By Louis Amoke
On May 29, the re-elected Governor of Enugu State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to the glory of God, will be sworn-in for a second term alongside his deputy, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo.
The epoch-making event, which renews the governor’s mandate to continue with his sound vision for the state and consolidate on the solid foundation laid by his people-oriented administration in the last four years, calls for celebration and thanksgiving to God for His goodness in Enugu State.
Gov. Ugwuanyi, whose journey to the Lion Building formally commenced in 2014, following his unanimous endorsement as the consensus candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stemming from his cherished antecedents, leadership qualities, popularity and wide acceptance, has constantly remained grateful to God for His mercy and kindness and also to the good people of the state for their show of love, solidarity and support. Gov. Ugwuanyi, who later won the 2015 governorship election in Enugu State with a landslide, became the most popular political leader in the history of the state.
Consequently, he was sworn in as the third Executive Governor of the new Enugu State on May 29, 2015, when the nation’s economy was in recession and confronted with other economic challenges occasioned by the drastic drop in the crude oil prices in the international market. These economic adversities affected allocations to states from the federation account.
More worrisome was that Enugu State was among the worst hit, considering its position as third from the bottom of the revenue allocation chart and predominantly a civil service state with high expectations for rapid socio-economic expansion in view of its enviable status as the historical capital of the Eastern Region, old Anambra State, old Enugu State and capital of the present Enugu State.
The governor was also faced with sundry issues of inherited debt profile and other huge wage bills to be serviced as well as management of the political space in the state, considering that his party, the PDP, lost power at the national level after 16 years. All these challenges were a source of worry, which required drastic approach and a clear-cut intervention to move the state forward
Gov. Ugwuanyi being a God-fearing leader, team player, bridge builder, peace-maker, finance management expert, consummate politician and visionary leader remained undaunted and committed to the speedy actualization of his administration’s well-thought-out programmes for the people of the state, as contained in its four-point agenda.
The governor’s antecedents as a three-term member of the House of Representatives and two-term Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport as well as former Chief Executive Officer of Premier Brokers Limited – a prime insurance broking firm in the South East geo-political zone, owned by the five states of the zone and African Continental Bank (ACB) – also strengthened his courage to successfully guide the state through the economic crunch.
For instance, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his 2015 inaugural address stated that the economic melt-down then was “another great opportunity for Enugu State and indeed Nigeria to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded us from exploiting”, resting his faith in God’s miracle of five loaves and two fish.
Besides the nation’s economic challenges, the governor expressed gratitude to God for the grace to “take up the gauntlet of the struggle for the emancipation of the Wawa man from where our heroes past stopped”, saying: “It can only be God, for it is He who raises the poor from the ash heap and makes him to inherit a throne of honour”.
According to him, “He (God) has anointed me for a mission-to bring good news, message of continued hope, peace and development to our people; to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to every Wawa man caught in the prison of poverty and under-development. And these, I owe you and my God to fulfill”.
In actualizing these inspirational visions, Gov. Ugwuanyi recommitted himself to his four-point agenda to take Enugu State to the next level and promised that his administration will “deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment”.
He added that the government “will drive with full force investment promotion, agricultural sector renewal, provision of critical infrastructure, human capital development and skills acquisition” stressing that “Enugu State under us will pay a special attention to rural development because majority of our people live in the rural areas”.
Four years down the line, one is glad to state with great honour that Gov. Ugwuanyi through his new ethos of leadership, anchored on peace and good governance, has religiously and effectively delivered on these promises. He has remained committed to the principles of transparency, accountability, due process and prudent management of the state’s lean resources.
The governor, therefore, has through his administration’s adherence to fiscal discipline, peace and grassroots development initiatives successfully delivered democracy dividends to the doorsteps of the people of Enugu State.
Gov. Ugwuanyi has through his humble disposition, simplicity, candour, good works and uncommon leadership style of inclusive governance and open-door policy delivered the message of hope and rekindled the confidence of the people in participatory democracy.
He has bound up the broken hearted with a wind of peace that has united everybody in the state, especially the political leaders irrespective of class, religion, socio-economic and political background. This cherished ambience of peace and unity has remained the pillar of his administration’s success story and one of the major reasons Enugu State is in the mood of celebration today.
The people’s governor has through his administration’s rural development policy, one-community-one-project initiative and a great deal of passion for the wellbeing of the masses, remembered the long-neglected communities in the state in line with his firm belief that the greatest objective of government is to alleviate the suffering of the people. His government has also made a veritable mark in all other sectors of development, which have impacted the lives of the people positively.
