It was a full house recently in the palatial home of Ben Okoye in the Lekki area of Lagos where prominent Anambra indigenes gathered for an interactive session to discuss amongst other things the fate of Ndi Anambra in Nigeria, the future socio-economic development of Anambra state, and also to honour Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters.
Amongst those present were Prof. A.B.C Nwosu, Ralph Nwosu, Bishop Okonkwo, Stella Okoli, Clem Nwogbo, Olisa Metu, Emeka Okafor, Chike Chikeluba, Ezidinma Ifejika (Rtd. Police AIG), Joseph Odumodu, Stella Ozojiofor, Joe Igbokwe, Obi Nwankwo, Senator Annie Okonkwo, Charles Okoli and Okey Ezeibe to name but a few.
The interactive session, one in an ongoing series was convened by the League of Anambra Professionals (LAP), an emerging non-partisan and non-governmental organisation (NGO) whose mandate is to rebuild Anambra state into a rich and modern state by harnessing the talent and resources of Anambra indigenes.
Watching the individuals that attended the session; successful professionals and entrepreneurs who have distinguished themselves in various endeavours in Nigeria and abroad, the type of people that the Late K.O Mbadiwe would describe as “men of timber and caliber”, one couldn’t help but wonder aloud why it is so that Anambra state, a state so blessed with such wealthy and talented individuals with vast amounts of resources will find itself being used as a case study of retrogressive development in Nigeria.
It did not matter which political camp the attendees belonged to, there was visible show of brotherhood and camaraderie on display. The traditional Nwanna salute and three-back hand slap greetings easily gave the impression that Ndi Anambra have resolved to put all that has happened in the state behind them to move on and take their rightful place in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
During his remarks, The Executive Governor of Anambra state, Mr. Peter Obi challenged all present to buy into the new thinking by subscribing to the Anambra project. “We should always remember that as Ndi Anambra, we have to be our brothers’ keepers”, he said. Mr. Obi will know better about this judging from his past and still ongoing political travails in the state. If there is anybody that will be the rallying point of the ambitious New Anambra project, surely it must be him. He also used his speech to eschew the politics of bitterness that has plagued the state and crippled it from moving forward over the past few years. He almost seemed to be recommending the adoption of the principles of ‘politics without bitterness’ made popular by Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of GNPP in the second republic.
The highlight of the interactive session was the unveiling of Ambra Investicorp Trust Ltd and their ambitious private placement scheme aimed at raising I Trillion Naira through the sale of shares to Ndi Anambra as part of efforts aimed at realizing the Anambra Vision 2030 agenda; a 25-year development programme being championed by a planning and strategy committee chaired by Professor Chukwuma Soludo (CBN governor). The committee also has Professor Chris Ezeigbo as Vice Chairman and Dr. P.C. Nwilo as Secretary.
Already, some prominent Anambra indigenes have bought various units of shares demonstrating their belief in the saying that “Igwe bu ike”. Some of those who have already bought or reserved shares include Bishop Okonkwo of Ekulo Holdings, Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis, Ben Okoye, Stella Okoli of Emzor Pharmaceuticals and Senator Annie Okonkwo (Agu Na Eche Mba) who during his speech pledged the sum of 25 million naira to the Ambra private placement scheme.
One can not but commend the efforts of the League of Anambra Professionals for walking the talk. They are indeed giving Ndi Anambra the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. Like they say, home is where the heart is, and Anambra state being a home for all good people, this is time for all Ndi Anambra in Nigeria and in the Diaspora to answer the call by subscribing to the project and the ideals being proposed by League of Anambra Professionals which is to rekindle the Anambra spirit and values, and return to our core values of love for education, hardwork, strong family values, saving and investment. LAP also encourages Ndi Anambra to learn tact, diplomacy and patience, and to reject empty noise and ostentatious lifestyles.
Perhaps it is worthy of note that Professor Patrick Utomi attended the session with his wife Dr. (Mrs.) Ifeoma Utomi as observers and friends of Ndi Anambra. The couple did not just attend for the food and wine which were quite plentiful on the night, but to demonstrate their support for a good cause, and their trust in a re-positioned Anambra state and the impact it will have on the rest of the Igbo states.
However, there are certain areas that the League of Anambra Professionals need to improve and develop on if it wants to successfully lay the foundation for the Anambra 2030 vision. The first is the need to reach out more to Ndi Anambra who are scattered all over the world. As presently constituted and judging by the turn-out at the interactive session, this still seems like a
Every kobo should be made to count in the rebuilding and re-development of Anambra state, from the few that will be received from market women at Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu to the few hundreds and thousands of Naira coming from the various market traders and small business owners at Nnewi and
Secondly, there may be a need to review the business focus and strategy of Ambra Investicorp Trust Ltd. At the moment, they plan to invest the funds raised through the private placement exercise in mechanized agriculture projects, computer assembly plants and in setting up internet cafes in Awka,
Further analyses still requires to be done in these areas, and experiences of indigenous operators such as Zinox and Omatek evaluated before committing investors funds to projects that may not yield profits both in the short and medium term. Perhaps the projections of breaking-even and posting a profit by 2009 contained in the private placement documents handed out on the night will be affected and therefore needs to be reviewed once a re-evaluation of the business opportunities available in the state are done.
Without any doubt, some of those in the steering committee of LAP are men of proven business acumen especially Mr. Joseph Odumodu, CEO of May & Baker Nigeria Plc but there may indeed be other more lucrative areas from an investment point of view that they should focus on such as hospitality and leisure, power, oil and gas, property, FCMG manufacturing etc. This is because at the end of the day, when sentiments are set aside, what potential investors will be looking for is maximum return on their investments; that unfortunately may not be achieved with internet cafés that already litter every corner in most cities of Nigeria.
Finally, LAP should upgrade its website and make it easily navigable. Better features should be introduced and information on the site updated regularly. A well designed website could be a veritable information and marketing tool in reaching Ndi Anambra in the diaspora, and help project the profile of LAP as a serious minded organisation to key stakeholders.
Despite the efforts of Casmir Maduafokwa, Okey Udezue, Cynthia Ifeagwu, Chizor Malize and Stella Ozojiofor in re-branding LAP, further work requires to be done in that regard in order to accommodate Ndi Anambra who may not fall under their definition of a professional. The task of re-building Anambra state should concern every Anambra indigene not just the so-called professionals, a phrase that may alienate further those that needs to be reached in order to achieve the objectives set by LAP both in the short and log terms.
The journey has already begun and the task now is for LAP to use its platform to unite Ndi Anambra in the interest of the state. It wouldn’t be out of place for it to host a Truth and Reconciliation forum just like Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi did in Rivers state recently. An olive branch should be extended to all the feuding parties in the state including Andy Uba and his brother Chris Uba. All should be made to see reasons why promoting the common good as Prof. Utomi will put it benefits everybody in the long term.
A big kudos to Ben Okoye for hosting the last session and to all those who have hosted past sessions including Chike Chikeluba, Emmanuel Egbogah, Obi Adimora, Emeka Nwandu, Mike Umeh, Chidi Anyaegbu, Cosmas Maduka, Okonkwo Obiora, Annie Okonkwo and Mac Oruche.
May your waters never run dry and may you through your various endeavours continue to promote the Nwanne Di Na Mba spirit and culture; something Anambrarians are known for, Ise!