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On 5 sterling achievements of the Soludo-led government

We start with a footnote: It is extremely difficult to narrow down to only 5 of the so many achievements of the Chukwuma Soludo-led administration in the last 2 years. Governor Soludo will be marking his second year in office as the governor of Anambra State on the 17th of March, 2024. For the sake of brevity, this column presents only 5 of the many achievements of the Soludo-led administration and attempts to put them in context.

First on the list is on the ongoing road revolution in Anambra State. In the last 2 years, the administration has awarded contracts for the construction of over 400km of new roads and has steadily maintained a pace of fully completing an average of 28km of these awarded roads every month within the dry season period (as a result of increased rains we had 9 months of effective dry months within the period the governor has been in office and asphalting of roads is better done in dry seasons). The 400km of high-quality roads being constructed with stone base and cement stabilization – a technology that is rare in the history of road construction in Anambra because of its cost implication – is exclusive of the 392km of roadways that have been made motorable as a result of the governor’s routine road maintenance works, erosion control works and the flyover project in one of the state’s major cities – Ekwulobia. Interestingly, many more road projects will also be awarded in the coming months! With the rate Governor Soludo is building new roads and maintaining existing ones, he will be setting an unprecedented record in the south east in the coming years. Talking about record setting in the south east, apart from Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd (JBN) who built the one-billion-dollar Second Niger Bridge using a prestressed concrete technology – a technology which allows for the construction of long span bridges – this column is not aware of any other prestressed concrete bridge construction in the south east in recent times. The Ekwulobia Flyover in Anambra, which will be commissioned this year, is a prestressed concrete bridge.

The second on this column’s list is on security. When the administration assumed office in March 2022, unknown gunmen were on rampage in the state and 8 local governments were under siege by these unknown gunmen. Today, the administration has liberated these local government areas and has made Anambra one of the safest states in the country. As a result of the robust security architecture in the state, perpetrators of any crime in Anambra are apprehended within days unlike before where criminals, in some cases, were never caught.

The third on our list is on the massive urban regeneration works going on in the state. Just like many cities in Nigeria, the major cities in Anambra have not followed a well-thought-out and designed masterplan. At the moment, the designs for the masterplan for Anambra Intercity Railway Network and 3 brand new cities – Awka 2.0, Onitsha 2.0 and Anambra Mixed-Use Industrial City – are almost complete. With these proposed brand-new cities, the current remodeling of the existing cities in the state, the proposed 4-star hotel in Awka and the Awka Fun City– which would be commissioned later in the year – it is envisaged that Anambra would be a preferred destination for businesses. The effect of this on the GDP of Anambra State will be enormous!

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The Fourth on our list is on the massive social and human capital development programmes that have been executed in the last 2 years. As at today, an average of 1068 women enjoy the state’s free delivery programme on a monthly basis, while over 5,000 pregnant women benefit from the state’s free antenatal services on a monthly basis – this includes the provision of free medications. There has been also a massive ongoing programme aimed at building general hospitals, primary healthcare centers and recruiting healthcare personnel in the state. The governor will be commissioning some of these healthcare facilities in the coming days. Also, the number of students who enjoy a truly free basic education in the state’s public primary and secondary schools has increase significantly. To consolidate on the quality of education in Anambra, 5,000 teachers were recruited last year by the Soludo-led administration and another 3,000 teachers will be recruited in the coming weeks. There has also been a massive financial empowerment programme for youths in the state’s skill acquisition programme. Last year, 5,000 youths were empowered with seed capitals, or grants as it were, totally 2 billion naira after they were trained in the state’s One-Youth-2-Skills Programme. This year, another 10,000 youths will be empowered with grants to start their own businesses. There is also the ongoing agricultural revolution which aims at taking millions of people out of poverty through the state’s palm kernel and coconut revolution.

The fifth on this column’s list is on fiscal prudence. All the achievements of the Soludo-led administration in the last 2 years – including the prompt payment of pensions, salaries, massive infrastructural development and payment of inherited debts – have been achieved without borrowing a penny from any bank. This is despite the fact that, in real terms, the naira devaluation has made the money available to Governor Soludo to be the least in the last 18 years. Using today’s exchange rate, Anambra’s 2024 budget is about $273 million. Contrast this with Anambra’s average yearly budget in the last 18 years which has hovered between $370 million and $680 million (this was obtained using the prevailing official exchange rates at the periods within review). Governor Soludo’s prudence has been phenomenal. The governor believes that if the state must borrow, it must be at the best rates available in the market and for projects that can pay back the debts.

At this juncture, it is important to state that this list is not exhaustive. But it is noteworthy that the last two years of Governor Soludo’s administration has set the foundation for Anambra’s future. Having set the foundation, there is no doubt that the foreign capital and investments needed to catapult Anambra will come in the coming years. Anambra is on course in achieving its Vision 2070 Development Plan!

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Nwankwo is the special adviser on special projects to Soludo

 

 

 

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