Helping Ugwuanyi to build Enugu -By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Filed under: Political Issues |

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May 29th 2015 marked a political watershed in the political annals of Nigeria in that for the first time since over half a century that the nation gained flag independence from Great Britain the incumbent ruling national political party relinquished power peacefully to an opponent after a keenly contested general election in which the rival party trounced the ruling national party. The then Nigerian National ruling- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by President Goodluck Jonathan conceded electoral defeat to the All Progressives Congress (APC) whose Presidential flagbearer Muhammadu Buhari a retired military General and former Military junta leader emerged victorious and has since the last one month been sworn in and is working as the current President.

At the micro political level, in Enugu State the status quo remained because the Peoples Democratic Party which paraded a formidable team of governorship and Deputy governorship candidates retained the office of governor from the now out gone governor Sullivan Chime a lawyer who was once the Enugu State chief law officer. So eight years after the Sullivan Chime’s era his successor who was a senior parliamentarian at the National House of Representatives in Abuja has since been inaugurated and told Nigerians that he is all out fully determined and motivated to make Enugu to remain at work for the comprehensive benefits of the good people of Enugu State.

Well, few days back during my telephone conversations with the Enugu State governor at his prompting he specifically informed me of his administration’s determination to upgrade the rating of the State from a typical civil service state to that of the foremost private sector driven micro economies in Nigeria. Enugu State no doubt is home to some few vibrant manufacturing companies in the brewery sub sector of the economy but the State is largely celebrated as a civil service state even as in the Igbo politico-cultural perspective Enugu is still the political and administrative capital of the Igbo speaking South Eastern Nigerian region. But Enugu needs to grow beyond those cosmetic appellations and become attractive to willing investors who would genuinely mobilise their clean funds and capital to establish industries in that beautiful State known for its rich coal, limestone and other natural resources and with the abundance of talented individuals those willing investors will not find it difficult to recruit some of the best and most vibrant brains to drive their companies to greater heights.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi told me that his decision to set up an investments working group to sensitize the global business community of existing economic and business potentials of Enugu State was because of his resolve and that of his team to bring about the actualisation of the economic blueprints of the Peoples Democratic Party on which platform he rode to power courtesy of the legitimate authority and mandate handed to him by the generality of the electorate in Enugu State.

To help him and his team to build Enugu State to become a business investment friendly climate I have gone to some length to organise a well researched finding to proffer panacea towards realising this objective for the general wellbeing and welfare of the people of Enugu State. Miss Sylvia Nneka Okonkwo my research assistant was so enthusiastic and hopeful that the ebullient young and upwardly mobile erstwhile national legislator and now the governor of Enugu State has the zeal to achieve greater economic advancement goals for the people and she encouraged my decision to put up this piece. It is hoped that the Enugu State governor will meticulously follow through his economic blueprints so the people of that state will be better for it.

Enugu State historically was created on August 27,1999, with the city of Enugu as it’s capital and Enugu state derives it’s name from the capital city, ENUGU (top of the hill ) which was regarded as the oldest urban area in Igbo speaking area of South east Nigeria.

There are a body of economic knowledge that evidently states that the size of the economy of Enugu State and rate of its growth is to a large extent dependent on the performance of the national economy. The State’s economy is therefore being propelled by major development at both national and global economic environment. Economically, the State is predominantly rural and agrarian, with a substantial proportion of its working population engaged in farming, although trading (18.8%) and services (12.9%) are also important.

In the urban areas trading is the dominant occupation, followed by Public servants.

A small proportion of the population is also engaged in manufacturing activities, with the more important manufacturing concerns located in Enugu, Oji, Ohebedim and Nsukka, so says demographics and economic analysts with considerable background knowledge of that geopolitical entity. But questions linger as to the availability of credit facilities from finance institutions to raise friendly interest based loans to grow the private sector. Are Banks readily available to provide these essential life support that will aggressively expand the private sector economic Base of Enugu State?

One of the challenges confronting most of the States of the Federation is inability to calculate the market value of the goods and services produced at the sub-national level on annual basis especially if looking at it statistically, according to experts . These experts opined that if States are allowed to compute their respective GDPs without proper synergy and coordination by National Planning Commission, there is likelihood that the sum total of all the State GDPs may exceed the national figure. This development does not provide the opportunity for States to calculate the actual performance of their various economies which would have provided the basis to determine the rate of economic growth. National Planning Commission in collaboration with the State Government and Donor Partners is said to be in the process of decentralizing GDP calculation of sub-regional level. This to many observers of development is a welcome development since the initiative will provide variable and vital statistics for analyzing the performance of the various sectors of the economy. Such statistical data are strategic to serve as the pulling force for genuine investors to take their investments to Enugu State. However, the UNDP Human Development report for Nigeria, indicate that as at 2007 the per-capital income for Enugu State stood at $307.60 (N46,140). Drawing from the national annual percentage growth rate of per capital income at 4%, the Enugu State per capita income grew from $307.60 (N46,140) in 2007 to $374.24 (N56,136.36) in 2012, representing 22% total percentage growth.

