in regeneration, infrastructure and modernisation had continued by subsequent administrations, Onitsha international market by now would be in the same league as Hong Kong and possibly grown to become the largest market in the whole of Africa. Like the Onitsha market phenomenon, a visionary initiative to pioneer the set-up of self serviced industrial parks would unleash a momentum that could make Anambra state and the Southeast the largest industrial area in West Africa and beyond.
Evolving A Developmental State:
In the onerous effort to industrialise and modernise, the leadership must at all times be open to ideas and as a rule must not consider anything as impossible. All strata of the society must be mobilised, the best brains and experts in our state and beyond must be assembled, ideas must be harnessed from all and sundry through public consultations and participation. The whole population and resources must be mobilised to create a developmental state ideologically committed to unleashing unprecedented development in all sectors in Anambra state. With careful planning, prudent management of resources, public private partnership, partnership with the Diaspora, creativity and determination Anambra state can become an oasis of revolutionary development and a point of reference in transformational development for the rest of Nigeria/Africa.
The Nigeria-Biafra war had a devastating social, political, economic and psychological impact on the region and populace that remains an inhibiting factor for development. Long years of military rule with targeted post-war Apartheid policies that denied the region critical capacity building infrastructure aimed at stunting economic growth in the East was an institutional scheme of marginalisation driven by successive administrations. Thus, one of the first initiatives of a leader must be the total reversal of the multi facetted impacts of the conflict through a massive post-war reconstruction initiative that encompasses the economic, social, political and psychological.
Creation Of Economic Development Council:
A leader has responsibility to assemble the best brains, experts and ideas to lead and drive the industrialisation and modernisation initiative. In that regards an economic development council that will oversee economic planning, infrastructure modernisation and the setting up of special economic zones/self serviced industrial parks should be created. The Economic development council will be made up of seasoned experts and technocrats to be chaired by an expert and technocrat of high repute such as Dr Oby Ezekwesili or Professor Chukwuma Soludo amongst others. This formidable team of technocrats will formulate policies and drive initiatives on all spheres of development.
Setting Up Of Special Economic Zones/ Self Serviced Industrial Parks
Small and medium scale enterprises remain the greatest area of potential growth and job creation in the immediate short term. In order to make this possible and to harness the abundant human resources and entrepreneurial spirit in the Southeast, the Anambra state government should create special economic zones and set-up dedicated self serviced industrial parks in designated areas within the state.
Modalities for the setting up of industrial parks with adequate incentives will include the provision of land for industrial clusters, the construction of access roads, construction of industrial units, warehouses, tax waivers and other possible incentives. Because of the challenges of inadequate power supply from PHCN, the industrial parks will be self serviced with industrial generators that serve only the industrial park. While each industrial park will be connected to the national grid, the backup industrial generators will ensure the servicing of the industrial park anytime there is a power cut. Service charges to be contributed by all operators in the industrial parks and some level of government subsidy or aid will provide revenue for the funding of fuel or diesel for the running of the industrial generators.
The special economic zones/self serviced industrial parks will, in the immediate short term, aim for the mass production of low tech or soft-goods such as footwear/shoes, bags, toys, furniture, beddings, cushions, mattresses, baby carriages, clothing/textiles, garments, undergarments/pants, socks, brassieres, plastics, toiletries, pharmaceuticals, agro allied products/food processing and others for local consumption and export. Vigorous training programs should be undertaken for youths to acquire relevant skills for the mass production of goods. In the long term, high tech goods such as machineries, electricals, auto parts and others will be integrated into the industrialisation initiative
The Anambra state government should create a targeted “enterprise loans or grant scheme,” that will provide funding for the setting up of small and medium scale enterprises to prospective entrepreneurs being located in the industrial parks. An “equipment procurement and leasing agency” should also be established. This agency will purchase equipment such as industrial sewing machines and other critical equipment for leasing to some of the operators of the small and medium scale enterprises who cannot on their own afford such equipment to boost productivity.
A “quality control agency” should also be established with a specific agenda to control the quality of goods produced and aid the standardization of products to make them more acceptable for the export market.
