By Rev. Fr. Gerald Nwafor
I remember with nostalgia sitting with my uncle in his living room in 1991 August 27th, when the then military head of state President Ibrahim Badimosa Babangida (the evil genius) carved out of the old Anambra state two new ones, Enugu state and Anambra state. My uncle said it was a welcome development in the history of Igboland.
A new governor was sent to Anambra state in the person of Colonel Joseph Abulu, a military sole-administrator. I went with my uncle to receive Abulu in Awka since Awka was named the new capital of Anambra state.
The old capital, which was Enugu, now belonged to the newly created Enugu state. The excitement was high. I saw some dignitaries from Anambra state for the first time, as they trooped out to welcome the new sole-administrator. In the who is who that arrived at the boundary of Anambra and Enugu were Engr. Arthur Eze and his brother Dr. Walter Eze, Sir Jeo Nwankwu (Onwa), Igwe Mbaukwu, Igwe Osita Agwuna, Okwadike Igboukwu, and many more.
My uncle was the provost of the Awka College of Education. He was a well-known figure within the elite group because of his intelligence and mastery of English language.
The expectations were very high. Anambra was a state known as the light of the nation and beloved by all the Nigerians because of the ability to receive visitors.The question today is whether the aspirations and goals of 1991 have been achieved. We had a series of military and civilian governors who have piloted the affairs of the state in the last 32 years of its existence.
I wonder if we are on the right track? I have worked and lived in almost all the senatorial districts of the state, but I cannot say that we are short of manpower nor can I say that we are lacking in economic power and resources. The people of Anambra North can feed the whole of Nigeria. It was the place of my birth and education. Crude oil was discovered there in the era of Peter Obi as the governor and an international airport was built there in the time of Willy Obiano as the governor. With agriculture and crude oil, which other things do you think that zone needs to excel in? I don’t know but my beloved state is still struggling financially to survive.
The local government in the north includes Onitsha North and South, Oyi, Ogbaru, Anambra East and West, and Ayamelum. Jerome Udorji told us that after the Civil War, he used the revenues from the markets in Onitsha (especially the Main market) to pay all the teachers in eastern Nigeria. This revenue has since increased tremendously and the government of my beloved state is still in want.
This revenue has also caused a lot of problems between the leadership of the markets and the government of the state at different times. The only people who are not gaining anything from the proceeds of the markets are the citizens of Anambra state.Let us go to the Southern part of Anambra where you have another economic powerhouse. I have worked in this zone for eight years and counting. The Nnewi spare parts shop is the biggest in Nigeria.
The proceeds from that market could turn around the whole of Anambra state but that would be too much to ask. Let us see the effect in that senatorial district which comprises Aguata, Ekwusigo, Ihiala, Nnewi North and South, and Orumba North and South. Factories and industries owned by Ibeto and Ifeanyi Uba could solve most of the financial problems in that district. Should I mention the Eke Ekwuluobia market that could finance the whole of Anambra state? I lived for years in the Orumba local government area. The arable land of Orumba could feed the whole of Nigeria.
In recent years we have also heard that there was a natural gas discovery in that region somewhere near Ndiukwuenu. But like I said earlier that district is in penury. They are struggling financially and economically. Although the present governor is from the Southern district, and he is a very hardworking person, all eyes are on him to fan into flame the lights and resources God has given to the people of his region.
The region is blessed with many tertiary institutions: Okoh Poly, Umunze College of Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe College of Medicine, Anambra state university Uli, Madonna University Okija, and many more. So, I ask again, what is holding the growth of Anambra, our beloved state?Anambra Central is made up of Awka north and south, Njikoka, Aniocha, Idemili north and south, and Dunukofia.
This is my hometown. In law, it will be called my domicile because that is where I am permanently located as a citizen of Nigeria. If traditional heritage is anything to go by here are the earliest carvers and sculptors in Igboland and Nigeria as a whole. The district hosts the seat of government in Anambra State since Awka is the capital of Anambra State. The most popular federal University (Unizik) in the state was situated in the zone. All the government parastatals are in my zone.
The building materials market in Ogidi is also in this zone. In the precolonial era, they shipped out seers to the rest of Igboland known as Nwadioka from Umudioka town in Dunukofia. The children of Dioka (Umudioka) established their kindred throughout Igboland. They produced the first minister of the federal capital territory Abuja in the person of Mark Okoye and the likes of Sir Joe Nwankwu, Arthur Eze, and many more. The zone is still struggling for good roads and with an epileptic power supply.
When will my beloved state get it right? The federal government will not come to our rescue since we are a dot within a dot in a circle as classified by the present federal government. Please may our government put into use the God-given resources available.