Obiano And His Soludo Committee’s 50-Year Development Plans By Sir Obunike C. Ohaegbu Ksji (Ezesinachi N’ukpor)
On November 21, 2019, Chief Willie Obiano, Akpokuodike Aguleri, the Governor of Anambra State at the Governor’s Lodge, Awka inaugurated the Prof. Charles Soludo led Development Plan Committee for the Anambra State Vision 2070. Akpokuodike charged the committee members with the onerous responsibility of crafting a “50-year Development Plan that Ndi Anambra and South East would be proud of”. According to His Excellency, the inauguration was in line with his administration’s “…determination to seek for workable solutions to project the state to the limelight and ameliorate sufferings of the people”. He challenged the committee “…to evolve a vision and mission statement for Anambra identifying specific sectors that the State should focus on, develop measurements frameworks and determine critical milestone and success factors.” The committee has nine months to submit her report.
There has been mixed reactions over the committee. The Governor has been accused of setting up a think-tank committee for his All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) 2021 gubernatorial election. There is further allegation that the chairman (Prof. Charles Soludo) of the vision 2070 committee is his favoured APGA candidate for the 2021 Gubernatorial Election and that the Committee was meant to make him very visible to Ndi Anambra in the build-up to the said 2021 Elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through her Anambra State Publicity Secretary Mr. Nnamdi Nwangwu summarized the position of the Party thus:
“The fact that the very bogus Committee of 51 persons is headed by Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who is widely believed to be Obiano’s anointed and preferred aspirant to emerge as the Candidate of his APGA in 2021 gubernatorial race in the state completely gave the intention away.
A deeper look at the antecedents of Obiano gives the whole plot away as another form of jamboree and showmanship aimed at hoodwinking the people further.”
In addition, the PDP queried what the Obiano led APGA has done with the UN-Habitat plans for Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi “painstakingly procured by Mr. Peter Obi who already started the implementation before handing over to Obiano for “continuity”. The PDP requested for update on what Obiano had done with Anambra State Industrialization Handbook which articulated the steps to industrialize the six industrial estates in the state. Also the PDP requested information on what the Obiano led administration did with the N75B which he allegedly inherited.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Anambra through the State Publicity Secretary, Arch Okey Madukaife said that the committee inaugurated by the Governor is “a 419 committee” and called for the dissolution of the Committee. However, unlike the PDP, the APC only had issues with just the membership of the committee and not with the idea of setting up such committee at this time by the Obiano led APGA government in the State. The Party called for a more inclusive and bi-partisan membership of the Committee.
Personally, I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that not much could be achieved without proper planning. However, Chief Obiano , who expects Ndi Anambra to trust him to plan for them for the next 50 years is the incumbent governor and has been the so in the past six years. The natural thing to do is to look at what he has done with what he met on the ground on assumption of office as the governor. For the purpose of this piece, I will look at just the Health and Education Sectors. Also, I will mention the Anambra State Mega City projects.
Section 4 of the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme Law, 2016 states that the aim of the piece of legislation shall be to provide mandatory Health Insurance which shall entitle the assured person and their dependents to the benefits of prescribed good quality and cost effective health services as set out in this law.
Furthermore, Section 5 (a) of the law stipulates that:
“The objectives of the scheme shall be to ensure that every resident of Anambra state has access to good health care services”.
Section 5 (b) of the law focuses on protecting, “families from financial hardship of huge medial bill”.
I have decided to focus on this piece of legislation because it was personally signed into law and dated January 7th, 2017 by Chief Willie Obiano as the Governor of Anambra state. How has this piece of legislation been used to improve the Health Service Deliveries in Anambra state?
In Anambra state as at today, there are about 592 Primary Healthcare Facilities in the state and 32 Secondary Health Institutions spread across the 21 local governments of the state.
Although, four Local Government Areas have about three General Hospitals(GH), they are:
1. Aguata: (GH.Ekwulobia; GH. Umuchu; CHC Achina),
2. Anaocha: (GH Agulu, GH Nri GH Aguluoisgbo),
3. Njikoka:(GH.Niwo,GH.Enugwu-Ukwu’ Neuro-Psychiatric, Nawfia
4. Orumba North: (GH.Orumba,,GH.Nanka,GH.Enugwu-Abor Ufuma) .
However, eight Local governments: Anambra East, Awka North, Dunukfia, Ekwusigo, Idemili North, Nnewi South and Ogbaru all have two Secondary Health Institutions while f our Local Governments: Awka South, Idemili South, Onitsha North and Orumba South have just one Secondary Health Institutions.
Surprisingly, In Anambra State of 2019, five Local Governments do not have any presence of the Secondary Health Institutions. The import of this situation is that the State plays almost no role in the health of people resident and paying taxes in those Local Governments.
