By Louis Amoke
Today, March 20, 2017, His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, to the glory of God, marks 53 years. The anniversary calls for celebration in thanksgiving and appreciation to God Almighty for His mercies and kindness to the governor and the people of Enugu State – the true heroes of democracy, who have continued to reap the full benefits of democracy. It is also an ample opportunity to flaunt the governor’s sterling qualities as a visionary leader with an uncommon disposition towards ameliorating the sufferings of the people especially the underprivileged in our society.
A God-fearing and adequate personality whose wealth of experience, dint of hard work, intellectual ability, milk of kindness, humility, simplicity, benevolence and penchant for peace stand him out as an epitome of success and a God-sent leader, Gov. Ugwuanyi has continued to make a mark in the socio-economic and political landscape of the state in particular, and the country in general.
As a leader committed to charity and almsgiving, Gov. Ugwuanyi, popularly known as Gburugburu, has made a date with history through his philanthropic gestures aimed at giving succor to the poor and vulnerable.
Gov. Ugwuanyi has no doubt come a long way on the positive side of history. He has certainly attained a high position of distinction and eminence in the society through his cherished accomplishments and profiling. As a child of God and a leading light for the younger generation, he is easily given to kindness and empathy towards the lowly and downtrodden. As a devout Roman Catholic he sipped deep from the Church’s moral teachings, especially the Christian obligation towards sharing in the pains of others by ameliorating their sufferings.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi during his 52nd birthday anniversary, last year, did urge those who intended to offer him birthday gifts “to channel them to charity homes and orphanages in appreciation of God’s mercies and kindness”.
The governor equally noted that there will be no activities marking the event, in the spirit of the Lenten Season and in view of the prevailing economic challenges in the country.
While using the occasion to reassure the good people of the state of his commitment to good governance, the governor urged them to continue to offer prayers and support for the success of the administration, reiterating that “Enugu State is in the hands of God”.
One year after, it is gratifying to note that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s philosophy of leadership anchored on God, vision, good governance, benevolence, humility and peace has remained unwavering, attesting to the glaring fact that Enugu State is in the hands of God. It has also ushered in a new vista for rapid socio-economic and political development of the State.
It is therefore, not out of place to state that the bedrock of the governor’s 53rd birthday anniversary still centres on his long cherished legacies of philanthropy, good governance and selfless service.
One may recall the recent statement by the former Senate President and Chairman of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee, Senator Ken Nnamani, who said that Enugu State is lucky to now have a governor who has respect for everybody irrespective of political differences and has equally transformed the State with the meager resources at his disposal occasioned by the prevailing economic crunch in the country.
According to Nnamani, “I am old enough to say that we now have a person who has the legislative and humble background to be a governor. He has a listening ear and respect for everybody, old and young in spite of political divide. The governor has been transforming the State in spite of the current economic challenges in the country. I can say that Enugu State is now working”.
Even though Governor Ugwuanyi, the Gburugburu of our time, needs no introduction, considering his wide-range of popularity and acceptability, one is compelled by the status of his office to once again make a few comments on his personal life.
His Excellency Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwanyi, was born into the humble family of late Chief and late Lolo Lawrence 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 (STC), Nsukka. He obtained his first Degree, a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Second Degrees, MBA in Finance and Accounting from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, (ESUT) and third Degree, Master of Science (M.Sc) in Public Relations/Marketing from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). He had an outstanding career in the financial sector having worked in an insurance brokerage where, by dint of hard work, he rose to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Premier Brokers, the then prime brokerage firm in the entire South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria.
In his public life, Governor Ugwuanyi joined active politics in 2003 when he contested for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives. He was first 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 twelve (12) years in the green chambers of the National Assembly.
In the National Assembly, Governor 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, Governor Ugwuanyi 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.
As a man easily given to humility, kindness and empathy towards the lowly and downtrodden, the majority of the people of Enugu State and beyond were not surprised at his emergence as the consensus governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state in 2014 and subsequent election as the Governor of Enugu State in 2015.
Having spent about a year and ten months in the saddle as Governor of Enugu State, Gov. Ugwuanyi has continued to apply his vast experience in the private and public service towards giving the state quality leadership, even in the face of the current economic recession in the country. He has maintained his long standing path to vision, integrity, all-inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and prudent management of the state’s lean resources for the overall interest of the state.
With the simultaneous execution of 35 massive infrastructural projects across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state geared towards taking development to the doorsteps of the rural dwellers in line with the administration’s peace and grassroots initiatives; completion and execution of other critical infrastructure in the state to modernize and create more urban centres; regular payment of workers’ salaries on or before 25th of every month, which saw to the state’s emergence as one of the only three states out of the 36 states of the Federation that can fulfill their recurrent obligation to the workers; display of commitment to accountability, transparency and prudent management of the state’s lean resources, among others, it is obvious that Gov. Ugwuanyi is the man with the magic wand.
It is on record that the governor’s godly approach to governance and sterling performance so far in office, in the midst of little because of the harsh economic climate in the country have earned him commendations from respected institutions and personalities in the country.
While the Nigerian Senate through its Committee on State and Local Administration rated Gov. Ugwuanyi as the best governor in the utilization of the federal government’s bailout funds in the country, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, during his official visit to Enugu State described the governor as a populist leader who enjoys the support and acceptance of the people including non-indigenes for his commitment to good governance and promotion of peace, national unity and security.
On a similar note, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye also applauded the governor’s sense of vision, humility and commitment to God when he (Ugwuanyi) came to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) to welcome him back to the University to receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity (Hon. DD).
According to Adeboye, “I was delighted to notice during our procession to this venue that the governor who has come to welcome me is a very popular one”.
From the foregoing, there is no doubt that there is every need to appreciate God for the gift of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to mankind and to wish the governor a happy birthday anniversary as well as ask God to continue to bestow him with long life, sound health, peace, vision, wisdom and many more years of selfless service to the State, our fatherland and humanity at large, for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God!
Amoke is the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Enugu State Governor.