Setting up Of Self Serviced Agro-Technology Parks:
The setting up of Agro-technology parks is a special initiative to create special and massive clusters of poultry farms/market in a single location operated by as many individual operators as possible. The Agro technology park will house a massive poultry complex with individual operators owning their own cages and slots where they will rear their own chicken. The government can provide a soft grant to buy birds and some training for prospective investors in the poultry park. Unemployed graduates of agricultural science and other related disciplines can be given some preference by the government. The size of each individual cage will depend on how many birds prospective entrepreneurs can buy, but there will be a designated maximum and minimum size of bird cages that can be operated within the Poultry Park.
The Agro technology park will be self serviced and can be operated with a combination of solar power panels to generate electricity to keep the chicken cages warm at night and industrial generators to run the park during the day in case of power outages. Service charges from operators in park will fund costs of diesel or petrol for industrial generators. The Agro-technology Park will be a massive cluster of poultry farms within a well secured modern industrial complex that will serve as major regional outlets/markets for trade in poultry and other allied products.
Establishment Of New International Markets:
Since the establishment of the Onitsha international Market, there has been no additional international markets established even though population and demand has continued to grow. New international markets should thus be set-up in designated strategic locations such as Oba, Nnewi, Awka etc. The new markets should be large modern complexes with state of the art infrastructure capable of hosting both local and international traders/entrepreneurs.
Small, Medium And Large Farms Mechanization:
To maximise the productivity of farms, there should be a special programme of small, medium and large farms mechanization. This can be done through the procurement of machines and equipment by the government for lease to operators of small, medium or large farms. Special storage and processing facilities should be constructed for the processing and storage of farm products.
Establishment Of A Marketing Board:
The establishment of a marketing board by the government will provide a ready buyer of goods produced by the farmers for export or local markets.
Infrastructure and Housing: Model Towns, cities And Villages
Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi Mega-cities project
One of the most critical areas of assessment of any administration will be in the infrastructural consolidation, regeneration and modernisation of Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi amongst others. The Anambra state government should thus pursue policies of intensive beautification, regeneration and infrastructural development of these cities. With the possibility of using direct labour, all sidewalks can be paved and lined with trees together with a comprehensive solar powered street lighting and an effective waste disposal system that keeps the cities very clean. Major boulevards, dualisation of roads and other infrastructural initiatives should be undertaken within these cities. A modern central business district (CBD) hosting beautifully decorated water fountains with skyscrapers should be created in Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi where most banks and corporate organisations can cluster as a modern business and banking hub. A six to eight lane superhighway linking Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi as part of a strategy of modernising and opening up the industrial cities should be constructed under a public private partnership with tollgates.
New Awka City: Capital Territory
Anambra deserves a befitting capital that captures the ambitions and aspirations of an industrious and cosmopolitan people. The government should consult with international experts for the plan of a modern city spanning between 200 and 300sqkm that includes metro lines, tramways, industrial parks, strategic service gates, central business districts, residential areas, green areas or parks, schools, hospitals and other attributes of a well planned city capable of hosting upwards of five million people. The New Awka city should be aggressively developed in phases in partnership with the private sector to create an ultra-modern city with a breathtaking skyline within ten years .
Special Onitsha Regeneration Project:
Onitsha is in decline because there has been no significant investment in infrastructure over the years. A special Onitsha regeneration project should be undertaken to rebuild and modernise major areas of the city and introduce a self financing tolled city ring road and light rail or tram way. Solar street lights, green areas should be integrated into all parts of the city. A central business district (CBD) should be developed in Onitsha. New areas of ultra modern residential estates should be established. The international market should be modernised and expanded. Major shopping malls such as Shoprite and others should in partnership with the private sector be established in Onitsha to boost upscale commerce. Special economic zones and self serviced Industrial parks should also be established to consolidate the commercial and industrial base of the city. A special regeneration of Onitsha is necessary to return the city to a trajectory of growth and development.
