Democracy has its dividends. In our clime, what many usually expect to see as its dividends are the construction or rehabilitation of new roads, provision of heathcare services, water and electricity supply. They are right because these are the ones we can feel, touch or see, hence I usually categorize them as the tangible dividends of democracy.
Incidentally, there seems to be more than all that, as there are intangible dividend sides of it as well, ranging from laws, security, press freedom etc.
Just last week, in his avowed commitment to balance the provision of the above mentioned two, and to avail them side by side to Abians, the Governor of the State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu signed into Law, the Abia diaspora commission bill which was passed by the Abia House of Assembly.
To the uninformed, the exercise may translate to nothing. But to the informed, the State has attained another milestone, by removing a major cog in the wheel of progress.
For a clearer insight, Laws generally are made for good governance, and as such, Laws, which may be classified as intangible dividends of democracy are the incentives for the provision of the tangible dividends of democracy. In other words, without the provision of intangible dividends, it will be difficult, if not impossible to provide to the electorates the tangible dividends of democracy.
That said, the Abia Diaspora Commission Law will play the catalyst role in providing a direct link for Abians in the diaspora to participate in the social and economic development of the state, as well as develop and co-ordinate the implementation of policies that affect natives in the diaspora and give them a sense of belonging in the affairs of the state.
It will also help in monitoring independently, or in collaboration with any person, institution or public department unjust acts against Abians in the diaspora and pursue redress as appropriate.
In addition to all that, the law seeks to also increase and support productivity by funding education, training and heathcare, beside their support in conveying knowledge and expertise–raising productivity through a variety of channels.
Combining their skills, contacts, and know–how with their insights into global opportunities and local customs, diasporas can now further help the State businesses overcome hurdles, raise efficiency, and expand new markets. In same vein, they can also be powerful advisors to Government in helping to improve the quality of public institutions and advocates to foreign businesses looking to expand. They are major partners towards the growth and development of their home states.
Incidentally, Abia has made yet another history by being the first State in Nigeria to domesticate the law, which seeks to provide the right legal framework towards maximizing the huge contributions and support of the diasporas in the development and growth of Abia economy and the well-being of her citizens.
At a time when Abians are expectant of more roads, electricity, water and classroom blocks, the scholar in Governance, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in his characteristic manner has cut another edge by providing to Abians something more than they wished, expected, desired, bargained and demanded for.