While workers’ salaries and pensions are paid regularly with or without receipt of statutory allocations from the federation account – even at the time 27 states could not pay – the 13th month salary was also extended to them as Christmas bonus.
On road construction and rehabilitation, the Ugwuanyi administration has covered about 400 kilometres, spread across the state with signature projects such as the remodeled ancient, historic and undulating Milliken Hill road – a tourist attraction and state’s natural roller coaster; the Opi-Nsukka dual carriageway; the Ebonyi River Bridge, Ikem; the Udenu Ring road; Iva Valley road, Enugu. Others include the Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road, neglected for over 35 years and the Amurri road in Nkanu West Local Government Area constructed for a hitherto neglected community that has not experienced any form of government development on its land in the past 100 years, etc.
The hardworking governor immediately after his reelection returned to sites, awarded more contracts and continued completion work on the ongoing projects such as the long abandoned Enugu International Conference Centre, among others. The state government’s infrastructural revolution has been unprecedented and indeed recorded a huge success in expanding development to the frontiers of the rural areas.
Recently, Enugu State was rated by the World Bank Group as the second most advanced state in Nigeria towards the frontier of global good practices with regards to Ease of Doing Business. Through the impressive increase in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile, as a result of far reaching reforms introduced in the sector by the governor, Enugu State has remained on top as one of the few states in the country that can survive without allocations from the federation account, among other outstanding ratings.
Through the monthly traders’ empowerment scheme, 3,600 genuine traders of the state have so far been empowered with the sum of N50,000 each, to grow their various businesses. The state government also empowered 750 youths in skills acquisition under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme and equally engaged 2000 youths to clean up the state under the Enugu Clean Team Project.
Apart from recruitment of over 4000 primary and secondary schools teachers, with additional 1,500 for primary education ongoing, Ugwuanyi’s administration has constructed and renovated over 589 primary and secondary school blocks in the state and equally procured learning tools to improve the standard of learning. Recently, the State Executive Council (EXCO) approved the award of contracts for construction and renovation of additional 208 school blocks.
State owned higher institutions, namely, the foremost Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, 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.
Also after his reelection, Gov. Ugwuanyi was at Ihe, Awgu LGA to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the administrative building of the first University of Education in the South East geo-political zone, the Enugu State University of Education amid jubilation and excitement.
The government also paid 54 percent equity contribution for 100 lucky civil servants who won the 100 units one bedroom apartments at Elim Estate, Enugu through open lottery.
In the health sector, besides completion of the state-of-the-art Enugu State Medical Diagnostic Centre, as promised in the inaugural address, Ugwuanyi’s administration has strengthened the state’s primary healthcare programmes to render better medical services to the people especially in the rural areas, through various interventions and integration of faith-based rural health facilities into the Free Maternal and Child Health Programme. The government has constructed and renovated district hospitals and health centres in the state, especially in the rural areas under the primary healthcare programme, such as the Poly Clinic, Asata, Enugu and Udi District Hospital, among others.
The 200-bed ultra modern specialist hospital, Igbo-ano, being constructed by Ugwuanyi’s administration is nearing completion to provide qualitative and affordable healthcare delivery at the rural level and reduce pressure on the existing two tertiary health institutions located in Enugu, because of heavy inflow of patients from the rural areas.
The Judiciary has also felt the positive impact of Ugwuanyi’s administration as the construction of 14 new court buildings and open registries in the judicial divisions and magisterial districts across the state and state’s Customary Court of Appeal headquarters are nearing completion. These interventions were once described by the state’s Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ngozi Emehelu as “unprecedented infrastructural development that has not been witnessed in the entire South East” and “the largest single intervention in infrastructural development in the Judiciary of Enugu State for over 20 years”.
Interestingly, 56 years after three fire service stations were built in Enugu State, then Eastern Region, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration constructed five new ultra-modern fire service stations strategically located in the three senatorial districts for the safety and wellbeing of the people, among other litany of achievements too numerous to mention.
Gov. Ugwuanyi’s love and support for sports saw Rangers International Football Club of Enugu lifting both the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title after 32 years and AITEO Cup after 35 years.
In view of this outstanding performance by the administration of Gov. Ugwuanyi, which is a tip of the iceberg of the achievements recorded so far, the good news about the second term inauguration is that the governor, through the details of the 2019 budget and his post-election actions has displayed a renewed vigor and firm commitment to continue and consolidate on the solid foundation laid in the last four years.
It is therefore, expected of the people of Enugu State to continue to pray fervently for the governor and give him the usual maximum support and cooperation to take the state to greater heights in line with the dreams of the founding fathers for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu