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Soludo The Reformer, The Fixer, The Jinx Breaker

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BY PAMELA EBOH Awka

 

For decades, since the creation of Anambra State on August, 2001, outsiders, especially indigenes living abroad have without reservations described the state as a glorified state capital. Their reason may not be far from the state’s poor aesthetic view and the poor infrastructural development as compared to other South Eastern states, like Enugu and lately, Ebonyi.

Being the A state east of the Niger, expectations are that the state would be top on the list in terms of development.

 

Alas, one may ask, is it that according to an Igbo adage, “that the knife is not good or that the users had nothing to offer the 33-year-old ‘Light of the Nation’ state. This is a question only inhabitants of the state and it’s past leaders can answer.

 

However, the coming on board of the present Sheriff, in the person of  Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo in many dotted lines appears to have turned the ugly tide. The Isuofia, Aguata-born Economist has indeed placed himself as a tool in the sands of time; poised to fulfill the biblical saying, “a time to laugh”. Anambra State at this point is beginning to rise from the trenches, hence, it is only proper to say that the Jinx Breaker, the Reformer, the Fixer has come to town. With him as the captain, Anambra State has experienced a rebound and there are chances that the promised Africa Dubai mega city is achievable.

This is evident in the works Soludo’s administration has on the ground in different sectors simultaneously, in less than three years of leadership.

 

Worthy of note is that since the inception of his administration, it has been more of, all work and no play. He has in so many ways shown that he is indeed a man on a mission; poised to deliver and exit in grandeur, leaving the State better than he met it.

 

Pedalling the line of his campaign promise of making Anambra the Dubai of Africa, Soludo started with the cleaning of Okpoko area of the state, dubbed Anambra slum, clearing of the sakamori drainage which over the years was a dumpster breeding mosquitoes, rodents and the likes, painting of the flyover bridges and further adorning them with the faces of Anambra great men and women, dead and alive. He capped the city renewal with the clearing of another remarkable dump site at Ochanja round-about area of the commercial city of Onitsha known for its filthiness and site where lunatics go to forage for edible things to feed their hunger. Soludo apart from ensuring the area was  cleared of garbage also reconstructed the 9km road leading to the roundabout that was already becoming un-motorable and crowned the round-about with a water fountain.

Like a Spartan Boy, the governor moved from there to other sectors, like, health, education, water, housing, sports, roads among others.

 

NWA Mgbafor in less than two years in office revived the over a decade comatose Schools Sports festival in the state. In the past, it was through this festival that new budding talents are discovered and given opportunity to train to become national and international faces in the sporting world. With the revival of the festival, the state which used to be tops in sporting competitions was able to discover talents that represented the state at both National Sports Festival and Youth Championship in Delta State. The young talents represented well and made the state proud at the Youth Championship coming 8th on the final medals table with seven good, six silver and none bronze medals.

 

The only area yet to be cracked by the Soludo administration is electricity supply which the governor promised a 24hours power in the state. He had in that regard kicked off the move by signing an MoU with the power distribution Agency, EEDC, but at this point, residents of the state are experiencing the worst times very epileptic power supply. Electricity is notably important in the economic growth of any society and giving Anambra State 24hrs power will not only make the governor stand tall among his pears, it will further write his name in gold in the annals of history.

 

It’s however a good testimony in the area of road infrastructure which is one the core problems facing the state, aside erosion menace. Soludo, in less than 3 years have to his credit over 450 kilometer roads constructed, reconstructed or rehabilitated by his administration in different parts of Anambra State.

They include to mention but a few, Unizik Temp site to Okpuno community, (dualized) with drainages on both sides. Before the advent of the new road, the area could best be described as a chaotic cluster of makeshift shanties displaying fruits for sale, food vendors and the likes, while tricycle operators popularly known as Keke occupy the rest of the space hustling for passengers. In the evenings, it is usually a scare zone to pass on foot in the night because of evil gangs that attack people to steal their belongings, especially phones. At the moment, sanity have returned to the area with a parking/loading garage carved out for Keke operators to load and discharge passengers. Same is applicable at the Regina Caeli and Aroma area of the city. Worthy of praise is the Regina Caeli area where Keke operators used to park indiscriminately while hustling for passengers. The sanity experienced in both sides of the road is worthy of an applause as the beauty of the roads have finally come to bare for all to see and appreciate the wideness of the road of the road on the left side following a face lift.

 

Other roads constructed by Soludo administration include, a 5km road linking Port Harcourt road and Niger Street in the FEGGE area of Onitsha South Council area, Ekwulobia/Agulu road to Amawbia which according to an in-tell would be dualized, 3.8 Umuogbu kilometer road, 14.2km road which include, old INEC road, Regina Caeli, Club road, popularly known as Abakiliki Street, among others.

