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South-East Governors: The Challenges Of Quality Engagement

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Nov 21, 2016 at 4:33 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

 

The festive season is a few weeks away and the annual ‘exodus’ of Ndigbo from all parts of the country and around the world would soon start. This home-coming is somewhat seen as an inevitable debt owed by those residing outside the region. Ndigbo are generally known to exhibit very strong communal spirit and therefore use the festive season as a time not only for Christmas and New Year celebrations but also a period for family reunions, traditional marriages, funerals and other forms of celebrations with wider and more profound communal implications.

It therefore follows that given these commitments, a lot of travelling during this period is done by the people both on inter and intra city levels. However, while the people literarily bleed themselves to meet their commitments, this period is often taken as a mini ‘campaign’ period for governors in the region.

It is at these vulnerable times in the lives of the people that some governors decide to offer to pay for or subsidise the transportation of some of their indigenes back home. In most cases, the free transportation is usually for the homeward journeys as very often the returnees are left to fend for themselves for their return journeys.

As I write, most federal and state roads in the South East are some of the most deplorable around the country. From Enugu to Abia, Owerri to Port Harcourt, Ebonyi to Ikot Ekpene etc., the stories are pathetic. The implications of these deplorable roads to a regional economy that is almost wholly dependent on subsistent farming cannot be over-emphasised. Beyond making it impossible for farmers to successfully transport their products from the hinterlands to the cities, the human loses in accidents and properties are staggering.

Given the human and material potentials of the South East, it is a real shame that the region still has many huddles on its way to becoming the regional power it ought to be due mainly to the inability of past and present governors to properly engage each other, the federal government and most financial and development agencies for real developmental initiatives and funding to successfully pull the region up the development ladder.

Despite series of summits, town halls and economic conferences the governors of the South East seem very unaware of the real potential in the region as their focus is most times on the power of the office and not how they can collaborate with each other for the development of a region so blessed.

It is very difficult for any analyst to decode the real developmental agenda of most of the governors. Beyond looking up to ‘Abuja’ for the monthly allocations that has turned out to be unsteady given world oil prices for a nation who for long has depended mainly on oil money, the governors believe that much of their revenue can come from taxing the people even when the conditions for business is one of the most daunting in the world for obvious reasons.

Smarting from the jaded cries of post-civil war marginalization by the federal government, governors of the South East have not really been able to hold Presidential candidates to any form of commitment to the people of the region. Make no mistake about it, President Buhari’s 95%Vs 5% ratio cannot be blamed for the state of infrastructure in the region. There has been decades of negligence and sometimes poorly executed jobs done with some ephemeral political expediencies in mind.

The South East governors more than those of other regions are evidently more disunited and egoistic and these account for why outsiders can play the ‘divide and rule’ games that are of more benefit to them than the people.

Make no mistake about it, having a vision for the people of the region has nothing to do with any political party and there is no suggestion by this writer that everyone ought to belong to the same party. In democracy, especially the type we have where political parties are bereft of any ideologies, party names are not enough to create the type of divisions that consistently exist among the five governors in the region.

The governors do not to realise that individual efforts, (where it exists at all) without a commensurate regional collaboration amounts to effort in futility if the neighbouring states are on the edge of the precipice.

For a region with a renowned image of highly productive and commercially oriented man power, it is disappointing that the governors seem unable to appreciate the economic potential supporting SMEs by fully engaging the financial and non-financial organizations that can support them in ways that can reduce unemployment and poverty.

If the South East survived during the civil war that the economy was virtually stifled with harsh policies, it is unimaginable what can be achieved in a period of peace with huge technological growth and globalization.

It should be noted that with more awareness and political sophistry, political handouts of perishable food items and free or subsidized transportation during festive periods will not grow the economy of the region and neither would it guarantee any politician any sport in the region’s hall of fame.

Only practical and sustainable efforts to grow the economy can and the governors can collectively make it a reality irrespective of party differences. They can all take a cue from other more cohesively and politically sophisticated regions who burry their differences and work together for the people. 2019 beckons.

 By Ogaziechi Nnedi