The decay and stagnation of the Coal City, Enugu, was very much visible even from the outside after eight years of a supposed democratic dispensation (1999 - 2007). The overall dismal performance in office of the inaugural elected civilian government of the Fourth Republic in the state inevitably made a child's play of the three decades of military misrule. At the emergence of Chime in 2007 as the Governor of the state, I was among those who did not give him much of a chance of making any difference. Reason: the manner of his emergence as a candidate of the ruling "ebeano" cabal in the state left some of us to assume that it was going to be business-as-usual! Obviously aware of the total disenchantment with that ungodly era however, it is encouraging to note that the present dispensation led by Sullivan Chime has elected to chart a different, positive course for itself. Even more compelling is the evident choice of the governor to adopt a low-profile in the media, a far cry from his predecessor who hugged the media like a maniac.
After reading the piece titled "On Good Governance Tour of the Coal City State" (Sunday Trust, Sunday, February 17, 2013, at page 26), by one Nwokedi Jr., I cannot agree more with one of his conclusions, namely, that in six years, Governor Chime has built enough roads to last the Enugu metropolis in particular and the state in general another fifty years! Whereas his predecessor built so many roads on the television and pages of newspapers, he chose to build his on the streets and towns of Enugu state. The sheer number of these roads coupled with the quality in different parts of the state mark the administration out for special commendation. They are indeed landmark achievements that are already impacting the lives of everyone, especially the rural dwellers. The enhanced evacuation of farm produce and other cash crops has positioned farmers in the countryside to earn improved incomes from their toil and sweat.
In this regard, I must single out the Nike-Ugwogo-Opi Road which the writer under reference mentioned only in passing. The importance of that road to anyone who understands the geography of the state cannot be overstated. The road will serve as a crucial alternative route to the University town, Nsukka, including Obollo Affor and the Northern parts of the country. Moreover, by circumventing the nightmare associated with 9th Mile Corner, it cuts the journey to Nsukka by nearly half.
Yet, beyond roads infrastructure, my primary criterion in assessing the performance of any state government is the security of lives and property. I belong to a school of thought which believes that there cannot be development and progress in society in the absence of peace and security. It is only when the security of lives and property is assured for instance, that investors, local and foreign can muster the necessary confidence to invest in the economy of a country or state. As investment flows in, jobs are being created. It is only then that the government can claim to be fighting unemployment, youth restiveness and crime in general.
The worst thing that ever happened to the Coal City in its over one hundred year history was the loss of its earned reputation as an oasis of peace and haven of security of lives and property. As a consequence of its history as the capital of the former Eastern Region, a greater crop of the present leadership of the country from this part of the map lived their formative years in Enugu. Thus, it was not by any accident that Enugu would always serve as the authentic home to all Igbo.
Therefore, more than Ibadan or Kaduna, it was until this downturn, highly unlikely to find any Igbo of worth who did not own a home in Enugu. But between 1999 and 2007, many of these noble souls had either relocated or were on self-imposed exile. The gods will never show compassion on all those who contributed to the desecration of Enugu and in the process, visited so much violence and blood on the city and its inhabitants. A great city of culture and learning was literally turned to the dogs where the only paradigm of validation was the sufficiency of banditry and inexplicable violence. Governor Chime has done well to nip the monster of insecurity promptly in the bud.
He must ensure that it is sustained by enforcing a policy of zero tolerance for crime including the dragon of kidnapping throughout the state. Never again should Enugu be allowed to degenerate to the point where man becomes wolf to fellow man.
Enugu has also regained its unique status as a clean city. Over the last couple of years, the State waste management agency has developed proven capacity in waste management which has ensured periodic and regular evacuation of waste from dumpsites before it overtakes major roads and neighbourhoods. Yet there still exists a gaping room for improvement. No incentives to prompt civic-minded members of the public to want to do the right thing in the circumstances should be considered too expensive for government to bear, given the general face-lift that has been given to the metropolis in the past six years.
Governor Chime may have done so well, in fact exceeded all expectations, but as his administration enters the home stretch, I want to use this medium to urge him to consider a few policy reversals in the interest of the populace, and also to further validate his legacy.
Firstly, the school fees introduced by the state-owned university, ESUT, and the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), some three years ago seem overly exorbitant and should be reconsidered. As well as the issue of fees, it is high time both institutions are sanitized to effectively deal with the twin issues of cultism and sorting in addition to weeding out the deluge of incompetent and unqualified lecturers. Secondly, the state government should address in a more serious manner the menace and nuisance occasioned by the activities of concessionaires and officials of the Enugu Capital Development Authority who terrorize motorists all across the metropolis by chaining their vehicles and towing them away under the pretext of "illegal parking". These two issues have brought unusual hardship on the public and, unfortunately, given the state government a negative image and should therefore be redressed forthwith.
Ngwu lives in Enugu.