By Louis Amoke
On May 29, 2015, the good people of Enugu State, friends and well-wishers gathered in large numbers at the popular Michael Okpara, Square, Enugu, to witness the inauguration of a pragmatic leader and true friend of the people, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as the third executive governor of the new Enugu State.
On that historic occasion, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address promised to work assiduously towards entrenching peace and good governance in the state despite the nation’s daunting economic challenges.
The governor pledged to embark on an aggressive infrastructural development across the state especially in the rural areas, where the majority of the people reside.
Consequently, Emene, Abakpa Nike, 9th Mile Corner and Nsukka – a University town founded over half a century ago and the second largest town in the state, among other satellite towns, got the endorsement of the stakeholders of the state for the governor to commence immediate development of the areas as a matter of priority. A committee on Enugu State Urban Renewal was systematically constituted to ensure the full actualization of the governor’s well-thought-out programmes in line with the four-point agenda, despite the nation’s economic reality.
Three years down the line, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration, in spite of the state’s lean resources and its financial status as third from bottom of the Federation allocation chart, was able to grab the bull by the horns in fulfillment of his promises to provide the dividends of democracy and create more urban centres to enhance rural development and boost economic activities in every corner of Enugu State.
Apart from regular payment of workers’ salaries Ugwuanyi’s administration embarked on development of urban and rural roads across the three senatorial districts of the state, focusing more on rural development.
The governor, in keeping with his inaugural address, within three months after his inauguration simultaneously flagged-off construction and reconstruction of over eight massive road projects in 9th Mile Corner, Nsukka, Abakpa Nike and Emene, among others.
This was in addition to completion of works on projects started by the previous administration, such as the state-of-the art Enugu State Diagnostic Centre, the first of its kind in the South East geo-political zone, established to create hospital chains to make Enugu the preferred destination for receiving high quality and affordable healthcare delivery in the country.
Enugu State has so far spent over N45 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the state, covering about 300 kilometres.
Consequently, the following road projects were among the projects successfully delivered:
The two 9th Mile Bypasses in Udi Local Government Area, which now serve as alternative roads for travellers from the Northern parts of the country to Onitsha and western states.
The Agbani-Amurri road in Nkanu West LGA, newly constructed for a community that has never experienced any form of development on its land in the past 100 years, and also the Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road (from Atavu bailey bridge to Afor Onovo), in the same council, which has a historic and symbolic attraction as the first state government road project in the entire Akpugo zone since the creation of Enugu State.
Another project is the Ngenevu road, which was constructed with the provision of two 500-KVA transformers. Ugwuanyi also directed development to other high density areas and suburb such as the Iva Valley; the Ugbodogwu, off Phase 6 Trans Ekulu; the Ogwuagor, Abakpa Nike, Emene, etc.
The story is the same in Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo Local Government Area – another long neglected agrarian community that is currently witnessing massive reconstruction of 8.8 kilomters of the Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road, after over 35 years of neglect.
There is also the Holy Ghost-Ogbete Main Market road, Enugu, which was hitherto in a bad state to the extent that the governor found it difficult to access it during his post-inauguration thanksgiving Mass at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu.
Others include, the Nike Lake road and Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Local Government Area, which were hitherto a nightmare to residents and travelers, who usually got trapped in traffic for several hours because of their deplorable conditions. The Opi-Nsukka Dual Carriageway in Nsukka Local Government Area, delivered with the state-of-the-art facilities befitting a University town and the second largest city in the state, to enable it compete favorably with other University towns in attracting technology and knowledge-based businesses and other industrial support ventures. The Ogbaku road in Awgu L.G.A (one of the 35 simultaneous development projects) that was constructed on a difficult terrain that is both hilly and undulating. The New Market-Milliken Hill-Ngwo- 9th Mile road that now serves as an alternative gateway into the city of Enugu, from Onitsha-Enugu expressway as well as the Ebonyi River Bridge construction in Isi Uzo Local Government Area, which is nearing completion and would connect adjoining communities to Ikem, the headquarters of the Council, among others.
The state government has equally executed numerous development projects in the urban area, such as the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mount Crescent, GRA, Enugu; Orofia Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Dental School – Tipper Garage road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Loma Linda- Timber Shed road, Maryland, Enugu; Nwafia Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mbanefo Street, New Haven, Enugu.
