THE POLITICAL MANIFESTO OF OBUMNEKE EJIMNKEONYE OKAFOR – GUBERNATORIAL ASPIRANT FOR ANAMBRA 2017 ELECTION
Based on 2006 census figure, Anambra state population is 4,182,032. The census was disrupted in Anambra state by a group of freedom fighters. Residents in many parts of the state were not counted. There is an unconfirmed rumour that the number that was given is an estimated figure. Whatever is the case, current population of the state will be above 6 million. Factors that I considered before giving the figure are increase in birth rate, reduction in death rate and massive migration of people from northern regions to Anambra state due to restiveness and activities of terrorists in these regions.
Anambra state has enjoyed some levels of good governance when rated with Nigeria standard, but the levels are not good enough. There are many areas where the previous and present administrations didn’t do well. The areas include accountability, even spread of dividends of democracy, budgeting, industrialization, etc. It is my ambition to become governor of the state and fix the areas where previous and present administrations did not do well so that Anambra state will not be rated by Nigeria standard rather by international standard.
I have been a leader and an administrator from childhood, thus I am, presently, well groomed to govern Anambra state. At the age of 10, I was one of dance troop leaders in Onitsha. I was captain of Lion Babes Football Academy, Onitsha. Also I am the first Vice President of Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists (JETs) club of Onitsha North LGA. In Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) Awka, I was active in students’ unionism/leadership for two years. In my second job in Spring Bank Limited, I was the Coordinator of Information Technology Group in two regions (Abuja region which comprised north central states and North region which comprised the remaining states in the north). I have been elected for several religious, town union and social positions. I was elected the national Financial Secretary of NAU Alumni body in 2010. Moreover, I have been an administrator in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry for the past six years, thus I am an experienced leader and a technocrat. All my experience and those of teams of experts (mostly youths) that I will assemble shall be used to bring political and massive industrial revolutions in Anambra state. When these aims are achieved, other states in Nigeria and other nations in Africa will copy us and Africa will be better, thus my vision is beyond making Anambra state great.
I plead for support of the masses to make my aspiration successful. I, also, call on God to guide and guard me in this noble quest because without Him, I can do nothing. I pledge to give selfless, accountable and people-oriented leadership to my state, and to serve with fear of God.
What my administration shall do for citizens and residents of Anambra state in all major areas and sub areas of governance when I become governor of the state are stated below.
1. Education: There shall be many changes in education sector. History shall be reintroduced in primary and secondary schools. For new private schools to be approved, minimum of 50% of their academic staff shall have recognized teaching certificates. Those that don’t have shall be given 2 – 3 years to obtain theirs. Already established schools shall ensure that all their teachers have required trainings and certifications in education. All teachers should have good computer operation knowledge. We shall gradually move away from paper based exams to computer based teachings and exams. Conventional teaching method shall complement computer based teaching, but conventional exams method shall be gradually phased out with exception of science, engineering and technology practical. Moreover new schools must have recreational facilities, refectories, stationery stores, minimarts, pitches (for football, basketball, hockey or volleyball) and mini halls for table tennis and badminton (one hall can serve a school). The days when schools are built in confined land are over. Whoever wants to build a primary school shall do it on minimum of one acre of land, while secondary school shall be built on minimum of two acres of land. Violation of the above minimum standard shall lead to closing of the school, withdrawal of the school’s certificate and prosecution of the school owner and government officials that approved it.
Schools shall be established for arts (music, drawing, tie dye and weaving, etc), for sports (football, basketball, lawn tennis and table tennis academies, etc) and for vocations (carpentry, welding, bricklaying, etc). Entrepreneurship shall be introduced as a subject in all levels of education. This will make students to think like business owners and help them to setup businesses after their programs without relying on government and private sector for jobs like most of us (grownups) did. It will also make it easier for the remaining few who cannot setup their own businesses to find jobs in already established ones thereby reducing rate of unemployment.
Teachers’ salaries and allowances shall be reviewed upwards. No teacher in public and private schools shall earn less than what a level 7 civil servant earns, thus teachers in public school shall earn level 07 salary in their first year of employment while those in private schools shall get minimum of same salary. Any teacher that leaves his or her work for extracurricular activities or that is not found in school during school hours may lose his or her job.
There shall be compulsory education from primary to secondary school for every child. Primary and secondary education shall be reformed and teachers shall be retrained by local and state governments. Modern teaching practices shall be adopted in accordance with advice and submissions of experts, professionals and consultants in education. Computer based teachings and exams shall gradually be introduced into the system, thus all teachers must be computer literate. Teachers will be urged to use English and Igbo languages in teaching mathematics, science and technology subjects. If there are non Igbo speaking students in a class, the listed subjects above can be taught with tautology (pidgin English or broken English). Studies in China have shown that science and technology students who are taught in local languages comprehend the subjects better than those who are taught in foreign languages. With local language or tautology, a teacher will have more words and phrases that can be used to impart knowledge to students. Moreover, what is important is comprehension of a subject and not the language it is taught. Germany speaks Dutch and uses it in teaching. England speaks English and uses it in teaching. China has its own language. The language used in teaching does not really matter. If students clearly understand the basic principles of science, technology and engineering in any language, they can apply them in global setting.