The State Government is dependent on the Federal Allocation and VAT as main sources of revenue and these accounts for about 84% of her resource envelop according to available narratives. This development which is common among many States of the Federation is largely attributed to the reality that Public Sector driven economy is what basically it is known for . However, the State is currently making effort to revise the trend through the Reform Initiative in Revenue Generation.

Already the governor Ugwuanyi led administration has set up a 15 member economic advisory team to harmonise the well rounded economic policies that could best be adopted to drive the State to greater business heights. This team is expected to excavate from the economic archives vital body of knowledge on how to repositioned the State to become economically viable. Three key goals were set for this committee and these are; to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth; to promote and engender adequate employment for the people and to promote a system of fair income distribution amongst the various income groups in the State.

This ugly development of relying essentially on federally collected revenue for sustenance of Enugu state is also part of what this advisory or the reform panel is set to address because this has continued to limit the resource capability to address huge development challenges in areas of physical infrastructure, commercial agriculture, education, health, industrial development and security which are the key enablers that are expected to expand and improve the economy of the State, so reasoned economic experts .

These basics are necessary if Enugu is to upgrade her rating to become one of the best destinations for genuine investors.

The State has reportedly gradually advanced in the process of institutionalizing Development Planning across all sectors through the State Economic Planning Commission set up by government as the Central Planning Agency. Over these years, the Commission drew the strength from the high level technical backstopping and capacity building provided by Policy, Strategy and M&E Team of SPARC Enugu headed by Mrs. Ucheoma Egwuatu. The Enugu State Economic Planning Commission was created by law under section 3 CAP 53 of the Revised laws of Enugu State of Nigeria of 2004. The basic duty is to monitor problems and progress of plan implementation; advice on charges and adjustments necessary for adopting appropriate administrative and management techniques required for aligning actions with plan targets and goals; take over responsibility of formulation of long term plans amongst others. It is believed that the economic advisory team will of necessity partner with this already existing institutional organ for proper economic planning.

The commitments reportedly exhibited by the lead National consultant on Policy and Strategy, Prof. ED Nwobodo, provided direction and quality assurance in empowering the Commission not only to produce quality Plans and learn from the job but also to own the process so as to sustain development planning in Enugu State without intervention of donor partners or consultants. These measures are indeed encouraging and should be sustained so the real objectives would be achieved.

It is even submitted in some quarters that the Enugu economic formula appears like one of the best practice for other DFID Programmes and other work teams to emulate. This is according to experts is the only and most practical way to build capacity around the State Planning Commission as an institution and not around an individual who is opportune at any given time to be at the helm of affairs.

The theme of the revised Plan 2012 – 2015 is Sustaining Development in Enugu State from Vision to Reality.

The Plan is articulated to achieve many revolutionary economic goals if sustainable strategies are continually adopted. It is thus expected that the current governor who has his job clearly spelt out by the need to industrialise the state would remain consistently on track.

Remarkably the governor during his campaign promised to consolidate on the overall eonomic blueprints as enunciated by his political party in the state and also to realistically work to achieve the manifestos encompassed in the document titled the Vision 4:2020 which is reportedly designed and envisaged to achieve the following goals; Achieve net self-sufficiency in food production by the year 2015 and export 80% of total output by 2020; Develop a coal-based energy sector that takes care of our domestic consumption by 2015 and 80% export by 2020; Develop an efficient and accessible health system that meets the MDGs, and which will make the state a world class destination for quality medical services; Meet 80% of the Human Resources and Human capital (knowledge based services) requirements of the state by the year 2020; Develop robust industrial sector that will generate employment and achieve 80% utilization of local raw materials to produce globally competitive products by the year 2020; Ensure the security of lives and property in the State;

Other goals encompassed in the economic includes to achieve sustainable environmental development; social safety net to the vulnerable groups in the State and ensure balanced gender development.

Mr. Ugwuanyi affirms his commitment to seeing through the legacy of the four point agenda of the past government (Under Mr. Sullivan Chime).

In addition he said he would usher in his own new agenda which includes employment generation, social services, good governance, rural development, security and justice and social amenities. The Governor assured people of Enugu that every money paid as tax to the government would be used transparently to add value to the state. He said the government will deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate children and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment. Enugu state under him will pay special attention to rural development, because majority of Enugu people live in rural areas.

In Conclusion, his government will equip and modernise Nsukka, a university town to compete with other university towns in attracting technology and knowledge-based business. People of goodwill expect that the government under this young man burning with zeal for service delivery will keep to his solemn pledges so the gains made in the area of infrastructural transformation under his predecessor are sustained and surpassed. Indeed making Enugu an investments friendly zone will be a thing of pride to the entire Igbo race. The state has a rich pool of human resources from which government officials can drink from their fountains of knowledge to implement strategies towards making Enugu an industrialised state. Enugu deserves the best and must be seen to be working not just as a phrase but pragmatically. The State needs to synergize with all relevant federal agencies so the potentials for viable investments available in Enugu State are globally advertised. Bodies such as SMEDAN- Small and medium Scale enterprises and the Investments Promotion Council of the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Trade should be partnered with by Enugu State government to reap the expected benefits of the various global tours for investment drive.

Written by Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

 

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