One thing I can assure the people of Enugu State when I become governor is that I will lead from the front. The success of nations, states, communities, corporations and even families largely depends on the quality of leadership. So, I will lead from the front. Secondly, I will restore credibility to the office of the governor of Enugu State. It is common knowledge across all classes that the leadership of Enugu State cannot be trusted on anything. It doesn’t matter who is being dealt with. I will lead with integrity. Citizens should also expect that institutions of governance will be resuscitated. Government processes will be normalised. Currently, ministries and commissioners merely exist in name. You have a situation where everything revolves around one individual. Government must be run effectively.
In order to achieve this, you must first appoint thoroughbred professionals who have the skills, the knowledge and the discipline to provide services to the people. The state’s budgets will not merely exist for the records and will not be implemented by cronies outside the normal channels of government. The most basic needs of human existence continue to elude my people in Enugu State because of sheer ineptitude. It is also my intention to keep things simple. Let us deal with these basic issues first of all and what are they? After 100 years of existence as a city, water is still a serious problem in Enugu. The last time I saw water in my house was seven years ago and yet I get bills for water supply that does not exist. I will resolve this water crisis once and for all.
The IT infrastructure in Enugu is also a big problem not because people are not interested in making investments but people do not find the state attractive anymore because of corruption and the absence of an enabling environment and lack of cooperation from the government. With the predominantly young population that we have, I believe that partnering with national and global corporations to invest in information, communication and technology infrastructure will help transform the economy into a globally competitive one that will create jobs for our young people and Enugu can become one of the smartest cities in Nigeria. We can bring America, Europe and others to Enugu by simply making the right investments in tech infrastructure which will be supported by our youthful population.
I say without equivocation that my beloved Enugu, the capital of the defunct Eastern Region is not working. Infrastructure required to meet the most basic needs of human existence in a modern state are lacking not to talk of the more modern infrastructure needed to drive a knowledge driven economy.
Enugu State will be cleaned up. We used to be one of the cleanest cities in Nigeria. The only competition we had was Cross River. Today, Enugu has become a shadow of its former self. This is unacceptable. This is not conducive to human existence and has grave consequences for public health. Insecurity is a major problem. The Federal Government is more culpable in this respect but I believe the state government can do more to ameliorate the situation.
Unemployment is very high among the youths. This is unacceptable because these youths are our most important resource as a state. I have friends and many others who have graduate children that have been unemployed for upwards of 10 years. I believe this does not have to be the case because once you create an enabling environment, businesses will come. Businesses are better placed to create sustainable jobs and livelihoods, but in the last seven years, I am not aware that the current administration has attracted any fresh investment to this state.
My team and I will therefore work very hard to create an environment that will enable sustainable growth for existing businesses, aggressively market Enugu locally and internationally, and encourage potential investors to come to Enugu as the investment destination of choice.
Enugu State is endowed with oil and gas and indeed other resources but it is yet to be recognised as such. I will therefore work hard to ensure that Enugu becomes recognised as an oil-producing state. We will however not rely solely on this depreciating resource as our main source of income. We will work to harness the tremendous opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector, entertainment and creative industries while plugging revenue leakages and the outright stealing that goes on in government. I also recognise that there is a very narrow tax base in Enugu but cannot in good conscience blame people for not paying taxes. The reason is simple. Those who are paying taxes do not see the value of these taxes.
We will work hard to regain the trust of the people through transparent management of state revenues. There is very high corruption that is going on. Corruption is endemic in Enugu State. I am not aware that the accounts of this state have been audited and published in recent years. State accounts must be audited and published on the official website of Enugu State annually. We must ensure accountability to restore confidence of the people in government.
An improved business operating environment is also key. Businesses and citizens will first have to earn income in order to pay taxes. We will work very hard to ensure that peace prevails, security assured, bring about general improvement in basic infrastructure and eliminate multiple taxation so that businesses will thrive. There is also the issue of a high debt profile. I am not necessarily against loans being taken. My primary concern is the purpose for which these loans are applied. This is something I am looking into with my team.
