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My Differences With Obi — Obiano



Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, celebrated one year of his swearing-in last Tuesday at a colourful ceremony at Ekwueme Square, Awka. In this chat with select journalists, he outlined his achievements in the last 365 days, his differences with his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi and his quest to make the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) a national party.
On the efforts he is making to strengthen APGA
They made me chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and leader of the party. Since then I have the enthusiasm to establish this party first all over the South-East. We are very likely to win Abia State governorship election. I have gone for rallies for Alex Otti twice. There will be one more in Aba.
We are doing very well in Ebonyi with Senator Agbo, our governorship candidate. What is going for us there is that he is from Ezzamgbo and that is where they have the voting population.
We are also going to do very well in Imo. Don’t forget Imo was APGA until Governor Rochas Okorocha moved to APC. We are still there strongly.
The other thing that is making us a national party is the interest shown by Nasarawa State. That is an area we can also win. Labaran Maku is with us. When he could not get the ticket in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he joined APGA. He visited me once here. He has a strong opposition but he is doing very well.
Then of course, there is Zamfara State where Sani Shinkafi is running for the governorship.
For the first time, I went to Abeokuta, our governorship candidate, Professor Bamgboye, is doing well. He was a key fellow of the PDP until he lost the primary.
So, under my watch, we are going to spread out from Anambra. We are going to have senators all over the place, some members of the House of Representatives here and there and that is a starting point. What APGA is looking for is leadership. I believe they found in me somebody that can say something and do it. That is the fellow I am.
When I took over, there were certain things I gave to APGA people-jobs, contracts, etc. To work for us you must register as APGA. My predecessor ran it differently. He was the only one that brought out money and everything revolved around him. We are doing well. I am quite confident that the results of the coming election will be different from what we used to have.
On recognising Peter Obi at the anniversary event, their differences, Obi’s absence and whether he was invited
Obiano acknowledging cheers from his supporters at a recent function in the state
We invited former Governor Peter Obi. On personal note, we don’t have any problem. He was three years my junior in school. He was my chairman at the bank. Honestly, his vote made me an executive director at Fidelity bank. He led the team that invited me to join his campaign. We are not fighting for anything. He chose to go to PDP and I am APGA. That is an ideological difference, that is the main problem. I can’t see him come here and say APGA people should vote for PDP.
We sent an IV to him in his house in Onitsha. He was there that evening. I want to assure you that on personal ground, we don’t have any problem but we have ideological problem because he believes that he has finished with APGA and APGA is gone. Then I assured him that under my watch APGA will be better and bigger than he left it. That is the motivation that moves me to do many things for APGA to prove a point that you cannot rock the boat that made you. You want to sink it as you leave so they can say you were in this party and when you left, it died.
On the presence of uniformed people on the streets cleaning the environment
We are putting permanent structures in place. We are hiring seven companies, dividing them among the state. Before now, we were running it ad-hoc. After the election, we will begin to collect sanitation levies. We did it for six months free for people to see the benefits. If we now ask them to pay I think they should be able to pay.
On allegations that he is planning to join the All Progressives Congress (APC)
It is not possible. I don’t know how to express it. It is absolute rubbish.
His dream for Awka as state capital
I started with setting up the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority headed by Chike Okonkwo, renowned in Urban Development. He worked with Malam Nasir el-Rufai in Abuja. I thought that his experience can be brought to bear here. Supporting him are are some very bright guys like the Managing Director, Michael Okonkwo from Orumba South among other people. Okonkwo studied in the United States. They have done a booklet on what we should do and should not do in Awka, which is the starting point. We have done aerial mapping of the whole state. But we started with Awka so that you can use GPS, direct the roads, see development, etc.
If you look at Awka, you can see three flyovers springing up. When those flyovers are done, they will look like the hanging bridge in London. It will bring out the aesthetics of the place.
We are in the process of selecting somebody that will design Awka capital territory. We foreclosed Nigerians, we want them to bring guys from Dubai, Kigali, Seoul, US. When they come, they will draw what nobody has drawn. They will draw things from their dream. Each time I say it, people will say ‘where will you get the money?’ I will say, ‘do it first.’ They will draw a super structure. I will tell them, ‘don’t imitate anybody, just give me the best in your profession better than Dubai or any place you can think of.’ By the time they finish, they will superimpose it on what we have now and that will determine what areas we widen with minimal compensation.
On his increment of salary amid dwindling economic fortunes
That is why I am an accountant. We are increasing our internally generated revenue. I met N500m per month. I have been moving to N1.1 and N1.2 billion and targeting N3.3 billion monthly. After the elections, there are a few things I will do and the money will come. What I did actually is all about adjustments. The people in the local governments earn more than the people in the state so we just balanced their salary.
His achievements in the last one year
We have flushed out kidnappers from Anambra State. We have cut off their weapons supply lines and sealed off their supply routes. We have pulled down their physical and psychological empires.
We have laid a solid foundation for the provision of reliable electricity that will help us recover our Midas touch. Late last year, we concluded arrangements with UD Independent Petroleum Production Company (UDIPPCO) to build a gas-powered plant that will generate 80 mega-watts of electricity. Similarly, barely fortnight ago, we signed on Falcon Corporation Limited to build another gas-powered plant that will generate 100 mega-watts of electricity.
More importantly, we realized that we needed a platform through which we would transform the economic and commercial landscape of our dear state. To facilitate this, we set up the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) on 15th May, 2015. The results have been tremendous. Investors today recognize ANSIPPA as a one-stop business and investment centre that coordinates all investment related activities across all arms of government in the state. ANSIPPA is led by a Governing Council which boasts of over 300 cumulative years of experience in development finance, investment banking, investment promotion and policy formulation.
With the efforts of ANSIPPA, Anambra is currently Nigeria’s number one investment destination. With over US$2.0 billion attracted from 16 major investors in the past 12 months, we are well on our way to achieving our economic mission. So far, we have attracted over $660m of investment to this sector. Some of these investments are:
* A $150m investment in rice production and processing in Anaku, Ayamelum Local Government Area (LGA) by Coscharis Group.
* Over $160m investment in the defunct Omor Rice Mill and 5,000 hectares farmland for rice cultivation and processing by Joseph Agro of the Aiteo Group.
* The $220 Tomato and Cassava production and processing farms in Omasi Community, Ayamelum LGA owned by Ekcel Farms Limited.
* The $40m investment by Grains and Silos Limited to construct an ultra-modern grains storage facility to support our thriving brewery industry in Onitsha and other parts of south Eastern Nigeria.
* Delfarm Limited, who signed a $50m agreement between Songhai Regional Centre, Benin and the Anambra State Government, will transform the farming settlements of Igbariam into another Songhai agricultural marvel of Nigeria.
To ensure that our local farmers are well positioned to take advantage of the agriculture revolution in the State, we have organized our farmers into 1,500 cooperatives. We have also equipped them with 100 Tractors, 45,000 tons of high-yielding rice seedlings, 18,000 tons of highly improved maze seedlings and 700 metric tons of fertilizers. Before the end of this year, we would have prepared over 1,000 hectares of land in readiness for mechanized farming. Five days ago, we also commissioned the 1st Agricultural Training Center in Anambra in Mgbakwu. 250 youths are currently undergoing training in this facility in the areas of staple crop cultivation and processing, aquaculture, piggery and horticulture.
Our efforts in agriculture will enable our state produce over 300,000 metric tonnes of rice, 150,000 metric tonnes of cassava and 240,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes in the next 24 months.

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