By Franklyn Isong
On Friday, May 1, 2020, Governor Udom Emmanuel inaugurated the 20-member Post COVID-19 Economic Re-construction Committee with a 9-point terms of reference. The committee is expected to submit its report in one month.
This, for me, is a step in the right direction. I salute the thoughtfulness of the governor.
Fact is, we are heading into a global economic doldrum. The governor has a foresight to think ahead.
What is left, is for the Committee made up of eminent personalities in the society to hit the ground running.
I will submit my inputs to the Committee when they call for memoranda from members of the public.
Going forward, the need for immediate employment of our teeming unemployed youth to undertake public works and agriculture to enhance purchasing power and reflate the economy of the State cannot be over-emphasized.
The governor should cut down on the cost of governance. Most of his appointees, ab initio, were not necessary. This has increased the monthly wage bills of government.
Littered across the State are ongoing projects initiated by this administration. The government should prioritize projects and focus on few key projects that when completed within the tenure of this administration, will add economic values to the State.
It is not in my place to force projects down-the-throat of government, but as a free citizen and stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom Project, I make haste to suggest that, projects such as the International Worship Centre, Uyo; Automobile Assembly Plant, Itu LGA; Coconut Plantations, Mkpat Enin, 21-Storey building, CCTV Cameras Project; expansion of Airport Road project; Ibom Blue Sea Science and Technology Park (former Science Park); Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, are among some of the projects which in my considered opinion should be discontinued.
Let government support and finance aggressive mechanized farming to ensure food sufficiency in the State.
It is truism, that Covid-19 has badly affected the economy of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State inclusive. If there is any time to crack the rock harder for waters to come out of it, now is!
The governor should think outside the box. This is not the time to depend on crude oil, neither is it time to wait for monthly federal allocation. I am not a prophet of doom, but post Covid-19, most States will be getting zero allocations from the federation account monthly.
This is when the intellectual capacity of our governor will be put into aptitude test. I know Governor Emmanuel is sound enough to prove his mettle. This is when his prowess as a business school graduate will be useful for the State and Nigeria, at large.
Anything other than to run the economy of the State – post Covid-19 – as a business enterprise may not yield positive results.
- Franklyn Isong is a Public Affairs Commentator and Conscience of the Society.