The local governments and towns are:
1. Anambra West: (Ezi-Anam,Ifite Anam, Olumbanasa, Orama-Etiti, Umuenwelum-Anam, Umueze-Anam, Ukwalla, Owelle, Inoma and Nzam)
2. Ayamelum: ( Anaku, Ifite-Ogwari,Igbakwu, Omasi, Omor, Umueje, Umueje, Umuerum and Umumbo)
3. Nnewi North: (Nnewi)
4. Onitsha South: ( Fegge)
5. Oyi: (Awkuzu, Nkwelle-Ezunaka, Nteje, Ogbunka and Umunwa)
It is most ironic that in 2019 while the state government was launching 50 Years Development Plan with fanfare, five local governments (that include Nnewi North and Onitsha South) with over 25 towns have no presence of the State Secondary Health Facilities in any form or manner. His Excellency has been in power for six years but four out of the five Local Governments without Secondary Health Facilities are from Anambra North where he hails from. His only known intervention is the building of a world class Secondary Health Facility is his community, Aguleri.
It is only commonsensical that the people need to survive TODAY before thinking of their descendants unborn. While those existing Secondary Health Institutions in Anambra state are not funded, the non-existence of them in some local governments is not acceptable by any standard whatsoever. Only the living can think of planning for the unborn descendants.
The United Nation’s Commission on Macro Economics and Health requires low income countries like Nigeria to spend at least $34 per capital on healthcare (2001). Also the Abuja 2001 Declaration requires African Countries to devote at LEAST 15% of their total expenditure on health care.
In Anambra State, Health Sector Budget 2015-2016 was about the lowest but despite the poor health sector budget, only 10.16 and 27.75 percent of the budgeted fund was actually released. The Budget in 2017 was poorer but there was improvement on the releases. The spending in the Health Sector is always below 3% of the State total actual spending. The resultant effects of inadequate funding for the Health Sector in Anambra State under the leadership of the Obaino APGA led government are:
1. Poor Doctors Attendance.
From the report of the research/data collation I did, the Doctors who are in charge of the hospitals in Anambra state rarely report to duty. Doctors, apart from their clinical duties, are the sole administrators of the hospitals. The Doctor supervises self and the Hospital functions at the lowest ebb and there are generally little or no activities in the hospital premises with the attendant health implications to Ndi Anambra.
2. Inadequate Infrastructure and facilities in Hospital.
Most of the Hospitals my team visited are over grown with grasses, have poor access roads and dilapidated buildings, devoid of relevant equipment.
3. LACF OF TRUST/ PATRONACE OF THE STATE PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTIONS. Over 90% of Ndi Anambra patronize the private health institutions in the State. The Health Services through the State Public Healthcare institutions are not usually accessible to Ndi Anambra. Patients Departments do not exist in most state General Hospitals and Health Centres
4. REMUNERATION FOR DOCTORS
The Anambra State as at today has the least remuneration for Doctors when compared to other States/Federal Health workers. It is still claimed that Anambra state do not implement the approved Health Salary Structure for Doctors and Medical staffs.
The implication is better imagined. No young Doctor wants to do his/her housemanship programme in Anambra State except those who are unable to secure a place elsewhere.
5. ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES IN THE STATE PUBLIC HEALTHE INSTITUTIONS.
In Anambra State Public Health Institutions Doctor is the sole administration. He/she presides over every issue relating to the Hospital and the provision of healthcare services in the Hospital. He/she combines clinical duties with Hospital administration. Provisions of Health care services to the people are temporary brought to a halt any time the doctor is off duty. In some of our neighboring states like Delta, Hospital Administration is placed in the hands of trained Hospital Administrators while the Doctors focus on the delivery of health care services to the people.
So, while the Soludo Committee prepares to work on the 2070 Vision Plans, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano should as a matter of urgency, declare State of Emergency in the Health Sector to save Ndi Anambra State. The team of contractors that worked on the Hospital in Aguleri should quickly be mobilized to the five LGAs in Anambra State without any Secondary Health Institutions commence construction work immediately. The Aguleri Hospital should be the minimum requirement.
Bu virtue of the provisions of Sections 3 (1) of the Public Education (Transfer of Schools) (Special Provission) Law, 2009 which was signed into Law by Mr. Peter Obi on October 2nd, 2009, 43 schools that were before them, owned and managed by the Anambra State Government were transferred to Voluntary Agencies,with some expected Commitments towards those affected schools by the State Government. While we wait for the 50 years Development Plan Committee to submit her report, the major question is on what the Government has done towards the implementation and/or execution of her commitments towards those schools in particular and the Education of Ndi Anambra State in General.
The National Policy on Education guides all educational delivery in every State in Nigeria. We have 9-3-4 system of education.9 years of Basic Education, 3 years of Senior Secondary Education and 4 years of University Education.
To achieve the national goals in line with the National Policy on Education, Anambra State Ministry of Education’s Vision is:
“to manage Anambra Educational System as an asset and a catalyst for consistent human capacity development”.
Expectedly, the Mission is, “to rely on a well-motivated, responsive, professional workforce and state of the art technology, to sustain innovation and creative pedagogy, expanding the frontiers of Education to be top in terms of best practices and entrepreneurship”.
