South East Nigerian governors must get back to the job of building progressive states
Reflecting on the good old days of great governors and politicians of antecedent Eastern Nigeria notably Dr. Michael Okpara, Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam, Christopher Chukwuemeka Mojekwu and later came Dr. Sam Mbakwe. These were men of pragmatism that garnished great achievements for their people and constituencies. These forerunners made great institutional achievements that have significant consequences. They developed agricultural facilities, built modern schools, secured peace and made their people walk a little taller.
The point here is not to downgrade the present day achievements made by present governors of South East geo-political zone who are doing their possible best within the capabilities and situations but constrained by lack of funds. But in this season of big ideas, innovations and vision, the governors are found wanting. For in the scheme of things, greatness have eluded them and opportunities they have in their hands to transform their states and its people are slipping away.
Without doubt they are building roads, secretarial offices and digging water bores but those are not good enough to distinguish them and to place them at zenith of economic development and modern progressive advancement in Nigeria. The governors are not thinking and dreaming big but they are rather engaged in small talks with basic and regular development. Our people are great people of great history; we cannot afford to be a regular people with regular achievements. That is not good enough for the Ndiigbo and for Nigeria in general.
The education and morality standards have fallen but our leaders are busy going after the little things while the house is in disarray. Our youths are not properly educated and fed; they are the future of the South East but no attention have been given to them to train them properly and prepare them to handle the future tasks of tomorrow.
Ask any foreigner in Nigerian about the progressive governors in the present political dispensation. The international visitor be it Chinese, American or British will probably mentioned the governor of Lagos State Fashola because of his herculean achievement particularly on urban development and environmental management, then Governor Saraki of Kwara State for his agricultural investments and Uduaghan of Delta State for his environmental commitment. The governors of the South East will not be mentioned except when they discussed about godfatherism and kidnapping.
The great job Governor Fashola of Lagos State is doing is there for everybody to see and the roadmap is there for anybody serious to emulate. Particularly Fashola’s administration strategy on the reduction and control of armed and nefarious activities in the state can become a case study. The key to successful administration is based on innovation, vision and ideas. Then come the finance and fund which are secondary but are based on comprehensive planning and implementation. This is the lesson that South East governors must be willing to comprehend and practical zed.
A gross dereliction of duty happened a while ago, when a politician was pleading with the Federal government to declare Awka, the state capital “a refuse disaster area.” The solid waste collection and disposal are the duties of Local and State governments. But in case of erosion or massive environmental disruptions, then it is more understandable due to financial limitations of the state government to engage such a massive and extensive remediation.
What has happened? And “How is the mighty fallen?” When the states were created in the South East geo-political zone the people of the zone was excited because they believed that with that the leaders and managers will distinguish themselves with substantial achievements. The people of new five states - have been associated with ingenuity, progressive development and industry. The governors were anticipated to be the bearers and chroniclers of the peoples dream but Lilliputian political framework have mesmerized them especially the present-day governors.
The ruling class and governors cannot be wholly blamed for this phenomenon. The masses and people must assume some of the blames. Instead of the people holding their feet to accountability and probity, they become sycophants and drum beaters. People mill around the governors treating them as something extra-special and begging for contracts and handouts. The behavior sends a wrong message to the governors and they forget that their power was derived from the people and their rulership came from the consent of the people.
Where are the great ideas and innovations?
The 20th century in the South Eastern Nigeria was a birth of great ideas, institutions and achievements. There was the founding of University of Nigeria, Nsukka , South East was the home of world largest producer and exporter of palm oil, the school of technology MIT was founded. Then later came in Anambra State Channel television 50 and Anambra State University of technology.
But at the interim South East has major problems of erosion, poor transportation, shortage of power, poverty and many others. And the governors cannot solve them by engaging in small talks and donating money to inconsequential organizations and building patches of roads here and there. Where are the big dreams, big visions and the great innovations and ideas to transform Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi States? The governors and states of South East must have a concerted effort and coordination grounded on industry and initiatives to bring affirmative achievements to the citizens of their respective states.
There is a large deposit of coal in Enugu without usage or consumption. The governors can come together and set up a committee to recommend how the coal can be extracted and used to supply electricity to industrial areas in South east geo-political zone.
With same spirit of cooperation they can solve the problem of road congestion and accidents as goods are being transported by trailers from Port Harcourt seaport to the cities by constructing rail tracks from the seaport to rest of the major cities in the zone.
Enugu State University Teaching Hospital can be turned into an international center for medical research with emphasis on malaria, heart problems and other diseases affecting Nigerians and Africans.
The South East governors can form Enterprise and commercial partnership with objectives grounded on sound principle, producing common-sense ideas and inducements to attract substantial investments into the zone. They can start by creating one or two industrial zones in each of the five states that make up the zone. The partnership entity can come up with solutions to address the issue of electricity and water especially in those industrial zones. The governors cannot afford to wait for the Federal government for ever.
With same mindset they can attack the problem of kidnapping and robbery confronting the geo-political zone. To diminish delinquencies and criminalities especially among the youths the problem of unemployment must be addressed. The government must come into some sort of partnership with the private industry and marketers to address joblessness among the youths especially university graduates.
Good intentions of the South East governors notwithstanding, their managerial capabilities based on singular-pragmatic management akin to ‘one-man business’ assertions do not inherently promote efficiency. This is what is called micro-management that put the manager/executive officer on every levels of the management pyramid without having them focus on top of management. The vulnerabilities in this mix are over-stretching; sapping of ideas and innovations coupled with mismanagement and misdirection of time and priorities. No one is calling for Peter Drucker‘s principles of management path, but rather a basic management technique that calls for supervision and delegation of duties based on trust, transparency, competence and efficiency that will be more functional and operational for the governors.
Ideas and innovations do not wait until resources are available to act rather they are the precursors of capital and resources. Although the problem of funding will pose a great problem but when the governors start to show the resolve and initiative to be on top of the problems of 21st century, help will be on the way. All the people of region at home and at broad including the Diasporas will contribute to the greater good of their homeland, Nigeria.