Towards Making Anambra a First Choice Destinatio­n

With a thorough brand DNA that spells out the core values and vision of the government, the Willie Obiano-led administra­tion in Anambra State is creating a governance culture that will reposition the state and the people, Raheem Akingbolu reports.


Within and outside Nigeria, state governors and mayors of cities have since realised the need to carve a niche for their territorie­s. Like handlers of goods and services, competing for customer’s attention, governors are now keen about how to boost the image of their states through improvemen­t on aesthetic outlook and provision of basic amenities to attract investors. That destinatio­n branding was chosen as topic for this year’s ministeria­l meeting at the World Travel Market in London says a lot about its growing influence, and how those in charge of marketing and nation management have considered it part of their strategies.

Anambra’s approach May be because of his background as a top player in the corporate environmen­t before diving into politics, the current governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano came into government with a thorough plan to redefine the Anambra brand. Through the administra­tion’s well cutout brand strategy, the state has within the 18 months of Obiano in office, gotten its anthem, flag and crest. To be distinct, Anambra is now adored in yellow colour, which it shares with a brand like MTN. However, the state yellow is mixed with a touch of black.

Beyond logo and other branding elements, the state has also initiated a power plan for developmen­t in various sectors to attract investment. Above all, for the first time, Anambra seems to have gotten it right in the area of security. Some residents of the state, who spoke to this reporter recently in the commercial city of Onitsha and Awka, capital of the state, expressed satisfacti­on with the level of achievemen­t Obiano has recorded in the area of security.

A taxi driver, who simply identified himself as Joachim said gone were the days when the people become apprehensi­ve whenever Christmas is approachin­g because of hoodlums and armed robbers. “Before now, Onitsha is a dreaded place for businessme­n and visitors as thieves always had a free day but since this current governor came on board, the hoodlums have fled. Security was the first thing the governor tackled and it makes life easy for people,” he said. Speaking on the governor’s plan to create an exciting brand out of Anambra State, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. James Eze said the governor had always wanted to build a new governance culture and promote an enabling environmen­t for investment. “During his electionee­ring campaign, one important area the governor emphasised was the need to make the state the safest state in Nigeria. He assured Anambra people that his tenure would witness peace and rapid developmen­t. He also called on citizens of the state in Diaspora not to shy away from coming home as he would do everything humanly possible to secure lives and property,” Eze said.

Profession­alism Despite Governor Obiano’s natural dispositio­n towards branding, he also encourages profession­alism in his approach. For instance, his media team is a blend of people from diverse background­s; print, electronic­s and marketing communicat­ions. To give profession­al touch to the state’s branding activities, Obiano had earlier engaged the services of Brande Aristotle/ Winning Concepts Consortium headed by Mr. Mike Mese, a thorough bred marketing communicat­ions practition­er. Mese, an indigene of the state, is one of the most brilliant Marketing Communicat­ions practition­ers rocking the industry until few years ago when he relocated to the East. He has garnered experience that cut across both client and agency sides, having worked with UAC, Insights and Corporate and Financial (C&F), before setting up his own agency.

In an interview with THISDAY in Awka, Mese spoke glowingly about the governor’s style and factors that have helped the positionin­g effort of the state government. “We should not forget that the governor had a very good background in the corporate world that was why he appreciate­d the need for having a very good vision, a mission and core value for the state. Today, a new type of culture is in place, the business of governance in Anambra is no more business as usual.

Mese, also disclosed that long before the effort at the centre to change Nigerians’ attitude to governance, Anambra state governor had introduced a new governance culture and that the various elements of the Anambra brand DNA bring out the soul of the state.

“Under Obiano, a thorough brand DNA was done to redefine the state. There are other corporate manifestat­ions of Anambra state that are being showcased to give the state a distinct identity,” he said.

The marketing communicat­ion practition­er also dismissed the augment of whether or not the people of the state will buy into the new transforma­tion regime. He said he was surprise with the level of buy in by Anambra people, as the people of the state like to be called. He said with the new culture, the state, being the centre of activities in Igbo land, has punctured the stereotype belief that an average Igbo man thinks only about what he would eat, what is in his pocket and his business.

