Governor Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi has continued to garner plaudits from across informed socio-economic and political circles for his administration’s perchance for integrity, accountability, transparency and uncommon commitment to the dictates of due process and open governance. Joining the fast flowing stream of commendations is the premium banking institution, the World Bank. The A-list body in a letter to the Governor through Mr. Shubbham Chaudhuri, the Country Director, Nigeria, Western and Central Africa Region, the Bank expressed its profound appreciation to the Governor for the transfer to the World Bank, the surplus project funds, amounting to USD 26.6 million, which was the left over in the State NEWMAP designated Account after winding down of its counterpart funded project in Enugu State.
In the view of the Bank, it takes integrity, accountability and responsive leadership to act in such manner as the Governor did, arguing that such a rare return of surplus fund will ensure that other states facing deficit of fund will be able to complete their civil work while Enugu State focuses on completing its approved works. This commendation by the World Bank aligns fittingly into the mould of preceding commendations by other similar institutions, organs and individuals.
Of course and very incontestable too, Governor Ugwuanyi is not a stranger to the issues of integrity, accountability and responsible governance. To the Governor, Integrity is one of the greatest of human virtues that must be deployed at all times in managing of public trust. This way, he elevates the concept to assume heightening prominence whenever we interrogate issues in government and governance in the State, bearing in mind the perspectives of wholeness and coherence; professional responsibility; moral reflection; values such as incorruptibility, obedience to laws and rules; morality, norms and exemplary behaviour.
Over the years, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has continued to garner public acclaims for his unusual commitment to accountability, transparency and striking hold on the principles of due process. Commending the Governor for the democratization of his Public Finance development and management system which has in return engendered accountability and fiscal responsibility in the state, Chibuzor Aniekwe stated that Governor Ugwuanyi has entrenched unique a paradigm shift in public finance management”. This, in his informed view has led to increasing public participation in the administration’s budgetary process as well as giving greater impetus to the notion that Public Finance is literary the Finance of the People. Of course, and truly so, accountability and integrity are the “true essence of democracy beyond victory at the polls.
It is a fact that the Executive Governor of Enugu State through the State Ministry of Budget has fully internalized and consciously implemented the Charters and ramifications of a fiscal responsibility regime by inculcating and sustaining the following charters and tenets; Bill for an act for the enactment of Enugu State Fiscal Responsibility Law to entrench transparency and accountability as a matter of legality other than leaving same at the whims and caprices of individual leader’s subjective morality.
Accountability is a form of liability that refers to whom and for what and what is accountable, which is understood as the obligation of the holder of the trust to provide accountability, presenting and reporting all activities that are his responsibility to the party who provides the trust. The decision-makers of the government, the private sector and community organizations should all be accountable to the public and to the agencies concerned. Basically it provides a very important role in creating good governance activity as a part of improving public confidence in government performance.
There is no contesting the accountability and transparency credentials of this administration. It is recalled that the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration described Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s utilization of the federal government bailout funds released to Enugu State government as impressive and in line with the principles of accountability. The committee said with experiences and information gathered from other States visited, Ugwuanyi had taken the lead. Speaking with journalists after the committee rounded off its legislative oversight function on the utilization of bailout funds to the state, the committee’s chairman, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, said that their scrutiny of the state’s record revealed that Governor Ugwuanyi was transparent and prudent in the use of the funds in a way the committee had not experienced anywhere else. Said he, “We have gone through the books and as far as the bailout funds are concerned everything is in order” In fact, Enugu State has even gone further because we haven’t seen this in any other states. We are not doing it because he was our colleague; we are doing it because we have seen with our eyes. This is an innovation and we are reflecting it in our report.
The position of the committee if subjected to forensic analysis brings to mind the conclusion that Enugu State is the only state that judiciously implemented the use of the bailout fund for purposes for which it was meant. This is not surprising in a nation where shortcuts, profiteering, racketeering, mind blowing corrupt practices and breech of rules are the defining concepts. But like they say, there are eggs and there are eggs. Governor Ugwuanyi fits the later mould of egg; exceptional in his handling of public trust.
In his explanation before the committee on the use of the bailout funds, Governor Ugwuanyi informed them that the N4.207 billion bailout fund his administration had received was judiciously deployed for the purposes of liquidating the outstanding pensions and subvention to parastatals, agencies and departments. He explained that although the state had applied for bailout funds from the federal government totalling N40.9 billion, “we received only N4.207billion to be used for the liquidation of outstanding pensions and subvention to parastatals, agencies and departments”.
Captured in proper terms, the Governor has continued advancing integrity in governance through wholesome accountability, transparency and due process. All interpretations of integrity in this case focus on the behaviour of the participants in governance in decision making and decision implementation. That is, it does not concern everything in politics and governance; integrity concerns behaviour, process, and procedure in a broad sense. Viewed this way, integrity concludes corruption as a breach of moral behavioural norms and values involving private interests. The third, and broadest, definition views corruption as synonymous with all types of wrongdoing by functionaries in terms of acting contrary to the public interest. In its broadest form, corruption then becomes synonymous with the vices, maladies, and sicknesses of politics and bureaucracy. In this latter definition, corruption is identical to unethical behaviour or the violation of integrity.
In advancing the fight against corruption and for the need to mainstream integrity based governance system in Enugu State, Governor Ugwuanyi had sought the assistance of members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, and similar professional organizations in his administration’s efforts towards entrenching fiscal discipline and transparency in the management of public funds. He was resolute that such administrative principles of accountability and transparency have helped his administration to reduce wastages and leakages in the finance of the state, adding that the collaboration will not only “encourage greater public participation in both the making and implementation of government policies” but will also strengthen the people’s trust in government. Canvassing this at the 2018 Eastern Zonal Accountants Conference of the ICAN held in Enugu, the Governor described the Institute as a professional body that has contributed immensely to the development of the nation’s financial sector as well as the effective implementation of fiscal policies. This call goes a long way to underscore the Governor’s believe that no government can truly represent the people if it is not accountable, transparent or adheres strictly to due process.
Due process is contemplated as a mechanism that certifies for public funding of those projects that have passed the test of proper implementation packaging that adhere stringently to the international competitive bid approach in the award process. Many Governors have failed the test of strict compliance to due process and diligence in the conduct of public affairs. In his characterization of nthe Governor Ugwuanyi model of governance, Prince Josh Ejeh stated that the “the timeless expression that no nation or state has ever achieved virtuosic and remarkable feats without the strenuous efforts of some dedicated, selfless and goal driven legends who took upon themselves the pains and inconveniences associated with development and holistic transformation of their society is only reiterative, indisputable, immutable and at the risk of repeating the known. Within the microcosm of their historical epoch, these selfless leaders saw the alleviation of their people’s plights as the ultimate sacrifice and price to be borne by them by all means. These set of pathfinders are however rare to encounter especially in a world distorted with the antics of individualism, capitalism and commodification of the commonwealth for personal aggrandizement”. The sum total of this position holds out that only in strict adherence to the demands of open governance, accountability, transparency and due process can public leaders stamp their names on gold, leave legacies that will remains engraved in the hearts of their subjects. Governor Ugwuanyi, no doubt one of such legends of our time.
©️ Onyekachi .C. Ugwu.
From Trans Ekulu Enugu