Soludo’s broken new grounds in governance – Ezembaji
Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s one year of purposeful governance continues to attract commendations from across the state as many score it highly in terms of development. In this discourse, the CEO Lake Petroleum Ltd, CHIEF C. U. EZEMBAJI says his leadership is on course in its commitment to make Anambra State better. He spoke to RAY UDEAGBARA. Excerpts:
ON overview of Governor Soludo’s governance model
Since he took over the mantle of leadership over a year now, ndi Anambra have witnessed a specially unique style, model of governance, an administration that has a mission, a purposeful one and is committed to achieving that mission. They have seen a pattern of governance structure where scholarship is brought to bear in governance. Many innovations are introduced and clear and consistent broad efforts are made to carry everyone including those at the grassroots along. We have seen unprecedented multi-sectoral developments and concrete and strategic efforts to curb once and for all that cankerworm called youth unemployment. One effort is the employment of 5000 teachers and recruitment of over 270 health personnel within just three months in office. The other is the engagement of 10,000 youths in a specialised skill acquisition programme, the One Youth Two Skills Initiative and the third, the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft an Woodlab Foundation to train 20,000 Anambra Youths on digital skills. One of the greatest problems facing all countries today is that of unemployment. White collar jobs are almost gone and private sectors all are cutting jobs to break even in their respective businesses. This unemployment problem is worst in underdeveloped economies like our country, Nigeria, where the youth roam the streets causing all sorts of havoc, cultism, arson, brigandage, armed robbery, banditry, murder and pick pocketing, as well as cybercrime, the notorious “yahoo-yahoo”, and the worst, youth restiveness.
The Soludo administration, immediately on inception, took into cognizance the menace of this unemployment situation and took measures to control it by embarking on these grandiose job creation programmes. Here, the administration recognises that the youth constitute an important segment of the society, and that to achieve meaningful development, efforts must be made to position them where they will fit in well, actualise their full potentials in society to contribute their quota to nation building. This very scenario will boost peace and stability in the state and enhance security. Since all developments revolve around security, this government will be in a better stead to actualise all its objectives to offer good governance to the people. As the governor pointed out, this digital training will transform the state from informal economy to formal economy through digital skills acquisition and make our youths productive and their skills exportable.
From what the governor said, his eyes are on the jobless touts (agberos) that constitute nuisance in our motor parks in markets, even on highways and along river and sea shores. His administration is also determined to get them together and channel their efforts where they will be useful to themselves and the society. Because most of them are illiterates, I suggest their labour, mostly unskilled labour will be most profitably utilised in such sectors like agriculture, building/construction, environment and even security. I’m optimistic that by the time these youths are fully trained and they begin working, they’ll be employers of labour as they will engage more youths in their respective business ventures and contribute immensely to state development. Business activities will grow and the state administration will generate more income from their taxes and revenues (IGR).
If not for this government’s youth employment programme, our state would’ve been uncomfortable to live in because if they roam the streets, only God knows the evil they would have perpetrated. At this juncture, I charge all our youth to queue into this job creation initiative of the Soludo government to come out useful and responsible on completion of their training. I strongly believe that this administration had ab initio laid a strong and solid base on which it’s working. It is succeeding and the success we’re witnessing stems partly from the capacity and capability of the state chief executive from his national and international connections, and from his employment of competent hands who are determined to give their best. The initial cancelations of the teachers recruitment exercise before the final one was done clearly indicates the commitment of this government to engage the best, most qualified ones in that all important teaching profession.
On relationship with ndi Anambra, including the state workforce
I will say here without any equivocation that this relationship is quite cordial. We’ve the highest population at the grassroots and all the government’s development efforts, as I see, are geared toward giving this set of people a sense of belonging. I can state here that no section of Anambra has not benefitted from one dividend of democracy or the other. Its strides in road infrastructures, in education, health and even in environment and transportation are witnessed in all local government areas. In its fight against crime, no section of the state is left out. In fact, Governor Soludo’s administration is all inclusive. Over 280 roads have been awarded and are under construction today in almost all the communities of the state. On the state workforce, the governor towed the line of his predecessor. Salaries are paid as and when due. He has even increased them by 10% across board. Allowances are also promptly paid, and pensioners have bright future as they receive their pensions regularly. Gratuities are being paid and the governor has stated times without number that once the current arrears of gratuities are liquidated, his administration will begin paying the ones incurred by the immediate past administration. He takes the issue of human capacity building seriously and it is yielding fruits as we see high productivity in the workforce. The government believes in the vital role of the labour force in socio-economic development. It recognises the workforce as the engine room of any administration and is doing its best to carry them along.
The traditional gifts given to the state labour force by the previous administration during festivities were not given to them by the present administration. However, money was given to each staff in their stead and this stood for the gifts. I can say that the present crop of lieutenants of the governor, commissioners, special advisers, board members take their work seriously and no one wishes to see any lapse in his or her area of duty. I’m not a politician but I carefully observed how these lieutenants worked round the clock to ensure their party, APGA succeeded in the last House of Assembly election, and it did succeed and came out with majority in the House. This clearly shows the good relationship between them and the chief executive. If this can be taken as a yardstick to measure the rating of Soludo’s popularity, I can say he is popular because for his party to get majority in the House, 16 candidates in such a keenly contested election with his government just 12 months in office is a plus to his performance rating.
We, the citizens have our own part to play in order to sustain this high tempo of development. Remember the words of Abia State governor-elect, Alex Otti, “that when sworn in, he’ll visit governor Soludo to learn some aspects of his leadership style. This is on record.
On what the administrations mode of governance holds in future for ndi Anambra
In fact, the state chief executive sees every onye Anambra as his constituent. In his mode of leadership, religious and political affiliations are off the table. Anambra is seen as one family and to the best of my understanding, dividends of democracy are evenly distributed. This government recognises the youth as the bedrock of the society; is working assiduously for their betterment. It’s making concrete and conscious efforts to positively transform Anambra. It is said that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. This administration’s policy on environment; its green, healthy and sustainable initiative will inculcate in the citizens the culture of cleanliness, and I strongly advise everyone to queue into this clean environment initiative of the government. I’ll suggest the inclusion of environmental health in school curriculum. The state government’s 20,000 youth training programme on digital skills acquisition I’ll say, has been copied by the federal government by setting up its Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council. Governor Soludo’s profession and wide contact, national and international connections will be of great advantage to our state especially now Nigerians are bracing up for harsh, dire economic crisis in June when fuel subsidy will be removed.
In fact, this administration has redefined governance and is carving out positive future for the youth. In the present circumstance in Nigeria where inflation hits productivity, consumer prices jump the most raising poverty, and many struggle to eke out a living, only a state administered by competent brain and supported by sound heads as lieutenants will prosper. Here, Anambra is on the advantage. Within barely a year in office, Governor Soludo has made Anambra State a reference point in Nigeria, opening the hinterlands, working to create a better society, liveable through the enthronement of positive changes. We have seen an administration that ushers in a new phase of development. From all indications, Soludo administration has broken new grounds in governance.
It’s now left for the youths to lend their support to a forward moving administration to boost good governance by the State. May I conclude this interaction by commending the state government and Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation for continuing production. As a government-owned paper, National Light Newspaper gives our state great honour.