Viewpoint

March 20, 2024

Ugwuanyi: A good man turns 60

By Louis Amoke

A deep reflection on the striking traits of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the immediate past governor of Enugu State, as he clocks 60, is indeed a compelling excursion.

It is also a veritable opportunity to relive his unique personality, leadership nous and their positive impact on the people.

Marking his Diamond Jubilee on March 20 is a great feat for the former governor who was remarkable in entrenching peace, security, and good governance in Enugu State, amid local, national and global governance challenges.

Ugwuanyi must be a fulfilled man for elevating the state’s development narrative to an enviable height through his special focus on rural development aimed at growing the local economy and giving the rural dwellers and the long-neglected, a sense of belonging.

Ugwuanyi is always grateful for God’s unmerited favour which availed him the opportunity to: serve his state and country selflessly; work as God’s instrument in raising the poor, the underprivileged and long-neglected from the ash heap and make them to inherit a throne of honour; heal the broken hearted and stamp peace and harmony on the state’s marble, in keeping with the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers.

Former Governor Ugwuanyi is a good man, a very calm person, a devout Roman Catholic and a bridge-builder who does not segregate irrespective of class, ethnic, political or religious differences nor sacrifice the needs and wellbeing of the people on the altar of selfishness and parochial sentiments.

He sips deep from the Church’s moral teachings, especially the Christian obligation towards promoting peace, love and unity, and sharing in the pains of others by ameliorating their suffering. His commitment to empowerment and human capital development is outstanding.

No doubt, the ex-governor has always returned all glory, adoration and thanksgiving to God for his remarkable accomplishments in office through his resourcefulness, dint of hard work, vision, dignity, philanthropic and patriotic gestures, peaceful disposition, humility, inclusiveness, kindness, sacrifices, forbearance and commitment to God.

Consequently, Ugwuanyi, fondly known as Gburugburu, even after leaving office as governor, has left no one in doubt about the genuineness of these striking traits of his which have over the years defined his life story and also carved an enviable niche for him as a phenomenal leader with a unique leadership philosophy.

A proud member of the G5, Ugwuanyi during the 2023 presidential election period, alongside his G5 colleagues, led by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, patriotically exhibited courage and firm commitment to peace, unity, and progress of Nigeria as well as the equitable rotation of power between the Northern and Southern parts of the country.

Highly detribalized and a deep man of faith, Ugwuanyi’s broad-minded style of inclusive politics, sacrifice, and commitment to peace and unity have seen him play a unique statesman’s role for the common good and sustainable development of Enugu State, the South East Zone and Nigeria as a whole.

A rare leader who, even when he receives bad coins from his beneficiaries in return for his good coins, remains calm, unprovoked, and willing to do more good for peace to reign.

As a kind-hearted leader with wealth of experience, and one with good conscience always grateful to God for His goodness and amazing grace, Ugwuanyi in keeping with his long held tradition of marking his birthday, is committed to prayers, charity, almsgiving and thanksgiving.

The nucleus of this year’s remarkable event (Diamond Jubilee) is, therefore, anchored on the wellbeing of the needy and underprivileged in the society.

Ugwuanyi’s pre-birthday message, in the spirit of the Lenten Season, has always been that his friends and well-wishers who intend offering him birthday gifts should “channel them to charity homes and orphanages in appreciation of God’s mercies and kindness”. He had also expressed aversion to marking the occasion with public activities.

In keeping with his philanthropic gestures, Ugwuanyi has a rural-based medical programme, “Gburugburu Free Medical Outreach” that renders free medical services to underprivileged patients with surgical conditions but lack funds for treatments, among others. This free medical programme, which has been running effectively and efficiently to date, has successfully saved the life of over 2,340 people through the “Gburugburu’s Free Surgery Programme”.

The ex-governor is unrepentant about his disposition and passion towards alleviating the sufferings of the people and giving succour to the needy and the long-neglected in the society.

This obviously informed his administration’s decision to pay special attention to rural development to benefit the majority of indigenes of Enugu State, who reside in the rural areas.

