Enugu: Between Budget and Good Governance

Enugu: Between Budget and Good Governance

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

“We cannot be mere consumers of good governance, we must be participants; we must be co-creators.” – Rohini Nilekani.

Best methodology for conducting our reflection on the essence of budgets in Nigeria is to state emphatically that budget if adequately cashbacked and implemented  dutifully, has the potency of propelling the actualisation of good governance and the promotion of the wellbeing of the people.

Some scholars under the aegis of creative learning are of the view that  good Governance is an approach to government that is committed to creating a system founded in justice and peace that protects individual’s human rights and civil liberties. According to the United Nations, Good Governance is measured by the eight factors of Participation, Rule of Law, Transparency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability.

These writers say that for good governance  to mean anything then thr participation requires that all groups, particularly those most vulnerable, have direct or representative access to the systems of government. This manifests as a strong civil society and citizens with the freedom of association and expression. They also argued about the centrality of the Rule of Law which is substantially correct.

And according to them the principle of Rule of Law is exemplified by impartial legal systems that protect the human rights and civil liberties of all citizens, particularly minorities. This is indicated by an independent judicial branch and a police force free from corruption. These thinkers further emphasised the essence of transparency and accountability for good governance to have bearing in the transformation of the living standards of the people inhabiting a certain society or a state within the federation.

Transparency, they reasoned,  means that citizens understand and have access to the means and manner in which decisions are made, especially if they are directly affected by such decisions. This information must be provided in an understandable and accessible format, typically translated through the media. They also connected transparency to responsiveness of those wielding political power for good governance to occur.

Responsiveness they stated simply involves that institutions respond to their stakeholders within a reasonable time frame just as good governance is consensus Oriented and this  is demonstrated by an agenda that seeks to mediate between the many different needs, perspectives, and expectations of a diverse citizenry. Decisions needs to be made in a manner that reflects a deep understanding of the historical, cultural, and social context of the community. Aside responsiveness,  the critical factor of equity was showcased as the basis for achieving good governance.

Equity and Inclusiveness depends on ensuring that all the members of a community feel included and empowered to improve or maintain their well being, especially those individuals and groups that are the most vulnerable. And for equity to have meaning, the government officials must be effective and efficient.

Effectiveness and Efficiency is developed through the sustainable use of resources to meet the needs of a society. Sustainability refers to both ensuring social investments carry through and natural resources are maintained for future generations and to cap it up, the principle  of Accountability is critical towards the realisation of good governance and this refers to institutions being ultimately accountable to the people and one another. This includes government agencies, civil society, and the private sector all being accountable to one another as well.

Given the above facts, it cannot be gainsaid nor overemphasized that Enugu state, since the inception of the administration of incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi has witnessed tremendous progress, made possible through the seven and half years of good governance and people-oriented programs.

Undoubtedly, within these eventful, challenging, developmental, and inclusive seven and half years, the Enugu people have witnessed great peace, freedom, better healthcare delivery, more educational opportunities, infrastructural development, improved rural development, and increased involvement of the populace in the decision-making process.

These were the hallmark of his administration’s four-point agenda unveiled to Ndi Enugu during his first term swearing-in at Okpara Square, Independence Layout Enugu in 2015

Many believe that Ugwuanyi’s administration has done well in the areas of road construction and rehabilitation, agriculture, transportation, housing, and the promotion of peace and security in the state, among others. They also believe that his achievements have endeared the people to his party, the PDP, and will bring enormous fortunes, most especially during this electioneering process.

With aims of concluding all ongoing projects, consolidating on past achievements, and transit the state into capable hands of inbound administration, Governor Ugwuanyi recently made a proposed budget size estimated at one hundred and sixty-six Billion, Six Hundred and Two Million, Four Hundred and sixteen thousand, seven hundred and seventy naira (166, 602, 416, 770. 00).

