By Louis Amoke
RECENTLY, Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee in a Press briefing to assess the performance of the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the past two and half years, described the governor’s progress report as tremendous and enduring. The advisory committee, through its Chairman, Prof. Monsignor Obiora Ike, noted with delight, the steadfastness and multi-dimensional approach of the governor in addressing issues that affect the people of the state.
Prof. Ike said that Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration has made remarkable impacts on improving the living standard of the people, especially in the areas of provision of critical infrastructure, socio-economic development, workers’ welfare, security, peace, empowerment, among others. He disclosed that the committee in line with its mandate has been able to offer veritable advice that has enabled the government take positive measures aimed at moving the state forward, revealing that its area of concentration is how to meaningfully engage more unemployed youths through innovation and sustainable socio-economic development policies
The chairman added that the committee was impressed that the peace and security in the state have continued to thrive, recalling with applause the recent verdict by the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, which listed Enugu as the state with the least criminal cases compared with other states of the federation. The erudite professor announced that the committee was reviewing the entire structure of the state, including the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, with a view to offering more advice, within its mandate, for ease of business investments and engagements in the state.
While reiterating that “international partnership holds the pillar of our existence”, Prof. Ike further stated that the committee was also looking at the area of agriculture to harness its potentials for sustainable food production, job creation and economic growth. “We do think that going forward to 2018, having looked at what happened in the past, Enugu State of Nigeria will be more determined to ensure that it sustains the tempo of peace and good governance with the meager resources at its disposal,” he said.
From the foregoing, it is established that the state’s economic advisory committee’s assessment of Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration, which revolves around its mandate, was in conformity with the standpoint of the people, who have continued to applaud the governor’s good works and sense of vision. On a broader perspective, a critical review of the governor’s tremendous achievements so far and analysis of his vision for sustainable peace and good governance in 2018, in keeping with his campaign promises to the people of the state, became imperative. A few days ago, the governor presented the 2018 budget proposal, christened: Budget for Sustainable Economic Growth, to the state’s House of Assembly for consideration and approval. The interesting aspect of the 2018 proposal, which was 6.77 per cent less than that of 2017 of over N105 billion, unlike in other states, was modest and tailored “to our expectation, to the reality of the current economic circumstances.”
However, Governor Ugwuanyi, while presenting the budget proposal, explained that his administration will gradually expand its subsequent annual budget in line with the consequent changes, bearing in mind the economic variables. This visionary approach, no doubt, goes a long way to underscore the dexterity, potency and ingenuity of the present administration in prudent management of the state’s lean resources and its economic indices. It shows how realistic and sensitive the government is in responding to the nation’s precarious economic challenges, which require strategic measures at any given time.
At the budget presentation, Governor Ugwuanyi thanked the people of the state for their goodwill and massive support. The governor reassured the people of his administration’s resolve not to be deterred by the current economic situation, but will rather create more jobs and employment and increase the tempo of development in the state to impact positively on the lives of the people – the true heroes of democracy.
The governor stated that the 2018 budget proposal was carefully designed to build on the foundation already laid, stressing that the mid-term development plan was anchored on his administration’s four-point agenda for rapid and sustainable economic growth. Pointing out that the 2017 budget was consistent with the four-point agenda, he maintained that the government through the budget, was able to strengthen the institution; build and rehabilitate critical infrastructure both in urban and rural areas to enhance business engagements in the state; promote agriculture to ensure food security; invest heavily on education; promote investment and private participation to revive the state’s economy and make Enugu the first choice destination for investment in the South-East geo-political zone, among others.
Governor Ugwuanyi stated that all these achievements were geared towards impacting positively on the lives of the people in fulfillment of his promises, stressing: “We will not stop until we leave an indelible mark on our people.” While regretting that the nation’s economic situation had a negative impact on his administration’s vision, the governor maintained that his administration would in 2018, in line with the 4-point agenda, enhance its efforts at infrastructure upgrade, improve on Visit Every Community, VEC, programme and Ease of Doing Business, EODB, in the state, among others.
On the modest achievements of the government in economic development, one is impressed to note that the far reaching reforms initiated by Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration in the state’s Internal Revenue Service saw to the significant increase in the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, from N14 billion in 2016 to N18.4 billion in the first ten months of 2017.