There shall be sponsorship for education. Post graduate studies shall, presently, be excluded. The sponsorship is for citizens of Anambra state who are residing and attending schools in the state. The sponsorship shall be given as loan and there shall be clear method and conditions for qualification and for recovery. Startup fund will be generated through donations by corporate sector, businesses, businessmen, traders and people of goodwill. Subsequent funds shall be revenues that are gotten from motor parks, social parks, gardens, etc and donations from international bodies. The sponsorship scheme shall be managed by the deputy governor of the state, staff of office of the deputy governor, commissioners for finance and education and a voluntary board of reputable retired head teachers, principals and lecturers. It should be a charity work, thus none of the managers should earn salary or allowance for the job. Grants shall be released into beneficiaries’ accounts annually and in installments. Primary and secondary students can withdraw one-third of their annual grant in every term, while beneficiaries in higher institutions can withdraw half of their annual grants per semester. There shall be lien in accounts of beneficiaries to check overdrawing of money.
2. Revenue Generation: Anambra state shall have a robust internally generated revenue (IGR) scheme. IGR board/team will comprise the state governor, the deputy governor, commissioner for finance, some staff of office of the state governor and some staff of the state ministry of finance. With many hands at work, workload will be reduced and much people will have the state’s IGR information. This will eliminate fraud. State’s IGR shall be generated from:
• Businesses (companies and other investments) owned by the state
• 30% of Local Government Areas (LGAs) generated revenues
• Income Tax
• Business Permit
• Motor Parks Dues
• Water Bill
• Sanitation Levy
• Land Use Charge, etc
Multiple taxation and duplication of levies and business permit shall not be allowed by my administration. Revenue collection shall be computerized and cashless collection of revenues shall be gradually introduced in the state. All major markets and big malls shall be controlled by state government, thus the revenues that will be generated from them shall go to state treasury. Minor markets, minimarts and street shops shall be in control of LGAs which shall collect revenue from them and remit 30% of total generated revenue into the state’s treasury.
There is information in the streets that illegal mining is going on in different solid mineral sites in the state. This shall be stopped by my administration and the state shall start mining the minerals and getting revenue from the sites.
3. The Society: Anambra state shall be restructured and her citizens shall have reorientation. We shall move away from practices, activities and behaviours that reduce our values and respect as the Light of the Nation.
• Family: Family is the primary orientation and value inculcation unit of every society. Family values, behavior and attitude reflect in every society. A society with poor family values is doomed. Our family values are gradually eroding, thus parents and guardians shall play major roles of reorienting the state morally and otherwise. Children shall be taught to respect elders and avoid talking back on them except when their rights are being trampled, but that must be done in a polite manner. They shall be taught that it is better to be upright, law abiding and have morals than being wayward and unlawful. Children shall be urged to report abuses to their parents and guardians or to law enforcement agencies. Any parent, guardian or law enforcement agent that failed to take legal action against a suspected abuser shall be prosecuted. Anambra state shall partner with NGOs and Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) for free legal services to victims of child abuse. Families should teach their children and aides to place family values above money and materials. They should be made to know that if they keep the laws, shun crimes and violence, work hard, save some of their incomes and invest wisely, they shall be prosperous.
• School: School is the secondary institution that molds a society. Primary assignment is done by family and after it, school takes over. To build a better society, moral instruction and history should be reintroduced in primary and secondary schools. Every school will have a minimum of two guidance counselors who can also be regular teachers, but their class workload shall be reduced so that they will have time to counsel students. Schools should encourage morals, instill discipline in students, discourage students from committing crimes, promote sports, reward good students and have disciplinary measures which should be devoid of abuse.
• Religion: Christian and tradition religions should help in rebuilding our society and remolding the character of their followers. State government shall call on churches to play down on miracles and prosperity, and emphasize on hard work and uprightness. Churches will be advised to stop portraying God as a supreme being that rewards laziness. The teachings that believers who give or donate heavily to churches shall prosper should be stopped because it is a clear deceit. Followers should be encouraged to give more to less privilege people, motherless babies and the needy in the society so that they will be blessed by God. The act of giving should be done in a manner that will not promote professional begging. Churches should have bio data of persons that received divine healing in their parishes and stations which can be used by state government to investigate authenticity of suspicious or stage-managed miracles. This shall save residents of the Anambra from people that use God’s name to dupe others.
Traditional rulers and traditional religion also have major roles to play in remolding of Anambra state. They should ensure that our cultural values are not lost or being replaced by borrowed/foreign customs and traditions. When a custom is no longer in line with current practices, traditional rulers and traditionalists have the duty to amend it or drop it.
• Media: Radio and television stations in Anambra state shall have programs that promote family values, morals, discipline, lawfulness, rendering help to the needy, compassion, faithfulness, trust and hard work. It will be responsibility of the state’s commissioner for information to see that radio and television stations have such programs. Programs that are rated (18) and above should be broadcasted from 9.00pm when it is assumed that children have gone to bed. Same should be applied to alcohol and cigarette adverts. It is obvious that social media and internet are difficult to regulate, thus parents and guardians should ensure that their children and aides do not logon to prohibited sites and dating sites. There should be strict rules on use of internet in homes. When a child failed to keep the rules, he/se should be prevented from using internet for a given duration. My administration shall urge parents and guardians to do so because children should learn that there is penalty for every law that is broken. This will guide them; make them good citizens and respecters of law when they become adults.