Direct Labour Initiative In Integrated Rural Development/ Construction Of Model Towns, Villages and Cities:
There is a lot to be done and with high levels of unemployment, plenty of idle hands to do the jobs at lower costs. Every village, town and city can be made models through an initiative that uses direct labour under the supervision of engineers and florists to pave sidewalks, plant trees, install solar panel street lights and dig water wells for the rural waterworks schemes and other public works. By using direct labour, much money can be saved and so much work can be done within a short time frame in the transformation of all the rural communities in Anambra state into models.
Housing: Construction of Ultra Modern Estates:
Build, Sell And Recycle Scheme
The real estate industry is one of the core areas of growth in most economies, but ironically while people of southeast origin are heavily involved in the real estate industry in major cities in other parts of Nigeria, there has been a near total absence of the organised real estate industry in Anambra state and the southeast in General. Under the build, sell and recycle scheme the state government can partner with the private sector to begin the construction of ultra-modern self serviced housing estates that will comprise of large walled complexes with manned gates and CCTV cameras. The houses in the complex will be duly advertised and sold at modest profits with the initial capital immediately recycled to begin another phase of housing estates.
Potential investors in the estate project could pay 10% deposit to secure their own house even before construction begins. With this win-win method, a whole new modern city dotted with immaculate housing estates can be developed in phases with much profit accruing to the investors and a construction induced growth taking root in Anambra state.
Land Management Strategy with Skyscraper Estates:
It is recommended that 50-60% of houses in special estates to be built should be high-rise buildings of upwards of 10 storeys and beyond which is a perfect strategy of land management that can suck in a huge population in a relatively small area. This is a modern trend across the world and a long-term sustainable strategy of managing a large and growing population in cities with a modest landmass.
The skyscrapers should be built in well planned self serviced complexes which will be guaranteed for the provision of electricity, security, pipe borne water and general maintenance of the estate through the payment of service charges to be contributed by all residents of the complex. This housing initiative implemented in phases is capable of creating a modern city skyline in just 4-8 years.
Construction of an Ultra-Modern International Cargo/ Passenger Airport, Regional Hub And Dry Port:
As a state with a large enterprise base and with the expectation of rapid industrial and infrastructural development, Anambra state urgently needs an ultra-modern international cargo and passenger airport as part of the process to build capacity for the expected increase in industrial activity and its attendant increase in passenger and freight-cargo traffic. There can be no development without infrastructure and the airport is a strategic infrastructure that will significantly boost Onitsha, Nnewi businesses and open up the state. A major cargo holding area where containers can be stored should be established within the airport industrial complex to double as a dry port and storage centre where containers can be stored by entrepreneurs.
The airport should host ultra modern facilities, including aircraft servicing and repair facilities as a strategy to market the airport as a regional hub for stop over flights and aircraft repair and maintenance location. The Airport project could be actualised cost effectively through a public private partnership.
Establishment Of East Niger/Atlantic Airlines And A Regional Hub:
The government should partner with the private sector to create an airline for passenger and cargo haulage to be known as East Niger or Atlantic airlines that will ply local and eventually international routes. The airline will have the East as its primary hub while reaching out globally with goods and passengers.
Completion And Expansion Of Onitsha River Port:
The Onitsha River port project can be given a boost for speedy completion by the state government through the involvement of a consortium of private investors for the possible expansion and quick completion of port project which is a strategic infrastructure that will help the consolidation of the Southeast as an industrial and commercial hub.
Construction Of Independent Power Plants For Industrial Growth:
Industrialisation cannot be possible without regular power supply. The Anambra state government should thus rapidly undertake the construction of independent power plants that will power the industrial and economic growth of Anambra state.
Establishment Of Nollywood Film Village:
As a strategy to consolidate the entertainment industry and maximise its potential, a modern Nollywood movie complex/city should be constructed with modern studios and amenities where movies and other related entertainment can be filmed and produced.
Youth, Sports And Education: Establishment Of Football Academy And Specialised Universities:
Anambra state government should urgently establish the first football academy in Nigeria as a human resource academy designed to identify and train youths who demonstrate a flair or gift in football. The academy should aim to train and produce a steady stream of world class footballers. Between three and five self financing non residential special universities of management and technology with modern research laboratories and equipment, possibly networked with institutes such as the Massachusetts institutes of technology, Havard university, California Tech and other top rank universities should be established to provide high quality education and skills in management, enterprise and technological courses. In addition to the new initiatives, all existing universities in the state must offer obligatory courses in entrepreneurship in their first year as a strategy to introduce all undergraduates to entrepreneurship.
