The economy of Nigeria at this moment is tight. It is becoming difficult to survive in the country. With the closure of the borders (although the Federal government has said it is in our own interest) then add that to the increment of Value Added Tax by 2.5%, the common man is in for a raw deal. Nigerians have been strangulated economically. Unemployment, crime and hardship are evident everywhere. Cost of doing business in the country is unbearable and therefore companies are laying-off workers. It is that bad. Just recently a trade union threatened to shut down a financial organization if it went ahead to sack 1000 of its workforce. Even though the federal government has continuously blamed the downturn on corruption of the previous government and has assured that it will revamp the economy, but it appears its efforts are not yielding results to cushion the effect of the hardship.
Most state governments and agencies that are supposed to complement the federal government’s effort at revamping the economy are not forthcoming, except Osun State government and a few others. The governor of Osun State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, has redefined governance in the state so much so that his policies and programmes have been driving the economy positively in the last one year that he has been in the saddle. For instance, recently he organized an economic summit where a Canada-based mining firm paid a certain amount of money as sign-on fee to operate in the mining sector. Since getting into office, he has been executing infrastructural development projects in the state to attract investment and also tried to address the yearnings of the people. Within the last one year, he has proven that good governance is possible. His government has impacted positively on the people and all the sectors of economy. In fact, he has brought human face to governance. Frankly speaking, other state governors should emulate him. Some of the governors in Nigeria don’t even understand the reason they were elected to power. An instance is one state governor in the south east who on assumption of office assembled all the retired or old politicians, who ruined the state in the past as advisers and members of his think-tank. With such decision, it is obvious that the governor has set out to fail, because fund meant for the development of the state will be expended on them as allowances, while the state groans under infrastructural decay.
Citizens of Osun State are lucky to have Mr. Oyetola, a visionary, focused and business-minded politician as governor. It is true that he has not done everything needed to be done and there is still need to do more. I quite agree with this, but if other governors can do 50 per cent of what he has done in their states, Nigeria will be better economically. Apart from Osun, some other states like: Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and so on, are doing quite well too.
Politics is not about sharing money with cronies or compensating political allies and looting the treasury. Rather, it is about service delivery to the people. It is about changing the narrative for better. It is about formulating policies and programmes that will see to the wellbeing of the people and so on.
Unfortunately, the fund budgeted by our political office holders alone for thuggery, rigging of election, looting is enough to provide infrastructure and lift the people out poverty.
Just before the recently concluded governorship election, the National Assembly approved a certain amount of money for a particular state, claiming that it had been in process before then.
The legislators would have known that there could be temptation of disbursing the fund for election. Most of the state governors are not paying salaries to workers, yet they empower thugs financially to snatch ballot boxes during election. It is quite unfortunate.
Good governance is possible. Governor Oyetola has demonstrated that infrastructural development is doable if the person is purpose-driven.
Recently a donor agency, United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), commended Osun State government for judiciously utilizing the fund released to it for developmental programmes. By this act, the agency would oblige it when next it requests for assistance. It is a lesson our leaders should learn and not squander the resources meant for the state or country.
I advise our governors to devise creative means to generate more revenue for the state. Moreso, they should make concerted effort at providing infrastructure, adequate security as well as dangling incentives to local and foreign investors with a view to attracting investment to their various states.
• Peter Ogbuokwa, a media practitioner, wrote from Lagos.
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