On infrastructure, which is the focal point of the government, it is pertinent to note that notwithstanding the bleak economic realities in the country, the administration has been able to execute verifiable massive road projects both in the urban and rural areas across the state in just two years, covering over 141 kilometers of intra and inter-state roads – an unbeatable feat in the annals of the state. It has also recorded tremendous feat in the maintenance of infrastructure built by past administrations, such as failed portions of roads, street and traffic lights, notwithstanding different cannibalisation suffered in the hands of vandals.
For more effective operation of street lights in Enugu, the present administration recently procured 25-unit 60 KVA generating sets, which are being installed to replace the aged ones in Enugu metropolis as well as fresh installation in the University town of Nsukka. This was in addition to the 10 units of 200 KVA generators earlier procured to replace the ones that had been in use for over seven years.
The state government has equally continued with some uncompleted projects, such as the Enugu State Medical Diagnostic Centre, which is almost completed for equipping of facilities, among others. Between November and December 2017, Ugwuanyi’s administration awarded multiple contracts for road projects worth over N2.16 billion in continuation of its massive infrastructure rehabilitation campaign across the nooks and crannies of Enugu State. Also worthy of commendation is the breakthrough recorded by the government in ridding Enugu metropolis of waste, especially at dump sites to ensure a clean environment, through the taskforce constituted to complement the efforts of the Enugu State Waste Management Authority, ESWAMA.
In keeping with his inaugural address to pay a special attention to rural development, in recognition of the fact that majority of the people of the state live in the rural areas, the state government in October 2017, introduced the Choose-Your-Project policy, where stakeholders of every local government area in the state identified their priority project worth not less than N100 million for the government to execute for them. This unprecedented policy saw to the successful simultaneous execution of phase one of the 35 development projects across the 17 councils in the state.
In addition to this was the N10 million worth of project for every community in the state under the Visit Every Community (VEC) programme, which the first tranche of N5 million has been released by the government, accordingly. The uniqueness of this people-oriented programme, which was duly approved by the State Executive Council, is that it is a special development policy that has never featured in the state as each community will decide the project it would want to execute with the money for the overall interest of the people of the area. It ensured that so many communities that had never experienced any development project in their areas benefited, guarantying government presence in all the over 400 autonomous communities in the state.
One appreciates the fact that while all these capital intensive projects were ongoing, the governor pays workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions on the 23rd of every month and still went further to pay the 13th month salary to civil servants of the state as 2017 Christmas bonus.
On human empowerment, the administration has recruited over 2000 primary school teachers under the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) to improve the learning standard. It is also recruiting 2000 secondary school teachers through the Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB), in addition to the 857 volunteer teachers (engaged during the past administration) who were recently regularized as permanent staff of the state government under the PPSMB.
On investment drive, Ugwuanyi’s administration since after the first ever Enugu State Economic Summit tagged “Oganiru” has witnessed inflow of investors who are showing interest to do business with the state.
The impact of this vision is evident in the ongoing HELIU Estate project in Enugu and the Lion Business Park driven by a Chinese Investment Company in partnership with the state government under a Public Private Partnership (PPA) initiative to build an industrial market on a 2000 hectares of land located in the proximity of the Enugu Industrial Park – FTZ ( ENPOWER Free Trade Zone) at the 9th Mile Corner, modeled after the Dragon Market in Dubai.
Interestingly, the company has displayed maximum commitment to the course of the business initiative by fulfilling its first condition of payment of N300 million to three host communities as agreed compensation for the economic items, on the acquired land for the development of the project.
The N300 million payment was not only a pivotal step towards the actualization of the project, but also gave credence to the state government’s spirited vision to drive with full force investment promotion to generate employment and boost the state’s economy for sustainable development.
Consequently, one is delighted to note that Gov. Ugwuanyi in his 2018 budget proposal has made adequate provision to sustain and improve on these landmark achievements, which are only the tip of the iceberg of the numerous feats so far recorded in the state.
It is therefore, expected of the citizens of the state to continue to pray, support and protect the solid foundations being laid by the people’s governor to improve on their living standard and fully realize the dreams of the state’s founding fathers with the strength and honest proclamation that Enugu State is truly in the hands of God. Happy New Year!