Welcome to our Finest Hour
On behalf of the good people of Anambra State, I welcome you all to the ancient city of Onitsha, the commercial capital of South East Nigeria. We receive you and the ideas you have brought to our dear state with open hands and open hearts. Anyi na asi unu nno nu o!
Ladies and gentlemen, I am personally happy to note that 25 days after I was sworn into office for my second term, we have gathered here to exchange ideas that will stimulate activities in the MSME sector in Anambra State. In all sincerity, I could not have hoped for a better start to my second term. This initiative is properly aligned to what my administration has done with commitment in the past four years. So, I must thank the Federal Government for the vision behind this initiative and the decision to hold this clinic in Anambra State at this moment in time.
Your Excellency, when my team and I assumed office four years ago, we had our work cut out for us. The people of this great state had waited for so long to see a clear roadmap to greatness. We knew that history had placed the responsibility of laying a solid foundation for the prosperity of our beloved state on our shoulder. So, we quickly applied ourselves to the brass task of governance and drafted Vision and Mission Statements to guide our activities and decisions. We declared that our Vision is to be ‘the first choice investment destination and hub for industrialization and commercial activities.’ We also declared that our Mission is to ‘create a socially stable, business-friendly environment that will attract indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities.’ We swiftly moved on to provide the desired security environment to drive our vision and today Anambra is widely acknowledged as Nigeria’s safest state. This achievement has had a tremendous influence on investor-confidence, leading to the attraction of investments valued at five billion US dollars to Anambra State. Ladies and gentlemen, we have made a great impact so far on this trajectory. And we shall continue on it till we create a buoyant sub-national economy that has enough capacity to absorb the infinite potentials of our people.
This is the thinking that informed the creation of the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) which was formed to ensure the establishment of a structured and efficient hub for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that will enhance the sustainable economic development of Anambra State. ASBA’s immediate Vision is to facilitate easy access to resources for MSME entrepreneurs to achieve the sustainable economic development of Anambra State. Since it came into existence ASBA has continued to fulfil the grand objectives that led to its formation; serving as a catalyst to the industrial dreams of our people and breathing life into many MSMEs. There is so much that ASBA has achieved but I shall return to it later. At this moment, I want to draw attention to the peculiar character traits of Onye Anambra to clearly underscore why we need the support of the Federal Government.
Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen, to understand the promise of Anambra State, we must first understand the manifest capacities of our people; our industrious nature, our can-do spirit, our courage in the face of adversity and our legendary hatred of failure. These are some of the qualities behind our drive for excellence, our readiness to take charge of our lives, become independent and carve out a new path for ourselves by starting a business. All these attributes also make our beloved Anambra State the most fertile breeding ground for MSMEs in Nigeria. These are also the qualities that should convince the Federal Government to design a special Industrial Master Plan for Anambra State that will unlock the creative genius of our people to contribute more significantly to the industrial quest of Nigeria. After all, if Anambra could give Nigeria the likes of Innoson, Chikason, Ibeto, Coscharis and several other industrialists who emerged on their own without government or institutional support or incentive, it is only left to the imagination what this state can produce if the Federal Government decides to support us with a clearly developed and sustainable industrial plan. I do not have the slightest doubt that Anambra State can give Nigeria the industrial and technological foundation that will leapfrog the country to a truly emerging Start-up economy. Your Excellency, this is a Promise!
Your Excellency sir, a look at the sterling achievements of the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) in the past four years will provide an insight into what Anambra can offer. The Agency has competently handled the disbursement of the One Billion Naira Retail Lending Facility for Small and Medium Enterprises to catalyse the growth of over 200 SMEs and create over 1,500 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs in Anambra State. The Agency also saw to the effective disbursement of One Billion Naira Micro Credit Lending to market women, farmers, women cooperatives, artisans and youth entrepreneurs in Anambra State. In all, ASBA has provided crucial credit facilities to 7,000 MSMEs in Anambra State and created 10,000 direct jobs and an estimated 35,000 indirect jobs in the past four years. Your Excellency, I think this is significant progress.
As you can see, Your Excellency, we are doing our very best in Anambra State at the moment, but we urgently need the critical support of the Federal Government to bring out the fighting spirit of our people. We have designed a few programmes for which we are asking for the support of the Federal Government to nurture them to maturity for the benefit of our people. They include –
1. The construction of Technological Parks that will serve as Start-up Hubs in the three senatorial zones of the state. These parks shall be fully equipped with a captive power supply and free internet services that will enable them function as true technological incubation centres.
2. The establishment of Industrial Clusters in the three senatorial zones of the state to serve as centres for the adaptation of technology where automobile parts, agricultural machineries, foundries and industrials machines can be fabricated.
3. The construction of a Textile and Leather Products Industrial Cluster in Ogbunike and finally Your Excellency,
4. We need the assistance of the Federal Government to set up an MSME Incubation and Support Academy that will provide critical knowledge in the area of business ideation and management, financial literacy, marketing, branding, bookkeeping as well as research and development.
Your Excellency sir, before I end this address, I must commend the Federal Government, Your Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Hon Haj Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments for ensuring the admission of Anambra State into the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government at inception. I must say that these programmes formed part of our Economic Stimulus Package which helped Anambra State to survive the biting pangs of recession.
Indeed, I must further observe that today, no fewer than one hundred and twenty two thousand children are fed daily under the School Feeding Programme by a total of one thousand and forty caterers in one thousand and sixty schools across the twenty local government areas in the state. Similarly, under the N-Power Programme, 14, 209 Anambra youths have been employed to support the state in agriculture, health, education and other key sectors. Last but not the least, under the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, 3,086 elderly citizens are paid a monthly stiped of N10,000 each in six Local Government Areas of the state, including Awka North, Dunukofia, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Orumba North and Ihiala Local Government Area.
We are most grateful to Your Excellency for all these initiatives. They have benefitted our people immensely and we pray for more in the coming days.
In conclusion Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, the economy of Anambra State is on the runway, taxiing to take off. We have done the best we can possibly do as a state government, using the institutional approach through ASBA. However, we need the formidable financial strength and institutional might of the Federal Government to enhance our efforts and multiply the benefits to the greater number of our people. We have cleaned up our state and flung our doors open to more investors and new business ideas. Our hands are wide open to receive new partners and new dream merchants.I assure you that any investment in Anambra State is not only secure but also guaranteed to give rapid returns.
Once again, I welcome you all to Anambra
Chief Willie Obiano