The President and governors of the 36 states of the federation have come under scrutiny over their performance in marking the anniversaries of their respective elections and their inauguration on May 29. It has been a ritual for pen pushers to eulogise state actors on superficial assessment parameters on their accountability matrix. Thus, state actors are praised on construction of roads, even repainting school or hospital building or renaming of streets or public buildings are recorded as achievements.
However, when in a rational empirical evaluation, the cornucopia of commendation or catalogue of achievements pen pushers heap on state actors in Nigeria do not reflect in the standard of living of Nigerian citizens, who are the basis of governance or the claimed achievements. Invariably, state actors record monumental achievements in between May 29s since 1999 but these achievements are not seen or felt in the lives of citizens, though, with exception of those in government or their relations. Ironically, pen pushers elevate the basic functions of state actors to the level of achievements; thus, conventional functions translate to achievements even when the goals of performing those functions were not attained.
Virtually all indicators of the objectives of government – the economy, security, education, health, road infrastructure – show clear functional deficits across the country. Statistics shows rising unemployment rate, rising inflation, including debt burden on the country, falling standard of education, increasing poverty, poor results turn outs in significant examinations, millions of out of school children, etc. These dysfunctional development indices are yet to be upturned as governors, including the president, reel out their five years achievements in commendation of May 29 anniversary for those in their second tenure.
Five years after, Governor Dave Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State is, however, celebrated for certain listed projects in the state. These include securing approval from the Federal Government to construct an International Airport in Ebonyi, which was identified as the second in the southeast after the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Governor Umahi is also being celebrated as the first Governor in Ebonyi State to commence construction of over five flyovers in the State and completed them. The governor is also constructing the first Olympiad size Stadium in the southeast zone of the nation.
The governor further secured a loan from an Islamic bank through the federal government for construction of Ebonyi Ring Road which links several local governments in the State.
The Government House was also built by Governor Umahi. The governor also built the Ecumenical Centre to provide modern and large worship centre in the state.
Other achievements listed for Governor Umahi include construction of modern motor park in the State capital; supply of electricity to all local governments and big towns in the state; construction of major roads in big towns and local governments.
The governor is also developing Water Scheme to improve water supply in the state.
Governor Umahi is further celebrated for promoting growth of agriculture, and increased rice production; though, the Abakaliki rice appears to have been diminished by the mutated ofada rice.
The governor is also said to be developing education, offering scholarship to hundreds of Ebonyi citizens.
More so, the Ebonyi State Executive Council supervised by Governor Umahi was said to have approved the renaming of the following public facilities after prominent individuals with effect from June 2020:
- Centenary City renamed Ocho Udo City
- Ezzamgbo flyover renamed Sen. Sam O.Egwu Flyover
- Nkalagu flyover renamed Chief Cletus Ibeto Flyover.
Also, Primary Health Centres (PHC) were said to be functional across state, providing healthcare services of to rural dwellers; as well as training and recruiting healthcare givers, nurses, and midwives.
Governor Umahi was also said to have established huge industrial clusters in the three senatorial zones of the State located adjacent to sources of raw materials and markets. The industrial clusters were said to have the capacity to create over 200,000 jobs in Ebonyi State.
In all these, our investigation shows that there are unfulfilled missions of governance in Ebonyi State as in other states. Ebonyi State today represents the headquarters of the supply of the girl-child street traders in the cities of Lagos, Abuja, Benin City and others. The teenage girls takeover the streets of these cities hawking groundnut and other consumables during school hours and into late night. These are children that should be in school or should be undergoing human capital development.
Recognizing the plight of the female street traders on other cities from Ebonyi State, Governor Umahi triggered intervention mechanism when in the build up to the 2019 general elections he visited Lagos sharing money to street traders from Ebonyi in the commitment to provide micro capital to enable them start off their own business in their host state. Some received N250,000, some N150,000, N100,000 and others N50,000.
Elementary survey showed that among the female street traders in major cities of Lagos, Abuja, Benin City, Port Harcourt and others, about 65% are from Ebonyi State. Thus, the state has overtaken states like Benue, Akwa Ibom, etc, known for providing auxiliary workers for urban dwellers.
This singular phenomenon overlaps other issues of poverty, lack of access to basic education and high figure of out of school children, low commitment to human capital development, social and economic insecurity, among others, in Ebonyi State and other states in Nigeria.
Every action of government must have corresponding index on the standard of living of citizens who are the beneficiaries of the governance functions. When the cumulative indices are negative, state actors can seldom be said to have made achievements. This has become obvious in Nigeria where achievements of governors or the president co-exist with falling standard of living or diminishing welfare of citizens.