A former Minister of Information and Communication, Mr Frank Nweke Jnr., on Saturday declared his interest to contest the governorship seat of Enugu State on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in 2023.
In an official event to declare his interest to take over from Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2023, Nweke said his interest in the governorship seat was for service.
Nweke in his declarative statement said if he became governor, his administration would transform Enugu State into a foreign industrial hub.
He said he was pained that Enugu State that was the capital of the former old Eastern Region had no viable company that could engage youths of the state in productive ventures when there were numerous moribund industries built by Michael Okpara across the state.
He said, “The purpose is to formally declare my intention and seek your support to run for the office of governor of Enugu State in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
“In the best of times, the position of governor of a state comes with enormous responsibility for the security, welfare and wellbeing of citizens.
“This burden of responsibility and service has been heightened by the current state of the polity characterized by severe threats – collapse of basic social services, especially in health and education, unprecedented levels of insecurity, youth restiveness, hunger, endemic poverty, high inflation, high unemployment, injustice, shrinking civic space, weakened institutions, and an overall pervasive sense of hopelessness across the entire country.
“Our dear Enugu State is unfortunately not spared or immune from these multi-dimensional crises. With its high youth population, Enugu is rather at risk of becoming an epicenter of the gathering storm. We see fast diminishing opportunities for good education in public schools – the quality of education we received from public schools, which made people of my generation what we are today.
“We face urban fragility in our towns and cities, as systems are overwhelmed by the demand for jobs, social goods and services as well as living fundamentals such as affordable housing, transportation, an intractable water crisis, poor electricity supply, and low Internet broadband access.
“An attendant surge in crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, rape and domestic violence, substance abuse, cults and gang-related violence are direct consequences of the high levels of unemployment, hopelessness and general break down of law and order.
“In its 2021 Fiscal Performance Ranking, BudgiTNG placed Enugu State at 14th among states that rank lower on Index B and have comparatively less revenue left to invest in capital infrastructure for citizens and thus face a greater risk of resorting to more borrowing or risk of under-investing in capital infrastructure for citizens.
“Our dear state is dependent on FAAC allocations to provide almost 70 per cent of its revenue and spends almost 60 per cent of its revenue on recurrent costs. In addition, it has the debt ceiling (caused by poor internal revenue generating capacity), which restricts further borrowing from the capital market with its total debt at more than 50 per cent of the previous year’s revenue.
“In 2020, approximately 52.91 per cent of our labour force could not contribute adequately to the state’s internal revenue pool through payment of income taxes as they were either unemployed or underemployed. This is no surprise since the National Bureau of Statistics data also shows a poverty rate of 58.13 per cent, meaning more than half of our people are living below the threshold of income of $1 (N480) a day.
“These statistics not only show that our dear state has not been able to attract growth and employment generating investments, it also means that our state in its present condition is not positioned to attract such investments.
“Regrettably, government has not been able to sustain the many industries – Ada Rice; Cashew Processing Industry, Oghe; Sunrise Flour Mills; Aluminium Industry, Ohebedim; Niger Steel, Emene; Vegetable Oil Processing Industry, Nachi; Presidential Hotel, Enugu; Piggery Farm, Okutu; all of which were established by successive administrations from the Michael Okpara era to date.
“As daunting as these challenges are, I believe that they are surmountable. I have the firm conviction that with a clear vision, disciplined and transparent leadership, a solid and competent team, in partnership with the hard-working citizens of Enugu, our dear Enugu State will be returned to the path of progress, and even surpass its previous achievements consistent with its pre-eminent position as the capital of the former eastern region of Nigeria, and home to all Ndigbo and Nigerians.
“I am determined to wean Enugu state of the current toga of being a lethargic civil service state, characterised by inertia in its administrative workings, low wages and lack of enabling environment for workers, students and entrepreneurs.”