The Governor, who was represented at the event by his deputy, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, explained that the conference was informed by the need to strengthen existing bonds between the state and its local and international development partners, and explore areas of further collaboration. He noted that despite revenue shortfall caused by decline in oil price, his administration had nonetheless introduced development initiatives such as free maternal and child health care programmes, as well as free medical and pyscho-social services to victims of sexual assaults in the state.
According to him, “as part of the state’s development agenda and its efforts to grow the economy of the state, the government organized an investment Summit in April this year, which is already yielding some fruits as some local and foreign investors have indicated their interest to bring their businesses to the state.”
But in his contribution at the same event, foremost Public image and research Strategist and managing partner/CEO of Private Media Mart Limited, Mr. Ejiofor Agada, however advised the State government to go beyond merely hosting the conference (though commendable) to presenting quality and reliable information that is needed to encourage the desired partnerships. Citing the fact that all serious minded International donor and Aid agencies rely solely on verifiable information and data gathered using modern research tools and strategies to justify interventions, Mr. Agada opined that until the State government and its Agencies prioritize research as a key development approach, they might as well be hosting jamborees. “When you hear all the global agencies represented at this event lamenting that the dearth of statistics and data in Enugu state is the singular reason why they find it difficult to intervene in the development plans of the State government, they are only telling you to do more in terms of quality research to back up your claims and expectations” he said.
His position was obviously as a fallout of the fact that Enugu State, just like most states in Nigeria, continuously find it difficult to attract the interest of both the major international Aid and Donor agencies as well as private sector investors. According to him, “Research is what is needed to provide a holistic view, measure attitude, disposition, identify existing gaps and interventions that helps to impact on the lives of the citizens of Enugu State and any other State. “This information properly gathered and communicated, are the only ways to attract the needed investment and partnership for sustainable development and growth in the state” he said. He added that such critical data can also be applied to improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), needs, impact assessment and sustainability plans of the government.
Decrying a situation where Commissioners of the State at the event were unable to show concrete data as benchmark for their expectations for Aid and Donor Agency interventions in the state, Mr. Agada pointedly called on the Governor to mandate every MDA in the state to make it a point of critical importance, to use research to obtain the needed data that’ll showcase the extent of intervention needed as well as measurement index.
Enugu State is currently ranked among the states in Nigeria with the highest potentials for investments, with a landmass that is 98% fertile, huge educated workforce with an international airport to booth. But sadly, it has never had any meaningful strategies for economic initiatives from successive governments in the State.