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Matilda Orhewere: Taking Stock Of Development At The States Level
Nigeria has come a long way but there is a long way to go. In fairness to ourselves, we have evolved greatly as a people but we do not appreciate this because innovations seem to be almost too minuscule for us to perceive.
Today, we see the Freedom of Information bill being passed and its benefits being maximized. The impact of social media in communication cannot be overstressed and we see that to a large extent, government responds. Information that one would ordinarily not find in the dailies are served to members of the public without fear that the reporter will be abducted or the publishers’ organization proscribed. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, we have leaders who openly interact with the citizenry on social media sites.
Due process is being followed in many departments of government especially in the area of awarding projects to contractors and the presence of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has instilled into their hearts the fear of corrupt enrichment that can be traced to government officials and they now tend to be cautious. This is an area for controversy because in truth, on one hand, there are still many corrupt leaders who have lost the sense of blushing as they feel no shame while robbing the nation; on the other hand, stealing by some of these corrupt officials has been greatly modified to appear like introducing diversionary measures along the tracks of EFCC and any other government agencies that are empowered to investigate and charge erring officials to court; going to such great lengths to conceal their fraudulent tendencies testifies to the fact that they are afraid of something. It is hoped that Nigeria can continue to make steady and consistent progress so that in due time, every individual that is given authority must give account of how he uses his office.
The elections conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the leadership of Prof. Atahiru Jega was applauded locally and internationally as a truly free and fair election; several disgruntled elements have expressed displeasure at the outcome of the peaceful and harmonious conduct of the elections and have resorted to violence that still plagues Nigeria to date.
Still under Prof. Jega, INEC conducted governorship election in Edo State that was popularly declared a free and fair election. The electorate left practically no room for elections fraud; again agents of backwardness could not be entirely kept at bay as they showed up to perpetrate acts of robbing the people of their mandate but their effort yielded results that are at best considered insignificant. The popular candidate carried the day and the votes of the electorate counted for something.
As Ondo State prepares to go to the polls for governorship election, it is expected that the same template used in achieving success with the election in Edo State would be applied to ensure that the wish of the people is respected and their mandate not hijacked by pirates.
Many governors of the southern states of Nigeria have embarked on development projects that are developing their states at a rapid rate. In a documentary of the effort of Owelle Rochas in Imo State on African Independent Television (AIT), I was touched when I saw that many indigenes of Imo State had chosen to return to their state now that they see opportunities that have been made manifest in the vigorous campaign to rehabilitate old and worn roads and to construct new roads in a bid to ease traffic congestion in the state. Other development projects embarked upon by the administration has further made Imo State attractive enough for the indigenes to return home to consolidate the effort of the governor.
States like Edo and Rivers also have records of rapid development that have brought about many more indigenes returning home to tap from the abundance of opportunities for advancement that would help secure a better quality of life. Lagos State is the centre of economic pursuits and the grand plans of the governor to make Lagos State a ‘mega city’ are by the day coming to fruition. However the effort of other state governors are expected to lessen the pressure on amenities and infrastructure of Lagos State but there is almost no visible reduction in the population of non-indigenes in Lagos; it is hoped that other state governors will key into the vision to work towards more progressive changes into their domain as a means of attracting their citizens to return home.
Instead of embarking on bogus contracts that are structured to serve the selfish interest of a few party stalwarts, state governors would do well to provide good roads and drainages first as these would make movement within the states less difficult for the people. Farm produce would reach their destinations quicker and in better conditions, transportation business and trade will thrive and transport-related health issues will be adequately addressed. The very existence of the people would be improved a lot.
Once again, it is expected that there will be more improvement as we appreciate the fact that Nigeria is slowly rising to the occasion.
GOD bless Nigeria.