Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu state says he is poised to collaborate with the Local Government Council Chairmen to achieve meaningful development at the grassroots level.
Mr Mbah said such a partnership would deliver his ambitious programmes in areas of rural infrastructure, education, healthcare, electricity, water and sanitation.
He disclosed this on Friday at the inauguration of the Enugu State Economic Planning Commission at the Government House, Enugu.
He also set development targets for the 17 Local Government Areas (LGAs) for the betterment of the rural dwellers.
He listed the targets to include a creation of the law designed to create a platform for the exchange of ideas, sharing of knowledge and for a new partnership for the growth of Enugu State economy and for the benefit of our people.
The commission is chaired by the governor himself, with his deputy, chairmen of the 17 LGAs, commissioners, or representatives of the ministries of health, works and transport, agriculture, finance, commerce and industry as members.
Other members are the permanent secretaries for state budget and planning, rural development and water resources and the primary school management board.
The governor said that local government councils would be regularly appraised on good governance and rural infrastructure.
He said: “As the people closest to the rural dwellers, it is incumbent on us to partner with you if we must eradicate poverty, and raise the state’s economy to one of the top three economies in the country.
“This is by raising our Gross Domestic Product from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, among other promises, and this is why we have spared no time in setting up this economic planning commission.
“The idea of having a platform, such as the commission, is to have a partnership where we can identify projects that we would execute and pull funds together and ensure that we execute them.”
“We must be very sensitive to the will of the people and the best way to do that is to take development to them.
“That is why we are excited that we are inaugurating this commission today with a single purpose of making sure that we drive government down to the people.”
Mbah further said they should be concerned about how they could ensure that the rural dwellers have access to water and ensure that no rural dweller walk beyond five minutes to get potable water.
In the area of sanitation, the governor said it was unacceptable that in the 21st century, “we still have communities that still practice open defecation.
“It must end through the provision of toilets,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of other members, the chairman of the Enugu state chapter of the association of local governments of Nigeria, Sydney Edeh, lauded the setting up of the commission.
He described it as a catalyst for synergy and transparency in the administration of local governments.
Mr Edeh, who is also the chairman of Nkanu East LGA, said the financial activities of the local government would be X-rayed for everybody to see what they were doing.
“And I can assure you that we will now do more to take the dividend of democracy to the people,” he said.
Briefing newsmen on the sideline of the inauguration, the secretary to the state government, Chidiebere Onyia, said, “the commission would promote synergised development and shared accountability in a very short time.
“Eliminating poverty starts with well-structured plans and strategy and that is what we are going to be doing.
“There is going to be a strong monitoring and appraisal framework behind it.
“So, we are sure that within the short term, there will be dividend of this collaboration to make sure that we reduce our poverty headcount,” Mr Onyia said.
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