My Contract With Ndi Anambara
With humility and gratitude to God, I offer myself as a vehicle for selfless servant-leadership to Ndi Anambra in our quest to build a liveable and prosperous smart megacity. It is a vision of a homeland that is the preferred destination in which to live, invest, learn, work, and relax and enjoy.
I am a passionate village boy with humble beginnings who has received abundant grace and blessings from God. I have traversed the world (lived in Ethiopia, the UK, and the USA and visited 45 other countries on all continents as an itinerant scholar and consultant) and served the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in numerous capacities (see my short profile in the Annex). At this stage in my life and with excellent health, I believe it is now time for me to give back in full to my immediate community---Anambra State—by devoting all my God-given talents, education, exposure and experience, national and global networks—to contribute to leaving my state better than I met it. What we present here is a synopsis, designed to give Ndi Anambra a feel for the future we envision. I believe that public service offers the biggest platform to positively touch millions of lives. If you employ me as your chief servant, I will devote every minute of my time to work with and mobilize all critical stakeholders to make Ndi Anambra proud. I will hit the ground running from Day One; I won’t be learning on the job. As the Chairman of Anambra Vision 2070, I have thought through our challenges and the disruptive changes needed to secure the future. We commit to vigorously implement the foundational phase of Vision 2070.
There is a sense of nostalgia about our rich past. In the First Republic, our founding fathers built the Eastern Region as the fastest growing economy in the world. Through a frugal use of tax revenue from peasant farmers, they built the cities of Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Uyo, etc with pipe-borne water and electricity as well as the largest market in West Africa (Onitsha Main Market), the University of Nigeria with campuses at Nsukka and Enugu, industrial estates, palm plantations and farm settlements, etc. Theirs was the classic developmental state, where wealth creation/poverty reduction was buoyed up by hard work, excellence in education, competition, integrity, and service-driven public service.
Oil in Nigeria has proven to be a curse. The structures and institutions built around its consumption created a rentier state --- a wasteful distributional/sharing system, with debilitating entitlement and a something-for-nothing culture. Because one does not need any special skills to "share", governance became another kind of "business" dominated by transactions and little productivity. Now that oil is on its way out, Nigeria faces an emergency to systematically return to the fundamentals of wealth creation or face a chaotic unravelling. If the FGN can unleash the 36 states of Nigeria to start the bottom-up transition, Nigeria would quickly take its pride of place as the true leader of the black race. Indeed, it is time to decongest the heavy concentration in Abuja and encourage most people who have something to offer Nigeria to go to drive development from below--- the States!
Yes, Nigeria faces huge challenges which can hamstring any state including declining oil revenues and foreign direct investment (FDI), insecurity, unemployment, especially youth unemployment, double-digit inflation and weakening of the Naira, gross domestic product growth lower than population growth, high levels of poverty, climate change with desertification/flooding, etc. Anambra State has its share of structural vulnerabilities.
Our manifesto derives from a firm belief that despite the defects of the current federal system, there is sufficient room to manoeuvre and fully exploit synergies and complementarities with the FGN, and other states, Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), and private sector to build a liveable and prosperous state. It is also based upon the belief that the Igbo, as a nascent global tribe, need Nigeria, Africa, and the world to maximize their economic potential. As a Pan Africanist (dreaming of the United States of Africa), I see infinite possibilities and opportunities for Anambra State especially in the context of the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA--- with a market size of over US$3.2 trillion, and over 1.2 billion consumers), and other global opportunities which favour the exceptional enterprise of Ndi Anambra.
In some ways, our future is in our past. We aim to build upon the foundation of our founding fathers and immediate past and current leaders to leapfrog Anambra into a post-oil/ digital world of the 4th Industrial Revolution. As an ideology for framing our vision for the state, I am a Pan-African neo progressive—a centrist ideology that combines some ennobling principles of the left and the right. The Igbo is ostensibly individualistic - republican but with social and communal conscience and duty. He is at the same time global, urban but local in terms of consciousness to his heritage and homeland. As a cosmopolitan and mobile tribe, its economic framework is built around creative destruction and adaptation and always searching for an ecosystem that rewards talent, ideas, productivity and collaboration. African neo progressivism believes in market principles to create sustainable wealth. Its foundation is the adaptive, albeit largely conservative social and religious agenda, with emphasis on strong families as the unit of the open society. As a product of, and believer in, this neo progressive ideology, I subscribe to a responsible market economy that promotes competition and value-creating opportunities for all, and which is also humanized by a developmental state to ensure sustainable communities and responsible citizenship. This ideology underpins our Plan for Ndi Anambra.
Our primary target is sustainable and inclusive wealth creation with jobs, jobs, and jobs. We target at least 130,000 private sector jobs per annum for our youths and 1,000 youth millionaires per annum in the medium term.
