The significance of human agency in development, as a catalyst for societal progress, has been widely acknowledged in theory and proven in practice. Humanity lies at the core of development and drives its trajectory.
It is only logical that any government seeking to expedite development in a society must place a high value on the development of human capital. Regardless of how noble a social agenda may be or how ambitious a vision may seem, without a motivated and skilled human capital to build upon, it remains a mere fantasy that garners admiration but achieves little.
In this regard, credit must be given to Jim Collins, an American author and management consultant, for his insightful statement, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
Nowadays, it is common knowledge that Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo envisions transforming Anambra State into “a livable and prosperous smart megacity” and “Africa’s new axis of sustainable prosperity.”
Over the past year, Governor Soludo has been tirelessly working day in and day out to take concrete actions towards realizing his well-articulated vision for the people of Anambra. One of the key pillars of his vision, which he holds in high regard, is the pursuit of human capital development and a comprehensive social agenda, which he considers crucial to uplift Anambra State into a modern and prosperous megacity. How successful has he been in this endeavor?
Indeed, the progressive milestones achieved over the past year strongly indicate that Governor Soludo values human capital and is dedicated to maximizing the abundant potential of the state’s population for social progress. With unwavering determination and a deep belief in the potential of his constituents, the governor has embarked on a remarkable journey that will leave an indelible mark on the lives of the citizens of Anambra.
Let us begin with the education sector. As a renowned academic, Governor Soludo recognizes that education is the foundation of progress and the key to unlocking the true potential of the state. To provide an overview, Anambra State is home to 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.
However, a 2020 UNESCO report classified 22% of the 2,781 primary and secondary schools as substandard. Additionally, a report from the National Journal of Educational Leadership (NJOEL) highlighted a 22.24% dropout rate in secondary schools due to factors such as teenage pregnancy, poverty, and insecurity across educational regions.
Faced with these concerning statistics, the governor promptly resolved to change the narrative of education through strategic education reforms, personnel recruitment, monitoring and evaluation, and scholarship interventions, among other measures.
In an unprecedented move last year, the government recruited 5,000 teachers through an open-source application portal, ensuring transparency and putting an end to the era of schools without teachers. These new teachers were deployed across the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
The governor also established an Education Advisory Council, undertook a revision of the curricula for primary and tertiary levels to ensure the best standard practices within the system, and reintroduced History into the curriculum.
To foster excellence and expand education opportunities, Governor Soludo introduced a special scholarship intervention for 107 indigent students from hard-to-reach, disadvantaged, and riverside communities in Anambra State. He firmly believes that every talented student should have access to world-class education, regardless of their financial background.
Today, the diverse education reforms implemented by the government are making a positive impact. Quality standards are being restored, dropout rates are improving, and schools in Anambra State are receiving national awards and honors. The trajectory can only continue to improve.
Next comes healthcare. Governor Soludo also recognizes the critical role of healthcare in building a strong and prosperous society, which led him to initiate a comprehensive healthcare program encompassing preventive and curative measures.
To provide context, Anambra State has 598 public health centers, 1,699 private health centers, 3,030 female medical workers, and 509 male health workers. When the present government took office last year, the state was grappling with issues such as inadequate facilities and manpower, insufficient funding, poor health information management, and weak standards regulation across primary, secondary, tertiary, and digital healthcare systems.
So what did Governor Soludo do? He promptly introduced various health interventions, initiated facility overhaul and upgrade programs, recruited personnel, and established monitoring and evaluation systems. To date, 244 new medical personnel have been recruited and deployed, the Anambra State Hospital Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (ASHEFAMMA) was established, the Ministry of Health Taskforce was activated, a Medical Oxygen Production Plant was constructed at General Hospital, Onitsha, 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 enhance the state’s ability to respond effectively to diseases and safeguard the population, the government distributed 3.8 million mosquito nets to combat malaria, contained a monkeypox outbreak through an emergency response team, implemented the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF) in state hospitals, initiated the upgrading of three General Hospitals (including dental units) at Ekwulobia, Enugwu-Ukwu, and Umueri, established 30 centers for cervical cancer screening and treatment, launched the State Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance Systems (SEMAS), and established the Drugs Quality Control Lab at COOTH, Amaku.
Undoubtedly, healthcare in Anambra State is improving. In addition to the actions taken in the fields of education and healthcare, the government of Governor Soludo has also extended its reform initiatives to encompass youth empowerment and other social interventions.
Recognizing the youth as catalysts for change, the governor places strong emphasis on empowering them. Key statistics indicate an unemployment rate of 13.1% in Anambra State as of 2020, with 1.2 million people on Anambra’s Social Register facing various vulnerabilities. In swift response, the Soludo government launched social protection initiatives and empowerment programs in collaboration with local and international development partners.
Furthermore, the administration recently introduced the Innovation Programme of Anambra State (Solution Innovation District), which focuses on fostering a digital tribe, deep technology, startups, inventions, research commercialization, creative talents, and innovation within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Notably, other tangible social interventions include the commencement of Phase 1 of the ‘One Youth, Two Skills’ program, designed to train 5,000 youths in entrepreneurship and vocational skills, along with empowering them through seed funding.
Additionally, 20,000 youths have been trained in digital skills to cultivate a digital tribe. The government has supported 2,438 poor and vulnerable individuals with bi-monthly payments of N20,000, provided short skill vocational training and one-off grants ranging from N100,000 to N200,000 to 500 women and youth, and completed 41 micro projects in 15 communities across 8 LGAs.
With the drafting of a Social Protection Policy, the government has successfully implemented the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), met the eligibility criteria for participation in the World Bank’s Nigeria For Women (NWP) program, and established a unit to address Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) for prompt interventions in such cases.
Thus far, all the aforementioned educational, healthcare, youth empowerment, and other social interventions have not only improved the quality of life for many youths, women, and senior citizens, but have also restored hope and dignity.
Under Governor Soludo’s visionary leadership in the past year, Anambra State has witnessed transformative human capital development and a social agenda that paves the way for a brighter future for the state and its people.
Therefore, there is a renewed sense of hope, knowing that Governor Charles Soludo’s unwavering commitment to human and social progress will continue to positively shape lives for years to come. Indeed, the solution has arrived and is here to stay!