In his inaugural address as governor in 2015, Ugwuanyi was deliberate when he stated that “Enugu State under us will pay a special attention to rural development because majority of our people live in the rural areas”.

Consciously, the then governor disclosed that his administration in line with the above will equip and modernize Nsukka – a university town founded over half a century ago and the second largest town in Enugu State.

As Ugwuanyi, the pioneer of rural development model in Enugu State clocks 60, one is proud to identify his visionary leadership and indelible footsteps as a peacemaker and one who enjoyed an enduring harmonious working relationship with the legislative arm of government, the judicial arm, the state workforce (labour union), the religious and traditional institutions.

Remarkably, Ugwuanyi is the founder of a university located in Nsukka Zone, the State University of Medical and Applied Sciences (SUMAS), Igbo-Eno, Enugu State; the man who attracted a federal polytechnic to Nsukka Zone, Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, Enugu State; the first governor of Enugu State to construct a flyover bridge in the state, the T-junction Flyover Bridge, Nike, Enugu; the hand that remodeled and reconstructed the ancient, historic and undulating 11km Enugu Milliken Hill-Ngwo-9th Mile road; the man who changed the face of major roads at the heart of 9th Mile Corner, Udi LGA and ended the heavy gridlock in the commercial area with the construction of two bypass roads.

The former governor also constructed the 13km Nike Lake junction-Harmony Estate-Amorji Nike-Adoration Pilgrimage Centre-Orie Emene road linking the ever-busy Abakpa Nike with Emene satellite town in Enugu East LGA; reconstructed the Nike Lake Road and Abakpa Nike Road in Enugu East LGA; reconstructed the Airport Roundabout/Orie-Emene/ St. Patrick’s College/Eke-Obinagu Road in Enugu East LGA; constructed the 8.2km Inyi-Akpugoeze road in Oji River LGA; reconstructed different roads in Enugu City, among numerous other road projects.

Ugwunayi is outstanding as the man who brought transformational development to Nsukka Zone through the construction of the state-of-the-art 12km Opi-Nsukka dual carriageway with underground drainage system and fitted with street and traffic lights, among other numerous roads which gave the university town of Nsukka a major facelift.

The ex-governor is equally the man who constructed the ultra-modern 5,000-seat Nsukka Township Stadium, a befitting State Secretariat Annex at Nsukka and interestingly, a massive Conference Centre adjacent to it.

The former governor, in opening up the rural areas, constructed numerous roads and other amenities. These include the 31km Udenu Ring Road, the 8.8km Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road in Isi-Uzo LGA, neglected for over 35 years, the 26.66km Ukpabi-Nimbo-Ugbene -Ajima-Eziani road in Uzo-Uwani LGA (RAMP-2); the 22.443km Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti inter-community road linking Isi-Uzo and Udenu LGAs (RAMP-2); Type 3 Healthcare Cenres; massive Amenity Ward Facility located at the upgraded Ogrute General Hospital, Enugu Ezike, Igbo-Eze North LGA; numerous educational facilities across the state, such as classroom blocks, school furniture, etc.

One of Ugwuanyi’s greatest achievements for Nsukka Zone was the stepping down of 30MVA in Nsukka from the 132KV Makurdi Feeder, which his administration facilitated. This milestone achievement has effectively improved the quality of electricity supply to the area and has also enhanced the growth of business activities.

The 30MVA Injection Sub-Station in Nsukka, was the programme of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) but received maximum support from Ugwuanyi’s administration which provided sundry assistance such as resolution of all legal issues concerning the project, bush clearing as well as dealing with other obstructions impeding the line’s passage, and construction of the outgoing feeders to supply power to end users.

On security, Ugwuanyi achieved several milestones in making Enugu one of the safest states in Nigeria. He achieved this by the overwhelming support he gave to the various security agencies in the state. One of such support was the purchase and donation of 100 units of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) patrol vans fitted with communication gadgets to the security agencies in the state to effectively aid their operations.