While presenting the 2023 budget tagged: ‘Budget of Consolidation and Transition’ before the state assembly Governor Ugwuanyi described it as his last budget presentation and a relay budget that would be implemented by two different administrations in the state as well as over-sighted by two different Assemblies of the state parliament.

To varying degrees, Ugwuanyi’s Budget of Consolidation and Transition speaks volumes of his vision and philosophy of governance, with a systematic roadmap towards building a greater Enugu State.

Most importantly, it presents a veritable opportunity to reappraise the governor’s milestone strides in over seven and half years anchored on peace and good governance, despite the avalanche of challenges befalling the state and the country.

What makes his developmental strides outstanding is that when Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi took over the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2015, the country was in recession, following the drastic drop in crude oil prices in the international market.

Consequently, he was confronted with a myriad of daunting challenges that included the paucity of funds, a backlog of unpaid workers’ salaries, arrears of pensioners, infrastructural deficits, especially in rural areas, unemployment, and others.

The economic realities were daunting as the country’s economic challenges adversely affected the states’ allocations from the federation account to the extent that there were limited funds to attend to developmental issues and other sundry needs of the public. Many were even of the opinion that it was not the best time to be a governor.

Enugu’s purse grew leaner as federal allocations dwindled to an all-time low – a source of worry the past governor of the state, Mr. Sullivan Chime acknowledged during a thanksgiving Mass to commemorate the end of his administration.

However, despite all the challenges, Ugwuanyi’s administration hit the ground running without hesitation by bringing to bear the governor’s financial prowess and prudence in reforming, re-jigging, and repositioning the state’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) system for better performance and improved revenue generation.

This action improved significantly the state’s Internally Generated Revenue from N14 billion in 2016 to N18.4 billion in the first 10 months of 2017 and now 31 billion, which led to the listing of the state among the six economically viable states in Nigeria that can survive without federal allocations by the Economic Confidential in its 2019 Annual States Viability Index, released on July 26, 2020.

Consequently, his administration has been championing unprecedented developmental projects that have made it possible for the rural dwellers and the long-neglected communities to enjoy democracy dividends in a way they have never experienced before.

Within his first four-year term in office, the Ugwuanyi administration made its presence and footprints in virtually all the 450 autonomous communities, 17 local councils, and three senatorial zones in the state.

All the sectors of the state economy witnessed his government’s interventions with rural development, education, health, infrastructure, security, workers’ welfare, and youth empowerment, taking the lead.

Across the state, roads like Opi-Nsukka dual carriageway, Obechara Road Junction- Umuakashi Mechanic village-Ikenga Hotels Junction-Enugu Road Nsukka Junction, and Umuezebi-Nru Junction have been completed.

Others include the extension of Agbani-Afor Amurri Road, the extension of Ituku Road, the construction of Ogonogoeji-Ndi Akpugo Road from Atavu Bailey Bridge to Afor Onovo, the construction of the 42-meter span Bailey Bridge and road works across River Nyama to Amichi, linking Umuogo and Umuagba Amaechi Uno/ Obinagu community, all in Nkanu West LGA.

Perhaps, worthy of note is the Agbani-Amurri, which was constructed for a community that has never witnessed any form of development or government presence on its land in the past 100 years plus.

Also, the Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo Road from Atavu Bailey Bridge to Afor Onovo is the first state government road in the entire Akpugo land since the creation of the Enugu State.

Not left out is the popular and historic Milliken Hill Road, Ngwo, which was constructed in 1909, but was abandoned for several decades before Ugwuanyi’s administration reconstructed it with streetlights.

The three-kilometer road is part of the 12-kilometer 9th Mile-Ekochin-Ngwo- Miliken Hill-New Market federal road which the state government rehabilitated to serve as an alternative route for commuters and motorists plying Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.

More so, within the state capital, the Ugwuanyi-led administration has executed numerous road projects at Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Nawfia Street, Ibuza Street, and Isi-Uzo Street all in Independence Layout Enugu.

In the education sector, through the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), Ugwuanyi’s administration has built and renovated more than 480 primary school classrooms, provided learning and teaching facilities, and recruited more than 3500 teachers.

