Nkanu East, Sydney Okechukwu’s Salient Performance and the Need for Continuity

By Nnamani Egbo

Democracy does not only entail active participation in governance by the people, it also involves its impacts tickling down to the common man on the street through what is usually referred to as good governance and its dividends. Often, people talk about dividends of democracy without underscoring how such dividends have changed the trajectory of living and livelihood of the general public.

It is, indeed, expected that democracy as a concept must be seen in practice at all levels of government. Nigeria practices presidential democracy with three structurally defined federating units of federal government, state government and local government. However, Nigerians are usually preoccupied with the roles of the federal and the state government, latently leaving local government out of the equation.

The roles and expected duties of local governments are well spelt out in section 7 and particularly the fourth schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is, hence, important for the people to hold their local governments to account since those superintending them are public officers who depend on the commonwealth of the people. Nigeria presently has 774 local government areas and not much is heard from some of them in view of the philosophy behind the creation of local governments. Local Government, as the name underscores, is structured to be closer to the people in terms of response to their needs and welfare.

However, while the administration of some local government areas has been described as sleeping, dormant or outrightly adjudged failure, others have been performing optimally with visible projects that can be appreciated. Nkanu East, under the leadership of Hon. Sydney Okechukwu Edeh, can be adjudged to be one of the best performing council areas despite the paucity of resources accrued to it because of its agrarian geography.
Less than two years ago, Okechukwu was elected to steer the affairs of the local government with high expectations from members of the public. He wasted no time in mobilizing his team of professionals that would complement his efforts and key into the vision of moving the state away from its ridiculous underdeveloped status. Independent assessment of his administration has rated the local government high, moving rapidly from its backwaters status to an appreciable outlook.

The chairman, understanding the needs of the people, which were myriads and could only be solved through systematic interventions, raced against odds to stamping his signature from infrastructure, healthcare delivery, education, social welfare, to human capacity development. His style of leadership has been rated by the majority of the people as satisfactory and encouraging.

On different occasions, we have seen his administration intervene in the area of security which is the core or primary responsibility of every government. In time past, Nkanu East and a few other local government areas were seen as the hotbed of insecurity. However, with the strategic plan and implementation of certain policies, insecurity becomes a thing of the past.

One could always reference the camps of the notorious unknown gunmen terrorizing our people littered across the area. With the priority given to security, and the assistance of Governor Peter Mbah, these criminals and their camps were flushed out. Today, the vast hectares of land used as hideouts for the criminals are now mapped out for agriculture and agro-industrialisation.

Taking the security and safety of the people to another level of a disruptive renewed hope, the chairman has been able to construct a standard military facility for operational base in the council area, coupled with the renovation of police stations and police outposts and prompt incentive for local security architecture. This has further helped to prevent insecurity and boost the confidence of the people to go about their normal businesses.

Having conquered insecurity, the chairman has gone ahead to intervene in some areas of critical infrastructure including the countless interventions on Ugbawka-Nara-Nkerefi road and Mburubu, Amagunze, Akpwafu, etc feeder roads. One would recall how Nkerefi and some other communities had been cut off the radar of the state on different occasions with their connecting bridges and bad roads. Hon. Okechukwu came to the rescue and has continued to work closely with the people of those areas for development.

There is an ongoing construction of an ultra-modern 1500-seater capacity multi-purpose hall at the council secretariat which many have described as long overdue. Those familiar with the hostile terrain of the secretariat whenever it rains and whenever the sun is sultry and scourging have been hailing the project as laudable.

As if the above are not enough, the chairman has sped ahead with the construction of 4km Eke-Ube-Umuona-Obeagu Ugbawka access road, with complete asphalting and drainage system. This intentional gesture, which is at the verge of completion, is expected to ease the pain and suffering of motorists and farmers. Movement of goods and humans enabled by the road will facilitate agricultural boom in the council area.

In addition, the chairman has cleared over 50,000 hectares of a thick forest designated for industrial agriculture at Agudene Akpwafu. This is in line with the vision of Governor Mbah of turning the state into an agro-industrial processing hub where food produce such as cassava ethanol, yam, maize, among others can be exported.

As a way of modernizing the council area and giving it urban look, over 250 watt capacity of solar light (clean energy) is being installed at different communities in the local government area. Taking some steps further, it is on record that many parts of Nkanu East have been there for over 8 years without electricity, the chairman has commenced profiling rural electrification from Agbani axis through Ugbawka, Nara, Mburubu, Nomeh to Nkerefi. This is a giant stride taken by the local government which many have commended as laudable and in line with the vision of the state government. Transformers are being extended to communities that have never dreamt of having power by the current local government administration.

In the area of road intervention, every quarter, the chairman grades, sand-fills and creates existing and new roads across communities for interconnectivity and ease of transaction. For example, the construction of 7.5m length by 2m weight of culvert at three different locations in Ugbawka, maintenance of Ojorowo bridge and ongoing of Iyiakpu bridge are apt for reference.

When it comes to human capacity building and poverty eradication, Hon. Okechukwu is remarkably redefining the pace of governance in the council area. Many youths are being empowered through relevant training in skills acquisition, capital for start-up, scholarship for indigent students, and other social welfare policies initiated by the administration. Recall the attempt by the chairman to equip our young ones with digital skills which will aid them to become major players in the global fintech market.

Of particular interest are the bedroom bungalows built for the council chairman for widows at Mburubu, Ugbawka, Akpwafu and Owo as a way of restoring their dignity and hope in humanity. We will not forget in a hurry that the chairman has been paying salaries and emoluments of workers as and when due.

The above are only a few of the projects delivered by Hon Okechukwu within a very short period of less than two years. He has performed better than most of his contemporaries who have huge IGR and will still do more if allowed to finish his second tenure as justice, equity and fairness demand. This is not the time for politics, but a time for governance and support for the state and local government to work and make Enugu and Nkanu East great again.

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