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There is no doubt that the recent constitution of a
15-man Economic Advisory Committee by
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to
assist him generate ideas on how best to tackle
the adverse effects of the dwindling revenue from
the Federation Account due to the drastic decline
in the prices of crude oil in the global market was
a right step in a right direction.


[img]http://cdn1.vanguardngr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/223x300xUgwuanyi1-223x300.jpg[/IMG]

Ugwuanyi
To many, this brave step taken by the governor
was indeed timely and a well-thought-out
strategy that will help the state to navigate
through the tough economic conditions in the
country. The governor’s action became pertinent
following the inability of our leaders to heed to
the earlier warnings and advice from world
leaders and foresighted Nigerians to look in other
directions of revenue generation through the
diversification of its economy.
Although most economic indicators have been
relatively stable in the past two years till early
this year due to viable economic growth,
accommodating interest and exchange rates’
policies, benign inflation and stable oil price index,
some of these variables have been unstable in the
past few months due to persistent decline in oil
prices.
It was on the premise of the above, that Governor
Ugwuanyi, in a bid to achieve his action plans,
carefully assembled a cream of notable think-
tanks from all walks of life to assist him
surmount the current economic crunch in the
state and the nation at large.
These eminent people include the Vicar General of
the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Monsignor Prof.
Obiora Ike, who serves as Chairman of the
Committee; the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike
Ekweremadu; former Minister of Power, Prof.
Barth Nnaji; foremost industrialist and Chairman
of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent
Chukwuma; and the former Economic Adviser to
the President and current Director of the Institute
of Development Studies at the University of
Nigeria, Prof. Osita Ogbu.
Others on the advisory list are the Pro-Chancellor
of Enugu State University of Science and
Technology (ESUT), Dr. Chilo Offiah; former
Aviation Minister, Amb. Fidelia Njeze; Chief
Loretta Aniagolu; Dr. Chikelu Mba; Mr. Emeka
Odo; Princess Ngozi Nnadozie; Mr. John Okoye;
Mr. Kelvin Emeka Onah and Mr. Ikechukwu
Chioke.
Even though the task before the committee seems
to be a daunting, if not an arduous one, one is
compelled to make projections on what the public
expects from the members with a view to pointing
out possible viable areas they need to exploit to
succeed.
On the need to restructure the state’s internally
generated revenue , the committee is also
expected to lay emphasis on investment
promotion, agricultural revolution, and prudent
management of government resources. This is in
view of the fact the state has the economic
potentials to harness and create new viable
opportunities aimed at generating resources for
rapid development.
For instance, Enugu, being a natural resources-
endowed state has played early roles as the
capital of Eastern Region of Nigeria with
avalanche of mining opportunities such as coal,
lime stone, clay, iron ore, and other mineral
resources. It is on record that coal mining which
commenced in the state in 1916 was used for
National Power Supply at Oji River and Cement
Production at Nkalagu, among others.
The Oji River power plant which uses coal to
generate power has the capacity to supply
electricity to all the eastern states of the country,
if revitalized. It is therefore, strongly believed that
if coal mining in the state is given adequate
attention through the revamping of the sector in
partnership with the private sectors, the state
stands a better chance of boosting its revenue for
sustainable development.
Agriculture is another sector the advisory
committee is expected to give the priority
attention it deserves. This is achievable through
massive investment in the sector to be able to
produce and export foodstuffs such as palm oil,
rice, cassava, pepper, pineapples etc and agro-
based raw materials derived from forestry, among
others.
Good enough, the governor during his campaign
promised to “encourage more joint venture
projects with reputable private companies for
commercial large scale agriculture and agro-
processing businesses, including the revamping of
Adarice farm complex for massive rice production
and milling”.
This will also entail total commitment to the
revitalization of other state ailing agricultural
establishments and farm settlements in
partnership with private investors under the
supervision of the Enugu Agriculture Development
Programme (ENADEP).
For instance, the said Adarice farm settlement at
Adani in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of the
state has about 5,000 hectares of land with the
capacity to produce over 10, 000 tons of rice in a
season, when functional. There is also Adapalm
farm plantation at Uzo-Uwani L.G.A which also
has the capacity to produce a large volume of
palm oil for revenue generation for the state,
when revamped.
Ugwuanyi had also promised to create massive
employment and enhance the income of farmers
in the state through the provision of farm
extension services to small and medium scale
farmers and long term concessional credit
facilities in partnership with the relevant federal
government agencies. The committee is expected
to find out how these will work.
Under taxation, it is also on record that Enugu
being one of the fastest growing commercial
cities in the country due to its peaceful, convivial
and secure environment, has witnessed visible
proliferation of economic activities/outfits.
In this regard, the economic committee is
expected to look inward and come up with a
friendly tax policy that would ensure prompt and
appropriate payment of taxes by commercial
outfits, and equally make sure that the monies
realized from the proceeds go into the coffers of
the government for utmost utilization.
Another task before the Monsignor Obiora Ike led-
committee is for it to encourage the governor’s
stance on limiting government expenditures on
vital issues that will impact positively on the lives
of the citizenry and also cut down the cost of
governance to be able to save money for capital
projects and actualize his laudable vision for the
state.
In conclusion, one is convinced that the present
economic scenario, which requires the critical
need for government at all levels in the country to
develop the non-oil sectors, strengthen their tax
base as well as internally generated revenue,
could be surmounted through these options
enumerated above and the expected cherished
recommendations of the 15-man Economic
Advisory Committee.
It is gladdening that the governor of the State,
Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who has dedicated himself
to the service of the state has started fulfilling his
promises to continue on the pathway of vision in
the advancement of good governance through the
provision of the basic needs of our people, wealth
creation and prosecution of programmes that will
guarantee the future of our children in an
atmosphere of peace, love and security. He is
“ready to work” and the sky remains his limit.
Amoke, the Senior Special Assistant to the
Enugu State Governor on Media, writes from
Enugu.


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