Public sector reforms and need for accelerated governance in Enugu
The sectors listed by the governor for review include education, health, Public Service, Justice, Water, Security and chieftaincy/Community matters. Others are agriculture and rural development, finance, review of internally generated revenue and international development partners’ funding, lands, housing and transport, sustainable environmental and urban management as well as youths and sports development.
Some members of the committees include the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. James Ogbonna; the Coordinator, Health Policy Research Group (UNN), Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe; former Head of Service and Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof. Onyema Ocheoha; former state Attorney General, Chief Mrs. Justina Offia (SAN); Water Engineer and former/pioneer MD of Anambra (now Enugu) State Water Corporation, Engr. Laz Mba; Retired Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo and former state commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Prof. Frank Asogwa; former Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr Emeka Mba and former Super Eagles player, Austin Jay Jay Okocha among others.
Ugwuanyi had asked the committee members to “review the structure and operations of Enugu State Public Service over the last four years; analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the various sectors of governance; develop roadmap, templates, policies and systems that will support the government to consistently and optimally discharge its various sectoral mandates.”
He had also told them to help his administration to “reposition government to improve transparency and coordination in its business process and strengthen responsiveness of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); ensure that the administration delivers on its electoral promises and social contract, key of which are employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, rural development, security and justice; consider any other matter(s) which may be incidental or ancillary to the above stated tasks and make feasible recommendations thereon to the state government with a view to improving collaborative productivity and optimal delivery of desired services by the government.”
With the committees, Ugwuanyi may have set foot towards realizing the objectives of his second term. He had told the crowd of supporters and residents when he took his oath of office on May 29, this year that he was desirous of making indelible marks towards taking the state to a sustainable future.
He said he would work for a functional, effective and sustained public sector that would contribute to the developmental needs of the state. The move by Ugwuanyi to reform the public sector of the state is the first in the last couple of years. Investigations reveal that no government had boldly undertaken to reform the various sectors of the state, which underlies enduring growth and development.
Immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime actually attempted a similar effort during its first term in office, when he constituted the Elders committee, specifically to advise the government on policy directions.
Chime, while inaugurating the committee, stated that it was borne out of the desire for good governance and services delivery, stressing that his administration expects them to chart the path towards sustainable growth of the state. The committee then was to meet once a month. Not long after however, it was dissolved.
Ugwuanyi’s committee, which has a one-month time frame, is coming when the administration is just settling down after it was inaugurated on May 29 and when the governor is yet to nominate members of his cabinet.
Sources stated that the convocation of the committees may have delayed the constitution of the state executive council; an indication that Ugwuanyi may rely on their report to pilot the affairs of the state in his second term.
“This is so that the governor and his would-be appointees will be on the same page in the desire to lay a solid foundation for the sustenance of the state. If you look at it, Enugu is not an oil-producing state, so its share from the federation account has not matched the various needs that could deepen the growth and development of the state. The idea is that there are revenues that could accrue from a rejuvenated public service to help transform the state,” he stated.
The source added; “there is a great need for change in the way the state is run, such that we can put our institutions and sectors back to work, knowing that growth in technology has brought with it challenges on the old way of doing business. The saying has always been that Enugu is developed, but that is essentially in the private sector. We need to integrate the public sector on the same speed and growth level.”
Another source disclosed that attitude to government work, which has created redundancy in most cases and non-productivity could have informed the need to put the reforms committees in place, such that the personnel are positioned to contribute meaningfully and for optimal use.
When the work of the committee is concluded, it is further expected to address challenges in the education sector that have made public schools at the primary and secondary levels unattractive to residents despite huge investment in their facilities by government; and making education more functional to contribute to the knowledge gap and technological needs of the state.
In the water sector, expectations are that plans should be recommended on how to solve the perennial water problem of the state. Enugu is seriously challenged in the area of portable water for the residents. 70 percent of the residents rely solely on boreholes, surface tanks, streams and Wells for their daily water needs.
Water vending by tanker drivers is a serious business in the state. Water belt areas like ninth mile corner, Oji River are a beehive of activities due to the number of boreholes that are patronized by residents.
Although there are the Ajalli and Oji River water schemes built several years back, their frequent breakdown due to age, coupled with the state’s growing population and industrialization seriously validates the need for alternatives.
Last year, the governor summoned a town hall meeting on water. The idea was to feel their purse over the nagging issue. The outcome of the meeting indicated that efforts by previous governments at tackling the issue did not yield desired results.
The immediate past administration started an expansion programme on the water supply that saw it changing old pipes and replacing them with new ones. A move was made to concession water generation and supply but halted due to grey issues that arose in the process.
Many believe that and area like water sector should no longer depend on the government for its day to day activities, adding that should the system be running optimally, it should serve as revenue generation source for the state.
The primary healthcare has become almost non-existent and putting pressure on facilities of the only state tertiary health institution, the Enugu State University of Technology Teaching hospital (ESUTH), due to the number of patients. Several programmes aimed at encouraging healthcare and access including the free Maternal Child Care among others, are yet to make meaningful impacts as residents, especially in the rural areas still don’t patronize the hospitals.
The implication is that the government has to do more. Other areas of the public sector have their different challenges, which is why the governor asserted that the reform was central to the progress of Enugu State and the need to sustain its enviable status as the historical capital of Eastern Nigeria.
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