By Madu Ezenoha
The Enugu State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Uche Nnaji (Nwakaibie) recently presented his manifesto to the people of the state. According to experts, it was a manifesto that, if well executed, would transform the socio-economic and political life of the citizens of the state.
Nnaji made it clear that he was motivated by the desire to offer selfless service to Ndi Enugu and not for self enrichment; since he has already been blessed by God with whatever it takes to provide a good life for himself and family. He made it clear that there is a limit to what individual wealth can do for the people in terms of philanthropy among other things. He said that using government resources, a person with the patriotic zeal and entrepreneurial skill like himself can create public wealth for the benefit of a greater number of people.
Nnaji declared, “I am convinced that Enugu State has been a victim of poor governance since its creation. Most administrations that ruled it not only abandoned the dreams and visions of the State’s founding fathers but also programmed it for stagnation and backwardness. The founding fathers of Enugu State envisioned a state with no enslavement of any man.
“They envisioned a state where the creative potentials of Ndi-Enugu would be unleashed for productive purposes to create wealth and sustainable employment. They envisioned a state where poverty would be a stranger and the people would live in peace, freedom, and fraternal brotherhood of humankind, with protection from violence and crimes.
“Sadly, we have adopted a dangerous philosophy of ‘political correctness’ to vitiate the visions of our founding fathers; our traditional values have been degraded, over time, and our founding fathers are turning with pain in their graves. Poverty has become our second nature even amid plenty.
“We have become hostages to misgovernance, resulting in an increasing army of unemployed youths roaming our streets. We seem to have forgotten that one of the surest ways of stemming the tide of insecurity is to lift people out of poverty. We have neglected areas where we have a comparative advantage and just waiting to share monthly allocations from the federation account.”
The APC guber flag bearer said that Enugu State is in the top tier of the poorest states in Nigeria, the top tier of the most indebted states in Nigeria, the top tier of the least industrialized states in Nigeria, and the top tier of the most unemployment-stricken states in Nigeria.
Therefore, with people’s mandate, Nwakaibie offers himself to change this narrative and liberate the people from years of untold suffering.
The essence of government, according to him, is to provide the necessities of life for the most significant number of people in society.
He declared, “It was not for nothing that philosophers like Epicurus, Jeremy Bentham, and Arthur Atkinson spoke about governance in terms of ‘surplus of pleasure over pain’. Any government that fails to provide a surplus of pleasure over pain to the citizenry has failed. My involvement in politics motivates me to serve my people selflessly. I do not believe that political positions are to enrich people but to serve the people selflessly and altruistically.”
He stressed that political positions are not an “open sesame” for pillaging the commonwealth of a people. Unfortunately, many are driven primarily by what they can get from the system and not
necessarily what they can give.
“I have always argued that people can make an honest living
outside politics. In my little way, I have proven this assumption to be correct. For instance, I have successfully established several thriving business ventures without involving myself in politics. A few examples may be necessary. One of my firms is incubating a gigantic rice
milling industrial complex with capacity to provide hundreds of youth employment opportunities. This rice milling complex can produce 300 tons of rice per hour.
“We also have a bag-making factory that can produce 42,000 bags in one shift of 10 hours. Our bag-making factory produces rice bags of all types, cement bags, fertilizers bags and flour and grain bags of all kinds and employs hundreds of workers. I have taken advantage of the technology highway to establish an industrial complex that can compete favourably on all fronts.”
Nnaji posited that the successes of some of these mentioned enterprises that he own is a proof that one can be comfortable without soiling one’s hands by stealing public fund in the name of politics, noting that if he can achieve this much as an individual, the state apparatus would give him better leverage to do more for a more significant majority, hence his focus is to achieve an industrialized Enugu State.
“My vision for a good and prosperous Enugu State is to ‘re-make’ it into a State that can harness the vast human and material resources that God has blessed us with and turn these resources into production for the benefit of the masses. I envision a state that would be able to drive the industrial resurgence of Enugu State, cut the cost of governance and catalyse production, thereby creating employment opportunities for our teeming youth. I envision a state that would maximize our comparative advantage in agriculture by putting our cultivable land to use and providing adequate security for lives and property.
“I am a firm believer in the maxim that one cannot give what one does not have. The first step towards a new Enugu State is recalibrating our priorities. There are many potentials in our State, but we have been unable to tap into them.”
The APC Candidate stated that the first phase of his economic transformation would comprise initiatives to considerably degrade unemployment challenges in the State and economically stabilize the citizens. The four activity areas within this portfolio include agriculture-driven prosperity, business oxygenation, infrastructure (electricity, water, road, housing) and education.
“With our vast arable land and comparative advantages in the production of cassava, maize, and rice, among other products, I plan to make Enugu State the cassava capital of Nigeria and gainfully employ a total of 182,000 youth and women in the value chain within four
years. We shall initiate a fully funded farming scheme program with 1,500 young school leavers and participating citizens from each local government area interested in agriculture.
“Twenty-five thousand youth from 17 LGAs are to participate in the scheme annually. The balance of massive employment we plan to orchestrate in this sector would come from a combination of subsidiary initiatives. These include establishing private sector driven [a]
agricultural equipment rental services, [b] modernized milling plants and production expansion programs, [c] agro-industrial processing layout and [d] agrologistics company to optimize resulting value chain opportunities.”
He enumerated some of the complementary initiatives to make
it most successful to include: creating Cassava Farming Cooperative Societies in the 17 LGAs in the State; provide bulldozers and tractors for land preparation and planting at a favourable cost to farmers; provide farmers with loans/grants; provide farm inputs like fertilizer at competitive rates; initiate a policy of land management to avoid land wastage; and esnsure that each LGAhas a farm either of cassava, maize, rice or palm plantation.
“The backbone of our large-scale business rebirth plan is a N34 billion Enugu State employment development trust fund [EEDTF] to drive increased entrepreneurial activities. Under the arrangement, we shall make necessary business revival and growth funding available to businesses with high profitability prospects and willing to absorb and
train at least three interns through our partnering financial institutions at single-digit interest rates.
“Based on our calculations, this initiative would generate at least 270,000 fresh employment opportunities.
“Thirdly, driving our proposed industrialisation and manufacturing without adequate power generation would be challenging. We shall invest in renewable energy as an alternative source of energy. We would invest more in upgrading power solutions such as solar and coal
“In diversifying the power infrastructure, we shall develop the state government’s reticulation lines. We shall site power projects in areas where we intend to woo investors, especially local governments. We intend to increase energy generation and depend less on the national grid.
“During the time of Jim Nwobodo, we had many industries in Enugu State. What happened to all these industries? They have been run aground due to bad management and lack of power supply, and succeeding administrations have not found it imperative to
resuscitate any of them. Therefore, my administration would conduct status scrutiny on those and initiate new industrial parks in the three senatorial zones for industrialization and employment opportunities for our youth.”