By Louis Amoke
A review of the activities of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State in 2016 towards the advancement of good governance and provision of critical infrastructure in the state couldn’t have come in any other better time than now. The year under review, was no doubt a tough one, considering the adverse effects of the economic recession in the country on the people. It was indeed, a year many Nigerians, both the rich and the poor, will not forget in a hurry.
In Enugu State, even though 2016 was coarsened by the severe economic hardship in the country, the pragmatic, people-oriented and visionary leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi made a mark and impacted positively on the lives of the people through the provision of critical infrastructure and good governance.
The governor’s development trajectory with the meagre recourses at his administration’s disposal occasioned by the economic meltdown in the country, his peace initiatives and humble disposition have endeared him to the people of the state.
His administration has remained focused and steadfast in its efforts to deliver on its campaign promises, “to 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.”
Gov. Ugwuanyi during his one year anniversary in office on May 29, 2016, pledged that “rather than allow the severe economic recession occasioned by the negative developments in the oil sector, deter us from achieving our goals, we will instead, turn the situation into an opportunity to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded and prevented us from exploiting all the while.”
According to him, “it is indeed a very well known fact that, as a consequence of the nation’s current economic woes, the monthly allocation to states from the Federation Account has fallen to less than 38 per cent of what it used to be.
“Before we came into office, Governors used to enjoy access to excess crude fallouts but now, the language has changed to bailout funds. The situation has become so bad that many states are unable to pay salaries and meet other obligations; and when a Governor pays salaries, he is applauded and it makes news. The Federal Government essentially summed up the situation with its recent and solemn declaration that the country is broke.
“However, notwithstanding these bleak economic realities, we were able to embark on the massive development of urban and rural roads across the state in fulfilment of our promise to create more urban centres, enhance rural access and boost economic activities in every corner of Enugu state.”
From the foregoing, a critical review of the achievements of Ugwuanyi’s administration in 2016, in the midst of the daunting economic challenges speak volume and showcase his leadership qualities in navigating the state through the current situation to greater heights.
It was in 2016 that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration commenced massive construction of over eight major roads spread across the three senatorial districts of the state, which were flagged off in late 2015.
The roads include the Nike Lake road; the Abakpa Nike road; the Opi-Nsukka dual carriage road; the Amaeke-Ngwo-Nsude- 9TH Mile bypass; the Amankwo-Amaeke-Amah Brewery Junction-9th Mile by-pass; the Ohom Orba Junction-Imilike Ani- Ezimo Uno- Ezimo Agu-Imilike –Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti-Amalla-Obollo Afor ring road; the Enugu Road Junction-Umuezebi-Nru Junction-University Gate road; the Post Office Roundabout- Odenigbo Roundabout- Ogurugu Road-Ikenga road; and the Obechara Road Junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction road. It is worthy of note that five of these roads have been completed and inaugurated while others are nearing completion.
It was also during the year under review that a data-simplifying civic organization, BudgIT, listed Enugu, Lagos and Rivers as the only three states out of the 36 states of the federation that can fulfill obligations to their workers. Enugu State in spite of the economic recession has been regular in the payment of workers’ salaries and still executes capital projects. In fact, the state government paid last December salaries on the 19th to enable its workers celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. The wise decision was based on the fact that Enugu is predominately a civil service state and it is only when workers’ salaries are paid that the economic activities of the state are reactivated for the overall interest of the people.
In 2016, Ugwuanyi’s administration grabbed the bull by the horns and embarked on the rehabilitation of the failed sections of the federal government roads along Oji River-Ugwuoba-Anambra State boarder road by old road and 9th mile-Egede-Nsukka-Obollo Afor- Benue State boarder road to alleviate the pains road users experience on the roads and guarantee smooth and safe transportation during this Yuletide.
It was also last year that the governor, in a move to extend the frontiers of development to the rural areas with the aim of creating more urban centres to boost economic growth and improve the lives of the people, simultaneously flagged off 35 infrastructural projects across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state. The projects, which comprise 25 roads, water schemes, electricity, hospitals, schools, buildings, among others, are ongoing.
The State Government last year approved the release of funds for the execution of N3 billion worth of projects for the renovation of over 276 primary and secondary schools in the state with the Federal Government providing 50 percent of the sum. It also embarked on the recruitment of 2000 primary school teachers to improve the standard of education in the state.
Recently, 750 unemployed youths selected from across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state were enrolled into the SDGs Skill Acquisition programme to create opportunity for them to realize their potentials with the aim of creating employment and eradicate poverty in line with the administration’s four-point agenda. The state government pays each trainee N5,000 per month for transportation and N100,000 at the end of the training to assist the person start his or her own business.
The governor’s passion for sporting activities and support to the Enugu Rangers International Football Club saw to the Club’s winning of the 2016 Nigerian Professional Football League – a remarkable feat that broke the Club’s jinx of not winning a trophy since 32 years.
It was also in 2016 that Enugu State through the instrumentality of its Economic Advisory Council organized the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit christened “Oganiru” to showcase the economic potentials of the state in line with the promise to vigorously promote investment and pursue the diversification of the State’s economy.
The above achievements are tips of the iceberg of the numerous laudable feats recorded so far in the state in line with the governor’s campaign promises.
These landmarks recorded by the governor during the year under review, were made possible through accountability, transparency, financial discipline and prudent management of the state’s lean resources.
It was also possible through the application of the best economic practices that would engender sustainable growth and development, reform programmes in the public service, finance and economic development sector which had resulted in a significant increase in the State’s internally generated revenue. For instance, the state government after a staff audit in the 17 Local Government councils discovered a total of 3,916 ghost workers who receive salaries on monthly basis.
With the recent presentation of the 2017 Budget estimates tagged, “Budget of Economic Recovery and Inclusive Development” before the Enugu State House of Assembly, which articulated the plans and vision of the present administration to create an environment that will further encourage full development of its human and natural resources, Gov. Ugwuanyi has rekindled his commitment to the provision of social services and rebuilding of vital infrastructure in all sectors and across the State.
This, according to him, “will among other things, propel the state along the part of economic recovery and promotion of full and productive employment of the citizens of Enugu State.”
As the present administration has always promised not to allow the prevailing harsh economic climate in the country, prevent it from attaining the lofty objectives that was set out for the benefit of the people, the onus, therefore, is for the people of the state to continue to support and pray for its success for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Amoke, writes from Enugu State.