Chinua Achebe had in his book the “trouble with Nigeria” declared that leadership was the bane of Nigeria’s underdevelopment. In the book “why nations fail” Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, had likewise used the analogy of the city of Nogales one part of which is in the United States and the other part in Mexico to highlight how leadership and strong institutions can make a difference in the success or failure of a society. Nogales happens to be a city situated on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico with same geography, same climate and same ethnic make-up; but that is where the similarities end. The city of Nogales on the American side of the border has a higher life expectancy, good roads, high levels of affluence and very low levels of crime and corruption while the same city of Nogales on the Mexican side of the border has dilapidated infrastructure, high levels of poverty, high crime rates and corruption. Both cities with practically the same environment and ethnic make-up has vastly different outcomes on both sides of the border and the only reason for this difference is the leadership, institutions and systems that differed in both nations.
The experience in the then demarcated East and West Germany after the 2nd world war with same people and geography but vastly different economic and social outcomes due to different political and institutional structures also lends credence to how a leadership, institutions and systems can advance or retrogress a people or society. So much thus depends on the newly invested governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano to provide the kind of leadership and institutions that will fundamentally change the outcomes in Anambra state. In truth, he has already gained some popularity not only for his admirable vision but also for the gusto with which he has undertaken his duties thus far, but in the murky waters of Nigerian politics it is sometimes common for once determined actors to become swallowed by the rot of the status quo and consequently become complacent.
The recent distraction occasioned by the unnecessary politics of APGA, Peter Obi and Victor Umeh is already threatening to drag him into such soiled waters. I don’t believe it demonstrates political maturity to become estranged or to engage in conflicts with Peter Obi, insofar as he has not constituted himself a godfather. In saner democratic climes political opponents work together. A constructive working relationship with Peter Obi irrespective of the party platform he now finds himself would be a win-win for all. Willie Obiano will do well to put an end to such unnecessary brouhaha, resist the negative forces of the status quo and concentrate in the zealous pursuit of his advertised development programs.
Time is also something that is not too friendly with government as it seems to fly with ever increasing speed. It is already more than a hundred days and counting since he was inaugurated. It won’t take too long before the end of his tenure looms and the necessary stocktaking begins. It is thus necessary that the governor move with deliberate speed in getting his projects off the ground so as to be in a position to showcase a new Anambra state by the end of his first tenure. In this regards i wish to highlight a few projects that need to be given priority.
Establishment Of Self Serviced Dedicated Industrial/Agro-Technology Parks:
Small and medium scale enterprises remain the greatest area of potential growth and job creation in the immediate short term and long term. In order to make this possible and to harness the abundant human resources and entrepreneurial spirit in the area the government should urgently create special economic zones and establish dedicated self serviced industrial parks in designated areas within the state. Modalities for the establishment 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 and other necessary infrastructure. 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 as required. Service charges to be contributed by all operators in the industrial clusters 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 in the interim.
The industrial clusters will aim for the production of agro allied products/food processing and goods such as footwear/shoes, bags, toys, clothing, pharmaceuticals and others as part of the overall initiative for industrialisation.
Establishment of an Ultra-Modern International Cargo/ Passenger Airport:
The construction of an Airport in Anambra state has long been in the planning and has for reasons of its importance featured prominently in every election campaign. It’s time for Chief Obiano to fulfil that long yearning by urgently commencing through public/private partnership the construction of a modern Airport that will possibly be operational by 2015 or latest 2016. 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 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 an airport is a strategic infrastructure that will significantly 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. In the long-term 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. Having long yearned for an Airport, the construction of one in Anambra state will be one of chief Obiano’s lasting legacies.
To Be Continued.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu