Features

SOUTH EAST REGION: STATE OF THE STATES – Published by South East -South South Professionals of Nigeria(SESSPN) Secretariat

INTRODUCTION:
Over the holiday period the climate of fear decidedly became a major part of the people’s lives. And their decisions to travel home, stay put or even more so cancel any of their traditional activities over the festive period was influenced by this morbid fear.
For those who eventually traveled, the journey was anything but smooth and easy. Whilst dealing with the now constant police and uniformed harassments on the road, the near absence of motorable ways in some states and the challenges of negotiating an inflated market of desires, goods, basic amenities and services worsened the situation.
There were the usual things that we see over the Christmas and new year periods. Celebrations, parties, weddings and outlandish funerals. But they masked a darker state of penury, lack and darker shades of pain and more.

The experiences varied from community to community and families made do with what they could as much as they can. But across most parts of Igboland, the presence of the security forces on our roads were not visible. But attendant security men and women attached to those who could pay were everywhere present. They were not bothered about the public but about those who’s paying their daily bills through either the Police Commissioners, IG, the Army Commandant or directly.
While we were all away, busy in our holiday season, the political spaces were not on holiday. There still remained decisions to be made and actions to be taken. The budgets for the Year 2022 has been announced across the States, and though no account information of the expenditures of the previous year has been provided or made visibly public, we have to accept that between the last and present year, we are faced with the same challenges.

THE REGIONAL SITUATIONS

ABIA STATE:

  1. The State is not well. The government has been there but mostly invisible to the public.
  2. Their presence is mostly in the airwaves through multiple unverified claims of achievements.
  3. The political leaders in pursuit of their individual goals have used as they consider fit the population
  4. ABA is in a dire development situation because the infrastructures are overburdened, poorly developed and broken.
  5. All the things done so far over the past few years are either bad again, uncompleted or not even done as claimed.
  6. There are very very few motorable ways.
  7. The peoples dependence on self help has increasingly become a norm, while government officials are busy propagating a non existent dividends of democracy and especially security to all under this administration has become a farce.
  8. Overall the policies of the present government is such that you cannot tabulate it, hence the difficulty of making an informed judgment on any State matter.
  9. There is comparatively with other States in the region a dearth of growth, an absence of leadership and a great chasm between the people and their government.
  10. As the new political circle begins, it is imperative that we engage positively, proactively and forcefully to bring to the fore the ideas, innovative solutions and manpower to bring to an end this long circle of painful experience in Abia State.
  11. The State needs a change of direction. From evidence before us, this cannot be provided by the present State actors. The level of disconnect, lack of empathy and understanding emanating from the leadership is high. For the State to move forward, it seriously needs a new set of leaders who have the interest of the people at heart.

ANAMBRA STATE:

  1. It remains one of the most important part of the regional map of the South East.
  2. The present government cannot be scored high on a lot of areas, but it’s important to keep track of the success recorded as a State.
  3. The government has continued to draw from the economic and development capital created and built up by the previous administration. This has helped the state to provide dividends of which other states Struggle to reach.
  4. The human capital of the state, robust and creative, has ensured that the economy continues to grow rapidly. There is more production per square metre across the length and breadth of the State than any other State in the country to which the same inflows apply to.
  5. The Security in the State continues to be a cause for worry. While the government has spared nothing to protect lives and properties, the presence of criminal elements either locally bred or flowing from other states has been worrisome.
  6. Add to the above the unusually large cache of illegal arms in private hands and we get a sense of the challenges that the State has.
  7. With a new government about to take control, we hope that the state starts plugging the holes in the economic and development processes. Whilst also taking a bold stand on the regional growth of the South East.
  8. Politically,the State is proactively more informed and participates more robustly than others in the region. This should be borrowed from them and spread across the region.

ENUGU STATE:

  1. It’s long history of being both the political and Cultural capital of the region masks a lot of leadership failures.
  2. The present administration has failed to build on the success of the previous one.
  3. Roads are not the same as when the immediate past government was in power.
  4. Security has been papered over. Enugu metropolis has enjoyed relative calm. But the other Zones within the state, especially the border communities has continued to be terrorized by criminals and terrorists.
  5. Economic growth has not been internally generated. But has mostly been as a result of investments from outside sources. This should not be.
  6. The potentials of Enugu far out stretches that of any other State. But has largely been untapped.
  7. Central to the flat returns on both developments and economic growth is the result of the sedative nature of the leadership. Failure here has robbed the economy of growth and innovation.
  8. The IGR measured against the existing Infrastructures and potentials is poor and a rude insult to the State. Enugu compared to Abakaliki in the last quarter of the year did not have any measure of growth.

EBONYI STATE:

  1. Over the past few years Ebonyi has become increasingly popular amongst investors because of the available infrastructures, markets
    and government policies.
  2. The road network has
    exponentially increased and the link up roads across the state is better than any in the region.
  3. The hands-on approach to developing the business opportunities of the state taken by the Governor has ensured a number of reasons why it is fast becoming a model for domestic development.
  4. The development is spread across industries. Trade, Agriculture, mining and other projects have become key to their increased IGR.
  5. An airport is almost 70% completed and would aid trade, tourism and grow the economy by a further 15% over the next decade.
  6. Security continues to be a challenge. A combination of pro Biafra and criminal elements pose serious problems for the State. Inter and intra Communal conflicts have sacked many communities and created an environment that requires much more than the government can do.

IMO STATE:

  1. Imo is in a bizarre state of conflict and confusion.
  2. The challenge of the state stems from its political history which has been further exacerbated since the present Governor took office in a still confused and contested ruling of the Supreme Court.
  3. Since then the State has gone south and has been made worse by the “UNCIVIL WAR” which has created a significant increase in fear, death and pain.
  4. Imo irrespective of the visuals is potentially a failed State. It has been hit more than the other States by the increased violence that has
    become a staple of the region.
  5. It’s infrastructures cannot cope with the youths’ restiveness. The sit at home which has taken 3 days off the 7 week days has taken its
    toll on it.
  6. While the security challenges of
    the other States are somewhat restricted to certain places, that in Imo is spread across the State, fuelled by a large cocktail of peoples and events. The prognosis is dark. And there are a few attempts at crossing the lines of politics, zones and interests to deal with this.
  7. Imo today lives and is led by intrigues. This is a further indictment on the leadership and political class. Impunity has been enforced with the support of the police and Army. A political impasse has thus been created.
  8. While the government has set its eyes on settling political scores as witnessed in various actions it took over the past months, the State continues to bleed. We must see Imo through this prism to understand the underlying currents driving its progress or failure. The recent Orlu Church arrest was an egregious misuse of official authority. And portends an
    ominous trend.
  9. The relationship between the political class, the people and communities is very toxic. Religion, that one glue that tends to create amity, has become a part of the Imo debacle. Nothing is sacred any more, sanctity has been defiled and trust, faith and convictions has acquired a new name if not intended interpretations.
  10. Direct investment has shrunk over the past year. Insecurity and lack of clear knowledge of government intents and policies has ensured that.
  11. Remarkable to the understanding of the extent of loss, a sample call around most important hotels in Owerri between the 25th and the 1st of January, found most not fully booked. Which says a lot about what’s actually going on.

SUMMARY CONCLUSION:
Each State has its peculiar problems and challenges. Each also has its measured points of strength, even when it is hard to keep track of them in most of them. However, their common future lies in interdependence which is merely paid lip service to.
Problems of insecurity in one ultimately affects all the other States. They must pull resources together to face it. No part of Igboland can be accessed from the West without passing through Anambra. There must be a repository of collective resources to tackle the problem of traffic, touts, insecurities and other challenges. Imo comes next in the scale of importance and understanding how intricately it is tied to the rest of the region, and the near total shock of collapse we face if its present state goes worse, means we must not play the Ostrich any more.

The political spaces are awash with speculations and also disinterest. We are about a year away from the National Elections. The Presidential election means a lot to us as a people. But the fact that as a people we have no clue what to do and how to go about it speaks volumes. The two major national political parties in the region are APC and PDP, we cannot afford to ignore players in these parties. While elections are strictly limited to individuals within political parties, it is not entirely restricted to them to determine outcomes. This is where a regional/national leadership team will be required to provide the best possible support for emerging candidates across the country. We must provide support for the
participating candidates. neighbors must be intimated and carried along. Leadership brinkmanship will be required to provide further support across the West, North and Middle belt. Overall, Presidential election 2023 must be treated as a matter of urgency and emergency for us.

There will be local elections across the region also. These are most important and critical to the well being of the Igbo house.
There will be Governorship elections in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu.
There would be National Assembly and State Assembly elections across the Region. And also Local Government Elections in most of not all.
The emergence of solid, hands-on, motivated and driven men and women is key to changing the narrative across the region. What’s the point in our drive if we fail to have as our managers, representatives and leaders those whose overall views and interests are rooted in the wellbeing of the Igbo nation.
One of the most important things to happen over the next few months is to positively increase our attention to the Igbo house beyond the hollow rhetorics of the past.
Also obvious is the increasingly virulent and divisive political battles emerging from some of the States especially Imo and Ebonyi. In one the Governor’s questionable emergence continues to fuel the fight and shrink the possibility for a dialogue. At the other there is an obvious clash of protection of status quo and a drive for progressive programs to develop and grow the State. While in one the ugliness of power supplies the fuel, in the other a limitation of power tends to be the end game. One State grows amidst the power struggle. The other stalls, hurting the citizens and creating a structured and graduated collapse of amity.
The South East is better served as a wholesome Collective. It’s energies have at best been diminished by division. Most of its potential remains largely untapped. Whatever limited successes any of the States have recorded is so infinitesimal, compared to what is obtainable if they pool resources together.
Creative leadership across the region is at its lowest ebb since 1970. Absurd propaganda has replaced dynamic, visionary and eclectic management. As we scout around our current business, Political and Economic spaces, we see very few encouraging data to hope. This calls for a number of hard calls to make. Who makes them? That’s the rub.

DOMESTIC DEBT DATA FOR THE 36 STATES OF THE FEDERATION AND THE FEDERAL CAPITAL
TERRITORY AS AT SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

Abia – N89,298,203,364
Anambra – N54,640,781,664
Ebonyi- N42,877,787,667
Enugu – N69,169,594,013
Imo – N151,310,120,316

POPULATION [BASED ON 2006 CENSUS]

Anambra State – 4,182,032 Imo state – 3,934,899
Enugu state – 3,257,298
Abia State – 2,833,999
Ebonyi State – 2,173,501

KALU ONUMA.
SECRETARY GENERAL,
SOUTH EAST-SOUTH PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA(SESSPN) &
ADMIN SECRETARY,
NDIGBO LAGOS FOUNDATION.

JANUARY 11TH 2022

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