While we lament about the slow pace of PMB’s government, it is sad to note that most state governments are not any better. Of the 29 governors elected on March 9 and sworn in on May 29, it is difficult to identify states governed through a carefully and strategically crafted economic development plans. Most govern their states in an ad-hoc and reactionary approach though they have spent over a hundred days in office. This does not mean that positive signs from Oyo, Delta, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Rivers and Yobe states are not appreciated, but much is needed and expected given their deplorable situations despite immense resources.
Just as PMB delayed in forming a cabinet, most of the governors such as Abia, Cross River, Enugu, Ogun, Kano, Taraba, Jigawa, Gombe, Nasarawa and Osun are yet to form and inaugurate a cabinet six months after being elected or re-elected. Osun is the most notorious with Governor Oyetola seemingly incapable of forming a cabinet and effectively developing the state.
Moreover, this should not be the time for the articulation of policies and the inauguration of cabinets. It is the time for implementation of articulated policies that should have been formulated before elections and polished within the first thirty days in office with cabinets inaugurated within a week of being sworn-in.
Since states are supposed to be the primary platforms for Nigeria’s inclusive and sustainable development complementing the macro development initiatives of the federal government, it is said that most of the governors are exhibiting signs of ineptitude and unpreparedness.
Since sustainable development is presently pursued through public-private partnership (PPP), and based on the concept of forwarding guidance to enhance the economic development of our states, our governors should quickly provide us with a clear agenda of their governments.
It will help the private sector, individuals and other public agencies to have a clear idea of the policy direction of the state, plan and contribute effectively. The agenda should have clear and connected objectives as to the kind of states we want in the short-term (first four years), medium-term (five to eight years) and long-term (nine years onwards). And it should cover all aspects of human life and endeavour including where a borehole should be located and economic trees planted in one to fifty years.
That is how to plan for inclusive development and governance that will be sustainable and pro-poor. In the absence or delay in providing a clear agenda for their governments, the current uncertainty and insecurity will prevail and combined with other challenges, escalate our social and development problems. As I genuinely want Nigeria to succeed, let me provide a kind of an abstract of the kind of agenda we expect from our states in the short term, using Enugu state as the focus.
Enugu (the coal city) played host to the advent of modern business in former Eastern Nigeria. Coal was at the heart of the country’s foreign revenue from the 1940s. Employment in the coal mining industry was about the most prestigious employment outside the civil service. With such history, a landmass of about 7,161 square km, a population of about six million people, undulating hills and plains, lush green fields and adventurous topography, Enugu readily became the capital of Eastern region and the nest of Igbo renaissance.
It is the time for implementation of articulated policies that should have been formulated before elections and polished within the first thirty days in office with cabinets inaugurated within a week of being sworn-in.
Today, the socio-economic development of the Enugu state can only be achieved through the strategic assessment of her comparative advantages and a determined effort in creating a synergy of the opportunities and potentials. These should be assessed in terms of her competitive niche within the Nigerian and global context, geographical location and heritage, human and physical resources and the market gaps in the local, national and global economy.
This will demand an urgent re-assessment of the role of the state government whose focus should be on improving the capacity of the state through a strategic combination of her internal coherence and external connectedness resulting in what can be described as embedded autonomy and associational economy.
The question is how will Enugu deploy her assets like coal, linkage location, and political heritage? How will it tap the entrepreneurial spirit of Ugwuja in Enugu Ezike and the unquenchable desire for human capital and the moral-oriented society of Udeze in Ezeagu? Is there a plan to attract big-time farmers to develop a rice plantation in Adani? Adani rice and Ezeagu cashew nuts are consumed by 100 million people in the world every day.
How do we get Cheng from China to build a power plant using coal; excite Mike Adenuga and Shell Plc to re-locate their regional and technical support office to Enugu; lure Zenith, UBA, GTB and Access Bank to always host their annual general meetings at Nike Lake Hotel. Ensure that the trailers of Waziri and Young Shall Grow buses make Enugu their hub to rest and refuel while crisscrossing of Nigeria.
How can Emeka Ekwujuru from Imo and Helen Bassey from Ogoja convince their parents to allow them to study at Enugu State University due to its excellent learning facilities? Can Mbanefo in Onitsha and Elechi in Abakaliki be enticing their husbands to relocate to Enugu while they still work in Awka and Abakiliki respectively as commute time is 30 minutes either way? Expectedly, sustaining the preference of Enugu and her potential pre-eminence in the committee of states will require the provision of world-class hospitals and medical facilities!
With the above, Enugu state will be repositioned to meet the wishes and aspirations of many and will definitely earn a referral position in Nigeria’s development discourse.
It will be characterised by cyclic employment and wealth generation, the emergence of industrial clusters, infrastructural development, the security of life and property. Enugu will emerge as the food basket of the country, a model for the practice of rule of law and improvements in the general standard of living with inclusive pro-poor growth.
Just as it is possible in Enugu, so it can in the other 35 states. All that is required is the commitment to succeed and the ability of Ugwuanyi and other governors to assemble a competent and moral-oriented team. A team that is humane and pro-poor with an uncommon innovative inclination to generate ideas. And enhance the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Enugu from N20 billion annually to N40 billion in two years and N100 billion in four years.