By Louis Amoke
A critical evaluation of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s unique approach to governance in Enugu State, especially from the standpoint of ideology, clearly underscores his sense of direction, vision, charisma and passion for the wellbeing of the lowly and less privileged.
It is on record that Gov. Ugwuanyi assumed office in 2015, at a very difficult time, when the nation witnessed not only severe economic recession but also a change of government at the centre, with all the bureaucratic intricacies associated with such transition. What kept the governor afloat was a dedication to his vision, innovation and selfless service to the people as well as absolute faith in God’s miracle of five loaves and two fish.
Three years after, Gov. Ugwuanyi was able to successfully lead the state through the economic crunch to an enviable height with the meagre resources at his disposal. As a grassroots leader, the governor provided effective leadership and accelerated infrastructural development in the state, concentrating more in the rural areas than in the urban centres, through his administration’s rural development initiatives.
He was able to bring governance closer to the doorstep of the masses, ensuring that the peace and security of the state took their pride of place as veritable ingredients for rapid development and good governance. It is noteworthy that Ugwuanyi’s administration has in the last three years spent over N45 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the length and breadth of the state, covering about 300 kilometres.
Ugwuanyi as an outstanding achiever has distinguished himself creditably through his worthy stewardship and passion for the wellbeing of the people. His remarkable achievements, sound vision, humility and closeness to the people have continued to earn him swelling popularity and unprecedented endorsements for re-election in 2019, from all spheres of the society, including the religious and traditional institutions.
The foregoing glaring facts were recently confirmed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who described Ugwuanyi as “an established leader who is being celebrated widely because of his closeness to the people and effective delivery of dividends of democracy in spite of the nation’s economic challenges”.
Dogara, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who made the assertion, when members of the Enugu State Caucus in the National Assembly hosted Gov. Ugwuanyi and endorsed him for a second term in office added that the governor is “a very nice man to a fault”, and has “done so exceptionally well in office that members of the National Assembly in particular and the people of Enugu State in general are exceedingly proud of what he has achieved”.
A visionary, humble and peace-loving leader, Ugwuanyi’s uncommon leadership style has equally unified leaders and people of the state, irrespective of political, cultural, social and religious differences, ending the hydra-headed issue of dichotomy.
Through his administration’s peace and grassroots development initiatives, Gov. Ugwuanyi has initiated and prosecuted well-thought-out people-oriented programmes that are ideological and germane to the future of the citizens of the state. The programmes are also conceptualized to directly impact positively on the lives of the masses to give them a sense of belonging, as the true heroes of democracy.
This legendary vision capped with patriotism, which is akin to the likes of Pa Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory, is exclusively geared towards building a secure future for the people of Enugu State, especially the younger generation. It is a deviation from societal norms where execution of gigantic projects is the basic barometer of measuring a government’s achievements.
In this regard, besides effective provision of critical infrastructure and remarkable achievements in other sphere of development, Gov. Ugwuanyi has through his human capital empowerment programmes and special interventions aimed at improving the living standard of the lowly, long neglected and under-privileged, ensured that dwellers who had been hitherto denied access to basic amenities; qualitative and affordable education, healthcare delivery, among others, are remembered.
For instance, in line with his administration’s educational policy and the need to discover and assist under-privileged intellectuals, especially in the rural areas to further their studies, Gov. Ugwuanyi recently granted scholarship to 340 indigent students of the state’s Polytechnic in Iwollo, Ezeagu Local Government Area. A few weeks after, the same gesture was extended to 340 students of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, totalling 680 students within one month.
It is interesting to note that the scholarship, which covers the beneficiaries’ tuition fees for four years of academic studies, was spread across the 17 local government areas of the state, which enable 40 students per council from the two institutions to benefit, accordingly.
What is more cherished about this enduring legacy is that in the next four years, the state government would have produced 680 graduates (who ordinarily wouldn’t have had the opportunity) in various fields of engineering technology with a multiplier effect of advancing development in the state and the nation at large. It would also promote the harnessing of their potentials for knowledge transfer, economic growth and self-reliance.
Also in line with his unique ideology, Gov. Ugwuanyi recently extended his milk of human kindness to 95 widows of fallen heroes of the Nigerian Army, residing in Abakpa and Awkunanaw barracks, Enugu, who are predominantly non-Igbos, through a N19.6 million empowerment grant to assist them start businesses of their choice to ameliorate the hardship they had encountered as a result of the death of their husbands.
This singular act of generosity at the helm of power is not only heart-warming but has also gone a long way in pulling the widows and their families out from the shackles of socio-economic degradation, providing them with the ample opportunity to transform their lives for the better.
The gesture, which might be seen as little by many, lends credence and support to the solemn quest for national integration. It also strengthens the core value of our existence as “one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity”.
The patriotic role has no doubt earned the governor well deserved commendations from stakeholders from all walks of life, such as the Nigerian Army, ex-servicemen and a popular Nollywood actor, Chief Pete Edochie, who recently re-emphasized the significance of the act towards the promotion of love and national unity. Kudos must therefore, continue to go to the people’s governor for the uncommon act of patriotism, benevolence and brotherhood.
Another commendable legacy of Ugwuanyi’s administration is the recent integration of faith-based organizations’ facilities into the Free Maternal and Child Health programme of the state to deliver more medical services in the rural areas.
What it simply implies is that pregnant women and children under five, who hitherto have no means of treating their health challenges, can now access free medical treatments at the faith-based organizations that have health centres and hospitals in their areas, courtesy of the state government’s new programme. This will in turn reduce the rate of maternal and child mortality rate in the state.
Workers of the state have been receiving their salaries regularly on the 23rd of every month, even at the time 27 states could not pay. This policy footing is to help reactivate the state’s economy for all-round growth, considering that Enugu is a civil service state. As a workers-friendly governor, his administration last year introduced the 13th month salary for all civil servants both at the state and local government levels as Christmas bonus. There is a N10 million “one community, one project” scheme which has ensured that communities that had never experienced any government presence in the past benefited, accordingly.
In keeping with its commitment to a conducive environment of learning that would guarantee qualitative education for the children, Ugwuanyi’s administration through the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) has constructed and renovated over 300 primary and secondary classroom blocks across the state. Interestingly, contract for the construction and reconstruction of another set of 208 structures, worth of over N2.5 billion was recently awarded by the state government and one is glad to note that works have commended, accordingly. It is also pertinent to note that the administration has recruited the highest number of primary and secondary school teachers ever in the history of the state, among others.
The Enugu State First Lady, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, has also kept faith with her husband’s enduring legacies and ideology through her pet-project, Ugo-Touch of Life Foundation, carefully established to empower and avail indigent members of the society, especially the women, children, aged and other vulnerable groups, access to adequate free medical attention and other sundry humanitarian interventions.
All these exemplary leadership qualities are responsible for the avalanche of goodwill, encomiums and unprecedented endorsements from every facet of the society for the governor’s re-election in 2019. The recent record-breaking unanimous endorsement from all the traditional rulers in the state cannot be easily forgotten, especially when the venerable folks aptly captured their heartfelt verdict and enthusiasm with a deeply-felt: “Let the good works continue!” Truly, Enugu State is in the hands of God!
Amoke writes from Enugu State.