Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in Enugu State, Mr. Chukwuma Igbokwe, on Saturday said overdependence on federal allocation by South-East governors was hindering development in the region.
Igbokwe accused governors in the region of failing to harness natural resources in their states to generate additional revenue.
In an interview with our correspondent in Enugu, the labour leader noted that the impact of the decline of the country’s oil revenue would not have been severe on the South-East states if successive administrations since 1999 had not abandoned large scale agricultural enterprises established during the first and second republics.
He said, “The problem with the South-East is over-reliance on federal allocation by the state governors. Since 1999, the governors have been lazy; no attempt was made to harness abundant and viable natural resources available for revenue generation and development.
“The palm oil and cashew plantations, rice farms, poultries and similar ventures that were established across the South-East at industrial scale during the first and second republics are wasting away. They have all been abandoned.
“They can still be revived but the governors are not thinking about that, they only think of the monthly federal allocation.”
He described reports that Anambra State had obtained a waiver to export scent leaves as a welcome development.
He said this was an indication that there were numerous revenue-generating opportunities for the states, if only the governors were willing to invest in agriculture.
“I don’t see why the states cannot export palm oil and other agricultural products on a large scale,” he noted.
Igbokwe faulted claims in some quarters that the South-East was the worst hit by economic recession.
He said, “I can’t say that the South-East is the worst hit by the recession. Are South-East states not getting their allocations from the Federation Account?
“The only concern is that, in bad practice, the South-East has always taken the lead. By bad practice, I mean it is only in the South-East that you will see major contracts being awarded to people who will pocket the money and refuse to execute the projects.
“Our problem in the South-East is using our natural resources and allocation to develop our people.”