…. Soludo’s Achievements Under One Year In Retrospect (Part Three)
By Christian ABURIME
The primacy of human agency in development, as a force for social change, has been well acknowledged in theory and proven in practice. Man is at the centre of development and man drives the trajectory of development.
It is logical that any government that wants to accelerate development in a society must place high premium on human capital development. No matter how sublime a social agenda is, or how grand a vision is, it will remain a fanciful dream for mere admiration without a galvanized human capital to build on.
Thus, Jim Collins, an American author and management consultant, deserves credit for saying, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
Now, it is no longer news that Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo has a great vision of transforming Anambra State into “a livable and prosperous smart megacity” and “Africa’s new axis of sustainable prosperity”.
For the past one year, a restless Prof. Soludo has been up and about every day, taking tangible actions to attain his well-articulated vision for Ndi Anambra. One of the policy pillars of the vision that is so dear to his heart is the pursuit of human capital development and comprehensive social agenda, which the governor considers critically imperative to lift Anambra State to a modern and prosperous megacity. How well has he done in that regard?
Indeed, the progressive milestones of the past one year speak convincingly that Governor Soludo values human capital and he is doing his best to maximize the copious human potential in the state for social flourishing. With an unwavering determination and a passionate belief in the potential of his people, the governor has been progressing on the remarkable journey that would leave an indelible mark on the lives of our citizens.
Let us begin with the education sector. Being a renowned academic, Governor Soludo knows that education is the cornerstone of progress and the key to unlocking the state’s true potential. As an overview, Anambra State has 1,191 private primary schools, 1,057 public primary schools, 277 private secondary schools, 256 public secondary schools, 4 private tertiary institutions and 3 public tertiary institutions. At the time the current government came into office, 22% of the 2,781 primary and secondary schools were classified substandard in a 2020 UNESCO report. Also, a 2020 report by the National Journal of Educational Leadership (NJOEL) highlighted a 22.24% dropout rate in secondary schools as a result of factors such as teenage pregnancy, poverty and insecurity across the education regions.
With the foregoing unflattering statistics, the governor immediately resolved to change the educational narrative with tactical education reforms, recruitment of personnel, monitoring and evaluation, and scholarship interventions, among others.
In an unprecedented move last year, the government in one fell swoop recruited 5,000 teachers via an open-source application portal for transparency to end the era of schools without teachers. The new teachers were deployed across the 21 LGAs of the state. The governor also established an Education Advisory Council, embarked on revision of schools’ curricula on primary and tertiary levels to guarantee best standard practices within the system, and re-introduced History in the curriculum.
To foster excellence and widen education opportunities, Governor Soludo introduced a special scholarship intervention for 107 indigent students of hard-to-reach, disadvantaged and riverside communities in Anambra State. He believes that every talented student should have access to world-class education, regardless of their financial background.
Today, the diverse education reforms of this government are making positive impact. For instance, quality standards are being restored, dropout rates are improving and schools in Anambra State are winning national awards and honours. Things can only get better and better.
Healthcare comes next. Governor Soludo also appreciates the critical role of healthcare in building a strong and prosperous society, and this made him to undertake a comprehensive healthcare programme with both preventive and curative measures.
For context, Anambra State has 598 public health centres, 1,699 private health centres, 3,030 female medical workers and 509 male health workers. When the present government took over last year, the state was contending with critical issues such as inadequate facilities and manpower, poor funding, abysmal health information management and weak standards regulation in primary, secondary, tertiary and digital healthcare systems.
What did Governor Soludo then do? He promptly introduced diverse health interventions, phased facility overhaul and upgrade, as well as recruitment of personnel and monitoring and evaluation. To date, 244 new medical personnel have been recruited and deployed, Anambra State Hospital Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (ASHEFAMMA) was established, Ministry of Health Taskforce was activated, Medical Oxygen Production Plant at General Hospital, Onitsha, was constructed, Hematology Analyzers were deployed to the Laboratory Departments of General Hospitals at Agulu and Nnobi, and an Endoscopy Unit was established at the General Hospital, Onitsha.
To further boost effective response to and protection from diseases, the government has shared 3.8 million mosquito nets to fight malaria; deployed an emergency response team that contained monkeypox outbreak; deployed Drug Revolving Fund (DRF) in state hospitals; been upgrading 3 General Hospitals (along with dental units) at Ekwulobia, Enugwu-Ukwu and Umueri; established 30 centres for cervical cancer screening and treatment; established State Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance Systems (SEMAS); and established the Drugs Quality Control Lab at COOTH, Amaku.
No doubt, Ndi Anambra’s healthcare is getting healthier now. Alongside education and healthcare actions taken so far, the government of Prof. Soludo has also been extending his reforms touch to youth empowerment and other social interventions.
Realizing the potential of the youth as catalysts for change, the governor places a strong emphasis on youth empowerment. Key statistics show that there was an unemployment rate of 13.1% in Anambra State as at 2020 and 1.2 million people on Anambra’s Social Register were exposed to all forms of vulnerabilities. In swift response, the Soludo government embarked on social protection initiatives and empowerment programmes in collaboration with local and international development partners.
Recently too, his administration launched Innovation Programme of Anambra State (Solution Innovation District), focusing on raising a digital tribe, deep technology, startups, inventions, research commercialization, creative talents and SMEs innovation.
Expressly, other concrete social interventions include commencing the phase 1 of ‘One Youth, Two Skills’ programme designed to train 5,000 youth on entrepreneurship and vocational skills, while empowering them with seed funding; and training 20,000 youth on digital skills to raise the digital tribe. Also, the government has supported 2,438 poor and vulnerable people with N20, 000 bi-monthly; 500 women and youth have been provided with short skill vocation trainings and one-off grants ranging from N100, 000 to N200, 000; and 41 micro projects were completed in 15 communities across 8 LGAs.
As the government has since drafted a Social Protection Policy, it has been able to implement the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP); met the eligibility criteria to partake in World Bank’s Nigeria For Women (NWP) program; and established a Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) unit for prompt interventions on such issues.
Thus far, all the above educational, healthcare, youth empowerment and other social interventions that space would not permit here have not only improved the quality of life for many of our youth, women and senior citizens, but also restored their hope and dignity.
Under Governor Soludo’s visionary leadership within the past one year, Anambra State has started witnessing transformative human capital development and social agenda that are paving the way for a brighter future for the state and its people.
So, there is resurgent hope, knowing that Governor Charles Soludo’s unwavering commitment to human and social flourishing would continue to shape lives positively for years to come. Indeed, solution is here and it has come to stay!