By Gabriel Ugwu
Since after the last governorship election in Enugu, which Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi won landslide by garnering 95 percent plus of the votes cast, some Urban Guerrillas, who had foolishly for reasons best known to them, worked tirelessly for Ugwuanyi’s defeat in the election, but failed woefully have upped their attacks on the governor, his government and the people of the state on social media platforms.
What these urban guerrillas, who were mostly born, brought up and lived all their lives in urban areas or cities failed to understand is that every politics is local and grassroots-oriented.
But how would they know when majority of them don’t have voters card, don’t know their polling units and have even forgotten the roads leading to their villages, ancestral homes and lands. Many of them have not been to their villages since they were born.
They grew up, schooled, married, lived and worked in the urban areas. Year in, year out, they are in urban areas and are only known as visitors in their communities and villages. So, they are only conversant with government’s giant strides in cities and urban areas, forgetting that majority of the people and indigenes of the state live in the rural areas.
Even during annual festival like Christmas and New year, urban areas and cities remain their homes. In Igbo parlance, they are called Ala bu otu, meaning everywhere, anywhere is their ancestral homes. They spend hours on social media platforms, ignorantly assessing and criticising governors and governments’ performance without the requisite knowledge, information, facts, indices and parameters to do so. Some of them are intellectually sound, but are very lazy when it has to do with investigations and research works. This is simply because of their habitual mischief, hidden agenda, emotions and unhindered access to the social media platforms, where they easily cast aspersions on people without being reprimanded.
Even when many of the social media platforms are loaded with the needed information, facts and figures to assess government’s achievements, they intentionally abandon or downplay such in their jaundiced assessments of government’s performance.
These class of people are many in Enugu and beyond. They have lived in Enugu for years and have left the state over the years. This is not strange, considering that Enugu was once the capital of the old Eastern region, Eastern Central region, old Anambra, old Enugu state and the present Enugu State. Virtually an average Igbo man has a home or a relation living in Enugu today.
So, whenever it is something that has to do with Enugu, an average Nigerian, especially Igbo man is interested. In short, every Igbo man seems to be an analyst, commentator and expert on social media when it has to do with Enugu affairs. They are majorly interested in what happened or happening in Enugu urban, where they or thier relations reside than what is happening in rural areas.
This, alongside the politics of 2023 is largely the obvious reason these urban guerrillas have of recent become so critical of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration on social media platforms without any evidence or fact to butress their claims. While it maybe true that Ugwuanyi’s predecessors concentrated developmental projects in the urban areas, Ugwuanyi since assumption of office has consistently maintained the inherited infrastructural projects and built more in rural and urban areas as well.
Projects already completed in rural areas include the extension of the Agbani-Afor Amurri Road, extension of Ituku Road, construction of Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road from Atavu Bailey Bridge to Afor Onovo is the first state government road in the entire of Akpugo land since the creation of the state. Also constructed are Opi-Nsukka dual carriage way, Obechara Road junction- umuakashi Mechanic village-Ikenga hotels junction and umuezebi-Nru junction.
In the last four years, the government has through Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board built and renovated more than 450 primary school classrooms, provided learning and teaching facilities and has recruited more than 3500 primary school teachers. Also recruited are more than 1200 secondary school teachers.
Ugwuanyi’s administration has cleared backlog of salary arrears he inherited from his predecessor that amounted to billions of naira. This is despite the lean resources at the disposal of his government, due to the crash in the price of crude oil in 2015 when he assumed office.
Even in the urban areas where the urban guerrillas have erroneously created the impression that Ugwuanyi’s government has not done or is not doing anything, the administration has reconstructed the popular Milken Hill road in Ngwo that has been abandoned since 1909 it was built. The road which was reconstructed from the end of New market with streetlight crisscrossed Ekochin-Ngwo and terminates at the Ninth Mile Corner.
It has since been serving as the only gateway into Enugu city, following the dilapidation and ongoing construction on Enugu/Onitsha federal highway. Other projects already completed in Enugu urban include Holy Trinity Street, Bishop Eneje Street, Isi Uzo Street all in Independence layout Enugu. For want of space, the list of Gov. Ugwuanyi administration’s remarkable achievements both in rural and urban areas is endless. They are more in rural areas than the city. The rural area is prioritised by the government because of the many years of neglect people living in the area have suffered.
Not resting on his oars even after winning his second term convincingly, Ugwuanyi has recently commissioned Eha-Amufu-Ochin-Nkalagu road completed by his government. The road which was last constructed during the administration of the Senator Jim Nwobodo of old Anambra more than three decades ago is very strategic and important to the people of Isi-Uzo community and its environs.