• Government: Government has the greatest role to play in building or rebuilding a society. My administration shall shield citizens and residents of Anambra state from negative internal and external influences, intimidation, religion enslavement, abuses, money politics, selling of votes and voters cards, etc. It will also provide legal aids to citizens of the state who cannot afford it to ensure that their rights are not trampled. This shall be done in partnership with NGOs. Moreover, it shall ensure that extra judicial killings, intimidation and abuse of citizens and residents of the state by law enforcement agents are stopped. Offenders shall be prosecuted. Education will be made affordable and security of lives and properties shall be guaranteed. All that I stated above shall be replicated by LGAs chairmen or chairpersons.
4. Local Government Area (LGA): My administration cannot work well without elected officials in the 21 LGAs of the state. Active and industrious local administrators bring development faster to grassroots. They are closer to the masses than the state government and they have many jobs to do in order to make my administration successful. Many government sectors are currently moribund in various states in Nigeria and in Anambra state because local government structure does not exist. My administration shall ensure that LGA election is conducted within my first year in office. Local government’s tenure shall never be truncated in my administration. In fact without functional local governments administrators (chairmen/chairpersons and councilors), I will not achieve all my goals. My administration needs them more than they need my administration and the state needs them too. There is so much to be done in four years so we need all best hands we can get.
LGA administrators will also create jobs by setting up farms, vocational study centers, etc. These jobs will generate revenues for LGAs and make them partially of fully financial independent, especially in this era of economic recession.
5. Politics: It is obvious that political activities in Nigeria are marred by selling of voters cards, selling of votes, violence, ballot snatching, ballot stuffing and some other vices. Anambra state is not excluded in these bad and violent acts. My administration shall work hard to reduce and possibly eliminate these bad acts that mar our elections. It will be achieved through constant sensitization broadcasts, street jingles, drama on evils of election malpractices, using state assembly to enact laws that punish people who commit election offences and sponsoring a bill in national assembly for permanent ban of any politician or political party that is found guilty of election malpractices by courts of competent jurisdiction.
6. Sports: Primary and secondary school sports shall receive massive boost and funds. Rewards for exceptional performances shall be increased and more games like swimming, scrabbles, monopoly, chess, etc shall be introduced in school sports competitions. State sports centers shall be reequipped. There shall be at least one standard sports center (a stadium or mini stadium) in each local government area (LGA). LGA will award and execute the project with supervision of the state. More Mary Onyalis, Chioma Ajunwas, Kanu Nwankwos and Jay Jay Okochas will be discovered in school sports.
The sporting facilities and sport centers in every LGA shall also serve sports men and ladies that are not in schools. Only registered athletes shall be allowed to train in the centers. Registration is free of charge, but intentional destruction of sports gadgets and facilities will not be condoned. The intentions for increasing sports centers and allowing state residents to use them freely is to discover sporting talents in youths, get them well prepared for minor, major, local and international competitions, provide source of livelihood for those who will become professionals and provide facilities for mild exercise by adults. There shall also be Annual/Biennial State Sports Festival, which shall be used to select athletes that will represent the state in National Sports Festival.
7. Communication: There shall be effective communication at all levels of government in the state. Traditional and religious leaders should have constant communication with their LGAs chairmen, while LGAs chairmen will have constant communication with Governor. Traditional rulers and religious leaders can also communicate directly with the governor especially in emergency situations in order to address the situations immediately.
There will also be weekly or biweekly radio and or television communication between state governor, LGA chairmen, commissioners and tradition rulers with the masses. There is no other better way a state governor will have clear and more reliable information of what is happening in his or her state than direct communication with citizens and non citizens in the state. Information about ongoing projects will be passed in the communication program. If a contractor abandoned his site or a project, the citizens will be able to report it to government without much bureaucratic bottleneck.
My administration shall implement open-door policy. Citizens of the state can book appointments with the governor for special and confidential meetings. Such appointments may be assigned to the deputy governor or to commissioners they fall in their jurisdictions if the governor is engaged with more pressing state matter(s).
8. Social: Morality, religion, tradition, etc shall not affect social life in Anambra state. Anambra state shall be a happy society where people show love and are sociable. Parks and gardens shall be built in urban areas by local governments. Rural communities shall have social squares that shall be built and maintained by town unions. Affordable one-off levy should be collected from villagers by town unions for the project. Villagers will use social squares without payment. Gardens and parks in cities shall generate revenues for LGAs. Access fee should be paid before someone will go into the parks and gardens. The fee shall not exceed N100 for an individual, N200 for a couple, N100 for each member of a family (for family visit) and N200 per person for groups. Schools will use the parks and gardens without payment when they have excursions and any other approved social activities. Children that are within primary and secondary schools age shall not be allowed into the garden during school hours except in holidays and weekends. Children should leave parks and gardens on or before 6.00pm, while adults should leave on or before 7.00pm. Gardens and parks shall be shut by 7.00pm and opened by 8.30am on every day.
9. Anambra Week: Anambra week shall be events filled week. It shall always be scheduled to coincide with Anambra state anniversary. This one week program shall be fully sponsored by private sector. Telecoms, banks, fizzy drink makers and their major dealers, major transport companies, major businesses and people of goodwill shall be called upon to make donations for the program.
• Day 1, Sunday: There shall be Masses and services in all churches in the state and prayers will be said for the progress and development of Anambra state. The state governor and staff in office of the state governor will choose a denomination to worship with. The deputy governor and staff in his/her office will worship in a different denomination in another city. Commissioners shall worship in different denominations in all the federal constituencies of the state. This practice shall be rotated annually. The governor will choose a denomination that is different from the one he worshipped in previous year and a different city will be chosen.
