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Ihuoma Chiedozie, Enugu
The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Tuesday said state governors who came into the office after the 2015 elections have less funds to work with.
According to him, the prevailing situation was different from what was obtainable during the era of their predecessors in office.
Ugwuanyi, who spoke while declaring open the first ever ‘Oganiru Enugu State Investment Summit’ at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, noted that unlike the current governors, the former state chief executives enjoyed access to excess crude funds.
The governor bemoaned the impact of the decline in crude oil prices on public finance and expressed regrets that governors who came into office after the 2015 elections were turned into ‘bailout governors.’
However, he observed that the challenges occasioned by the fall in oil revenue had made it imperative for the government at all levels to diversify the economy.
According to him, the economic downturn is an opportunity to look inwards and harness the potential which ‘free oil money blinded the country from exploiting’.
“Upon assumption of office, we had quickly discovered that unlike our predecessors who enjoyed access to excess crude funds, we have a lot less to work with”, he said.
The theme of the economic summit was, ‘Beyond Oil: Fostering Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development.’
The governor explained that the theme was informed by “the compelling need for deliberate policy shifts” that would expedite recovery from the “crushing effects” of the decline in oil revenue.
He added that his administration intended to follow the example of the founding fathers of the old Eastern Region, who he said relied on palm oil and other agricultural produce to provide key infrastructure and other social amenities in the South-East.
Ugwuanyi further explained that the summit was conceived with the aim of showcasing “to investors around the world” the massive but virtually untapped economic potential that abound in Enugu State.
The state has untapped investment opportunities in solid minerals, power generation and distribution, oil and gas, transportation, real estate development, information and communication technology, healthcare services, education, entertainment, tourism and many more, Ugwuanyi said.
The governor disclosed that in a bid to boost commerce and investment in the state, his administration had already listed over 17 ‘potentially lucrative’ state-owned companies and industries for commercialisation or privatisation.
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Source: Punch News