Unrelenting in his second term of office, Enugu people have continued to enjoy developmental projects with the construction of the 22.443km Neke- Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti Inter-community road linking Isi Uzo LGA with Udenu LGA.

26.665km Ukpabi- Nimo-Ugbene Ajima-Eziani road targetted at opening up the agrarian communities of Uzo-Uwani LGA, and the 10.5km Nike Junction-Harmony Estate- Amorji Nike- Adoration Pilgrimage Centre Road that serves as a bypass to ever-busy Nike road and a link between the densely populated Abakpa-Nike and the suburb of Emene Enugu and others.

Furthermore, works have been completed at the first Enugu State flyover at the popular T-junction along Nike Road, which was awarded by Ugwuanyi’s administration. The flyover has been put to use and has reduced completely the traffic growl along the Nike Lake Road and its environs.

Similarly, the Ugwuanyi administration delivered to the people of Enugu a befitting conference centre comprising multiple halls, other indoor activity hubs, and recreation facilities built adjacent to the Enugu State Secretariat Annex Ede Oballa.

Already approved by National Universities Commission (NUC) is the massive permanent hospital of Enugu State University Teaching University Hospital and College of Medicine at Igbo Eno Enugu State.   

The health facilities, which were initiated and executed by Ugwuanyi’s administration are made up of two sections of a teaching hospital sitting on two floors (the outpatient department of seven sections and the inpatient department with the 200-bed ward.

College of Medicine comprises 2 units of 12 classroom blocks, 2 units of 10 classroom blocks and 2 units of 8 classroom blocks, and 2 units of 208 student-capacity hostels and a helicopter landing pad reserved for hospital emergency operations.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in Enugu State delivered a state-of-the-art 600-seater banquet hall that has basement offices, meeting rooms, retaining walls, and large parking lots, among other facilities within the premises of the Remodelled Old Government Lodge, GRA, Enugu, for hosting of sensitive and reserved state, regional, national and international events, in the advancement of Enugu’s status and leading role as the historic capital of the Southeast geo-political zone of Nigeria.

Besides the banquet hall and the Remodelled Old Government Lodge, Enugu, with a newly constructed annex, his administration, within the premises, also constructed 10 units of executive guest houses, 24 units of guest flats with a dining hall, security post, and a standard lawn tennis court fitted with lighting facilities for physical exercise, among others, for routine guests of the state government.

The whole essence is to save the cost of governance in respect of security and hotel accommodation bills as well as to create a conducive atmosphere for decision-making and other official engagements on sensitive issues concerning Enugu State, the Southeast zone, and beyond.

In furtherance of the above noble vision, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration equally constructed a similar befitting conference centre adjacent to the new State Secretariat Annex at Ede-Oballa, Nsukka, comprising multiple halls, other indoor activity hubs and recreation facilities such as adult and children swimming pools and a lawn tennis court.

Consolidating and expanding vigorously on its first term’s giant strides, Ugwuanyi’s administration has opened up the rural areas to reduce urban migration, created jobs, provided good governance, maintained and sustained peace and security as major policy thrust

Ugwuanyi has not only continued to maintain the infrastructure he met on the ground, but he has also built new ones, and completed and still completed the abandoned ones across the state.

Of great importance is that in the spirit of unity, equity, and fairness to the admiration and happiness of all in the state, Ugwuanyi’s administration has equitably distributed developmental projects and appointments across the state.

Seven and half years down the line, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi through his sound vision, administrative ingenuity, peace, and good governance initiatives, has turned the tide for the better.

By and large, his administration will surely be remembered, not only for the numerous developmental projects it did across the state but for the political stability, peace, and security it brought and sustained in the state for the good of all.

With the 2023 budget of consolidation and transition, it is hoped that Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has offered the good people of Enugu a robust platform for a healthier environment that will allow the state to consolidate on the part of progress and growth, advance and transit to the next administration.


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