At the moment, work is ongoing at the Ekwulobia roundabout where a flyover bridge is being constructed while the road will also be revamped up to Oko area of the state.The long abandoned new Anambra State Govt House that will include the governor’s office and home, Chief of Staff Office, SSG, Press Secretary, Principal Secretary, among others as well as living apartments is currently undergoing reconstruction. On completion, the area will be known as the Three Arms Zone. There is also an ongoing World class Solution Fun City that will serve as a play park for both children and adults respectively. Not left out in the rebound are projects like, the Pharmaceutical Industrial Park, Anambra City Hotel and a host of others.

Streets in Awka have also witnessed a revamp with road expansion and tarring laced with drainages to channel flood.

 

Recall that the governor had on inception of his administration, promised his government will construct, reconstruct and rehabilitate a total of 10 Kilometers of road in the state on monthly basis, hence the state has been turned to a construction site waiting to bloom in glory and splendor.

 

He has already awarded three major roads in Nnewi, Bank road, Aka-miri road leading to the new permanent site of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospítal, Nnewi hotel road, among others.

The Governor has also touched the health and education sector by employing five thousand teachers and two thousand nurses and doctors to boost the health sector. Before now, some ot the rural areas lacked adequate medical staff to man the hospitals while some schools especially those in the rural lacked sufficient teachers to teach sone subjects. Apart from the first five thousand teachers employment which took a three way process, another set of two thousand have also been employed in the recent second phase. The uniqueness of the employment is that the governor handed out a template to the handlers to pick the best of those that came tops in the interview exams irrespective of their origin. To this end the process was so tight that those with low scores did not get employed. Following up on the employment, the teachers were posted mostly to rural areas to help boost learning, even as the governor also mobilized them with money to help with their transport until first salary is paid.

 

In the area of Mortgage Transactions and Revenue Generation, the Anambra State Geographic Information Systems, ANAMGIS project under Soludo administration has since kicked off with process and system integration to enhance timeliness in land service delivery and value creation. Hitherto, the delivery timeliness  has reduced the time for processing mortgages and registration of documents and estates as well as processing of Certificates of Occupancy by more than eighty percent. To this end, the Ministry has completed more than eight hundred and fifteen  transactions including the processing of one thousand six hundred C of Os.

Recall that before Soludo came on board, the application, processing and issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) was a herculean task even with prompt payment of all the fees accrued. Notably, the story has changed following the introduction of diverse reforms geared towards making application, processing and issuance seamless.

As it stands, one can now apply and get his or her C of O within a short period of fifteen days on the payment of all necessary fees. Worthy of note is that Soludo’s government is also on the verge of creating a channel for prospective land buyers to be able to ascertain the status of any land anywhere in Anambra State from the comfort of their homes as well as their mobile phones. So far, Technological and ICT based innovations have been put in place to make Land administration in Anambra State to be at par with those of developed countries of the world. This has greatly encouraged investors to start showing interest in coming to invest in the State.

 

Governor Chukwuma Soludo is also leading the crusade for the establishment of new cities, layouts in the state even while improving on old ones.

For example, Anambra state government acquired 4000 hectares of land in a location called Mamu Forest Reserve, for the establishment of the Awka 2.0. When fully developed, it will not only stand as a brand new city, but as a completion of the city master plan. Same is applicable for Onitsha 2.0 project which involves the transformation of useable strategically located land into a well laid-out and environmentally stable millennium development. The project which will be a Government Reserved Area is designed as a Mixed Development comprising of first grade housing and infrastructure solutions for the middle and high income earners in the state.

The scope of the project is to design and develop infrastructure and thematic layouts, exclusively as living and leisure spaces that enhance the quality of life of homeowners. The project to be cited in Awka shall in many ways epitomize Beauty, Timeliness Tranquillity and Optimal Value.

Also, plan is underway to develop Lands like Akpaka Forest and Oba International Airport areas. Meanwhile, the Ministry has acquired large hectares of land in different areas of the state for development of new cities and estates that will be modern and smart, both for commercial and residential purposes. In this regard, the Ministry is now partnering with Investors and developers on a six pilot projects. To this end, Developers such as the Golf Residency, Awka, Homeland Estate, etc are working on all fours to get it done.

On security, Soludo can not be said to be doing badly either. He created Ministry of Home Land Security as well as Vigilante group to tackle security matters head long and this in so many ways have helped to ease insecurity in the state. While most of the criminals causing havoc in Onitsha have been caught and their tails cut, various areas located especially in the areas marked as red zones, like Ihiala, Umunze, Nnewi have similarly experienced relief following the destruction of the criminal enclaves/hideouts. However, there is no society or clime without crime, hence there is no way pockets of crime will be completely eliminated.

Though many nay sayers, especially the opposition parties  are of the view that Soludo is not doing enough or is slow, two years is very minute for any government to be judged.

Suffice it to say that, it takes only a focused and well thought driver to navigate a crooked road without skidding into bumps or falling into a ditch. For the milage so far covered by Governor Chukwuma Soludo in re-inventing and rejigging the Light of the Nation’ state, it is only appropriate to say in the least, thank you Mr Governor.

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