The former governor also employed 1,700 forest guards, repositioned the vigilante/neighbourhood watch groups, and purchased 260 security vehicles for their community policing operations, among other time-honoured interventions.

During the recent maiden Founders’ Day celebration of SUMAS, the Chairman of the Occasion and Chairman, South East Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Amb. Lawrence Agubuzu applauded Ugwuanyi for his foresight in establishing the “unique university” during his tenure as governor of the state.

Igwe Agubuzu described former Governor Ugwuanyi as “an inimitable and inscrutable politician who deserves to be acknowledged and honoured not just for founding this university (SUMAS) but for the lightning speed with which he did so in the twilight of his second tenure as Governor of Enugu State,” congratulating him for the remarkable achievement and legacy.

According to him, “This unique university, located in a unique place, was conceived and delivered under unique circumstances by a unique person, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, CON; former Governor of Enugu State, an inimitable and inscrutable politician.” The monarch acknowledged Ugwuanyi for developing his constituency.

Ugwuanyi was born to late Chief David and late Lolo Veronica Ugwuanyi, from Orba in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State on March 20,1964. He attended his secondary education at St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka, from where he gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). From the nation’s foremost university, he obtained a B.Sc. degree in Finance and M.Sc. degree in Marketing (Public Relations). Ugwuanyi equally holds MBA degree in Finance and Banking and another MBA degree in Accountancy from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).

He had an outstanding career in the financial sector having worked in insurance brokerage where by dint of hard work, he rose to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Premier Brokers, the then prime insurance brokerage firm in the South East zone of the country, owned by the five states in the zone and now African Continental Bank (ACB).

On his public life, Ugwuanyi joined active politics in 2003 when he contested for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives. He was elected member for Igbo-Eze North /Udenu Federal Constituency in the 5th National Assembly (2003-2007). Subsequently, he was re-elected to the same seat in the 6th National Assembly (2007-2011) and again, for the third time, to the 7th National Assembly (2011-2015) serving a total of 12 years in the green chambers of the National Assembly.

In the National Assembly, Ugwuanyi left a great imprint and an enviable record. Between 2003 and 2007, he served as Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Public Service Matters and Deputy Chairman House Committee on Pensions, respectively.

Following his victory at the National Assembly elections of 2007, he was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Transport (2007-2011).

On account of his stellar performance as Chairman of the Committee on Maritime Transport, he was re-appointed to the same committee position on winning back his House seat in 2011 thereby emerging as the first member of the National Assembly (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) to chair this all-important committee for two consecutive legislative sessions.

While in the National Assembly, Ugwuanyi expanded his philanthropic reach by awarding  scholarships to indigent students at all levels of education in his constituency and beyond. He provided infrastructure in educational institutions and in churches. He also constructed boreholes to solve the water needs of some communities in his constituency and donated transformers to many communities to boost electricity supply, to mention but a few.

In 2015, Ugwuanyi was overwhelmingly elected as the governor of Enugu State. He was re-elected as governor of the state in 2019, with unprecedented 95.54 percent of the votes cast. The landslide victory was actually the highest in the nation’s electoral history and also a referendum on his remarkable achievements in spite of the state’s lean resources as well as the nation’s economic, security, and public health challenges during his tenure as governor.

Ugwuanyi, to the glory of God, successfully ended his eight-year tenure as governor of Enugu State on May 29, 2023, and seamlessly handed over to his preferred successor from his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, who is full of ideas and adroitly and successfully applying his administration’s disruptive innovation to governance for the exponential growth of the state.

Little wonder, the famous American poet and essayist Maya Angelou, observed that “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” For His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the former governor of Enugu State, his light indeed shines from within.

Your Excellency, may the good Lord continue to guide, protect and bless you with peace, joy, good health, strength, prosperity, and more years of selfless service to the state, Nsukka Zone, Nigeria and humanity.

Happy 60th Birthday, The Udulekenyi 1 of Orba Udulekenyi!

Amoke writes from Enugu