• Day 2, Workers Day: All workers in the state shall go to work in their traditional wears. They can contribute cash and entertain themselves within their offices. The activities should not interrupt work, but work will end by 3.00pm on that day. Commissioner for works will make radio and television broadcasts and give citizens and residents of the state information about all the completed and ongoing projects for the year. This shall be done from 6.30am to 7.00am. Later in the day, the governor shall give a maximum of an hour speech about his administration’s achievements for the year. This will be followed by an hour of an interactive program. Callers will ask the governor questions and disagree where unclear claims were made. This will ensure that the governor does not give unclear information to people of the state. In absence of the governor, deputy governor can also perform the governor’s role in this program.
• Day 3, School Day: This day is for the teachers and students in nursery, primary and secondary schools in the state. It shall be a work free day for teachers and students only. Teachers and students shall be celebrated. Commissioner for education shall give 45 minutes speech on radio and television. 15 minutes shall be dedicated for encouragement and praising the good work of teachers, while 30 minutes shall be used to give report on educational activities of the state for the year. There may be parties for teachers and parents shall be encourage to give their children in schools greet treats on this day.
• Day 4, Cultural Day: This is the day for mmonwu (masquerade) festival. It will start in all towns in the state. Tradition rulers and traditionalist will use kolanuts and drinks to offer prayers (ofor) for the progress and development of the state. Different mmonwu that entertain the public will gather in town squares between 4.00pm and 6.00pm where people will gather for fun making. The major program for the day shall be in Awka. A town will represent every LGA and the 21 LGAs will compete in mmonwu dance. There shall be prizes for the best three LGAs (based on their mmonwu performances). Though prizes will be won by LGAs, only plagues shall be given to LGAs that won, while plagues and cash shall be given to towns that represented the LGAs that won. Different towns shall be chosen by LGAs in proceeding years until it goes round.
• Day 5, Traders and Businessmen Day: Traders and businessmen will go to their shops, offices and other business places in traditional attires. They are free to organize a short program and entertainment that will not disrupt business and trading activities for the day, but no levy should be collected from traders for the program. It should be financed from the social savings of any group of traders if they choose to and it should be properly accounted for. Markets, shops and business places should be decorated in Anambra colour and with Anambra flag. This should be done individually and nobody should be forced to do so. Government officials will go to markets for 30 minutes interaction with traders.
• Day 6, Youth Day: This day is for all youths in the state, students and lecturers in higher institutions of learning. Government officials shall go to schools and have brief meetings with school governing councils. After the meetings, they will socialize with registered clubs like Kegites, Rotaract, Leo, Reggae, Nze na Ozo, etc. Youths that are not students shall celebrate in town squares, city parks and gardens.
• Day 7, Carnival: It shall be done in Awka. Participants will come from different parts of the state. There shall be carnival trains, dancers, entertainers, etc. Prizes shall be won by best performers. Carnival shall be organized by commissioner for culture and staff of his commission.
10. Electricity: The greatest challenge that hinders industrial development, establishment of more SMEs and home businesses is inadequate power supply. If there is improved power supply, people can do businesses and make money in their homes. Small businesses like sewing, baking, weaving, vegetable farm, poultry, etc can be successfully done at homes if there is improved power supply. My administration shall invest heavily in electricity generation and distribution. It will be done by building embedded power plants that can generate 60 megawatts electricity each. In embedded power scheme, transmission is eliminated. Power is generated and distributed directly to users. Redeem church headquarters and Lagos state government have already invested in embedded power schemes. My administration will setup minimum of five embedded power plants in two years. The plants will be for Onitsha, Obosi, Nkpor, Awka and Nnewi industrial layouts. Power supply from national grid to this industrial layouts shall be rechanneled to other parts of the state, thus industrial layouts will have constant power supply, while homes will have improved power supply. Estimated cost of a plant is $40 million + $10 million for cabling, meters, other gadgets, installation of gas or coal tanks, acquisition of site (land) and site development. A total of $250 million will take care of the five embedded power plants and their sites. This project shall be funded with revenue that is generated from land use charge and savings from reduction in cost of governance.
There shall be two 100 megawatts plants for Oyi Mega Industrial Layout (OMIL). Oyi LGA has vast undeveloped land and nice road network. It is also near major roads, thus my administration shall design a modern industrial layout in the area, provide power for OMIL and call on companies and industries to come and establish there. This project shall be done in the third and fourth year of my administration.
11. Industrialization: Anambra state has many mineral resources. They are clay, coal, zinc/lead, iron ore, crude oil, natural gas, bauxite, limestone, glass sand, phosphate, gypsum, etc. When there is improved or constant power supply, Anambra state government shall call on Ndi Igbo at home and in diasporas to come and setup industries for production of ceramics (tiles, plates, marbles, etc with clay; batteries and television with zinc/lead; iron products (rod, vehicle chassis, engine block, gauze, etc) with iron ore; plastics and fertilizer with petrochemical; cement with limestone, etc. They can setup other industries that Anambra state does not have the raw materials needed for them and source for the raw materials from neighbouring states. After calling on Ndi Igbo to come and invest in Anambra state, my administration shall also call on other Nigerians and multinationals to come and invest in the state. Anambra state shall partner with multinationals in setting up more embedded power plants. With improved power supply, companies in neighbouring states will move their production plants or all their departments to Anambra state.
