The spirit of Anambra State
The epithet given to Anambra State as the Light of the Nation may not make meaning to many Nigerians not until one takes time to visit the state and interact with the people, see their culture, appreciate their mindset, attitude, vision and expectations.
By branding Anambra State the Light of the Nation, the architects of that acronym might have based their decision on the antecedents of Anambra people and indeed, the extraordinary power and mindset that manifests that is not found anywhere else in Nigeria.
Anambra is the home of most of the foremost political icons that founded Nigeria, foremost amongst them is Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria. The other great minds include Chinua Achebe, former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Nwafor Orizu, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Chukwuemeka Ike, Chimamanda Adichie, former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku, Godian Ezekwe, Dora Akunyili, among a host of others. I cannot count them all.
In business, Anambra State has no rival in Nigeria. Anambra people combine intellectual capacity with political wizardry and financial power. Anambra State has the largest number of billionaires in Nigeria. The people have the largest investment and are the most migratory. They are the most forward looking. If every part of Nigeria develops like Anambra State, the entire country would be transformed.
The spirit that moves the people of Anambra State is embodied in the creative power that God bestowed upon man at creation, when he (God) gave man the power to conquer and take dominion over all his creation. The universe is the arena to be conquered, dominated and exploited.
That is the power that is behind all scientific discoveries, inventions, innovations that man is making, which has enabled mankind to conquer the force of gravity to not only fly but go into outer space to discover the immensity and wonder in creation.
As a matter of fact, God did not create man to be poor but to be fruitful, rich and have abundant life, That is why in creation, God not only created man, he made abundant provisions of diverse resources for man to exploit and make himself comfortable. That is why any people anywhere, whether black or white, prosper once they key into the divine mandate.
I make bold to say that in Nigeria, Anambra people have keyed into the divine mandate and that is why things are positively different there than elsewhere in Nigeria. I have travelled to most states in Nigeria and seen none comparable to Anambra State.
I travelled to the South East over the weekend and had opportunity to visit Awka, the capital of Anambra State. I was highly excited with the level of development that has taken place in the hitherto sub-urban village called Awka under the old Anambra State. Awka has been totally transformed to the extent that I could no longer recognize the landmarks.
The last time I went to Awka was in 1992.That was after Enugu State was carved out of the old Anambra State and Awka was made the capital of the new Anambra State. Awka has an estimated population of 301,657 going by the 2006 Nigerian census.
I was a lecturer at the original Anambra State University of Technology (ASUTECH), Enugu. We had the Awka campus of ASUTECH, which was what regularly took me to Awka.
At the same time, I was working on my doctorate degree in water resources management under Professors Boniface Egboka and Paul Orajaka, who later became the Vice Chancellors of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and the new Anambra State University, Igbariam, respectively.
When the original ASUTECH was ceded to Enugu State after its creation in 1991, the lecturers were given the option to choose from remaining in Enugu or moving to Awka. Most of the lecturers chose Enugu for obvious reasons of availability of accommodation and other facilities. Many didn’t like Awka principally because it was just like a village without accommodation and other facilities. I remained in Enugu because my faculty was there.
My visit to Awka over the weekend really surprised me. The hitherto sub-urban village has been totally transformed within a very short period. There are thousands of exotic new buildings and hotels all over the entire city-scape. Awka, according to available data, boasts of over 700 choice hotels that have made the city a tourist destination in the South-East
The road network and drainage channels are world-class. It is on record that Anambra State has the largest network of paved motorable roads in the country. The roads radiate from Awka to all parts of Anambra State. About 85 per cent of roads in Anambra State are paved making the state outstanding in the country.
The famous but dilapidated Onitsha-Enugu Expressway passes Awka but the State Government has repaired several sections of it. The section of the road that passes through Awka has effectively been rebuilt to international standard by the state government. Exotic flyovers that mimic Las Vegas at night by virtue of their neon lights are awe inspiring.
The Onitsha-Awka-Enugu highway links connecting roads to important towns such as Ekwulobia, Agulu, Enugwu-Ukwu, Abagana and Nnewi. Driving through the entire Anambra State is fun because of the paved road network. Anambra State can rightly be described as a one city state. The entire state has formed a conurbation whereby all the communities dovetail into each other without visible boundary. There are all kinds of industrial and business activities all over Anambra State. The strategic location of Awka midway between Onitsha and Enugu make it serve as a relaxation spot for civil servants and businessmen.
The massive development in Awka in particular did not come by magic but by hard work and personal commitment by what is called the visible hands, which are the governors that have presided over Anambra State within the period.
Among them are Chris Ngige who fought the battle that cleared the way for his successors to work without harassment. Then Peter Obi the cerebral business tycoon and administrator who took the work forward from where Ngige left it. The current Governor, Willie Obiano, has within three years embraced the same spirit and is taking the state higher and higher.
The magic wand that has brought transformation in Anambra State is continuity in government. The APGA administration has done exceedingly well such that there is no need to break it.