Highlights strides in health, education sectors, others at London lecture

Enugu State governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, has said that only radical thinking and creative approach to governance, such as adopted by his administration, could stimulate rapid economic development in the 36 states of Nigeria, given the nation’s brand of presidential federalism, which excessively vests the nation’s revenues in the centre, thereby hindering bold social and economic development. The governor stated this during a public lecture entitled, “Enugu State, Nigeria: New Political Leadership; Bold Economic Vision – Spotlight on the Health and Education Strategies” which he delivered at the London School of Economics (LSE), Thursday evening.

Mbah maintained that the exigencies of the times in Nigeria required bold and unusual solutions that come from thinking outside the box, hence his administration’s ambitious economic vision and the radical policies and programmes being executed in health, education, security, water, and road infrastructure.

He said: “The single boldest projection that encapsulates what we intend to accomplish is our target to grow the economy of Enugu State seven-fold. Simply put, our vision is to grow the state’s GDP from $4.4bn that we met to at least $30bn in the next four to eight years.

“Another bold plan is the commitment to attain a zero per cent poverty headcount index in Enugu State.” He, however, observed that realising the set targets would depend greatly on the wellness of the state’s workforce, hence his government’s numerous health projects and innovations, which were already yielding results in his short while in office.

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“We are seeing decline, albeit marginal, in infant and maternal mortality rate in our state. We are constantly eliminating factors that ordinarily cause maternal and under-5 deaths, such as the absence of skilled birth attendants, including doctors, nurses and midwives at health facilities. From a pre-election statistic of 39 per cent, we have grown the number of births attended to by skilled health personnel at our facilities to 42 per cent. Our target is to achieve a 100 per cent threshold by the end of 2025.

“In addition, we have significantly expanded immunization coverage for all childhood vaccine-preventable diseases for children on their first birthday. We have also increased the number of those attending Ante-Natal Care for the first time.

“We’re also building new Level 2 healthcare facilities across the 260 electoral wards in our state. Each centre has the necessary equipment, sanitation and hygiene facilities, water, living quarters for doctors and nurses, and alternative power supply. Where there is a shortfall, especially with regard to doctors and nurses who have been emigrating to the West in large numbers, we carry out regular recruitment drives to narrow the deficit. The goal is to bring the number of doctors in our state to the WHO recommended doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor to 600 patients,” the governor said.

He added that no nation has ever risen above the inherent capacity of its public education, hence his administration’s huge investment in an education that emphasizes access, relevance, and quality to power the turnaround.  “Our government’s allocation for education in this year’s budget illustrates this resolve. Our state’s budget of N158.78bn for education is the highest per capita in the country. With regard to the percentage of total budget assigned to education, it is as well the highest budgeted for education by any state in Nigeria, at 33 per cent of the entire budget sum. It is also substantially higher than UNESCO’s recommended benchmark of 15 per cent – 20 percent of total annual budget. I dare say it’s perhaps the highest in the world. Think about it: This implies that for every 100 Naira spent, 33 Naira goes to the education budget.”