As a modern trend in education, the universities should partner with top scale industries and other employers to help devise courses and programmes that are relevant to the needs of industries and employers. These special universities will provide quality education, skills and technological innovations for the jobs of the day. Special technical secondary schools also to be established will be attached to the technology departments of the universities. The technical schools will focus only on technical courses with specific specialisations.
Establishment Of Centre For Research, Development And Adaptation Of Technology:
As a way of encouraging innovation, inciting an explosion of creativity and the registration of patents, a centre for research, development and adaptation of technology should be established which will be a stop gap for people with all kinds of innovation, inventions and adaptations. The centre will provide the needed aid and means for people with ideas and innovations to pursue the development of their inventions and registration of patents. It will also be a centre of technological research and adaptation. The centre will be linked to the specialised universities of management and technology.
Establishment Of Chinua Achebe Museum/Library And Centre For Promotion Of Creative Arts:
The establishment of the Chinua Achebe Museum /Library and centre for the promotion of creative arts will be a platform to honour Achebe, showcase his literary works and at the same time also serve as a library for general studies, research and a venue to discover and promote other writers, poets and artists, through periodic exhibitions, auditions and open days. A special fund accruing from the museum will be used to sponsor all such discovered writers, poets, artists and other creative artists until their works are published. There are so many gifted but obscure or unknown writers and artists who could not publish their works because of an absence of means, exposure or sponsorship. This method will be a stop gap that will make it possible to give such artists exposure and sponsorship to publish their works. It is a furthering of the initiative to incite an explosion of creativity.
Values And Norms: Indoctrination, Dissemination Of Civic Education Through Little Yellow Book:
There has been a steep decline in traditional values and norms that shaped character and entrenched communal solidarity in the past. This loss of values has contributed in large measure to the prevalence of corruption and social vices in the society. The little yellow book which signifies the oriental rising sun will be a pamphlet of indoctrination and civic education to be widely disseminated to all residents of the state that will aim to indoctrinate the citizenry and re-inculcate traditional values and communal solidarity. The document will re-establish ancient taboos and cultivate a communal doctrine based on certain values and norms. Alongside the dissemination of the yellow book will be a complementary print, electronic and communal campaign. The indoctrination is aimed specifically at creating a disciplined society with a high standard of ethics, heavily invested in communal solidarity.
Poverty Eradication/Social Security: Social Welfare And Social Housing:
The civilisation and elevation of a people and society is determined by how well they take care of the poor and most vulnerable within their society. Poverty is manmade and we all, without exception are diminished by any that are left poor or destitute in our society. No individual is elevated in a society where so many suffer the pangs of poverty and deprivation. Our collective humanity is diminished by such a phenomenon. We must create a humane society and civilisation that recognises that the best outcomes are achieved when we are all in solidarity with all within our society. We must strive for social justice by eradicating poverty and creating a society with basic social security that provides for the unemployed, the disabled and the sick.
Through progressive taxation and contribution by all that is able, we must create a system that removes the poor and most vulnerable from the extremes of want and penury through provision of social welfare payments, social housing, free medical care and other vital social aids for those in need. Our society will be better for it, when in brotherhood and solidarity; we fulfil the divine duty of eradicating poverty by providing for those amongst us who stand in need through structured government welfare programs.
Evolving a Sustainable Tax Economy:
Studies have shown that compliance in the payment of taxes by the citizenry is usually very high where the government is transparent and is seen to be undertaking critical infrastructural projects. It is thus very important for the Anambra state government to demonstrate in deeds, a commitment to good governance that will help cultivate a disciplined tax compliant citizenry that will make it possible for the state to move away from the unsustainable over-dependence on crude oil allocations and evolve a robust and efficient tax economy. Tax collection efforts should be more aggressive to raise revenue for the implementation of critical projects. An efficient tax system can be evolved through partnership with a private firm charged with the collection of taxes for the state. All activities in the state should be tied to the presentation of a tax clearance certificate. The tax net should be widened to include annual property tax, with rates determined according to the size of house. Special annual Mansion tax for wealthy people who live in mansions should be introduced while a special annual tax should also be applied to commercial property. Vehicles registered and domiciled in Anambra state should also pay annual road tax. Other categories of sustainable taxes should be introduced to evolve a sustainable tax economy.
