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Peter Obi’s ‘Final Push’

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Peter-ObiAll of Anambra State Governor Peter Obi’s expenditures, from July 2013 to the end of his tenure in 2014, are designed to speed up the delivery of all of his government’s developmental initiatives.

This is his ‘final push’ to round off the sustained focus of his administration since its inception. Having adopted the ‘With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)’ as his governance template, Obi is clearly attentive to Gordon Brown’s recent call for accelerating delivery of the MDGs. But he is also a politician who also wants to finish strong and give the lie to the insinuations of those who, probably wearing blinkers, refuse to see progress on the ground.

One thing is sure: the governor will make life easy for his successor, who will not. inherit any liabilities from major capital intensive initiatives, including financial obligations arising from new policies and revamped institutions.

The governor has quietly accumulated funds to carry such obligations up until December 2015, leaving the new governor in peace. This is new.

Contemporary national and state public administrations’ practices thrive on the transfer of substantial liabilities to the future, often via unfinished or abandoned projects, unpaid loans and debt rescheduling. But Obi is doing the opposite.

His tenure points to reflating of the local economy and defusing existing and potential economic sores; to enable his successor plan without a sense of panic, consult without feeling stampeded and develop good policies.

This ‘final push’ is the culmination of what Obi has always targeted since assuming office. Let us recall that the 2006 and 2007 budgets of Anambra State were actually not his budgets in real terms.

The state was still on its knees, with impeachment threats, contrived impeachment and counter impeachment still flying around. The government house was burnt, along with all major public assets.

The state had outstripped all known (and possibly future) world records in the speedy production and demolition of state governors. Any global prize for the high birth rate and short life expectancy of state chief executives would have gone to Anambra State – possibly unopposed.

Thus Obi’s programmes as governor, and which are all now targeted for the ‘final push’, began in 2008/2009.

He rejected calls for a “Peter Obi Agenda” and looked for a 21st century development template, arguing that he had come as co-worker with the people who elected him.

The MDGs gave him a globally acclaimed and comprehensive development template for good governance, as designed by the best brains the world could put together to plan its future within and beyond the 21st century.

But the governor needed to give teeth and limbs to the MDGs in Anambra State, because the ‘developmental’ efforts of his predecessors were largely sporadic and did not fall within clear sustainable development frameworks.

The gains in some areas were ruined by poorly thought out initiatives in other areas. Lack of coordination, avoidable wastes and non-economic investments confronted him on several fronts.

Then it struck him: only an integrated approach to policy and programme conception, planning and implementation will enable Anambra maximise the impact of its limited resources.

The Anambra State Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) thus came into being, as the executing arm of the MDGs in the state. This made Obi the first to fully adopt the MDGs, while devolving execution to a locally crated administrative vehicle.

His ‘final push’ is the completion and conclusion of this development agenda that had always been in view since the beginning of his tenure – even when some were wondering what he was doing.

There are major investments to be inherited, without any liabilities, by whoever takes over from Obi. First is a new Onitsha Hotel and Convention Centre, coming in at N2.7 billion.

Second is a stake of N700 million in an ultra-modern shopping mall, also in Onitsha. In place of the heap of rubble which replaced the state-owned Ikenga Hotel (destroyed by sponsored arson) the new governor will inherit a N2.5 billion shopping mall.

The Agulu Lake, whose fame was actually limited to the fact that it exists, will now become a revenue earner and tourist resort, as the N2.5 billion Agulu Lake Resort will be handed over by Obi.

Two elaborate bridges (N5 billion) around the lake will improve state transportation and drive commerce around the resort and neighbouring towns.

Then, Three Arms Zone, Governor’s  House, Chief Judge’s house, courts and legislative buildings – for which the funds have already been set aside.

Concerning the specific gains under the MDGs and ANIDS, we note that under MDG 1 (Eradicating Extreme Poverty), the government carried out an unprecedented ‘Poverty Mapping’, to provide a scientific basis for information about poverty incidence and the appropriate poverty eradication measures to be taken at each time and in each locality.

There is also the very rewarding Conditional Cash Transfer initiative, through which about 2,250 poor households which cannot keep their children in school receive N5,000 monthly to reverse the situation.