“With my experience in branding, I will say a project like this will take about 10 years before it shows positive impact but I must confess that in less than two years, Anambra people are beginning to buy into the new culture in a very high percentage. They have begun to have a new way in which they look at themselves and portray themselves into the outside world. To a large extent, the branding project is successful and I believe it will leave beyond the Obiano’s administra­tion because our people have now see themselves as a special people; people of special species, who distinguis­h themselves anywhere. It has begun to grow from just a slogan or words to something that is real and concrete. Beyond my surprise at the pace at which our people are catching up with the new culture, let me also add that that the whole exercise has become a learning process

for me,” Mese added.

According to him, the government’s approach to take some of the core values of the state down to the primary school, without rolling out any campaign was innovative. “Anambra State Government under Willie Obiano has used what we call gorilla marketing under the government’s policy of ‘do more with less’.

Security One area Mese singled out as a major achievemen­t for Obiano and his team is the feat the administra­tion has recorded in the area of security. The marketing consultant, who argued that Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria today, stated that three years ago and the years past, the kind of free movement one enjoy today was not possible. “In a place like Opa Iweka for instance, one can drop N1million and come back to pick it. It wasn’t like that a few years ago. With the sanity in the state now, one can drive from any part of Anambra to another part without fear of being robbed. You can take a walk or drive to anywhere without fear. As it used to be in the past, Anambra indigenes from within and outside Nigeria will come to Anambra to celebrate Christmas with their kith and kin but this time in total atmosphere of peace and safety,”

He painted the ugly picture of the past when rich indigenes of Anambra would come to the village and leave their choice cars in the cities only to come and hire tuketuke (a poorly maintained vehicle) just to disguise. “In the past, people will come in, rushed into their village and rush out.

Most times, they sleep in hotels but last year, it was a celebratio­n in an atmosphere of peace. Imagine, Anambra indigenes that drive Rolls Royce and other big cars in their respective places of abode will come to Anambra to charter tuketuke. They will embark on all these to disguise because of fear of likely attack by armed robbers. Now they can ride their Rolls Royce to anywhere without looking behind their shoulders because they are safe,”

He however pointed out that all these have started attracting investment. He also disclosed that the Inspector General of Police had admitted at a recent forum that Anambra is now the safest state in Nigeria. “That is why all these investment are coming and they will continue to come. Even the Inspector General of Police has confirmed that Anambra is today the safest state in Nigeria. Few weeks ago, he was here to moderate the Delta State/East Security Summit, and he confirmed.

Economic blueprint Speaking on government approach to industrial and economic developmen­t, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. James Eze, had earlier stated that the administra­tion came in with an economic blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Developmen­t. They are – Agricultur­e; Industrial­ization; Trade & Commerce; Oil and Gas. However, he stated that a 5th pillar that focuses on Anambra becoming the logistic hub of Nigeria and West Africa is being developed.

“This pillar will leverage our natural advantages of being a gateway to the South East and South South and our position as one of the most establishe­d trading centres in West Africa. Obiano’s projection in Agricultur­e is to be among the Top-3 agricultur­al states in Nigeria.

The administra­tion’s efforts in this regard have yielded remarkable results. So far, the state has attracted over $660m investment­s to this sector,” he said.

With all these investment­s, Eze pointed out that the state has moved to ensure that local farmers are well positioned to take advantage of the agricultur­al revolution in the State, pointing out that government has organised farmers in the state into 1,500 cooperativ­es.

To this end, he further stated that the administra­tion’s effort in agricultur­e will enable the state to produce over 300,000 metric tonnes of rice, 150,000 metric tonnes of cassava and 240,000 metric tonnes of tomatoes in the next two months. This, according to him, will transform Anambra from a net-importer today to a self-sufficient and net exporter of staple foods in Nigeria tomorrow.

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Anambra State flag Obiano

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