Good governance isn’t rocket science but an invention of an excellent concept. However, its absence, especially in developing nations reinforces the old saying, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” One such example of an excellent concept is the 1999-2007 famous civil service reform that distinguished former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s democratic government from his successors.
Unlike the previous reforms – Adebo Commission of 1971, Udoji Public Service Review Commission of 1974, Dotun Philips Civil Service Reform of 1988 and Allison Ayida Committee on Civil Service of 1995 – the 1999-2007 reform reengineered and revitalised the waned allure of federal jobs through its six unique mechanisms – Pension Reform, Monetisation Policy, Restructuring and Repositioning of Ministries, Downsizing, Financial Regulations, Anti-Corruption Policy, and Service Delivery.
Unknown to many, the brain behind the concept is the Abia-State-born billionaire and entrepreneur professor, Chief Greg Ikechkwu Ibeh OFR. My conviction that he is the right man to lead Abians to their fantasised Eldorado grew stronger as I listened to him gave insight into the process that birthed the reform.
“I was privileged to serve in reforming the public service of the federation. The reform was on the instruction of President Obasanjo through then Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF) Ufot Ekaette. I was sitting in his boardroom all through that period that I was doing that reform,” he said.
Like many Abians who see a utopian state as a mirage, my heart distended to explosion when he spoke empirically on how he will replicate and implement the concept to revive the civil service and also increase the rate of employment in Abia when voted governor in 2023.
He said, “I have those systems in my kitty and among what I intend to do when we come on board. I succeeded in Abuja by setting up the Bureau of Public Service reform that has been working effectively. The government was able to restructure in a way that brought dynamism to the tenures of permanent secretaries. So, the state is not a problem. We don’t even have any problem with the people working. The provisions are conspicuous in my plan.
“I was on the radio recently speaking about what we need to do in Abia. The constitution of Nigeria is clear about civil service jobs. You become a senior citizen of the state or federal government the moment you have worked for 10 years in the civil service. You can be retired voluntarily or otherwise. My government will prepare well for your exit so that you can receive your pension and then perhaps use your expertise to practice entrepreneurship.”
Wow! Look at how excited I am over Prof Greg Ibeh’s positing above even though I am not a civil servant or a pensioner. I will never be surprised if our pauperised civil servants and pensioners chorus in delirium while reading this. It is, no doubt, mind-boggling and transcendent enough to elicit hysteria.
Prof Greg Ibeh has already had contacts with about two million Abia youth through his skills acquisition scheme. But the all-encompassing and wide-ranging nature of his vision, when elected, will set them free from the Sisyphean task of praise-singing and indolence.
“I intend to achieve this by harnessing Abia’s natural resources to the best rewarding proportion. Entrepreneurs propel 95 to 98 per cent of any economy. It takes someone that understands the workings and the demands behind this to harness a state’s economy. I clearly understand where I am going. I also understand the people that are involved,” he said.
Prof Greg Ibeh also recognised the fact that Abia has forward-thinking people with strong ingenuity in whatever they lay their hands. And that is not all. According to the professor, Abia is the second-largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria. The state is also endowed with cashew nuts.
“I will ensure that our people benefit from these crucial gifts of nature by creating a centre for processing them. I will provide a convivial environment for Nestle and other beverage companies that buy cocoa from Abia to operate from here.
“We are having these gaps between natural endowment and the process of adding value because there are not many who understand the entrepreneurship dynamics enough to harness these resources for the benefit of Abians. I don’t want to reveal too much now.
“I am coming into governance in Abia to help our people achieve their potential in every area of industry.”