A group known as Concerned Professionals from Enugu has urged the state government to put the plight of citizens first. This is following a bill seeking N1.7billion to provide pension for life for past governors and deputies and their families.
The group said the attempt to provide life pension for former governors of the state shows a “misplaced priority”, especially at a time common pensioners are being owed.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Enugu’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is N12.2billion yet the state boasts a 58 percent poverty rate.
Although the life pension bill was later stepped down following public uproar, the Concerned Professionals argued that “this ignoble incident is symptomatic of deeper disconnect between government and the citizens of Enugu”.
“We urge the Enugu State House of Assembly to pay attention to the plight of Ndi Enugu and focus on responsive legislative actions that can address lingering challenges of decaying infrastructure, education, health, and the welfare of our pensioners,” the group said.
“If this bill were not resisted by Ndi Enugu, our state would have spent more than N17billion in 10 years to maintain ex-governors, deputies and families. This is more than 3 percent of the total annual income of Enugu state. This is coming against the backdrop of a disturbing report that Enugu is currently owing N119billion in debts, according to the Debt Management Office. What kind of future are we bequeathing to our children?”
The group added that the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuani must “wake up to the reality and urgency of the moment” as nothing shows the state has “received more than N280 billion” as federal allocation since 2017.
“Enugu state government must also wake up to the reality and urgency of the moment. Since 2017, Enugu has received more than N280billion in federal allocation. The current situation in the state does not suggest that this amount of resources has passed through the state,” it said.
“The inability to maximize our resources for sustainable development has weakened our economic recovery post-Covid-19. The dwindling internally generated revenue and federal allocation to Enugu state requires bold and creative thinking to design a clear economic recovery plan for the state in consultation with organized private sector and development partners. This should be the priority.”
The 27 concerned professionals who signed the statement are Dr. Chichi Aniagolu, Udo Jude Ilo, Dr. Cajetan Ilo, Ikenna Enebe, Gerald Ikedi Ubaka, Chike Anthony Achukwu, Simon-Jude Mmayie, Adika Ani, Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo, Raphael Ani, Ikechukwu Nwobodo, Collins Okwor, Engr. Pius Okafor, Hillary Ogbonna, Barr. Obiora Ugwuanyi, Chukwuebuka Mgboh and Tochukwu Ekwo.
Others are Nkiru Uzodi, Barr Anita Egwuonwu, Ogochukwu Nebo, Dr. Tony Enebe, Chinweuba Ugwu, ACTIVISTA Enugu-ActionAid Nigeria, Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Rev. Prof. Stan Chu Ilo, Engr Chris Eneh and Leo Okafor.
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