By Chukwudi Nweje
For Dr. Obinna Chukwudum Uzoh, standard bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the time to transform his home state is now. His vision for Anambra which is contained in his manifesto is geared towards positively impacting all sectors of the state’s economy.
Among the array of contestants battling to contest the Nov 6 governorship poll, the stature of the distinguished lawyer, consummate businessman, notable politician, renowned philanthropist and chairman of GOCUZ Group, Dr. Obinna Uzoh, no doubt looms large.
For those conversant with elections in Anambra, this year’s governorship race is not different. Indeed, it is going to be the mother of all battles. Despite the orgy of violence trailing the exercise, so many juicy promises are being peddled by politicians. But the good thing is that the political sophistication of the state’s constituents makes it a different arena for political gamesmanship. Many believe that what will eventually count for the candidates will be their track records over the years.
For instance, a copy of Dr. Obinna Uzoh’s gubernatorial manifesto obtained by Daily Sun lays out a studied and specific vision to transform the state which is blessed with bountiful human talents.
Recognising that the state which turned 30 years old on August 27, 2021 have been short-changed by successive administrations that piloted its affairs but failed to explore and actualise the vision of its founding fathers, Uzoh put forward eight cardinal programmes to fast track change in the state.
They revolve around Security, Health, Agriculture, Power and Policy making, Education/Empowerment/Environment, Youth/Sports/Culture, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and Infrastructure/ Urban Renewal. Under these eight cardinal programmes, the SDP flag-bearer defined his implementation methodologies.
On security, the SDP candidate clarified that his party would “boost existing security infrastructure, making our state safer for our people and their businesses to thrive; engage more youths in meaningful economically productive activities to reduce their availability and exploitation for criminal undertakings and strengthen community policing – appointing community leaders as the chief security officers of their communities.”
He said the SDP would install 24-hour monitoring systems and cameras across the state, and equip the Police and Vigilantes with modern tools for proactive and prompt interventions.
Dr. Uzoh affirmed that his administration would partner with existing Tertiary, Secondary and Primary Health institutions to improve care and sector-related services; partner with Private Medical Practitioners to incorporate Government presence in their facilities in rural areas; partner with private investors in developing first class World healthcare facilities in Anambra to promote positive Medical Tourism.
He said the SDP would partner with NHIS to ensure Community Health Insurance Scheme to support maternal and child care, and care of the elderly and provide ambulances at strategic points for unforeseen mishaps and contingencies.
Quoting Bill Gates on the imperative of agriculture: “Investment in Agriculture is the best weapon against hunger and poverty and they have made life better for billions of people,” Dr. Uzoh revealed that Anambra State has a land mass of 4,844 square kilometres with a population of over 4 million people and that his party’s priority would be to harness and revive the state’s agricultural sector.
He clarified that the SDP would encourage private investors in Agriculture to make Anambra a food-sufficient state and a one-stop shop for raw and processed food and agro-allied products in Nigeria and beyond, ensure food security and guarantee self-sufficiency.
“We will partner with our tertiary institutions to develop agricultural research centres, provide farmers with improved seedlings and train Agricultural extension workers to assist rural farmers; create effective/and efficient micro credit schemes for Agro-related ventures with very low interest rates; introduce mechanized and non-mechanized farming system of agriculture in Anambra State and inject sufficient funds to the Agricultural sector to create more agro-allied jobs by way of loans at nominal interest rates for capital investment on medium and commercial scale cash crops”, he said.
On Power and Policy Making, he said he will collaborate with Enugu Disco and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to resolve the issue of epileptic power supply by developing independent power projects to drive industrialization, commerce, and provide power distribution to artisans and homes and also invest in greener distribution projects to reduce use of generators with the attendant health risks and threats of environmental degradation.
Dr. Uzoh stated his party would, “ensure appropriate legislation and policies for ample infrastructural development, safe and vehicle-worthy roads, proper drainage plans, erosion control, effective waste recycling, cleanliness, power generation, management for economic growth, and a healthy state; and provide good environment, infrastructure and adequate tax incentives to local investors, industries and traders to boost commerce and investments in our state.”
On the strategic education front, he stated that the SDP would, “provide capacity building and hands-on training for teachers and education administrators up to current global educational standards; revive public libraries with 24-hour internet access in all LGAs to improve access to information and opportunities in our rural areas and promote our cultural and academic values of research, hard work, independence and integrity.”
His administration would also “partner with private investors and organizations to develop skill acquisition centers, Sports and Arts Academies, specialized Science, ICT and technological training institutes, to carry every youth (especially the girl child) along in meeting the 21st Century demands.”
On Youths, Sports And Culture, he said, the SDP would provide the opportunities such as setting up functional recreational facilities, library with e-services, community centers, in collaboration with local government authorities, et cetera, for youth to realize, harness, and develop their potentials to the fullest.
The SDP would “establish world class sports academies and training institutes and ensure that Anambra State occupies a place of pride in global sports and athletics; run a youth inclusive government; put in place measures to identify talents early and ensure their participation in local and international games to enable them to be true professionals; help as well as mandate schools and communities to create neighborhood playgrounds/sports centre. We will create matching support funds for communities to acquire the needed equipment to develop skills and competencies.”
The party would also assist Nollywood to fully develop into world class movie industry that can compete effectively with the rest of the world. We will support the creative and performing arts with the necessary materials needed for their craft to thrive, giving them access to facilities to expedite their productions.
