Anambra @30: Former State Chief Judge, Prof. Umeadi Shares His Views

Anambra @30: Former State Chief Judge, Prof. Umeadi Shares His Views


Prof. Peter N.C.Umeadi, FCArb. is a former Chief Judge of Anambra State and Life Bencher. In this interview on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Anambra State, he spoke with IZUNNA OKAFOR

Excerpts:


IZUNNA OKAFOR: Sir, as an elite, Onye Anambra, elderstatesman and a patriot, could you please tell us how Anambra State has fared since creation in August 1991 till date? Generally consider the 'journey so far' of the state since its creation, till date. Where and where have we improved, and where have we not?

PROF. PETER UMEADI: Anambra State, created since 30 years ago has lived up to its billing. School enrollment is high, yet the shame of low male school enrollment seems to be swept under the carpet. However collectively and individually schools and students in various grades have acquitted themselves in flying colors. Our secondary schools have ranked very high in the continent. Yet the primary schools still learn in appalling surroundings. 

Anambra has defined herself as a place to live and raise families and do business. The social responsibility in the State became enhanced from the time of Ngige to Obi and now with Obiano. The payment of workers salary as and at when due show a stabilizing effect. 

This phenomenon first manifested after the Biafra civil war when the huge salaries of the 'victor' trickled down to water the dry pockets of the 'vanquished'. The rehabilitation of the road infrastructure began with Ngige, Obi and Obiano. Of all the States in the Southeast zone only Enugu between the time of Chime and now Ugwuanyi, holds a candle up to Anambra; coupled with the fact that Enugu was our regional capital and arguably the most beautiful city in Nigeria.

We have human capital development, the academic excellence and favorable business climate, but we lack in development of residential and commercial estates. 

In the same vein we have not done enough with Awka, our capital town. I refrain from calling it a city. There are only three major roads in Awka; expressway, Amawbia bypass, Zik Avenue. These roads become impassable in a flash and could take as long as three hours to unravel. It is not good that such have not been addressed in 30 years. The other ugly side is the rough tactics of those who collect rates and fines on behalf of the government. They give all of us a bad name and no one is sure what percentage of what they force people to pay goes into the coffers of the State. 

So on our score card, we are doing well. We changed our logo from 'Home for All' to 'Light of the Nation'. Now like Zik's newspaper put it 'show the light and the people would find the way' !!!

IZUNNA OKAFOR: What are your expectations for the state in the next 30 years?

My expectations for Anambra State in the next 30 years would be not to run as slowly as it did in the first 30 years. An example is that the touted linking of Onitsha and Awka has not happened since 30 years ago! One would not overlook the overwhelming development that took place in the Onitsha/33/Nkwelle axis even though they are yet to merge. 

Government should find the answers why these lands developments did not materialize and facilitate them. We should expect to develop residential and commercial estates as we have done with intra-state road networks. Satellite towns should be built.

Government should get involved with low cost housing schemes.

We should adapt our educational and business infrastructure to realizing the necessary tools to join the science, technology, sports, innovation bandwagon. The trend of technology has been here; so in the next 30 years we need to improve on our homegrown science technology and innovation.

The collection of internally generated revenues should be digitalized. 

This would stem molestation and harassment of citizens and enthrone probity and accountability. Many western countries sustain their high standard of living on taxes alone. Anambra State should embrace the rule of law as the corner stone of its development. Same goes for Nigeria as a country. We have approved plans to build magistrates and high courts across the state, which should be implemented. 

The Willie Obiano Multi Door Court House attached to the State Judiciary ought to be functional. With the International Cargo and International Airport at Umueri and the many bilateral business agreements entered with foreign countries and enterprises, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) should be on ascendency. The surest and quickest way to attract investments is to have a dependable functional fast corruption-free adjudicatory system to attend to disputes which invariably arise out of business transactions.