By Louis Amoke
*The success of ‘choose-your-project’ policy
There is every need to appreciate the untiring efforts of the present administration in Enugu State towards addressing the basic needs of the people, as well as maintaining the state’s infrastructure, especially those built by the past administrations, in spite of the prevailing economic challenges in the country.
It is common knowledge that the country, in the past three years, has been witnessing major economic and financial setbacks as a result of the slide in the prices of crude oil in the international market. Its consequences on both the state and federal governments have been severe and challenging to the extent that most states are unable to pay workers’ salaries, not to mention embarking on capital projects.
When a governor pays workers’ salaries, he is applauded and it becomes news. In the past, governors used to enjoy access to excess crude fallouts, which enabled them carry out sundry development programmes and still had enough to maintain the facilities with ease. But today, the language has changed to bailout funds. It is on record that the monthly allocation to states from the Federation Account has fallen drastically to less than 38 per cent of what it used to be as a consequence of the nation’s current economic woes. The situation was so bad that the Federal Government had to summon courage to declare that “the country is broke”.
This unfortunate development has obviously hindered the efforts of most governors to fully actualise their genuine vision for the people. From the foregoing, it will be irrational and unjust to compare the present administration at the federal level, as well as at the state level, with the past administrations in all ramifications.
But in Enugu State, it is worthy of note that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in spite of all these challenges, has remained undaunted and focused on his vision to entrench good governance in the state for the benefit of the people. He has remained resolute that rather than allow the severe economic recession occasioned by the negative developments in the oil sector deter his administration from achieving its goals, the government will, instead, turn the situation into an opportunity to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded and prevented administrators from exploiting all the while.
Notwithstanding the bleak economic realities, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has been able to embark on verifiable massive development projects both in the urban and rural areas across the state. It has also, against all odds, recorded tremendous feats in the maintenance of infrastructure built by the past administrations and even continued with the completion of some uncompleted projects, such as the Enugu State Medical Diagnostic Centre, Enugu, among others. One appreciates the fact that the governor pays workers’ salaries and pensions for retirees on or before 25th of every month and still executes numerous capital projects across the nooks and crannies of the state.
Interestingly, record has it that the state government had spent N27 billion on infrastructure upgrade (both state and federal) in just two years covering over 141 kilometers of intra and inter-state roads – an unbeatable feat in the annals of the state. The present administration, as a matter of priority, had at its first State Executive Council meeting after the second year anniversary recently, awarded more development projects worth over N750 million in keeping with its vision to open up more rural areas, and create more urban centres for socio-economic stimulation and recovery.
At the inception of the present administration, nine new urban and rural roads, which covered 94 kilometers, were simultaneously flagged off by the governor and 60 kilometers of the projects have been completed.
In October last year, the state government introduced a “Choose-Your-Project” policy, which allowed stakeholders of every Local Government Area in the state to identify their priority projects not less than N100 million for the government to execute for them. This people-oriented policy saw to the simultaneous flag-off (phase one) of the 35 development projects across the 17 councils in the state, of which 26 of them were recently commissioned as part of the activities marking the second year anniversary of the administration.
On the maintenance of infrastructure built by the past administrations, it is instructive to note that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has made concerted efforts, against all odds, to maintain and improve on the facilities. In spite of the high cost of maintenance and the ugly experience in the hands of vandals and other factors that led to the destruction of the infrastructure, the present administration has continued to give priority attention to complete rehabilitation of traffic and street lights in the metropolis, as well as rehabilitation and maintenance of failed portions of roads built by the past administration, to reduce accidents and guarantee smooth transportation. The road maintenance programme, which is anchored under “Operation near-Zero Potholes” scheme has effectively fixed the major potholes in Enugu metropolis and has extended its services to some satellite towns in the state.
In a display of its firm commitment to effective cleaning up of the state capital, the state’s EXCO recently directed the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) to intervene and carry out an aggressive and sustained clean-up campaign of the entire metropolis to complement the efforts of the Enugu State Waste Management Authority. The intervention has yielded the desired result and improved the state’s sanitary status.
On the street lights installed by the past administration, the state government, in its determination to ensure effective operation, recently procured 10-unit of 200KVA power generators and replaced the existing ones that are over 7 years with the new ones. The reason was that the 60KVA and 150KVA generators installed by the past administration were old, below the rated amperage and no longer sizeable because of installation of more street lights on the roads. The government has gone further to install more street lights in some satellite towns in line with its grassroots development initiatives. Regrettably, most of the facilities that power the lights are being vandalized by hoodlums, while the street lights are destroyed by reckless driving, which costs the government huge amount of money to repair despite the current economic challenges in the country.
Consequently, the state government recently approved the sum of N23 million for the building and installation of underground vandal-proof controll-panel protection to forestall the ugly activities of hoodlums. This measure saw to the significant improvement being witnessed in the operation of traffic lights in the state capital.
As the present administration in Enugu State has remained resolute not to allow the daunting economic downturn in the country prevent it from attaining its lofty objectives, it is pertinent for the public to appreciate these giant strides being made by the governor, against all odds, to provide critical infrastructure and entrench good governance for the benefit of the people and progress of the state.
Amoke, writes from Enugu State