My administration shall build and sell factories and industries in Oyi Mega Industrial layout (OMIL). The need for this mode of industrialization is because there may be individuals and companies that are willing to invest in production, but are being discouraged by bureaucratic bottleneck. For such entities, my administration shall build factories and industries and sell to highest bidders in open and transparent biddings.
My administration shall also invest in her young engineers, scientists and technologists. A group of graduating students of Namdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka produced racing car a couple of years ago. Another set produced small bus (shuttle). Nothing else has been heard about those young men and women after their graduation. My administration shall look for those young graduates and make both sets a team. Anambra state shall sponsor the team for further studies. The state shall also have contract with Innoson Motors for further training of the team and subsequent teams. When this team has gotten all required extra trainings, my administration state shall setup small car plant for them in the state. After a couple of years (when they are perfect in their work), investors shall be called to come and invest in the business so that it will go public. The investment shall also raise more capital for mass production of cars and reduction of prices of the cars. Anambra state shall patronize the company and Innoson Motors. If government officials drive locally made vehicles, people of the state will follow their steps and this will boost our automobile industry.
There are other young people (students and non students) that have flare for invention. They shall be assembled and given state sponsored trainings that will assist them to go into production. My administration may give loans to them when they are ready to establish themselves or setup a company and employ them as workers.
Entertainment and creative industries shall not be left out. Anambra state shall setup Arts & Movie village. It shall be a private/public partnership. The village shall have modern facilities for recording of music, shooting of movies, painting, etc. It shall also have theaters, hotels, duplexes and bungalows. The duplexes and bungalows can be rented, leased or bought. Plots of land will be sold to Nollywood stars for private development. The reasons for establishing this village are to create jobs, provide modern state of arts equipment and facilities for our entertainment industry and for gathering of actors and actresses so that they can be contacted in same vicinity and within a short time.
When my administration completes its industrial plan for Anambra state, our dear state shall be fully industrialized.
12. Information and Communication Technology (ICT): ICT industry shall be taken to the next level by my administration. Studies have shown that lack of patronage of our local ICT industry has led to little or no improvement in the industry. To turn it around, my administration shall patronize local IT companies for computerization projects of the state government. Local companies shall also be patronized in procurement and installation of all hardware and software that will be used in all levels of government in the state. My administration shall also partner with multinationals like IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, etc in establishment of modern IT institutions in the state. Furthermore, hardware manufacturing firms shall be invited to make use of available raw materials – glass sand, lead/zinc, aluminum, iron ore, etc in production of monitors, laptops, etc.
My administration shall set aside some funds for students in the state to embark on series of researches and for production in ICT fields. The funds shall be managed by commissioner for science and technology and the state’s ministry of science and technology. My administration shall also setup an institute for information and communication technology.
13. Housing: My administration shall provide land to private investors for building of estates and hostels for the masses. The duty of my administration shall be to liaise with communities in the state for provision of land for housing projects. Companies and individuals that shall invest in these projects shall pay the communities for their land and shall be paying land use charges to state government.
14. Tourism and Culture: No state in Nigeria should be generating more revenue in tourism than Anambra state if we fully harness our potential sites. There are over twenty tourist sites in Anambra state. They are Igbo-Ukwu Museum, Agulu Lake, Ikenga Virgin Forest in Orumba, Ogba Waterfalls in Owerre-Ezukala, Rojenny Tourist Village Oba, Idemili Cultural Centre, Odinani Museum in Agu-Ukwu Nri, Butu Lake in Omogho, Okpu Ana Natural Spring in Ukpor (purest water to be found anywhere), Obu Ofo-Nri Museum in Enugwu-Ukwu, Mkpume Onyilienye Cave in Enugwu-Ukwu, Agulu/Nanka Erosion Site, River Niger Bridge, Onitsha Main Market, Ajali Cave, Obutu Lake in Ndi Kelionwo, Iyiocha Laka in Amaokpala, Otuocha Sand Beach, Omashi-Iyi Cave in Akpu, Odo River in Omogho, Ekwulumili Botanical/Herbal Garden, Dike’s Ancient War Tower in Ukpor, Ogbunike Cave, Ezu Nawfia, etc.
If we can package these tourist sites well, tell their stories, develop them (by building hotels, minimarts and accessible roads) and advertise them, they will generate revenue for the state in billions. I will give a little information for about five of these sites.
• Igbo-Ukwu Museum: This museum houses Igbo-Ukwu artifacts. Archeological findings revealed that these artifacts dated to 9 AD. The complexity of the artifacts is a proof that Igbos had advanced technology in the era of Greek empire. In other words, Igbo nation has been exiting and trading for more than two thousand years ago. Our major challenge then was lack of records. It is obvious that Ndi Igbo cannot trace our origin because we have been living in this part of the world for more than 2000 years, thus the stories that were passed from generation to generation have been lost because of lack of records. We might be among the first inhabitants of the earth. This is what Igbo Ukwu museum and its artifacts can reveal.
• Agulu Lake: It is also known as Crocodile Lake. There are over 300 crocodiles in the lake. The amazing thing about these crocodiles is that they do not harm humans and it is a taboo to kill them. Stories are told about how the mother crocodile determines the king of Agu-Ukwu Nri. Agu-Ukwu Nri is the town where the lake gushes from, but it trespasses between Agu-ukwu Nri and Agulu towns. In ancient days, after the death and burial rites of a king in Agu-Ukwu Nri, the community will wait for visitation of mother crocodile. Any man that the mother crocodile comes to his Obi (residence) after late king’s burial rites will be crowned the new king of the town.
