South East Governors And The Road Not Taken | Independent Newspapers Limited
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South East Governors And The Road Not Taken

Posted: Aug 6, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The governor of Enugu State,  Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi recently inaugurated a 15-member  Economic Advisory Committee who are charged with ensuring the success of all the state’s economic survival strategies and development of a template for tackling current and future economic challenges in the state.

The membership of the committee is quite impressive as notable names like the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Minister of power, Prof. Bath Nnaji, Chief Chilo Offia and the Vicar-General of the Catholic Church, Prof. Obiora Ike (as Chairman) among others.

According to the governor, the negative development in the oil sector and the consequential drop in allocation from the Federation Account and paucity of the state’s IGR have all had some negative impact on the state’s economy.

The Enugu state governor has done well. His choice of the membership of the committee shows that he realizes that to excel in leadership, a politician needs a handshake across partisan lines (for lack of a better phrase).

For one, a notable Catholic clergy chairs the committee and no one can doubt the sincerity of such a person when it comes to telling politicians the naked truth. The Committee members are almost all notable professionals in their own fields and would avail the government some of the ideas that have helped them succeed individually.

However, as the dust of elections, inaugurations and appointment of cabinet members settle in, the South East governors ought to realize that the people would not give room for excuses of any type when it comes to performance. The people still have nostalgic feeling of a prosperous Easter n Region that was self-sustaining prior to the discovery of oil.

The South Eastern region like any other region in Nigeria is so blessed in human and natural resources that with or without Abuja (political euphemism for oil money), each region can effectively run some vibrant and sustainable economies (sans corruption though).

The region has some of the most resilient, educated, resourceful and best brains both in the country and around the world. The problem with development in the region lies with ‘professional’ politicians who feel that being in politics is either interpreted as a permanent meal ticket or a ticket for influence peddling and self-aggrandizement.

Before now, several economic summits have been organized by different bodies and all have been aimed at re-directing the attention of the governors of the region  to the immense potentials of the region and its people that can with the proverbial Ndigbo communal patriotism be fully harnessed for the benefit of the people.

Most of the former governors in the region never gave a thought to the ‘igwe-bu-ike’ social mantra of Ndigbo that promotes the value of collective effort. The Eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo are all ancestrally, linguistically and geographically linked in some tightly inseparable ways that only selfish political interests come between the states and massive economic development.

Given the economic contributions that Ndigbo make to the economies of all other states in the nation, it is very sad that real efforts have not been made by the successive governors of the region to try and find viable ways of attracting back certain commercial sectors back to the region. Any questions  about the high rates of rural/urban migration?

This time in history is a very auspicious moment in the history of the entire nation. The outcome of the elections coupled with the national economic problems provide very huge even if hard lessons to the people.

The South East smarting from the socio-economic challenges of the civil war that left the economy of the region very prostrate needs very strong collaborative and long term plans devoid of politics. For one, the male population has an illiteracy level that worried UNICEF in ways that warranted their interventionist programmes.

What this means is that the governors of the region should have a holistic view on the education of the children. The immediate past governor of Anambra state, APGA’s Mr. Peter Obi tried his best in this regard as he made sure that an education sector that was in shambles during the Chimaroke Mbadinuju government was re-energized to produce one of the best WAEC results during his tenure. He had a focused programme that greatly improved the education not only of the male child but also the girl child.

The South East has a somewhat cocktail of political parties; APGA in Anambra, APC in Imo, PDP in Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi states. However, it remains yet to be seen how the leaderships of these political parties have been able to harness their different values for the growth of the region as a whole.

Now that an Abuja that used to be the political nectar is slowly drying up, how would the governors get together to maximize the potentials of the region? The Eastern region of the Micheal Okparas and the Akanu Ibiams can be rejuvenated for some well-admired economic vibrancy.

The Onitsha commercial Market, the Aba industrial hub, the Nnewi technical haven, the Nkalagu industrial haven, the Enugu coal industry, and the Imo palm produce industry and many others can individually sustain the states if well structured for sustainable growth by the governors.

If there is a collective will to invest in the human capital and natural resources of the region, the governors would forget the grandeur of office and the self-ululation of partisanship to work together in ways that would give the region out to the world as one self-sustaining and economically viable region in Nigeria.

The cap-in-hand Abuja trips aimed at ‘pleading’ with the President to forget the recent election results and ‘remember’ Ndigbo is really not as easy as trying to maximize the amazing potentials of the South East region if the governors can collectively try to work together irrespective of very ephemeral political differences.

Most if not all of the present governors are older than their states so they know when their states where created. If this is so, it is then logical to conclude that they were born into a region united by geographic space, culture and language, why then is it a herculean task  developing the region as one entity?

The South East governors having realized the dire economic future devoid of oil money should better take the road less travelled. They ought to realize that the economies of the five states are as interlinked as the pathways that run through a village. They should begin to have a collective agenda for a holistic development in ways that empowers all the people and makes the region a bit economically independent more so in an era of 97% vs 5% ratio of ‘goodie’ sharing!