This essay was submitted by Igbokwe Emmanuel, the winner of the 2020 edition YNAG Generation Y Governorship Essay competition and winner of N250,000 Cash prize.
“The true leader serves people, serves their best interests , and in so doing will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price”. This statement by Eugen Habecker, reflects the required dedication that is expected from an exemplary leader. In reality however, it contrasts with the uncanny political situation in Enugu state, where governance is characterized by government profligacy, with little or no accountability. This has the unpleasant effect of alienating the voting citizens, influencing their political apathy, while equally reinforcing the age-long preconceived views of those in government as “promise and fail”. This ineffective system of governance, has inexplicably left the development of the state in doldrums.
Coinciding with the above statement, is the current state governor’s unofficial slogan called “Nrashi”, which in his local dialect roughly translates to the concept of ‘stomach infrastructure2’- a concept of inducing potential voters to support a particular candidate in an election with food materials. 3In this same manner, the state’s political class have coined and popularised a phrase “Give me my own Nrashi”, reflecting this inexorable threat to governance in the state. Chiefly, the commercialization of governance, had meant that the state governor invariably turned the state
into a private vassal of authority. Consequently deviating from the major principle of democracy; Government for the people.
The question becomes of what could be done to revamp the fortunes of the state. Thus in my modest plan for the rescue of the state, my manifesto of rebuilding, rejects personalized agenda in favour of an agenda that recognizes the government responsibility for the people.
In this essay, I carefully outline my plans, detailing and analysing each idea, in an attempt to provide a systematic approach to governance as a gubernatorial candidate.
It is no doubt that the technology sector have become an increasingly important part of the country’s economy. According to the Centre for global development, the Nigerian information and communications technology sector grew from less than 1 percent of GDP in 2001 to almost 10 of GDP today. On the same hand, the data released from the National Communications commission (NCC), showed that Enugu state had roughly three million internet subscribers in the state, with an exponential growth in each quarter. However empirical studies reveal that Nigeria still has some of the world’s slowest internet speeds, and the absence of competition in the internet market grossly affects technology based businesses. In tackling this issue, and in a bid to leverage the technology sector’s creative ability to fill employment gaps, I would develop fibre optic network for smoother and efficient internet connectivity. This will not only plug the lethargic internet connectivity in the state, but also make Enugu state an attractive tech hub for technology investments in the country. The advantages to this would result in a flexible, scalable, full service network, with the potential to connect major city hubs , homes and offices in Enugu with a fast and reliable internet connection. Recognising the cost challenges to fibre deployment, I would engineer a deal that will merge foreign investments in the state, specifically prioritising investments in the fibre optic system. And also create a single ultra-fast broadband operator to avoid the duplication of investments that normally costs the state billions of naira in corrupt kickbacks.
In the revised 2020 budget of Enugu state, infrastructure represented 22% of the budget, roughly N22 billion. While the budget proposed funding was made up of 41% combination of internal and external loans, and 51% from revenues – inclusive of the federal government allocation. With the fall in oil prices occasioned by global economic downturn, the federal government source of income dried up, which in turn affected the states allocations. This created a ripple effects in the state budget, leaving the budget largely unrealizable, in turn leading to a large infrastructural deficit in the state.
In addressing this large infrastructure deficit occasioned by the fall in government revenue, I would source for another strategy in funding infrastructure in the state. Experience from other
states reveals a reliable fail-safe system of responsibility sharing and or responsibility transfer. For instance in 2006 the Nigerian ports in Lagos facing major challenges, where concessioned to 25 ports terminal operators for a 25-year license period, this produced an immediate and outstanding results. Therefore, the funding gap in infrastructural investments can be plugged through private participation in infrastructure (PPI) and public-private participation in infrastructure (PPP).
Evidence have also shown that the benefits of PPP and PPI include, greater return on investment (ROI) than projects with traditional, all-private or all-government fulfilment. Therefore, Innovative design and financing approaches become available when the two sectors work together.
Within the context of infrastructure development, a special attention will be given to the state roads and transportation networks. Our transportation policies will recognise low environmental footprint, cutting emissions in promotion of environmental sustainability. Therefore there’ll be a focus on the electrification of inter city buses, and the building of cycling and walking paths within the city centre. We will also promote the use of cycling in the city centres, in recognition of the United Nations environmental friendly “share the road programme”.
One of the primary duty of every government is to keep the people safe, hence security and safety are seen as intrinsic to development. Amartya Sen the Indian human development theorist and a 1998 Nobel prize winner, in affirming the inherent importance of security to development, explained that
the theory of ‘development as freedom’ includes protective security, further stating that it is “the enhancement of freedoms that allow people to lead lives that they have reason to live”.10
The recorded crime in the state is steadily rising; In 2016 offences against persons were recorded at 886, it rose to 935 of the population in 2017, while the offence against property nudged from 1,094 In 2016 to 1,111 in 2017. In the same time frame, the total number of reported cases rose from 2,104 to 2,171. 11 Also the same report found that the crime of rape has remained underreported due to the social stigma associated with it in the society, thus the report shows that only 32 rape cases were reported in the state in 2017, with a 1% conviction rate.
These crime rates reflect the level of insecurity in the society we live in. As the governor, I would be committed to addressing security issues in the state, by structuring the current security system where access to the security is prioritised by social status. Guided by firm commitment to human life and security, performance measures would be institutionalized in the state security agencies to capture the complexities involved in modern crime prevention. This will include the training of special state security officers to take on wide variety of roles that involve counselling and community based child disciplinary programs. It will also involve the diverting of funds for the establishment of treatment facilities, where mental health and drug addiction will be treated. In general, the overall attention will focus on community based public safety model in the state.
4. WOMEN AND EQUALITY
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, it is intrinsically linked to sustainable development. 12 Thence a special dedication will be accorded to equality-impact policies, specifically to foment an inclusive equal gender representation in line with the 5th Sustainable Goal of the United Nations. In addition to that, we will transform the government workplace, introducing work strategies that are favourable to women, while also closing the gender pay gap.
Closely related to gender equality is the issue of equal opportunities for minorities in the state. Thus in committing to the depth of unity in diversity, we will commit to the socioeconomic empowerment of the minorities in the state. Ensuring that anti-discrimination laws are made, while building a conducive environment for their development in line with state’s growth.
From the foregoing, it is discernible that these policies are well thought out and carefully arrived at. However they are not the only sector deserving of commitment. Other worthy mentions includes, the revitalization of the education sector, free basic healthcare for children, and the approval of a frame work for mortgageable mid-income housing units across the state suburbs.
I have a firm belief that for this to be achieved, it is expedient that the wishes of the voters are respected, thus the benefits of the state citizens would remain elevated above all personal gains.