Let me remind us that politics is about interests. Whether you’re looking at it from an individual or group perspective. My interest in belonging to a political party is good governance. Nationally, in the nearly 24 years of fidelity to the PDP, the South-East has not benefitted from the investments in infrastructure and other improvements commensurate with our support for the party. At the state level, the leadership also has not made any verifiable improvement to the welfare and progress of the people. The level of bad governance is unprecedented; the level of corruption is unprecedented. The level of ineptitude that has been displayed in the last seven years is totally unprecedented. The level of underdevelopment that has taken place here is unprecedented.
So, the question then is, if you’re interested in good governance as I am, if you are interested in ethical leadership as I am, what business do you have with such a political party and what business do you have with the individuals representing this party? My answer is that on a personal note, I have no interest in such a political party and the people that represent them. Is it the All Progressives Congress? On what basis does one want to support the APC that has divided this country in an unprecedented way under which insecurity has thrived freely? What is the basis for supporting a party that has literally looked at one part of the country and called them names and derided them and their culture?
Ultimately, I had to look at these interests in politics and I felt that APGA, whose development philosophy is founded on the principle of shared prosperity, is where I would like to be. The slogan of this party is ‘Be your brother and your sister’s keeper’. This is why I chose APGA. I believe it represents the interest of the people. I believe that its manifesto and its founding principles have taken cognizance of what I call the social cosmology of the South-East. That is why I chose APGA and I am confident and convinced in my spirit that I made the right choice.
Your question appears to suggest that unless one is in government, and with unfettered access to public resources, then one stands no chance of winning an election. I do not agree. Yes, I left the federal cabinet as minister 15 years ago and have been in one form of public service or the other for about 23 years, and I am proud of my stellar and impeccable record of service. The purpose for being in or seeking elective office should not be for the purposes of accumulating illicit wealth at the expense of citizens who elected you to serve.
While I admit that money remains a factor in our elections, hopefully, you agree that its influence is waning on account of the rising consciousness amongst the electorate due to the impact of bad governance across the nation. Outcomes of recent elections across Edo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states underscore this point. So, they are welcome to throw around monies which ought to have been used to develop Enugu State and improve the well being of the people. As for me, I choose to take a bet on the majority of the suffering masses who have been forced to live in penury in the last seven years, deprived of the most basic needs of human existence. Our people are getting wiser and I am confident that they will not renew the mandate of this party to continue to misgovern and keep the people poor. They will show that they are tired and want to secure their future by voting their conscience.
First of all, I would like to commend Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State for his efforts to restore law and order to the state and wish him Godspeed. We must recognise that good governance is not a destination but a journey and I am confident that the impact of his efforts will continue to evolve and become manifest in the coming months. I believe he is working assiduously with his team to ensure that normalcy is restored.
On what I will do differently, let me say that we must be mindful of the circumstances that fertilized and led to the emergence of these groups. When you come to Enugu State for instance and most parts of the South-East and see the condition in which people live, the deprivation, the squalor and poverty, the homelessness and the less than human conditions that they live in, you will gain additional context on the security crisis in the region. In addition to the constructive engagements that we must have with them, we have to work assiduously to bring about rapid improvements in their lives and living conditions. Information available to me suggests that even in Anambra State, some of them are willing to give the government a chance and I believe in Enugu State, they will be willing to give us a chance to make changes.
In a country with Nigeria’s diversity, it is my well considered view that greater consideration should have been given to the make-up of this ticket especially given how deeply our country has become divided along ethnic and religious lines in the last seven years. Anyone who aspires to lead the country at this time must be a statesman per excellence and show sensitivity to the issues that are of concern to the component groups in Nigeria. Thankfully, we are in a democracy and I believe everyone will have their day at the polls.