We envision Anambra as an industrial-technology hub to lead Africa’s export market under AfCFTA; strengthen our dominant status as the shopping centre of West Africa; orchestrate the traffic of millions of visitors per annum as we position to become Africa's number one destination for entertainment, leisure and creative economy.
We plan to position Anambra as a centre of excellence for human capital development and proactively leapfrog our students/youths as Africa's digital tribe; actively ensure planned cities, communities, and markets, and a more sustainable, clean, green, and liveable environment; and a mainstreaming of the core Igbo values of integrity, hard work, competition, compassion, and morality.
We envision a public service that truly delivers timely and efficient service to the citizens, and a target as the state with guaranteed rule of law and property rights such that commercial disputes are settled within 30 days, etc. I also envision a compassionate society in the true sense of neo progressivism as embodied in APGA’s manifesto. APGA’s motto is: ‘Be your brother’s and sister’s keeper’, (Onye aghana nwanne ya) and we will formalize specific programmes to give content to this progressive philosophy by caring for the elderly, vulnerable widows, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, mainstreaming crowd charity, and formalizing the "Adopt A School" programme.
We seek a framework for compounding the state wealth and ramping up fiscal revenue with the target that after eight years, Anambra would not need federation account allocations for its basic needs. Indeed, after four years, Anambra should generate more than 100% of its recurrent expenditure. To sum it up, we envision Anambra, whereby our homeland population will have no incentive to migrate to other places in search of opportunities, and the itinerant population will have a proud homeland to return to.
Our servant-leadership seeks to mainstream a developmental state that is driven by transformation agenda. Every kobo of Anambra's money will be devoted to working for Ndi Anambra. I sincerely believe in integrity and due process, which means that I will not steal nor waste state resources and will always allow the machinery of government to follow due process.
I believe in One Anambra, One people, One Agenda. There will be a comprehensive and simultaneous development of all parts of the state. The principles of personal responsibility and community shared ownership and responsibility will be mainstreamed. I believe in equity and fairness, and will consequently maintain a policy of fair distribution of resources, appointments, and amenities across the state and interest groups, and also fairness to non-indigenes of Anambra. Meritocracy will have pride of place and those who demonstrate that they can add value to Ndi Anambra will be given the opportunity to serve. I also believe in the interdependence of all arms of government (Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary). Importantly, I believe in Ndi Anambra and their ability to work together with me to create the future we all dream about for ourselves and future generations.
Above all, I believe in open, accountable, and collaborative leadership. We will hold periodic Town Hall meetings with critical stakeholders, and there will be the Citizens' Hotlines (phone numbers, E-mail addresses, and Facebook account) to interact with me. As your chief servant, I admit that I don't know it all. I will need the advice and guidance of everyone. We will also network and seek strategic partnerships of the federal government, private sector, the Church, DFIs, foundations, other states, civil society organizations and professional bodies, traditional rulers and town unions, etc as we chart the future we seek. We will collaborate with other states in the South East and South-South to deepen regional integration for economies of scale and shared prosperity.
A key principle that will drive our wealth creation initiative is the “Buy and Sell Made in Anambra” Programme. Government resources will only patronize “Made in Anambra” except where it is impossible to produce such or no close alternatives. For example, all vehicles to be purchased with government resources must be “Made in Anambra” brand. We will ensure extra certification of all goods produced in Anambra such that “Made in Anambra Standard” will be synonymous with international best practice. I will be the chief marketing officer for anything and everything produced in Anambra. Our goal is to take Anambra to the world and bring the world to Anambra as a frontier Export Processing Zone.
Finally, I commit to a first rate execution of the Plan. Change and challenge of the status quo are in my DNA, and my records as a public intellectual and public service bear these out: from the revolutionary ideas/proposals in my consultancies to over 20 international development and financial institutions, to the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) of the Obasanjo regime that created over 12.8 million jobs; to ideas for founding of Transcorp Plc; the founding of the African Finance Corporation; the revamping of a bankrupt Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc to world class company; the revolution in the banking/financial sector under Financial System Strategy 2020; revolutionary management of Nigeria’s foreign reserves that grew it from $10 billion to all time $62 billion as well as exchange rate and inflation rate management; vigorous implementation of Project EAGLES that transformed CBN for efficiency and effectiveness, etc, etc.
I am always in a haste to effect fundamental positive change and I will work 24/7 to make Ndi Anambra proud. What we present here is a synopsis, designed to give Ndi Anambra a feel for the future we envision. The full Agenda, costed with timelines and delivery mechanisms will be published within the first 30 days on assumption of office, if you give me the mandate. Our Plan covers the interests of critical stakeholders: children and students, youths, women, teachers, civil servants, pensioners, traders especially apprentices (umuboy), organized private sector and captains of industry, the Church, farmers, transporters (motocyclists, keke, taxi, buses, etc), non-indigenes, vulnerable groups, persons with disability, the unemployed and the poor, professionals, industrialists, traditional rulers and town unions, the FGN and international community.