There is financial support to enable pregnant women attend ante-natal clinic and a lump sum support of N.1 million’ of which about 8,000 families are beneficiaries.

Local economies are benefitting from new roads, as they are creating access and local liquidity. The several youth development programmes of the state, including in particular the three-phased Anambra State Youths Reorientation and Empowerment Programme (ANSYREP), have taken thousands of Anambra youths off the streets, off crime and out of the reach of those searching for thugs. Those yet to be empowered in this regard will still be reached before the end of this year.

There is also a N5,000 monthly welfare scheme for the elderly poor aged above 75 years who are not pensionable and the state government has set aside enough funds for the new government to be able to pay them up till December 2015.

To maintain the enabling environment for the economic activities that would reduce extreme poverty, the state government provided security agencies with over 300 security vehicles, distributed over 200 vehicles, at least one to each community and is paying 20 vigilante members per community monthly salary of N10,000.

The 6,500 workers employed by the state government, which includes 2,500 primary school teachers, all have their salaries (from April 2014 – December 2015) safe in a special account.

The final push under education takes matters beyond the clearly positive results of handover of schools to their original owners, complete with noticeable improvements in academic performance, to the disbursement of N1.5 billion, on September 16, to further strengthen the organisations to which schools were returned.

The very next day, N2 billion was disbursed to public primary schools. This is in addition to the N1 billion (N750 million for library and N250 million for laboratories) disbursed to all secondary schools (public and private).

Come October 2, N10 million was disbursed to all secondary schools for facilities upgrade. Then you have the 500 buses given to all the secondary schools (public and private) – totalling N2.5 billion-, 25,000 laptops each containing the school syllabus, at the ratio of 1 to 10 students (N2 billion) provision of internet access through Galaxy Backbone, with subscription paid up to 2015 (N700 million), provision and certification of Microsoft Academy for all the schools (N150 million), with subscription till 2015, provision of generators (N700 million) to all  secondary schools      N700 million, sports development support (N700 million) for all the secondary schools N750 million, provision of N 500,000 for sick bay in every school, supply of the Achebe Trilogy and “There was a Country”, for all the secondary schools in the state.

Regarding health, which covers goals 4, 5 and 6 of the MDG, the state government has since taken far reaching policy measures that have put health institutions in the state on a new pedestal. Anambra now has accredited medical institutions, including a brand new teaching hospital, 15 rehabilitated general hospitals, new hospitals, with more than 25 giant buildings in missionary health institutions. Declining mortality rates, disease incidence, etc. are on record.

In the ‘final push’ there is a concerted focus in transmittable diseases. The handling of emergencies is improved, with 16 life ambulances and appropriately trained personnel. Some health institutions (Our Lady of Lourdes, Ihiala; Holy Rosary, Waterside, Onitsha;  Iyienu Hospital, Ogidi; St Charles Borromeo, Onitsha; St Joseph Hospital Adazi-Nnukwu; Amichi Anglican Diocesan Hospital) which had previously received various degrees of government attention and investment got N3 billion for various needs; including drugs and institutional capacity building.

As in other areas, the final push on the environment builds on the initiatives of the last five years and is poised to round off on a resounding positive note. Erosion control has received new fillip, and it is expected that the menace would be more than substantially domesticated within the few remaining months.

The N1.8 billion now being put into the Onitsha Water Scheme will effectively take water supply issues for the Onitsha area out of the list of matters of concern for the new governor.

The water schemes in Nibo, Ukpor, Agulu and other areas fall within the cocktail of infrastructural interventions that seek to make things very different in the state.

The 8th Millennium Development Goal, which focuses on gender issues, has recorded many positive strides under Obi, with the result that, today, practically all the school head teachers in the state are women.

So are the Commissioner for Planning/ Chief of Staff, Commissioner for Finance,Commissioner for Women Affairs, Commissioner for Local Govt, Commissioner for Education, Special Assistants on Public Works, Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR), MDGs, and Special Duties among others.

It is important that Anambra State moves to a new level in its politics. Part of moving to that new level is ensuring that whatever gains have been made under the tenure of the current governor are sustained and improved upon.

 

Culled from This Day Newspaper, 
Tuesday October 8, 2013.

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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