By Ifeanyi Obute
That there has been a steady growth of poverty amongst Enugu people, is no longer a news. Both the reality on ground, and the statistical analysis/reports from various sources, affirms that. The most recent statistical report from the National Bureau of Statistics, puts the poverty rate in Enugu State at over 58%, a dangerous trend that has never been witnessed before, even in the civil war time!
Apart from the statistical reports, the harsh economic realities on ground, even affirms this bleak fact more. As a perfect example of an average Enugu State indigene and inhabitant as well, I am a firsthand witness to the harsh socioeconomic realities. I’ve also been interacting and informally interviewing the ordinary folks; the situation, can’t just be easily represented here. It is just hopeless.
But in the midst of all these, the outrageous cost of governance in Enugu State is seriously alarming. The unnecessary wastes, financial impropriety/opaqueness, abuse of office and positions, increasing bureaucracy in the running of affairs of the actual governance, overcrowd of irrelevant officials that are mostly for political compensations etc, are all contributing to the increasing cost of governance. ALL THESE, USUALLY REFLECT ON OUR APPROPRIATION BILLS, WHEREBY THE RECURRENT EXPENDITURE IS ALWAYS OUTRAGEOUSLY HIGH. This is no rocket science, when the Government decides to be unnecessarily overcrowding itself, more money would have to be channeled into such a clueless cause.
With more than 20 commissioners from just 17 Local Governments, uncountable number of SSAs and SAs, other aides that are more or less useless, why won’t the cost of governance be astronomically high? After all, anyone called to serve, has to be paid. It doesn’t really matter whether the service is needed.
But most worrisome is the fact that the body language and attitudes of the State Government, will only be a template that other lower officials in the State would be following, such that the 17 Local Government bosses would also like to copy; the 260 councillors would also be seriously tempted. The 24 elected State legislators would be happily emulating the same pattern of surrounding themselves with useful and useless aides. After all, the tendency to imitate and mimic the highly placed, by their subjects/inferiors, has always the way of mankind. Whatever norm instituted by the man incharge, tends to become a convention amongst the people around him.
The implications of the aforementioned fact, entails a lot, but the most notable implication is that resources would continue to be managed very badly. Fundamental needs, would have to be jettisoned for bogus and frivolous wants. Resources that would have been invested towards sustainable development of the entirety of the masses, would have to be employed in the very wrong manner.
TO PAINT ONE GLARING PICTURE, THE REVISED 2020 BUDGET EVENTUALLY CAME OUT WITH AN APPRECIATED RECURRENT EXPENDITURE, WHILST THE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE WAS REVIEWED DOWNWARDS TO OVER 24%.
Covid-19 forced the 2020 budget to revised from #169,557,658,300.00 to #146,374,641,080.00. But then, the initial Recurrent of #68,790,000,000.00 was reviewed upwards to #69,790,000,000.00. ie 1.45% increment; but the Capital expenditure was reviewed downwards from #100,767,658,300.00 to #76,584,641,080.00, ie a whooping 24% decrease.
It is very important to note here, that Capital projects favours the masses most because it is through it that the good dividends of the Government is meaningfully extended to the average masses, whereas the Recurrent expenditure favours the bureaucrats most, even though it’s from here that salaries of workers are taken care of. But we know that the salaries of the middle and low cadres, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the workforce, won’t account for more than 10% of the total Recurrent expenditure.
So, on the other hand, the Recurrent expenditure is actually where the bureaucrats REAP OFF ON THE MASSES. For instance, the salary and other entitlements of a Commissioner, is most likely to worth the salaries of a 100 or more middle or low cadre civil servants put together. Hence, even though the Recurrent could be touted as a legitimate and necessary means of reaching out to all the employees of the Government, but we know that the injustice and imbalance therein, will shock even the devil.
What all these simply entails is that all we are saying is a factual truth. The cost of servicing the unnecessarily bogus bureaucracy, has been rising tremendously. Someone who is contributing little or no value to the growth of the polity, would be smiling home with a humongous pay cheque, whereas the ones slaving it out for the Government, would be taking home next to nothing.
Enugu State was not able to effect the Goodluck Jonathan’s era minimum wage of #18,000.00, not to even dream of the recent one of #30,000.00, but the number of unnecessary aides the Governor has been accumulating is very shameful to all right thinking Enuguans. Of what need are all those battalions of both relevant and irrelevant aides, who continues to gulp a reasonable amount of the scarce resources, when the essential needs of the Enugu State people is still very far from being met?
No sustainable developmental projects ongoing, other than the usual politically instigated handouts that they call grassroots outreach; whereas it’s possibly a means of political compensation to few persons. Infrastructural and social amenities, ZERO!
With over 20 Commissioners, countless other aides to the Executive Governor, which in turn necessitated/encouraged the acquiring of unnecessary aides by the likes of our Council bosses, legislators, Commissioners, even councillors etc, with all these aides smiling home with fat emoluments. These people, coupled with the constant expensive social activities of the State Government, gave rise to the high cost of governance in Enugu State.
And, for the fact that resources is scarce, the direct OVERALL implication on the average masses, is the growing poverty. When all the available monies are used for frivolities, there won’t be any left for the real deal, ie people oriented developmental projects.
Enugu State is seriously passing through HARD TIMES!
Comrade Ifeanyi Obute, EDON SouthEast coordinator, and a public affairs analyst, writes from Enugu. 08035087201. firstname.lastname@example.org.