By Wordshot Amaechi Ugwuele
While the art of governance is personal in its deployment by those pulling the levers of public affairs, its recognition by the people whenever it brilliantly manifests, is however universal. That is why we sometimes wish and even stridently call for the domestication of policies we see elsewhere that appeal to us, which usually initiates critical comparisons.
So, when we see those policies robustly promoted in our locality becoming models others are now adopting, of course with cognisance to their local peculiarities, to deliver on good governance, it builds faith and confidence in those we have elected to pilot the affairs of our own state, whom as the occasion demanded I have had to challenge and critically engage severally.
That is why I find it stimulating that Governor Ben Ayade in a recent policy exempting micro businesses from taxes, is boldly replicating one of the many effective initiatives Governor Ugwuanyi had successfully applied to re-stimulate the SME sector in the state and render Enugu the second best in ease of doing business out of the 36 states in Nigeria as declared by the World Bank.
Governor Ugwuanyi had perfectly understood that the small businesses, which most of our people are engaged in, operating in less burdensome environment is a necessity for the micro economic prosperity of the state. He had engaged the operators, extensively listened to their complaints, and as Ayade is now doing, proceeded to eliminate some of the encumbrance they faced like multiple taxation.
Ugwuanyi also amply demonstrated that listening to the people is one of the hallmarks of good governance and participatory democracy. That way, relevant stakeholders are not only carried along, their inputs as direct players in the field help the government to ensure delicate policies are implemented to achieve desired objectives. For instance, the government has been successfully collaborating with many business related groups in the state, such as the State Chambers of Commerce, Enugu Coalition of Business and Professional Association (ECOBA), among others. ECOBA had presented it with an elaborate State Business Agenda it had incorporated some of its recommendations that aided the ease of doing business in the state.
Again, when Governor Ugwuanyi heard the outcry of Keke operators, whom the state government never took any charges from, against multiple ticketing from the local governments and their unions, especially those in the metropolis with overlapping boundaries in their areas of operations, he asked them to choose what to pay. They did, and everyone was happy. These were an acts of good governance I would have cried out for our government to copy, had they occurred elsewhere. I seriously recommend these for other states, to ease the suffering of our masses whose misery today is largely on account of poor and lacklustre leadership.
Governor Ayade, like Ugwuanyi had been, was being creatively responsive in re stimulating the economy of Cross Rivers State amidst the global economic ruins of Covid-19. A highly tax friendly operational environment for medium and small businesses is a time tested and proven approach to sustainably grow more of our people out of extreme poverty to which over eighty percent are currently condemned.
In conclusion, as one who promotes democracy, accountability and good governance in their most pristine ethos, wherever these resonate greatly appeals to me hence I celebrate their exponents in Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Ben Ayade of Enugu and Cross River States. As Nigerians deserve good from those they elected to lead them, let us celebrate those doing well as we should never hesitate to call out on those found wanting.
Wordshot Amaechi Ugwuele, a public affairs analyst writes from Thinkers Corner, Enugu.