By Reuben Onyishi
The administration of Peter Ndubuisi Mbah of Enugu State thinks big. It sets to spend over N3 trillion in the next 4 years in building infrastructure, and upscaling social services for optimal utility and services to the people of Enugu State.
The Mbah Administration intends to build 10,000 kilometers of roads in four years: 1250 kilometers every year. It has begun to build the smart schools in 260 wards of the state,and over N100 billion would be spent on education in four years. Also slated for the wards are 260 primary healthcare centres. In the next one month, water shall run in every compound in Enugu. Already about 60 million litres of water have been generated, and reticulation is ongoing. The New Enugu City is set to be built and over 40 architects have been engaged to design the masterplan for the city. The transport sector is being revamped. Rails are to be constructed. The cargo and international wings of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu are to be operationalized in partnership with the Federal Government.
The administration has begun to strengthen collapsed institutions, deploy technology and migrate the Enugu civil service and the 112 MDAs in the state to e-platforms. It is set about the generation of power already decoupled from the exclusive list, and ensure constant power supply in Enugu, especially for the emerging industries orchestrated by the investments the administration has brought to bear, having successfully wooed big investors into the state. Many more are set to be done. To do them, funding is the question. How does the administration intend to fund these projects?
Funds from Federation Account Allocation Committee( FAAC) to Enugu State has no capacity to carry the projects the Mbah Administration sets out to execute. Enugu plans to spend N3 trillion in four years, and the FAAC allocation for four years is about N200 billion. For Gov. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, FAAC allocation should go into savings, and planning for the future and posterity.
Alternative financial and funding models have got to be sort for the numerous projects and infrastructure the administration sets to build. Infrastructural development has become necessary for the private- sector-driven Enugu economy of Mbah’s dream, given the ease of doing business strategy with which investors are wooed. Alternative financial model has creatively been put in place by the financially intelligent and creative governor Enugu has got.
According to Mbah, Enugu is a wealthy state, only that its vast resources have yet to be harnessed. Many of the state’s assets are lying dormant and others yet untapped, even as revenue leakages had been rife in the past.
Who would have believed that the bushes around Hotel Presidential Enugu has the potential to yield N3 billion into the coffers of Enugu State? Hotel Presidential is sitting on 20 hectares of land. What is mapped out for sales are unutilized portions of land at its fringes lying fallow, and overgrown with bushes inside which criminals hibernate, even as they serve some fetish purposes for idol worshippers. It is this portion that is harnessed for sales, and has already generated much revenue to the state. The sales of the land around the Hotel Presidential does not in anyway affect the three-star status of the hotel. Recall that over the years, the hotel had been overgrown with weeds, following legal encumbrances, but Governor Mbah has removed that yoke off the neck of the hotel, and it is billed for rebuilding within one year.
About 40 assets belonging to the state government have been identified to be wasting away, and which the state government would convert to useful assets. Much revenue, running into billions of naira, is projected to result from the activation and harnessing of these assets.
Before the advent of the Mbah Administration, Enugu State monthly internally generated revenue was about N2 billion. Within four months into his administration, Governor Mbah has shored up the IGR to N4.3 billion, and in a few weeks, it shall have grown to N10 billion, and it is not as though tax rate is raised. What the Mbah Administration has done is plug in income loopholes and migrate revenue collection processes to e-platforms. The strategy was expand the tax base without increase in rates.
Before the Mbah Administration came on board, the annual revenue generated from the Ministry of Lands was about N1 billion. Given the deployment of technology to enhance services such as the accessing of Certificate of Occupancy within 72 hours, the projected annual revenue from the ministry is N100 billion.
The mining sector is quite another cash cow that had frittered away into individual pockets before Governor Mbah came on board. Mbah moved in to stop illegal mining in the state, and caused the legal miners to remit to the state government dues fees, taxes and charges. One of the miners has already paid into the state’s coffers the sum of N1 billion. The mining sector when fully harnessed would yield to the state projected annual revenue of about N500 billion. Coal sells high in the international market. Other mineral resources like glass sand, limestone, gas, oleum and others have yet to be tapped. The Mbah Administration is minded to get them tapped, as the mining sector has been positioned for investors. The Mbah Administration has positioned the untapped mineral deposits in Enugu for revenue generation.
The transport sector is also one areas where revenue loopholes have been plugged in, as over N5 million naira accrues to the state from this sector on a daily basis, when what used to obtain was about N1 million everyday. Annual revenue profile from the transport sector used to be N100 million. With what the Mbah Administration has done, the sector is projected with acuity to yield N13.5 billion annually.
This is yet in regard to the New Enugu City mathematically projected to yield N500 billion as proceeds from sales of developed property at the city. Meanwhile, the state is using the contractors to generate this fund by means of the BG granted it by Fidelity Bank.
Looking at the external debt profile of the state as inherited by the Mbah Administration, the state does not have the capacity to borrow money from any financial institution in regard to capacity as one of the five Cs of credit. So, the question now is why are the financial institutions scrambling to package facilities for the state? This is because they can see that Enugu is a wealthy state, sitting on unharnessed wealth, and their eyes are open to Mbah’s creative activation of the state’s dormant assets,.Enugu is much more than capable to borrow, if borrowing it is. As a matter of fact, what Mbah has largely done with borrowing is raise Bank Guarantee with a tenure of 36 months crystalization, a time during which returns on the investment shall have been realized with the possiblity of not drawing down on the loan.
It would only take the financial intelligence and creative thinking of Mbah to navigate Enugu out of the financial woods and coast it to prosperity. By implication, it is likely that the Mbah Administration shall be bequeathing the state a zero debt profile, as the state shall have mobilized enough revenue by means of activated assets to clear inherited debts and build infrastructure.
Those in the opposition, writing open letters to bishops should leave priests and bishops to the work of the gospel. Financial Management is one area that requires expertise and technical knowledge. Leave it for the experts and face what faces you. What Mbah has done really confounds the simple who lack the ability to interprete and analyze financial matters.
The good news is that the financial path to which Mbah holds the torch shines brighter to perfection, and to the delight and economic wellbeing of Ndi Enugu.