Governing Anambra Was Complex – Peter Obi

By KayCee August 4, 2014 17:16
Former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, was recently bestowed with the Nigeria Computer Society Award for what the Society called the ICT revolution he led in Anambra State. At the event, which took place on July 25 at the Nike Lake Hotel, Mr. Peter Obi spoke to some journalists,  life out of office, and his experience in office. Excerpts (Culled from Daily Independent)

Would you share with Nigerians what life has been since leaving office as governor?

I keep telling people that eight years as governor of Anambra State was like eight years in a battle front. I say this because of the complexities in the State, which the support of the masses, their prayers and divine guidance helped me to overcome.

What do you mean by complexities in Anambra State?

How do I explain this? You remind me of an author I was reading on general topics from philosophical perspective. The author was at a loss on how to explain Yoga and ended up saying “only through Yoga may Yoga be known.” It is only through active participation in the governance of Anambra State would one discover in its fullness the complexities in the State. Anambra people are good, very industrious, proud of their heritage, and are justifiably the “Jew of Nigeria,” but over the years, through the misplacement of values, our state came very low and at a point even became a byword for rascality. I met all the challenges and complexities associated with a people that have lost a sense of values because the dregs among them took over the arena. I am happy that today, we are re-conquering ourselves and have gone far in the process of reclaiming our State for ourselves.

You were today bestowed with a special Award by the Nigeria Computer Society, because of your efforts towards what they called ICT revolution in Anambra State when you were the Governor. How do you feel about it?

Generally, conferment of awards and granting of dignities are ways by which the society acknowledges people that have done or are doing well for humanity. I am therefore happy and elated that the Nigerian Computer Society found me worthy to be honoured. As they said, they had wanted to honour me when I was the Governor, but I declined in line with my belief that awards that are not time-bound are better given after one had left office.  I maintained this position because as soon as I became the governor, the request to give me awards started coming in torrents, even in my first year when I had not done anything for an organisation to want to honour me. Very soon, I discovered that most of the awards were predicated on one’s support; therefore I said no awards until I have served my terms. Awards like the Sun or BusinessDay Man of the Year were accepted because they were tied to specific years. Again, I said that before I accept any award, besides the organisation convincing me, I must be convinced within me that I genuinely merit it. Today, if an organisation says they want to honour me as a former governor with the best improvement on internally generated revenue generation, I should be honest to myself to know it is not true. I am therefore happy to receive the award. I am also happy to receive the award by Librarians of Nigeria, the Lagos Business School, among others, because from their submissions, it was obvious that I really came out the best in the area of the award. Take the issue of librarians that honoured me, they made it clear that I built the first library in Anambra State since the state was created and the first e-library in the South-East. They also acknowledged billions of Naira we made available to all the government and missionary-owned secondary schools in the state for the provision of libraries as well as the provision of infrastructure to the libraries and the purchase of vehicles for librarians, among others. Coming to the award by Nigeria Computer Society, they enumerated the reasons for the award and they are verifiable. I bought over 30,000 desktop and laptop computers for public and missionary schools in the State. In fact, our last purchase was 22,500 laptops at the ratio of 1 to 10 students, a feat not achieved by any state in Africa. We provided Microsoft academies and over 500 generators to schools to power the facilities. We connected our schools to internet. We employed computer teachers for the schools and commenced the computerisation of departments of government in the state, among others.

 Are you satisfied with the teaching and learning of ICT in Nigeria?

First and foremost, let me repeat: any country or state desirous of equipping her people for competition in future must not joke with education, and the critical part of modern education is ICT enabled. Recently, different examination boards said their examination would be computer-based. For people from Anambra State, there is no need to be panicky. We have invested in the sector that we would not be disadvantaged no matter how they want to do it. We have also employed, trained and retrained ICT teachers. I want Nigeria to look more deeply on how to make ICT education readily available to Nigerians. I will like to encourage those in charge of our education to consider a programme to make computers available to students in tertiary institutions as soon as they enter year one. I am sure with about 35 Billion Naira yearly budgets, it is doable. That amount is not up to 30% of what the Federal Government spends on paying for one form of subsidy or another monthly. We were able to provide about 30,000 computers in Anambra State because we talked directly to the manufacturers or their representatives without going through 1st, 2nd or 3rd parties and were able to secure generous discounts. It is about time our people learnt to be more transformational rather than the current culture of transaction pervading the country.

As an international businessman, how can you rate ICT penetration between Nigeria and South Africa?

When you compare that, based on population, South Africa being about 53 million and Nigeria being 168 Million, you will agree that South Africa tops Nigeria. With conscientious planning and adequate deployment of resources, Nigeria has the capacity to surpass South-Africa just as our GDP has recently surpassed theirs.

Much has been said about the poor GSM services in Nigeria, especially in the area of drop calls, what do you think should be done to improve on it?

I remember when people traveled hundreds of kilometres to receive phone calls. I remember when people queued in NITEL offices to make calls; today it is no longer the case. I say this to let you know that the history of telecommunication has been impressively progressive. Today, phones are no longer status symbols. Today, secondary school students have phones. Due to increase in subscriber base and vandalisation of equipment, especially in areas we have security challenges, we witness dwindling call quality. The way to improve it is by telecomm companies investing in infrastructure more than they do now. Moreover, telecomm regulators should monitor service providers more for compliance to minimum standards. I am aware that power problem also affects telecomm companies and I am confident that President Goodluck Jonathan is doing everything to solve the power problem.




By KayCee August 4, 2014 17:16