• Ikenga Virgin Forest: This virgin forest in located in Orumba North. It is the only forest in Nigeria that has never been cultivated and its trees have not been cut. Nobody has taken wood from the forest, thus everything in the forest is intact. There is a stream and a cave in the forest.
• Ogba Waterfalls in Owerre-Ezukala: This is located at border town of Anambra state which shares boundaries with Imo, Abia and Enugu states. It is an impressive waterfall. There is a spring on imposing Ogba Rock. It forms spring at the foot of the rock. There is also a cave at the foot of the rock. The best way to describe the amazing waterfall is to see it by yourself.
• Obu Ofo Nri Museum: This museum is in Enugwu-Ukwu. It is an ancient museum that houses the Ofo (symbol of purity) of Umunri clan. Umunri clan is made up of five communities – Enugwu-Ukwu, Enugwu-Agidi, Nawfia, Aka Mkpisi and Agu-Ukwu (Aka Mkpisi and Agu-Ukwu merged and are called Agu-Ukwu Nri). Enugwu-Ukwu is the custodian of the greatest Ofo in Igboland, which is Ofo Nri. Ofo Nri and many other artifacts are kept in Obu Ofo Nri Museum. Ofo has cleansing and other powers. It is like gold which cannot be affected by impurity. It destroys bad people and purifies those that approach it with repentant heart, thus it is used in spiritual purification. This most powerful object in Igboland is kept in Obu Ofo Nri.
On culture, my administration will ensure that our cultural values are preserved. Parents and guardians should be encouraged to instill discipline and respect of elders, traditional leaders and traditional institutions in children. Also, my administration shall work with Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers to find ways of promoting and retaining our culture. Friday of every week shall be cultural day for all government workers and officials in Anambra state. Civil servants will be urged to wear tradition attires on Friday. Government officials shall make it a duty to be in traditional wears on Friday. Workers and government officials can also be in traditional wears on any working day.
Moreover, Anambra state shall have a cultural troop. The troop which should be made up of acrobats and good dancers shall not earn salary. The state will sponsor their trainings and kits and provides bus(es) for them. Any person, group or company that invites them for performance shall pay them well. They will remit 10% of their income into the state’s coffers, 20% shall be kept aside for maintenance of bus(es), musical and other instruments while 70% shall be shared by the troop. If Anambra state wants to use the troop locally or internationally, the state shall sponsor it and pay allowances to troop members.
Youths shall be discouraged from burning and selling of artifacts in their communities. Other tribes like Yoruba preserve theirs, but we, Igbos, are burning ours with the belief that the artifacts are responsible for ill fortunes. Any resident of Anambra state that sets artifacts in any community in the state on fire or steals them shall be prosecuted. “Enough is enough.” We should not destroy our cultural heritage and artifacts with a false claim that we are cleansing our communities.
15. Economy: With constant power supply, home businesses, more industries and plants, investment in agriculture, railway project, arts and movie village, etc, the state’s economy will grow exponentially. All the businesses that were listed above generate huge revenues that will improve the state’s economy. Industrialization and improved power supply will grow both macro and micro economy of the state. My administration shall do more to boost micro economy. Excess fund from security votes shall be channeled to loan scheme for SMEs and traders. Petty traders will get between N20,000 to N100,000. Other traders and SMEs can get between N100,000 to N2,000,000. Maximum interest rate shall be 9% and maximum loan duration shall be 24 months. A loan of 24 months duration will attract compound interest. Before loan is given, there should be clear conviction that it is for business and that the beneficiary has the capacity to pay back. Collateral or guarantor may be requested. Repayment shall be in installments and from the third month of getting the loan. One year term loan and its interest shall be spread into ten and repaid in ten months, while two year term loan shall be repaid in 22 months. Repayment must be done monthly.
16. Accountability and Transparency: Accountability and transparency shall be my administration’s watchword. Any money that shall be spent by the state in my administration must be included in the state’s budget. Proper and clear account must be given at the completion of any project. In case of emergency like natural disaster, expense that is made shall be included in subsequent budget.
17. Budget: Recurrent expenditure shall be cut-down, while capital expenditure shall be increased. This is the only way that the state will achieve her industrialization goal. It shall be made possible by reducing cost of governance like Governor Peter Obi did. The era of partying shall cease until the state is fully industrialized.
18. Agriculture: Ebonyi state has a nice agric scheme. My administration shall replicate what Ebonyi did in Anambra state. Anambra state has vast fertile land in Awka North, Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Oyi, Ogbaru, Orumba North and Orumba South LGAs. Any farmer in the listed LGAs that has minimum of 1 acre of land for planting will get loan from state government if he/she meets all required conditions. Agric loan shall be repaid in two years and in bulk. Interest rate shall be single digit. State government and LGAs will also have farms. State farms will be in Awka South (Nibo, Mbaukwu and their neighbouring communities).
LGAs shall provide improved seedlings and fertilizer to farmers at affordable cost. My administration will buy 30 tractors. Each of the nine listed LGAs will get three tractors, which shall be leased to farmers at low cost. Farmers in non listed LGAs can also get loans, improved seedlings and fertilizers, but attention shall be on the nine listed LGAs.