Prudent Management of Resources:
The Anambra state government must manage resources very prudently in order to be able to achieve all the critical milestones of transformational leadership. In particular, the government must at every level avoid the temptation of appointing a large retinue of personal aides, special assistants and all other such unnecessary portfolios that usually constitutes a drain on resources that could be put to better use in infrastructural development and the provision of social services.
Establishment Of Special Internal Anti-Corruption Bureau:
In an effort to create an “Oases” and depart from the ravages of Nigeria’s corruption, zero tolerance for corruption must be emphasised by the creation of a special anti-corruption bureau through legislation by the state assembly. The bureau will be a robust internal anti-corruption organ that will arrest and prosecute any individual or group suspected of acts of corruption or fraud within the state. The crime of corruption should be designated “economic treason” by law and must carry mandatory sentences up to and including the death sentence.
Audit and Registration of All Unemployed Youths:
A fundamental approach to tackling poverty and youth unemployment must begin with social engineering which includes biometric registration of all unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 45 years of age who are neither in school, apprenticeship or self employment and who are resident in the state, and the setting up of unemployment offices in each of the three senatorial zones.
Registration will make it possible for the government to as proposed earlier use some of the youths for purposes of direct labour, while some will be sent for vocational training programs and those who might have had some apprenticeship training will benefit from grants which will help them to set-up business in their area of training. Registration will also make it possible to mobilise resources by appealing to international aid organisations, private individuals, the federal government, religious organisations and other charities and philanthropists that will help to fund the training programs, provision of grants and other initiatives that may be undertaken to address youth unemployment.
Setting Up Of Vocational Training Centres:
As part of the strategy to tackle youth unemployment, the government should urgently set up vocational training centres in all the local government areas of the state to facilitate vocational training programs in different skills for youths across the state. The skills will make it possible for the youths to go into employment or to become self employed.
Civic Registration by Biometric Identity Cards:
The absence of a data base in Nigeria has made it difficult for effective planning. The Anambra state government should take advantage of the digital age to break new grounds in the modernisation of the art of governance by applying digital solutions to planning and crime fighting. Identity cards are very useful for carrying out a comprehensive audit and thus identifying all those resident in the state and consequently for planning. It also has the added advantage of raising revenues as modest fees will be paid for the cards.
The state government should set-up civic registration centres where all residents of the state will register for a biometric identity card by having their fingerprints, digital photographs and other personal details captured and stored in a database and an identity card with a unique lifelong social security number issued as proof of registration. To facilitate registration and issuance of identity cards, the Anambra state government can contract or partner with private IT companies to set-up database logistics and commence registration of all residents in the state.
To make sure that everyone registers, identity cards should be made compulsory by law in Anambra state and also be tied to accessing public services such as hospitals, schools etc. The law should make it mandatory for every resident of the state from 16 years of age to carry an identity card at all times. It should be an offence punishable with a fine and or imprisonment not to carry an identity card.
Conclusions: The Issue Of Leadership
What makes a nation succeed or fail is leadership. Across the world, the only difference between failed states and successful nations is the leadership. Nations without any natural resources have been transformed through visionary, disciplined and creative leadership while nations with abundant human and material resources have become failed states through corrupt, visionless and incompetent leadership. In both scenarios, the only difference that determined the outcome was the leadership. A resolute, dedicated, disciplined, competent, creative and visionary leadership is indispensable as the single most important factor for the wholesome transformation of Anambra state into a highly sophisticated state with ultra modern infrastructure, integrated social system and a dynamic industrial economy weaned from the crude oil curse.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Your write up is a masterpiece in a sane society but today is still early only if they will try and it can work.
Good Manifesto indeed