AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF ANAMBRA STATE CHIEF WILLIE OBIANO AT THE FIRST SEURITY FUND RAISING IN LAGOS ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th 2014
Ndi Anambra, friends and well-wishers of Anambra State, I welcome you to this occasion. This event means so much to the life of my administration and our overall effort to build a new Anambra State.
The importance of this event can be seen from the fact that humanity is threatened by insecurity all across the world. There is the ISIS challenge in the Middle East and the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring West African countries. In cities, towns and communities across Nigeria, the threat of violent crimes and kidnapping has caused a lot of sleepless nights among our people. Happily, in the last six months of my administration in Anambra State, Ndi Anambra have slept with their two eyes closed.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here tonight to secure the new atmosphere of freedom in Anambra State and to ensure that our people sleep even better at night. We are gathered here to secure the Dream of a New Anambra State.
Ndi Anambra, another reason why this event is also important is that it is the first time that Anambra State is holding a ceremony in Lagos under my watch. So, this is an opportunity to say “thank you” to Anambra Communities in Lagos for your support and prayers during the elections that brought me to office. Some of you people in this audience left your businesses to come back home to vote for me. I am very grateful for your efforts then and the support you have given my administration since we assumed office on March 17 this year. Ndi Anambra, oga adili unu mma. Dalunu! Dejenu!
Ladies and gentlemen, this event also gives me the opportunity to give you an account of my stewardship and what we are doing in the area of security. As the governor of Anambra State, I see myself as the Chief Security Officer of the state. My first priority as the chief-security officer is to secure the lives and property of Ndi Anambra. In full awareness of this responsibility, I set up Operation Kpochapu – a Joint Task Force on Security, made up of the police, the army, the Navy, the SSS and the NDLEA on Tuesday March 25, 2014 – exactly one week after I assumed office.
To further underscore the importance of security to my administration, I quickly convened a Security Summit in Awka on the 10th of April and invited a world famous Israeli security expert, Moshe Keinan to lead discussions at the summit. The fruits of that Summit and the discussions it provoked are what we celebrate here tonight.
Ndi Anambra, our people have suffered from general insecurity and criminals for a long time. Long before kidnapping became a big business in Anambra State, we have had lived in an endless period of fear of armed robbers and brigands of all kinds.
The situation was so bad that at a time, our people adopted some unusual methods to combat the scourge. We all remember the monster called the Bakassi Boys and the extra-judicial killings of that they unleashed on Anambra State. We all remember the lawlessness of that period.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is gratifying to see that our story is different today. We have effectively retrieved Anambra State from the gangsters that once drove our great sons and daughters away from home and made it impossible for investors to remember Anambra in their investment plans. We have chased away the enemies who forced our people to do Igba nkwu nwanyi (traditional marriage) in Lagos.
We have arrested their leading suppliers of illicit firearms and cut off their supply routes. At the moment, over 200 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers have been arrested. We have pulled down their command and control centers and deployed hi-tech gadgets to track criminals to their dens. Not long ago, we rescued the brother of famous entrepreneur, Chief Cosmas Maduka of the Coscharis Group from a gang of kidnappers. We tracked the kidnappers all the way to their hideout in Orlu, Imo State and arrested all the suspects and brought home our brother who had been in their captivity. Before the Orlu kidnap incident, we had tracked Okechukwu Nnaegbo, a kidnap kingpin from Agukwu-Nri, all the way to Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and arrested him inside a South African-bound aircraft. Police records in Anambra State show that there was not a single violent crime in Anambra last Easter. Over a month ago, our CCTV at the Onitsha Main-market was used to track some missing children and re-unite them with their families. Today in Onitsha Main Market, pickpockets can no longer ply their trade because they afraid that Obiano’s security cameras would pick them out. All these make up the narrative of the new Anambra!
Ndi Anambra, we have regained our freedom from the enemies of liberty and once again, Anambra State is ready to lead the charge for the return of Ndigbo as an economic power-block in Nigeria since the Civil War. We are fully aware that the journey ahead may be difficult and slow but we are not looking for a quick fix. We shall be relentless in our push to expand the frontiers of excellence in Anambra State and beyond.