There shall also be loan for poultry, fishery, cattle rearing, grass cutter rearing, etc. A beneficiary must meet all conditions for the loan. This agric scheme will improve the state’s micro economy because there will be much buying and selling in it. The state shall build about three silos for storage of grain in order to reduce or avoid waste of food. State government shall buy grain and crops from farmers at peak of harvest and store them in silos. The stored food shall be sold, annually (between April and July), to traders at market price so as to have constant supply and constant price of food in the market. More silos shall be built if the need arises.
19. Job Creation: My administration shall create many jobs through industrialization, water scheme, agriculture and improved electricity supply which creates jobs in homes. It is obvious that when all the stated schemes are implemented, there will be many jobs in the state and people will migrate to Anambra state in search for work. There shall be a law that will protect the state’s indigenes right. A given and reasonable quota of total jobs in any newly established company, plant, SME, etc shall be reserved, at all levels (from trainee to management positions), for citizens of the state.
20. Water Scheme: Greater Onitsha Water Scheme and other existing but moribund water projects in the state shall be revitalized. State government will partner with LGAs without water schemes and provide one for each of them. Every community in the state must be connected to a water scheme within 15 years. This will stop incessant drilling of boreholes for water and prevent natural disasters that occur when the earth is weakened due to drilling of multiple holes. My administration shall do 30% of the project in 4 years. Water board shall be resurrected.
21. Roads and Railway: State of emergency shall be declared on roads in Anambra state, especially those in commercial cities and food producing areas (areas with many farms). Onitsha North LGA (Main market and Ose market areas), Onitsha South LGA (Fegge, Odoakpu and Upper Iweka areas), Ogbaru, Ihiala and Nnewi shall be given topmost priority. Food producing areas and communities in the state that have been cut off from their neighbours because of bad road(s) shall smile within 4 years. Fund for road construction shall be revenues from industrialization and exploration in the state. Some roads that are not too bad shall be patched by the state’s road maintenance agency.
Railway project shall be started by my administration, but it will be done slowly because it is capital intensive. The railway shall go round Anambra state. The state needs railway to open up more hinterlands and create an alternative route for transportation of food from farms to cities. It will also serve as an alternative means of transport for humans, animals and other commodities. This will be another 15-year project.
22. Other Infrastructure, Social Amenities and the Ecosystem: Existing street lights shall be maintained. Dilapidated ones shall be fixed and developed cities that do not have street lights shall have them within four years. Residents of the state shall be financially rewarded for reporting vandals of street lights, power equipment, water pipes, etc. There shall be annual maintenance of all stadia, sports complexes, parks, gardens, etc in the state in order to avoid dilapidation. This should be the duties of LGAs.
Indiscriminate digging of holes on roads and burning of tyre in streets shall be punishable offenses. Any resident of the state that drills borehole without approval from town planning authority shall be prosecuted. We must protect our environment. Farmers shall be advised on how to apply fertilizers so that excess ones shall not pollute the ecosystem. Bush burning shall be stopped. Apart from causing fire incidents, bush burning also pollutes the environment and causes global warming. Planting of trees shall be encouraged. There is much that will be done to protect our ecosystem. Anambra state shall do all that are required to achieve this goal.
23. Civil Service and Pension: Civil service commission shall be on it toes in my administration. The commission shall be computerized. The era of keeping vital information on papers shall be gradually phased out within 4 years. LGAs should computerize civil service commission in their jurisdictions. There may not be fresh employment in the commission until the nation comes out of recession and there may be no need for employment of more staff after computerization of the commission because workload shall be reduced. Redundant staff shall be moved to agric sector. Nobody will lose his/her job except if he/she is not serious with the job.
Civil servants shall receive their salaries and allowances promptly and pensioners shall smile to banks monthly without the unusual rigid confirmation exercises. There should be no excuse to owe them. Failure to pay civil servants and pensioners for only one month shall be seen as failure for my administration so I shall not allow it to happen. All allowances that are due to them shall be promptly paid. Anambra state assembly shall enact a law which should ensure that all civil servants and pensioners are paid their salaries and pensions before any government official receives his/hers. My administration shall sponsor the bill.
There shall be trainings and retraining of workers, but all of them must be done locally and in Anambra state. If we do not have resource persons for training in the state, we shall bring them from outside to the state. Promotions shall be given on merit and when they are due.
24. Youth: The youth shall be empowered through skill acquisitions centers that shall be setup in all federal constituencies in the state. State government shall partner with house of reps members to ensure that this plan becomes a reality. The constituency allowances which house of reps members use to buy “keke napepe” for people in their constituencies should be used to setup skill acquisition centers, which will be like centers for vocational studies. State government shall provide loans to successful participants. Youths shall be encouraged to go into partnership or setup small companies because it is better than one man business.
Youths that are good in sports shall be encouraged to make use of sports centers and stadia in the state, and the facilities in them for their training. This will improve their performances and make them win laurels in local and international competitions. Any youth that excels in any field of endeavor shall be recognized by my administration.