On the crucial skills acquisition, entrepreneurship and SMEs, the SDP would squarely address the issue of job creation through the policy of intensive focus on human capital development; return all the presently dysfunctional skill development centers and make them functional and provide loans for Small Scale and Medium Entrepreneurs. The party, he said would equally provide hands-on training of youths by the Ministry of Works on artisan and minor construction works, rural roads and drainage maintenance, et cetera.
Aware that investment in infrastructure is a long term requirement for growth which in turn eases trade and drives the economy, therefore playing an integral role in the development of a state, the SDP candidate said his administration would ensure that all viable infrastructure hitherto abandoned or ongoing are completed and immediately ensure the completion of the much delayed Onitsha-Enugu expressway.
Dr Uzoh said he would collaborate with Fede Government and Investors to complete the Onitsha River Port and also to unlock the Oseakwa seaport in Ihiala which is the deepest natural harbor in the county (over 20m deep) and lies only 18 nautical miles to the Atlantic Ocean. This can create over two(2) million jobs directly and indirectly. “We shall also carry out a robust face-lift of our state capital ‘Awka’, giving it a look deserving of a state capital; develop the Cargo Airport and make it fully functional; use proactive and strategic structural approach to erosion control and flood-prone areas management by constructing a comprehensive Anambra drainage system covering the entire state; and create green areas and state-owned recreational facilities with preservation of our historical sites and State monuments”’ he said.
Conceding that the challenges facing Anambra State today are enormous, Uzoh said he was coming to fix them,” pledging that if elected, his administration would incept a purposeful and vision-oriented leadership, ensure balanced government appointments, maintain equitable execution of standard and priority projects, insist on value for money in all government businesses and implement ease of doing business and progressive taxation.
What stands Uzoh out too is his extraordinary philanthropy. Not unexpected, Uzoh’s entrepreneurial astuteness and broad humanitarian vision, provision of employment opportunities for thousands of Nigerians through the diversity of his business conglomerate and compelling philanthropic spirit which has impacted and lifted many lives in his community, state, region and country, has attracted countless accolades and awards from a grateful community.
Uzoh is the only Papal Knight (Knight of Saint Gregory the Great) in the governorship race, in a highly religious community. A few years ago, he donated a 110-room ultra-modern students’ hostel at the Holy Family Youth Village, Awka to the Catholic Church. This came barely one year after single-handedly building/donating an imposing church complex in Ihiala – the All Saints Parish complex, in Umunnamehi, Ihiala, which was dedicated by the Papal Nuncio in Nigeria.
Following the high value he places on education, he has awarded scholarships to many students in primary, secondary, colleges of education, polytechnics and universities across the country. He has also awarded special scholarships to indigenes of Anambra State in Medicine, Law, Accountancy and Engineering, et cetera.
He built and donated a three-storey building for the Law Faculty of Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State, built, donated and renovated schools across the country, constructed and equipped several computer and science laboratories in secondary and tertiary institutions in Anambra State and distributed text books and instructional materials to schools across Anambra State.
He is also involved in establishment of small scale enterprises for indigenes of Anambra State and involved in road construction/rehabilitation of rural roads in the state. He has provided boreholes, rural electrification and donated transformers to towns and villages in Anambra State with financial and moral assistance to Non-Governmental Organizations across the country. He has also dona-ted drugs for free medical outreach-es to St. Charles’ Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, Anambra State.
He has established a special fund for assistance to pregnant women, widows, disabled people and people with heart, kidney, lung, sight and spinal cord problems. He has assisted young traders, school leavers and graduates to set up their own businesses through a revolving loan and is involved in sports development through sponsorship of local football competi-tions, track and field events.
Against this background, it is then little wonder that Uzoh has received countless honours and several respected personalities have testified on these unique interventions. According to the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. (Dr.) Val M. Okeke, “I have closely followed Dr. Obinna Uzoh’s activities towards the less privileged and they are edifying. He has assisted many indigent students through scholarship.
“He has built houses for the poor, built hostels for students, churches for worshippers of different denominations and he identifies with the poor and the lowly.”
For the former governor of Anambra State and ex vice presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Peter Obi, “Remarkable too is your spirit of philanthropy which has continued to earn you goodwill in Anambra State and beyond. You have equally excelled in missionary work, contributed in many ways to the Christian youth development, which you most recently demonstrated by building and donating a multi-million Naira hostel edifice to the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha at Holy Family Youth Centre, Amansea. This gesture of yours is a challenge to other wealthy Anambra citizens on how best to give back to the society.”
To partner him in his quest to govern Anambra State, Uzoh settled for a scientist as his running mate on the SDP platform. He is a doctor of human medicine and consultant family physician Uzochukwu Obiora Chira. Dr. Chira hides an inner steel and stern discipline that enabled him rise to his current position behind an affable and courteous exterior.
A public administrator and development strategist, philanthropist and politician, Dr. Chira brings to his political partnership with Uzoh, a track record of youth, dynamism and compelling intellectual acumen – qualities certainly needed for higher political responsibility in the offing.
A personality who has envisioned a new direction for his state, Uzoh’s promising electoral choice as next governor of Anambra State would indeed tacitly acknowledge the capacity of highly focused individuals to change their society for the better.
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