• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Six Years After: Our Governors Have Failed!

Nigerian-states

Six years ago, with the inauguration of new Governors in 29 of the 36 states, Nigerians were immensely hopeful that it was really time for positive change. We congratulated them and counselled that they should develop and govern their states through a carefully and strategically crafted economic development plans for sustainable growth of Nigeria and their states. We suggested four focus areas that will help in creating what can be described as Associational Economies in our states.

In agriculture, we appealed to them to give it special attention given its central importance to food security, poverty, unemployment, revenue generation and insecurity. We encouraged them to see how they can plant about 10 million economic trees per state which will generate about N250 billion revenue after three years when the trees start fruiting. For infrastructure, we pointed the need to focus on rural roads particularly ones that will enhance agricultural activity and production. We emphasised the need to transform our forests from enclaves of crime to farmlands and vegetations of revenue and growth. In education, we cautioned that to avoid a similar crisis as the 1939 Jamaican one, it is pertinent to change our approach to education from “accomplishment of natural growth” to concept of concerted cultivation and development.

We pointed out that the sustained socio-economic development of every state can only be achieved through the strategic assessment of her comparative advantages/ opportunities and a determined effort in creating a synergy of the opportunities and potentials. These opportunities and potentials should be assessed in terms of the state’s competitive niche within the Nigerian and global context, geographical location and heritage, human and physical resources and the market gaps in local, national and global economy. The aforementioned therefore demanded a need to re-assess the role of the state government of which the 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.

We reminded them to use the concept of forward guidance to enhance economic development of our states and that as sustainable development is presently pursued through Public-Private Sector Partnership (PPP), a clear development agenda of their respective states was imperative. We emphasized that it would help the private sector, individuals and other public agencies to have a clear idea of the policy/development direction of the state so that they can plan and contribute effectively. The agenda should have clear and connected directions as to the kind of states we want in the short term (1-4years), medium term (5-8years) and Long term (8years onwards). And it should cover all aspects of human life and endeavor including where economic trees should be planted in 1, 3, 6, 9, 12- 50 years which is actually the way to plan for an inclusive and sustainable development and governance that is pro-poor. We cautioned that in the absence or delay in providing a clear agenda of their governments, the ongoing uncertainty and insecurity will worsen and in combination with other challenges, our social and development problems will escalate.

To further clarify our suggestions, we used Enugu state as an example with the question of how Enugu can deploy her assets like coal, linkage location, political heritage, the entrepreneurial spirit of Mr Ugwuja in Enugu Ezike, the unquenchable desire for human capital and moral oriented society of Mrs Udeze in Ezeagu, the high quality goats and rice of Ozor Amadi in Adani, the desire of Ifeanyi Ilo of Ngwo to develop the local technology inherited from his goldsmith father in order to attract big time farmers to develop a rice plantation in Adani while Ose Nsukka, Adani rice and Ezeagu cashew nuts are consumed by 100million people in the world every day. We asked how Enugu can get Mr 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 in Nike Lake Hotel. Ensure that the trailers of Alhaji Waziri and Young Shall Grow buses always park in Enugu for a rest in their crisscrossing of Nigeria. Motivate Emeka Ekwujuru from Imo and Helen Bassey from Ogoja to convince their parents to allow them to school in ESUT due to the excellent learning facilities and environment provided; entice Mrs Mbanefo in Onitsha and Mrs Elechi in Abakaliki to force their husbands for them to relocate to Enugu while they still work in Awka and Abakiliki respectively as transport time is only 30minutes either way and the world class hospitals and medical facilities provided as key incentives!

We reiterated that 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 development discourse. It will be characterized by cyclic employment and wealth generation, emergence of business/industrial clusters, infrastructural development, 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. And just it can be in Enugu so it can be in other 35 states in Nigeria.

Six years after with most of the governors having only two years remaining in their tenures, Nigeria and Nigerians are most lamentably worse off. While the center cannot hold, poverty has doubled with over 80 million Nigerians described as extremely poor and over 40 million classified as unemployed or underemployed. As unprecedented insecurity and anarchy now characterize every state and town, and non-state actors emerge from all sides, it is unquestionably clear that our leaders particularly the governors have woefully failed. The pathetic situation we found ourselves is also a clear affirmation that our current structure of governance has also failed, and a new approach imperatively and most urgently needed!

Dr. Ngwu, is an Economist/Associate Professor of Strategy, Risk Management & Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum. E-mail- [email protected],