It serves as a gateway to three neigbouring states of Enugu namely, Benue, Kogi and Ebonyi. With the construction of the road, motorists going to Ebonyi, Cross River and Imo from North through Enugu only need to make a detour at Obollo Afor and connect Ikem then Ehamu Afu down to Nkalagu before joining Enugu/ Abakaliki expressway.
Also subsequently commissioned after the Eha-Amufu road by Gov. Ugwuanyi are the Poly Health Clinic at Onu Asata, which was upgraded to Poly General Hospital with state of art hospital equipment and the Udi General Hospital in Udi Council Area. The two hospitals are among the seven general hospitals in the state being completed by the state government to be providing secondary health services to the people.
It is clear that in the days and months ahead, Gov. Ugwuanyi will commission more projects being completed by his government across the state as many of such projects are nearing completion.The question is; why is Gov. Ugwuanyi already commissioning legacy projects of his administration early in his second term in office?
The answer is simple. Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has conceived and commenced these projects during his first term. While many of them were completed and commissioned before his reelection, some of them are being completed now and many will be completed in the near future.
But in all these, the people of the state, especially those in rural areas who are in majority have always believed in his administration, because of his leadership style, sincerity and outstanding achievements in office. That was why they massively voted for him during the last elections.
It is in this mutual trust and camaraderie between Ugwuanyi’s government and the people that lies his popularity, acceptance and strength. These urban guerrillas who are always ranting about Enugu government on social media platforms know this, but will always pretend otherwise because of vested interests.
For instance if Ugwuanyi’s predecessors have done everything for their senatorial zones as these urban guerrillas have always made people to believe on social media platforms, why should Gov.Ugwuanyi’s administration built a General Hospital at Udi Council Area, the council area of his immediate predecessor, Mr. Sullivan Chime? Why should his administration construct the Ogonogoeji-Ndi Akpugo road and the Atavu Bailey Bridge across River Nyama to Amichi, linking Umuogo and Umuagba Ameachi Uno/Obinagu all in Nkanu West council area, which is the council area of Ugwuanyi’s predecessor and senator representing Enugueast senatorial district, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani? Why are the people of these areas grateful to Ugwuanyi for providing their needs?
These are food-for-thought for these urban guerrillas. The truth is that why Nnamani did his best during his reign as governor of the state, it is known that there is no way his administration would have provided solution to all the backlog of infrastructural and other deficits in the state. His successor, Chime even with excess financial liquidity in the coffers of government during his reign also did the much he could, but was unable to provide all the needs of the people in the state, because they are enormous, demanding and overwhelming.
The situation became worst when Ugwuanyi assumed office in 2015 at peak of the country’s recessed economy. With the enormity of the challenges that faced his government ranging from backlog of workers salaries, arrears of pensioners, unemployment, infrastructural deficits and others, Ugwuanyi deployed his financial ingenuity and prudence to navigate the murky water and kept the state afloat till today. This is unlike other states including oil producing ones that are still struggling till date to meet up with their financial obligations.
That was what made it possible for Ugwuanyi’s government to clear the backlog of salaries it inherited, start payment of pensioners’ arrears that was last paid in 2007, commenced payment of workers salaries every 23rd of the month and 13 month in December, embarked on developmental projects in the state, especially in rural areas and maintained peace and unity in the state.
Even with all these sterling performance and giant strides in office so far, there is no way Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration will provide all infrastructure and other needs of Ndi Enugu before leaving office in 2023. This is because of the lean resources available to his government to attend to the age-long and daunting challenges in the state. That is the truth of matter.
One unique and outstanding thing Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has done in the last four years plus in the state is to uphold the dreams of the founding fathers of the state that was anchored on equity, fairness, peace and justice. Gov. Ugwuanyi has by his actions and inactions killed the political mentality of winner takes all that was prevalent in the state before he came into office. He achieved this through even and equitable distribution of developmental projects and appointments in the three senatorial zones of the state, without compromising merit and standard.
This is one thing that was lacking in the politics of the state since 1999 and these urban guerrillas with no political value never applaud Gov. Ugwuanyi for this great and unprecedented political feat. It is hoped that Ugwuanyi’s successor in 2023 will realise this and eschew taking the state back to the oppressive and lopsided politics of winner takes all in the distribution of appointments and allocation of capital projects. Enugu by its symbol and unique place in history does not need that kind of crude political leadership anymore.
That is the only way the state can continue to maintain its present peacefulness, development and unity. Subsequent political leadership in the state must maintain Gov.Ugwuanyi’s equity and fairness standard, because the people will not accept anything less. Enugu people cannot go back to Egypt again.
Ugwu, a university don writes from Agbani Road, Enugu.