By Osita Chidoka
I am at the Enugu State Investment Roundtable going on now in Enugu and I am liking what I am hearing. Enugu is my home and I have deep emotional ties to the city.
Enugu has moved from a regional capital of the old Eastern Region comprising 9 states to the capital of one of the nine states. Enugu rose on the back of the coal industry and declined as the coal industry died. Currently, Infrastructure is weak, governance institutions are comatose, and the government remains the biggest business in town.
On the positive side, the presence of strong education institutions, beautiful weather and enchanting natural features, a youthful educated population, and a strong potential for local and international tourism on the back of history.
Yet, the Leopard slept. Past leaders did not focus on big things, Gov. Chimaroke tried to dream big but his successors took pride in small things and made some progress. The time is now to move Enugu from potential to performance. Gov. Peter Mba seems set for prime time. He has taken the first step of flogging the Leopard.
At the investment Roundtable today,were the World Bank, AFREXIM, the British High Commission, and a host of investors. The Governor provided an indicative pipeline of opportunities from Aviation, Logistics, Health, Roads, light rail, river ports, Rural electrification, Agro-Allied industrial zones, and many more. Some thinking happened before the Roundtable. I am impressed.
Waking the Leopard requires a rebuilding of the governance infrastructure and the Enugu State government is committing to upscaling the “Enablers” to achieve ambitious goals. The Governor is committing to achieving the following goals:
A. Move GDP from $4bn to over $30bn
B. Join the top 5 subnational Development Index
C. Top 3 state in Nigeria by GDP
D 0% Poverty Headcount Index
These are measurable and achievable goals. I am happy the development finance institutions are gathered in Enugu and discussing a plan for inclusive growth. This is the way to go for the Southeast, a decoupling of the economy from the apron strings of the federation allocations.
_Chidoka was Aviation minister, Federal Republic of Nigeria_