25. Security: Security of Anambra state is a job that shall be done by all the residents of the state. Security should not be left in hands of law enforcement agencies and vigilant groups only. Everybody should be part of the state’s security team. Anambra people will be urged to report any security suspect to the police. My administration shall ensure that police sits up and do its jobs. Identity of police informants shall be protected by the police. Soldiers are not used to maintain security in states of the federation except when there is an emergency or in warfare. Since Anambra state is not in any of these situations, my administration shall call on the presidency to withdraw all soldiers (in streets and highways) in Anambra state. This shall be done within my one month in office. Community policing with vigilant groups will be highly used. Its duties shall complement the duties of state police. All vigilant groups in the state must be registered. Certificates which shall state the areas of their operations and the authority to do so shall be given to them after registration. Any vigilant group that operates without a certificate is an illegal group and shall be arrested and prosecuted. All illegal police roadblocks shall be dismantled. There shall be a mobile taskforce that should monitor and report illegal roadblocks. High handedness of security agents, vigilante/police/military brutality and extra judicial killings shall not be condoned by my administration. Offenders shall be prosecuted by the state. Citizens and residents of the state at the other hand should respect laws of the land, respect security agents and should not resist arrest if police comes for them with arrest warrant.
26. Health: Our health centers and hospitals are almost dilapidated. My administration will resuscitate the dying health sector. Drugs shall be provided at affordable price. Resident doctors, pharmacists, nurses and medical staff shall receive their salaries and allowances promptly. If there were unfulfilled promises that were made to medical staff by previous administrations, my administration shall review the promises with affected set of medical staff. On no condition shall my administration allow resident doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical staff to go on strike because it often leads to death of patients in intensive care units.
Infrastructure in all general and teaching hospitals in the state shall be renovated. Most of them have decayed and are there as death traps. More ambulances shall be provided to them if they are needed, but there must be clear justification for more ambulances. Health budget shall be financed with revenue from tourism.
27. Women and Girl-Child: Women shall have equal oppourtunity as men do in my administration. There are as many educated women as there are educated men in Anambra state, thus there is no need for special consideration. All employments and appointments shall be on merit, thus women shall be well represented in my administration. We may discover more Okonjo Iwealas, Dora Akunyilis, Oby Ezekwesilis, Uche Ekwunifes, etc by the time my administration is over.
The girl-child shall be protected from abuse and exploitation. She shall be given equal opportunity like the boy-child. Though I do not think that the girl-child is currently at disadvantage in Anambra state, but my Administration shall be vigilant and ensure that it does not occur.
28. Justice and Freedom of Expression: There shall be justice for all in the state. Citizens, non citizens and foreigners shall be equal before the law. The law is no respecter of person, class or race. The state shall do as much as it can to provide legal aids to those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. NGOs shall be encouraged to take it up as their primary responsibilities so that they can source for fund internationally for legal aids.
Freedom of speech shall be guaranteed in my administration. Citizens and residents of the state shall be free to criticize my administration. I am an advocate of positive criticism, which spurs good leadership. People of state shall also be free to demonstrate peacefully, but my administration shall discourage street protests. Protests should be done in stadia and sport complexes in the state until my administration build three freedom parks in the three senatorial zones of the state. It will be done in partnership with senators from the zones. They shall be urged to give part of their constituency allowances for this project. Anambra state government shall augment the fund for this project. These freedom parks shall be used for demonstrations in the state. My intention for discouraging street protests is to avoid disruption of business, trading and other activities.
29. Ports: Onitsha Inland Port which has been completed and waiting for dredging of River Niger shall commence operation. Most portions of River Niger have been dredged. My administration shall appeal to federal government to complete the project. If Onitsha Inland Port becomes operational, Lagos traffic shall be reduced. Also traffic on Lagos – Benin and Benin – Asaba roads shall be reduced. This will increase life span of these federal roads, reduce federal government’s road maintenance cost and increase IGR of Anambra state. Anambra state shall have a projected plan of having another inland port in Ogbaru. This will reduce traffic in Onitsha.
30. Markets and Traders: A huge number of middle class people in Anambra state are traders. The traders contribute much to the economic development of the state. Unfortunately, these traders are mostly remembered when government wants to collect tax and business permit from them. My administration shall organize constant enlightenment programs for traders. They shall be advised to combine online trading with conventional trading because that is current global trend. My administration shall encourage rich business men in the state to setup online portals like Jumia and Konga so that traders in Anambra state can sell their wares on their portals and owners of the portals shall make commissions and pay tax to the state. The revenue that my administration will generate from this shall be used to build two ultramodern markets. If the revenue is not enough for the project, the state will augment it in subsequent annual budgets.
31. Urgent Legislation for Abolition of Harmful, Dangerous and Unprofitable Activities: My administration shall send bills to state assembly that will empower the abolishment of the following:
• Monthly sanitation exercise which is done on last Saturday of every month – Sanitation should be an everyday exercise and no specific time should be set aside for it. Any time that your surroundings are dirty, clean them. Failure to do that will attract penalty from Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA).
• Weekly sanitation exercise that is done on every Thursday in markets and streets – Traders should keep markets clean all the time. Trading should not be stopped because of sanitation. It affects our economy negatively.
• Brutality, assault and intimidation by security men and taskforces
• Marriage to a minor; irrespective of one’s religion – If you are seen with a minor as a wife or husband in Anambra state, you shall be arrested and prosecuted even if the marriage was not sealed in Anambra state. If you are married to a minor, keep away from us. Approved age for marriage shall be 18 years (in line with Child Rights Act of 2003), but parents and guardians shall be advised to allow their children to get to 21 years before going into marriage.
• Child hawking, especially during school hours
• Open grazing
• Professional begging
All that I stated in this manifesto are possible and achievable if only we believe. If we believe it, we can achieve it. YES, TOGETHER, WE CAN.
Obumneke Ejimnkeonye Okafor,
UPP’s Gubernatorial Aspirant,
For Anambra State 2017 Election.