BY IFEANYICHUKWU AFUBA
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano presented Nigerian youths with a handsome gift on Thursday, March 12, 2020 when he commissioned the imposing NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp built by his administration at Mbaukwu/Umuawulu. By that bold stroke, the Governor also brought to an end the ridicule that Anambra State was subjected to for not having a permanent and deserving orientation camp.
In the 28 years of its creation, Anambra State had operated a temporary, rented NYSC camp at Umunya. The structure domiciled at the premises of a church – owned secondary school was grossly inadequate both in terms of space and facilities.
In 2013, a year to the end of his tenure, former Governor Peter Obi made a belated move to commence the building of a permanent complex at the present location of the camp.
Aside the lateness of the bid, the administration’s tendency for the minimalist option marred the initial scheme.
The venture was dead on arrival. Traditional ruler of Mbaukwu, co – host community of the Orientation camp, Igwe Peter Anukwu put the project history in perspective in a June 2017 video interview as the present structures neared completion.
‘When Obiano came in, he changed things to my own admiration. The initial contractor would buy [material], give receipt and he will be paid. There was no contract. But when Akpokue [Obiano] took over he now capitalized the contract.
In the original designs, you don’t see any storey building. When he [Gov Obiano] came [to the site], he said no, [to build bungalows] is waste of land and probably not befitting, that he’ll want storey buildings.’
Consequently, new architectural plans designed to raise the standard of the complex and capture good space layout was produced. And on February 10, 2015, Chief Willie Obiano laid the foundation stone for the historic project. Doubts trailed in some quarters about the capacity of the Obiano administration to deliver on the job. The worry was not about the focus or commitment of the state’s new leadership to a potentially turn – around development asset. The concern was founded on the huge debt burden the administration was coping with.
A staggering debt of N109b was passed on to the present government by the Peter Obi administration. This comprised of liabilities to contractors, CBN revolving loans, salaries and benefits denied some categories of public servants and transition – phase contractual commitments.
Till date, the Obiano government continues with the process of liquidating these debts. It is a measure of the administration’s resourcefulness and management that notwithstanding this economic squeeze it still kept faith with inherited projects and executed several legacy infrastructure of its own.
The winning formula lay in the dedication to ‘doing more with less.’ The Anambra NYSC Camp stands out as another landmark achievement of the present government.
It boasts accommodation facilities for 3000 inmates; an expansive hall; a modern auditorium; friendly conveniences and sporting facilities. Contingents in the February 2020 Police Games in Anambra State and the current batch of corpers posted to the State were not short of words in admiration of the facilities and services available.
On account of its standard provisions, the complex is temporarily serving as a protection centre in the event of coronavirus occurrence in the State. It’s rating as among the best five protection centres in the countries underscores the huge asset Obiano has given Anambra State with the NYSC Camp.
Afuba is editor of Anambra Times.