By Obute Ifeanyi Titus
Enugu State is in God’s Hands! This is the political slogan of the government of the day. It’s been taunted and chanted everywhere and anytime the state government wants to indicate its presence.
The fundamental purpose of having any government is to ensure the security and welfare of the masses. And for Enugu State to be truly seen as being in God’s hands, it then means that the government of the day – the originator of the slogan, has to be truly operating in accordance with the ideals, principles and practices, resonating with true godliness. And not just to be dragging God’s name in a deliberate deception. Whenever we are analysing issues that has to do with the name of God, there should not be any room for clannish sentiments and political shenanigans, for God is the absolute TRUTH!
If actually our Enugu State is in God’s hands, and God is the absolute truth, then we would truthfully dissect the government’s claims in a very objective and respectful manner, but without fears or favour. Also, the analysis will be in line with the classical concept of God being regarded as TRUTH, JUSTICE and COMPASSION.
The analysis would centre on the welfarism efforts of the state government, since security is the ultimate prerogative of the federal government. Remember, the basic function of any government is the security and welfare of the people. If after careful and objective analysis on how far the state government has advanced the welfare of the masses , I am talking of sustainable and substantial welfarism, not mere politically motivated handouts and compensation to some selected few, then, we can confidently assess if we will join in the political chorus of Enugu State being in God’s hands.
Late Nnamdi Azikiwe aptly defined welfarism as the “social system where the state assumes the primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens. It is the complex of policies, attitudes and beliefs which animate the state to provide its inhabitants with the minimum standards in education, health, housing, pensions etc., where individual means are inadequate.”
In other words, good welfare of the citizenry translates to high HDI (Human Development Index) via affordable, but good living standards. This doesn’t call for intense and reflective thinking for one to grasp, for it’s no rocket science. This now brings us to the crux of the matter. What is the living standard of an average Enugu inhabitant? What about the NBS recently released data on poverty rate and distribution in Nigeria? What is the position of Enugu State?
Facts and figures don’t lie, but even most importantly, realities on ground do not call for special investigations to find out the true status of the people. If there is widespread hunger, lack of good and safe drinking water, harsh taxation culture, unease in doing business, contracting SMEs, rising crime rate, lack of political freedom (Enugu State has been a one-party state since eternity), skyrocketing house rent cost, human rights abuses by security operatives, exploitation and extorting of the struggling commercial commuter operatives by the police and MOT, deteriorating infrastructures etc., one would not need any special World Bank reports to indicate the reality of such abnormalities. Enugu State has been on a steady socio-economic and socio-political deterioration. All these, explains the recently released poverty data. But most worrisome is another factual data releases from the state revenue board, indicating a steady increase in our IGR. The increment has been very significant, close to steady 50% increase since this present administration came on board. We used to record lower than N20billion annually, but in 2019, we recorded over N31billion. Yes, in terms of our IGR, we are comfortably in God’s Hands, but it is also very ironical that grassroots poverty has been shooting up simultaneously. It’s actually illogical, inexplicable and confusing. Maybe some ingenious minds would have to explain it better. But pending the explanations, where are all the IGR being expended? Why hasn’t the increase in our IGR, impacted positively on the poor masses? We have not factored in the federal allocation too. Where are all these funds channeled to? Some sycophants would attempt to raise the issue of the dwindled federal allocation, but is Enugu State the only affected state? Is it not a national problem? But, Enugu alone, especially in the Southeast, has to record an unprecedented poverty growth, both on paper and real life. We continue to chant that the State is in God’s Hands, yet we are strategically drifting towards becoming the poverty headquarters of the entire world, since Nigeria is now the poverty hub of the world.
Who’s fooling who?
If actually there is no correlation between the deployed resources in the state for the collective benefit of all, and the realities on ground, especially as it concerns the commoners, then there is a missing link which then amounts to deception and lies. And, we know that with God, there can’t be any iota of deceit or falsehood. I ask again, is Enugu State truly in God’s hands? I don’t think so, in fact, I consider the slogan the greatest hoax of our time.
In conclusion, the situation can still be salvaged. Enugu State can still be said to be in God’s Hands, and also be truly seen as such. All that is urgently to be done is for the government to quickly replace her “laissez faire” and nonchalant attitude towards the affairs and welfare of the ordinary masses, with sincere and proactive interventions. Let them start exploring for avenues of making life bearable for the poor masses. If sustainable job creations, aggressive infrastructural development, financial propriety etc. might take time, or is posing a big challenge to them, let them start flexing their regulatory and oversight muscles swiftly. Through legislations, regulatory and intervening measures, the problems like the rising cost of house rents, exorbitant taxations, extortions etc., could be reasonably controlled. God, who we are claiming to be in His hands, is the greatest friend of the poor masses. It was exemplified in Christ’s earthly mission. Until visible people oriented measures and interventions from the government begin to manifest, we should stop deceiving ourselves. We should stop ridiculing God’s holy name with the slogan.
- Titus writes from Enugu. He’s national secretary, Eyes on Democracy of Nigeria.