In fact, anyone who wishes to see the result of our push-back against criminals should visit Awka on a Friday night. I am proud to announce that Awka has finally started to show the signs of an emerging city with the return of a vibrant night life. I have been reliably informed that Ndi Anambra now feel safe enough to come out at night to test their new freedom and share the joys of the new Anambra. There is a new sense of hope, a new self-belief, a new beginning that has enveloped our daily lives in Anambra State and I invite you all to come home and experience it first-hand.
Ladies and gentlemen, it might interest you to know that some of our brothers have already heeded our call and returned home to invest in the effort to build a new Anambra. On May 7, this year, I commissioned the Coched Farms Project at Anaku in Ayamelum Local Government Area which has the capacity to produce 120,000 metric tons of rice and create over one thousand jobs. On Tuesday last week, my administration attracted over $220m dollar investments. These include investments from Joseph Agro Limited that is investing $150m in Agriculture and Cardinal Developers & Trust Ltd that is investing $70m in the area of hospitality and tourism. Joseph Agro Ltd has a capacity to produce 120,000mt of rice. The company will in addition to Coched Farms Ltd will almost completely erase Anambra’s rice supply deficit by 99%. It will also create of 10,000 direct jobs and about 25,000 indirect jobs for our people.
Similarly, Cardinal will create 400 direct jobs and 2000 indirect jobs. Ndi b’anyi, this is a great time to come from Anambra State.
Big businesses in Anambra State are doing incredibly well. SABMiller is currently expanding its production capacity in Onitsha while in Nnewi, Innoson has just rolled out some easily affordable made-in-Nigerian cars from his auto-manufacturing plant. Once again, we are the first to give Nigeria an indigenous car as one of our great ancestors, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu did when he loaned his Rolls Royce and driver to pre-independent Nigeria for the comfort of the visiting Queen of England.
Ladies and gentlemen, where else are such things happening in Nigeria at this moment in time? The Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) has received about 120 inquiries from investors from across the world and there is a growing feeling that Anambra’s finest hour is finally here with us.
My team and I have commenced a new wave of efforts to lend wings to our vision. We have flagged off construction work on 17 new roads and four new bridges across the state. We have started constructing 3 flyovers in Awka that will change the landscape of our capital city. Work has reached an advanced stage at the new 3-Arms Zone that will host the three arms of government and give Anambra a befitting seat of power. We have launched an agricultural revolution in the state. In fact, I personally handed new high-yielding seeds to farmers in Awka. We have launched a campaign to reclaim our cities and neighbourhoods from filth and dirt. Onitsha has since shed its old ragged outlook as we tighten the screws on waste management and decongest our roads of all abandoned vehicles.
Similarly, we are opening access to the food-belt of the state and building roads to connect highbrow neighbourhoods and estates. Work is in progress at the three shopping malls in Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka and we are building new and modern markets in Ogbunike, Oba, Umunze and Awka. Very soon, we shall introduce our people to a new experience in shopping. I urge you to come home and buy a piece of real estate at the Millennium Estate which used to be known as the Greenwood Estate and build your palatial homes there.
Ladies and gentlemen, the sun has finally risen on Anambra State!
It is in acknowledgement of this resurgence of hope in our people that my team and I also decided that the time has come to awaken the consciousness of our people to the soft issues of governance. We realize that it is not just enough for government to build roads and bridges but imperative for political leaders to plant the right values in the people they lead. That is why we have evolved a new cultural-identity for Ndi Anambra State and a new anthem and flag to remind us of whom we are. Shortly, we shall show you the cultural symbols of the new Anambra and what they represent.
Ladies and gentlemen, while we bask in the glow of our changing narrative, we must all remember that all over the world, freedom and progress are usually earned and not bestowed. Ndi Anambra, we must earn our freedom from fear and insecurity!
As we launch a new phase of strategies that will free Anambra State from the clutches of criminals, we need your moral and financial support. My administration has demonstrated the resolve and the capacity to win this war and banish kidnappers and violent criminals from our midst.
However, the Anambra State government cannot do it alone. That is why we have called you out this evening to tell you our story and ask for your support. I urge you to lend a hand and donate freely and generously to this worthy cause.
As you think things over before your bring out your cheque book, I would like to leave you with the words of Africa’s greatest icon of our time, Nelson Mandela, who once observed that, “sometimes, it falls on a generation to be great.”
Ladies and gentlemen, what makes a great generation depends on how well it reacts to the challenges of its time. Insecurity is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Let us react to it as a great generation should.
Chief Willie Obiano