Others include, the Secretariat Road, G.R.A, Enugu; Court Avenue by new State Secretariat, Enugu; Ibuza Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Isi Uzo Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Owerri Road and Poly Clinic Road, Asata, Enugu; Renovation of the Enugu State House of Assembly Complex and rehabilitation and re-asphalting of the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, and a host of others.
It is remarkable to note that 56 years after three fire service stations were built in Enugu State, then Eastern Region, Gov. Ugwuanyi is currently constructing five new ultra-modern fire service stations across the three senatorial zones, strategically located in Four-Corner, Ozalla, Nkanu West LGA; Ogrute, Igbo Eze North LGA; 9thMile Corner, Udi LGA; Orba, Udenu LGA and Oji, Oji River LGA.
Still in the years under review, the state government introduced a programme on road maintenance in Enugu metropolis tagged: “Operation Zero Potholes”. It has also been consistent in the maintenance of street and traffic lights as well as other facilities such as the bus-stop shelters. In addition to this, 1000 youths have been recently recruited under the Enugu Clean Team Project to enhance and sustain the State’s rating as one of the healthy and cleanest cities in the country.
The Ugwuanyi administration has also intervened swiftly on the rehabilitation of failed sections of federal roads in the state, such as the 9th Mile-Udi-Oji River-Ugwuoba-Anambra State Border by old road; Aguabor Interchange slip road to New Market roundabout, Enugu with installation of solar powered street lights; Opi-Obollo Afor-Amalla road, among others.
Apart from massive road construction and rehabilitation, the Gov. Ugwuanyi administration has also taken bold steps in other spheres of development in keeping with the promises to diversify the economy to improve the living standard of the people and economic fortunes of the state. These initiatives saw to the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit christened: “Oganiru Enugu”, successfully organized to showcase the economic potentials of the state and woo investors.
The success of this innovative investment drive has continued to manifest in the quest to reinvigorate the state’s economic potentials for the benefit of the masses. Recently, a Chinese Investment Company, Lion Business Park Limited, entered into a business engagement with the government to establish an industrial market on 2000 hectares of land located in the proximity of the Enugu Industrial Park – FTZ (ENPOWER Free Trade Zone) at the 9thMile Corner, Enugu, to be known as Lion Business Park, modeled after the Dragon Market in Dubai.
One of the major commitments to this all-important business venture was the formal presentation of N300 million to three communities of Ogwofia Owa, Enugu Eke and Akama Oghe by the company as agreed compensation for the economic items, on the acquired land for the development of the project under Public Private Partnership (PPA).
There is also HELIU Residence project – a world class Residential Estate with infrastructure worth N25 billion embarked upon by the state government in partnership with Fit-Consult and China Shenyang International Economic and Technical Cooperation Limited, Shenyang, China through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to provide quality and affordable houses to address the accommodation deficit in Enugu because of high inflow of people into the state.
The state government in its frantic efforts to also address the issue of accommodation, through the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC) has actualized the site and services of the following houses estates:
The Valley Estate, GRA, Enugu; the WTC Estate, which has 22 number of two-bedroom flats newly built by the present administration; the Victory Estate; the Trinity Estate; the Fidelity Estate adjacent to the popular Ebeano Tunnel which is currently undergoing massive erosion /flood control work, among others.
As a government committed to the welfare of its civil servants, 100 lucky workers under grade level 1 to 10 won one-bedroom flat each at Elim Estate, Enugu, through an open lottery system which enabled them to become proud landlords after Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration paid 54 per cent of the equity contributions. With regular payment of workers’ salaries on 23rdof every month and the recent 13th month salary paid to all civil servants including the Local Government Staff as Christmas bonus, it is also on record that the administration of Gov. Ugwuanyi has, within three years in office, recruited the highest number of primary and secondary school teachers ever in the history of the state to improve the quality of education in the state.
Also committed to ensuring qualitative education under a conducive environment, the state government within its first year in office constituted an administrative committee on full and proper execution of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) projects, headed by the Deputy Governor, Her Excellency, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo. The committee in line with its mandate ensured that over 276 primary and secondary classroom blocks were constructed and renovated. The state government also provided 12, 480 writing desks and chairs for primary school pupils in the state and 868 tables and chairs for teachers to improve the standard of learning.