The State has two Ministries in charge of Education; the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Tertiary Education. Both have several Parastatals.
As at today, Anambra has 1061 public primary schools (in addition to many private pre-primary and primary schools). In terms of ownership, 706 are owned by the mission: 434 of the primary schools are owned by Catholic, 272 by Anglican while 355 are owned by government. The total number of teachers for 2017/2018 academic session was 9229(212 males and 9,017 females) on the ratio of 1:43.5.
Meanwhile, the students were 307, 112 pupils. 157,896 males 149,216 females enrolled in the same 2017/2018.
The pre-primary and primary schools had a teacher: Pupil ratio of 1:32 from 2016/2017, 2016/2017, and 2017/2018 academic sessions. This is against the ideal situation of 1:25 in primary school when looked at on paper holistically. More worrisome is that most of the teachers are in the urban areas. So in reality, in some rural areas, you have two teachers for the whole school which necessitated employment of Parent Teachers Association (PTA) Teachers. The implication is that parents who fund their wards to school also employ and pay teachers for the school as a desperate measures to have their pupils in schools in Anambra State of today under the Obiano led APGA government.
These teachers, though, in some cases, qualified but are underemployed by the PTA and even the churches managing the schools and that affects the motivation to work negatively.
The Budgetary allocation to Education is low. The United Nations recommended 26% of total budgetary allocation to Education. Unfortunately, the funds budgeted for Education in Anambra over the years fall short of the recommended standard. 6.7% in 2016, 5.4% in 2017, 9.2% in 2018 and 6.8% in 2019. Of course, the actual spending/releases was on the average of 5%.
The level of spending in Education sector reflects on what the output is.
The Basic Infrastructure in schools in Anambra State is in a state of insufficiency and decay. Majority of the schools have leaking roofs, rough floors and dilapidated walls. The schools for the physically challenged children are not properly built according to specification to house them.
The ratio of classrooms in good condition in pre-primary education pupils in 2017/2018 academic, session was 1 classroom: 37 pupils.
The ideal situation of pre-primary is 1:25 pupils while primary is 1:35. There was inadequacy of classrooms for JSS and SS. The ratio was 1:60 but the ideal is 1:40. Pupils and students in schools with leaking roofs cluster in classes that are not leaking during rains. Teaching and learning materials are almost non-existent. Seats and desk are insufficient. Available seats are in terribly poor conditions. Pupils cluster in the available desks are chairs.
In consideration of the current situations in the Education Sector, the governor needs to inform Ndi Anambra what he is doing for today before he could be trusted to plan for them for 50 years in advance. Ndi Anambra State do not need any elitist Committee to get the schools working. Trust should be earned by the government not demanded. Even the cost of the public lunching of the Committee could renovate many schools in Anambra.
MEGA CITY DEVELOPMENT IN ANAMBRA STATE
Anambra State is structured to have three Mega Cities as Development Flashpoints meant to trigger industrial, commercial and other activities in Anambra State and bring about income generation, create employment and eradicate poverty.
The state Government is required to engage the development of mega cities by providing infrastructural facilities and enabling environment, attracting and encouraging the private sector through various forms of partnership arrangement to invest in the development of Mega Cities.
The three Mega Cities are:
i. Nnewi as Industrial City. The unity Layout was designed to lead the Industrial Revolution in Anambra State. Unfortunate, there has been controversial and currently in dispute. As at today, the plan has already been made but what is expected is the development of the Nnewi as Industrial City. As at today, the State Government has no secondary health facilities in the town. The government does not
ii. Onitsha Commercial City: There is Trans Nkisi in Onitsha which was commenced by the government of Mr. Peter Obi Icd state Government. The lands have been allocated but the area is still developing.
iii. Awka State Capital: During the tenure of Mr. Pete Obi, the Agu-Awka area including the three arms zone (new Government House, the Judiciary and the State House of Assembly) was known as the Greenwood Estate. The name has now changed Mauenniun city but nothing much has been done in terms of the development. Ngozika Estate and Light of the Nation Estate are party of the Awka City plan. For the purpose of the Development of the Mega Cities, the UN-HABITAT under the leadership of Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuk, the under-secretary- General of the United Nations and Executive Director in 2009 published three booklets titled.
I. ONITSHA: STRUCTURE PLAN FOR ONITSHA AND SATELLITE TOWNS
II. NNEWI: STRUCTURE PLAN FOR NNEWI AND SATELLITE TOWNS
iii. AWKA: STRUCTURE PLAN FOR AWKA AND SATELLITE TOWNS.
As at today, what Ndi Anambra need to know is what the Governor Obiano led government has done as regards the well-articulated and detailed plans for the development of the Mega Cities in Anambra. His implementation of the existing plans would earn him the trust of Ndi Anambra for his proposed 50 years Development plan. He should earn the Trust of Ndi Anambra state on what he is doing today before he would be trusted to plan for the future.
Ezesinachi n’Ukpor is a chieftain of the PDP and writes from Ukpor, Nnewi South LGA.