Enugu 2023: A new dawn for strategic policy formulations – Nkemakonam’s BluePrint.


…and implementation in Enugu 
By Joan Idu

A new dawn is upon us for a new leader of conscience to emerge in Enugu state.  Most public office holders buy their way into the office and instead of working for the people, enrich their pockets, rather than enrich the lives of the citizenry. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended emphasizes that the welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government. When elected leaders strive to recuperate their investment and accumulate profit at the expense of the people, that section of the Constitution becomes a hoax.

Every nation has its challenges, but for every identifiable challenge, there is a solution, whether imminent or long term. The hindrance to finding the solutions for the challenges faced is essentially the unwillingness and indolent attitudes of the leaders. In solving a problem, the causes and adverse effects have to be identified. The challenges presently faced in Enugu, have been identified and below are solutions to the challenges,

The restiveness of the youths, organized crimes and other criminal activities, is mostly a result of idleness and frustration. To curb the rate of crime in Enugu State, the youths have to be actively engaged in productive activities that will be beneficial to them, and the state. Social unrest arises not only from the youths, but also from the young ones who see the activities of the older ones, and may most likely walk in their footsteps sooner or later. To put an end to this, therefore, there has to be the meaningful engagement of children and teenagers, after school activities. These engagements could be in the form of sports, skill acquisition, talent discovery, and other recreational activities. 

Fresh graduates could be gainfully employed, and financial assistance rendered to small scale and medium business start-ups. Empowered graduates will help in creating more employment channels for the state. This will relieve the government of the burden of unemployment, as the dependence on the government for job creation will be reduced; the government should treat citizens with respect. When the state authority is civil with civilians, they in turn will be civil to the government. 

There should also be re-orientation, training and retraining of security personnel. A reform of the security outfits and proper monitoring of the units prevent manhandling of the citizens which could lead to resentments, thereby hindering the effective discharge of their duties. Government policies should be proactive and not reactive as insecurity could lead to an untimely death, economic regression, and social unrest.

Good state security however increases the internally generated revenue of the state, as potential investors will not be sceptical about moving to the state. It enhances trust between the leaders and the led. It assures the safety of lives and property. It reduces operational costs for the government, resulting from damages and repairs. The key actors in promoting the security of the state include the state government, the Nigerian security personnel, Parents, Schools and the citizens. 

Good healthcare delivery reduces the mortality rate. It reduces cost because prevention is less expensive than treatment. It increases efficiency at work, and by extension, increases work productivity in the state. It reduces absenteeism from work, increases longevity and lifespan. It is also helpful to the vulnerable in society (children, women of childbearing age, retirees). By providing essential health services to the senior citizens and other citizens mentioned above, those who cannot afford the services, are relieved. These senior citizens have dedicated their service to the nation, but sadly, they live in pitiable conditions at old age. Young children deserve free access to good healthcare. These children, who are the leaders of tomorrow, could have some deformities if they’re not properly immunized or well attended to medically. Deformities arising from healthcare neglect could deprive society of a quality workforce. The government should therefore allocate a good budget to the health sector, and also ensure the proper and timely execution of health projects. 

Unemployment can lead to stress and depression, and it can also lead to the discouragement of the youths from going to school. The popular slang amongst the youths with regards to that, is “school is a scam.” The government has failed the youths, not only because there are little to no jobs provided upon graduation, but also because of poor and outdated academic curriculum. Every year, our Tertiary Institutions churn out a large number of graduates that can mostly be described as “educated illiterates”. While the students have a role to play in securing their future, the government also owes the provision of basic quality education to its citizens. The government should have relevant bodies monitoring the quality of education dished out to students, at the Tertiary level.

A government policy should be put in place, for the absorption of the workforce upon graduation. The school curriculum should be geared towards meeting the needs of the labour market. School curriculum should be regularly reviewed and updated, as labour demand is the biggest cause of unemployment in Nigeria and Enugu State. The government should check trends, check underdeveloped sections, rather than just admitting students to study courses that may not be useful to them after graduation. The government should implement policies that will help youths become innovative and able to compete with their counterparts all over the world. The government should also encourage small scale businesses for new graduates who have innovative ideas.

The government should create innovative industries. These industries should not only be manufacturing, but also service industries. The manufacturing industries should be both micro and macro. The micro-industry is to grow the internal economy of the state, while the macro industry is export-oriented, and targets foreign investors and foreign revenue. These industries should take care of 50 per cent of the state’s GDP. 

The state must provide certain basic amenities to the citizens as a social contract between the electorates and the elected.  If the government fails to do so, they are liable to pay water subsidies to citizens.  It is not the fault of the citizens that there is no water supply in the state, or rather that good effort has not been put into alleviating the water plight of the people. Failure to hastily put an end to the water challenges currently faced by the residents of the state will discourage other people from coming to reside in the state. Potential investments could be lost as a result, and the glory of the state as the pride of the Igbo man and the home of civility may soon become a thing of the past if appropriate measures are not taken. 

The government of Enugu State will make sports and after school activities compulsory.  Beyond the mental health benefits of sports, it also keeps the youths busy, preserves their talents, and prevents crime. There should be sponsorships in both academics and sports. Rangers Football club has to be restored to the pinnacle of its glorious days, not just in Enugu City, but all over the country, and across the 17 local government areas of the state, through a football academy to be built across the LGAs. This will help in harnessing young talents and exporting human capital to the national team, as well as other leagues, clubs, and countries. Adequate attention should be paid not just to football, but other sporting activities, while also having an open arm to the introduction of new ones. 

There are many gifts of nature bestowed on the city of Enugu. The Unity Park, Nike Lake Hotel and Resort, Ngwo Pine Forest, Akwuke Sand Beach, National Museum of Unity, Awhum Waterfalls, Adada River, and Ezeagu Spring, are all nature’s reserves in Enugu, replete with an abundance of beauty. These gifts of nature and much more unmentioned here, if harnessed and properly managed, will increase the State revenue and employ the people. It will also be a relaxing delight to the Indigents, residents, and tourists. The era of people having portfolios in “culture and tourism”, without actually putting in any work into the development of the sector is over. 

Not only is Enugu home for tourism and relaxation, but it is also the hub of entertainment in the South East. Enugu boasts of producing a lot of music artists. The movie industry is certainly not left out. Enugu has been the hub of the Nollywood movie industry and the location of the first indigenous movie production in the South East, and Nigeria in general. The city has a lot of outstanding movies to its credit, a feat that is worthy of upholding. The government should therefore create a budget for the production of movies in Enugu. A Nollywood film village could be built, and a training centre for harnessing the young talents in the state, also erected. Exporting quality movies properly written, acted, directed, and produced, will be a great benefit to the state, and a huge contribution to the state’s revenue. This would also attract more residents and tourists to the state. The cultural heritage of the state will be properly preserved. A budget should be allocated for the maintenance of the state’s museum. 

Enugu has been home to all and will continue to be. As the 2023 general election fast approaches, we are reminded to vote for our future, for a visionary, and pedigree. When we sell our votes, we lose our state and lose our voices.  Politicians have started their mastered act of deceit. The same set of people recycled themselves over the years.  It is time for new leaders to emerge in Enugu state. It is time for a paradigm shift. It is time for a new Enugu, an Enugu that we would be proud of; a greater Enugu for the good of all! Say no to vote-buying and selling! A New Dawn is upon us!

© Nkemakonam Dickson Orji Media Team, 2023.

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