By Jeff Ejiofor
Performance in governance is among other things, determined by the personal creative ingenuity of the leaders and the resources available to them. In a developing economy like ours, uncertainty is the bane of long term planning when it comes to governance.
The socio-political cum economic uncertainty has made it inconsequential to compare administrations and their performances in Nigeria nay Enugu state. When several factors such as revenue generation, federal subvention, and the strength of our local currency are considered, the inequality inherent in the system will make it absolutely untenable to compare administrations objectively. It is implicit to categorically state that revenue generation and cost of governance are critical determinants of the performance of any administration.
Consequently, looking at the comparative profile of the past and present regimes in Enugu state, the odds and opportunities available to each of them are clear. While this is not intended to emphasize excuses for anybody, it is imperative to note with objective recognition, the disparity in the cost of governance vis a vis the funds available as well as the prevailing exchange rate at any given time.
This is no doubt a major and indispensable factor in assessing the performance of various governments. For the purpose of this article, we will limit our assessment to the current democratic experiment which commenced in 1999. We will also look at Nigeria’s economic dynamics between the days of excess crude earnings and now that recession has driven the oil price to its lowest ebb.
Unarguably, the state of Nigeria’s economy is determined by the international oil market considering that earnings from crude oil account for 95 percent of the country’s foreign revenue generation. As a result of this fact, Nigeria, between 2007 and 2015 when the oil boom was experienced had a robust economy and enormous resources for developmental projects.
In Enugu state, for instance, the situation was not different. While those in government between 2007 and 2015 had enormous resources to bankroll developmental projects and other aspects of governance, handlers of government from 2015 to date have to look inwards and employ extra administrative acumen and dexterity to keep the economy of the state afloat to be able to carry on with the business of governance. It is on record that since the inception of Nigeria as an independent country, the external revenue base has not experienced the kind of drought currently being faced.
A lot of factors are responsible for this, and they range from global economic recession to reduced demand for crude oil by Nigeria’s major buyer, the United States of America whose shale oil fills the gap. This situation no doubt affects the economy of states within the Nigerian federation which includes Enugu state.
Another important factor orchestrating this economic inequality between the past and present administrations is the strength of our local currency at the foreign exchange market. The depreciation of the naira, our local currency at the international market is a great determining factor of our capacity as a people to affect economic activities in our society.
In 2015 when the current regime took over power, a dollar was going for #160 but today a dollar is #420. Those who understand the role of currency in international trade will know the difference in the cost of governance and other dynamics of economic development.
Expectedly, the cost implication of this on governance will be overwhelmingly high with definite exertions of pressure on the system. For example, a one-kilometer road which would have ordinarily taken #1m to construct will cost as much as #3m today judging from the prevailing exchange rate. Can we now see the dilemma of the present office holders when compared with the past?
When people are making comparative analysis and drawing conclusions, they often fail to consider the above undercurrents. This is indeed a major odd that should not be ignored for any reason because of its enormity in affecting the overall performance of any government. This is indeed capable of shaping the performance or otherwise of any regime.
Apparently, these identified barometers should form the basis of rating past and present administrations in Enugu state. It is absolutely subjective to disregard this important aspect of governance when drawing comparisons among previous and present public officeholders. For example, most state governments are currently grappling with the burden of paying salaries because of the present economic condition while that was not an issue In the past considering the huge resources at their disposal because of oil boom.
It is a common knowledge that crude oil which sold for 120 dollars per barrel before 2015 now goes for less than 40 dollars a barrel, and it certainly has a ripple effect on government spending capacity. In short, it suffices to say that finance is the bedrock of government activities with regard to the overall appropriation of developmental projects and other policies affecting the people’s welfare.
Finally, we would conclude by asking some pertinent questions as follows;
1, what is the rationale behind the comparison of two people given the same assignment but without equal opportunities and resources?
2, what is the wisdom in comparing a government with a better economic environment as well as the cost of governance and the one with a harsher and higher environment and cost of governance respectively?
The answer to the above questions is obvious. Whereas it required little or no skills to pilot the affairs of government in the recent past because of the enormous resources available then, it currently needs administrative ingenuity and extra efforts to paddle the canoe of governance in the face of unprecedented economic quagmire prevalent today.
It is mainly out of severe ignorance that people compare administrations, past and present without objective consideration of the inherent economic disparity between or among them. It takes critical objective analysis to unravel the real differences between governments before an informed conclusion can be made.
Even with all these, coupled with inherited huge debt profile, the current Enugu state government under the able leadership of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has employed deft political sagacity and economic wizardry to brave the odds, sustain the economic tempo, and maintain a high level of performance to the chagrin of informed minds. It is this ingenuity that took Enugu state’s internally generated revenue to an enviable height of #32 billion annually, making it one of the six states in Nigeria today that can survive without federal allocation.
Believe it or not, Ugwuanyi is outperforming most of his contemporaries across Nigeria today and will have the upper hand if rated on a holistic ratio basis with his predecessors. This assertion is verifiable with the application of an acceptable performance index.
Enugu is in the hands of God.