State-owned higher institutions have not been left out. The governor in his concerted efforts to reposition the foremost Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu to transit into a degree-awarding institution, recently approved N810 million in addition to over N200 million expended for upgrade of infrastructure in the institute. The Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT); the Enugu State College of Education Technical (ESCET); and the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo, among others, have also been benefitting from the government’s educational transformation programmes.
On empowerment, Gov. Ugwuanyi recently launched the repackaged widely cherished Enugu State Traders Empowerment Scheme designed to assist genuine traders in the state, who won the monthly open raffle draw with the sum of N50,000 each to grow their various businesses.
The re-launched scheme, which costs the government the sum of N120 million annually as against the initial N60 million, was equally raised from 100 beneficiaries per month to 200 at the same rate of N50,000 per beneficiary with an increase in number of participating markets from 37 to 54, to give more traders, especially those in the rural areas, better chances of participation.
The administration recently empowered 750 youths selected from the 17 Local Government Areas, who attended a one-year free vocational training organized by the state government under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme, to assist them start-off their various businesses. This gesture did not only earn the governor commendation from the federal government as the SDGs friendly governor, other states were also asked to emulate him.
The N10 million “one community, one project” scheme of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has also recorded a huge success in expanding development to the frontiers of the rural areas – an initiative that has made it possible for communities that had never experienced any government presence to benefit, accordingly.
The state government has so far donated 40 brand new patrol vans to the State Police Command to enhance their security operations in the state. As a prelude to the second anniversary of the Governor Ugwuanyi administration, the governor revitalized the Neighbourhood Watch Association with the launch of the Enugu State Security Trust Fund to galvanize resources and provide the enablers that will ensure that the vigilante groups are well equipped to effectively complement the efforts of the Nigerian Security Agencies. Consequently, Security Vehicles and Motorcycles were presented to strengthen their efficiency in combating crimes at the community level.
In addition to the completion of the Enugu State Diagnostic Centre, under primary healthcare delivery the government is constructing and renovating district hospitals and health centres in the state especially in the rural areas such as the poly clinic, Asata, Enugu and Udi District Hospital. The state government also recently approved the monthly contribution of N8.5 million as counterpart fund for the Free Maternal and Child Health programme designed to provide primary healthcare to pregnant women at the grassroots and children under the age of five years.
Determined to ensure that residents of Enugu enjoy adequate water supply, the government provided the fund to rehabilitate the facilities at Ajali and Oji River Water Treatment Schemes. This decision resulted in the recent improvement in the supply of water in Enugu metropolis and its environs.
Gov. Ugwuanyi- the jinx-breaker, through his sheer dexterity and commitment to the success of the Enugu Rangers International Football Club, the Pride of Ndigbo, ensured that the club won the 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title after 32 years in the wilderness without a trophy.
All these landmark achievements, too numerous to mention, have earned the peoples’ governor chains of endorsements for re-election in 2019 from all spheres of the society, including the religious institution, the entire PDP family in the state, leaders and members of opposition political parties, traders, civil servants, artisans, transporters, proprietors and teachers of private schools, Local Government workers, and pensioners, among others.
Flowing from Gov. Ugwuanyi’s financial background and commitment to public expenditure management, the following outstanding ratings and commendations have ensued from the Senate on the judicious utilization of the bailout funds; the BudgIT report, which listed Enugu, Lagos and Rivers as the only three states out of the 36 states of the federation that have fulfilled obligations to their workers; the recent Economic Confidential magazine verdict that listed Enugu among the seven states that are solvent with impressive over 30 per cent Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to fund additional economic activities.
Others include, the fifth most competitive state in Nigeria, according to the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria; the third most debt sustainable State in Nigeria; the first state in Nigeria to publish its Audited State /Final Account for consecutive three years; first in the South East geo-political zone and ninth in the country based on IGR as against Federal Allocation; one of the twelve states in Nigeria that can survive without federal allocations, among others.
As Gov. Ugwuanyi has continued to receive commendations for the marvelous job done so far based on the three-year assessment of his administration, it is the collective responsibility of the people of Enugu State to continue to support and encourage him to do more in the coming years of selfless service to the state, fatherland and humanity at large. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God
Amoke Louis, SA to Ugwuanyi writes from Enugu