By Louis Amoke
During the recent inauguration of a Bailey bridge across Nyama River, linking communities in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State, by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the former Governor of old Anambra State and Senator who represented Enugu East Senatorial District, Sen. Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, utilized the heart-warming occasion to bare his mind on the existing peace in the state.
Sen. Nwobodo, who said that Gov. Ugwuanyi has wiped away his tears by constructing the bridge for his community after decades of neglect, disclosed that one of the greatest achievements of the governor’s administration is the existing peace in the state, which he said has brought security and rapid development, especially in the rural areas.
The deeply touched elder statesman said, “Since 1999, I have never been to Enugu and stayed more than two weeks. But since this governor came, I have been in Enugu for the past six months because of the peace he (Ugwuanyi) has entrenched. Thank you for this great honour you have done to me. I thank you for wiping away my tears”.
Sen. Nwobodo’s telling observation, genuine expression of gratitude and sincere assessment of the birthing of an enduring peace in Enugu State present a compelling opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the governor’s untiring efforts, resilience and sacrifice in ensuring sustainable peace and good governance in the state.
In Enugu State today, there is an existing cordial working relationship among the three arms of government. There is also a cordial government-labour relationship. This was responsible for the recent peaceful negotiation and payment of the new minimum wage without rancour or industrial action, for the first time in the history of the state – a rare experience which the state workers have continued to commend Gov. Ugwuanyi for.
Significantly, besides Sen. Nwobodo, other prominent personalities in the state, from all walks of life, have also favourably assessed the governor’s uncommon leadership qualities anchored on peace and good governance.
Former President of the Senate, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Sen. Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Sen. Hyde Onuaguluchi, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, Ambassador (Mrs.) Justina Eze and a host of others, had eulogized Gov. Ugwuanyi for providing the platform for unity, peace and a harmonious existence.
For instance, during the grand finale of the governor’s door-to-door campaign, held at Udenu LGA, ahead of his reelection in 2019, some of these stakeholders commended him for entrenching peace, tranquility and good governance, in a manner that has never been experienced previously in the history of the state.
They described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a man of history, expressing delight that he has united everybody in the state, irrespective of political leaning. The leaders told him that the culture of peace and good governance he has entrenched in the state was unprecedented and will earn him a landslide victory at the polls.
While Sen. Ekweremadu disclosed that “there is no bickering or quarrels among the political leaders in the state”, Sen. Nwobodo, who described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a son, thanked him “for bringing everybody together”.
According to Sen. Onuaguluchi, “Gov. Ugwuanyi has brought uncommon peace to the state” and “all of us have come to learn from Gburugburu [the governor]”.
Amb. (Mrs.) Eze joined the chorus in elucidating what the governor’s peace initiative means to the political stability and rapid development of the state.
At the state government’s reception for the Nigerian Ambassador to Republic of India with Concurrent Accreditation to Bangladesh and Nepal, Major General Chris Sunday Eze (rtd) in respect of his appointment, the former President of the Senate and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Ken Nnamani, also applauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for demonstrating political maturity by creating an ambience of peace and tranquility in the state where everybody is accorded his or her due respect.
On another occasion, the former Governor of old Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, said that “Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has done remarkably well in the area of keeping the peace in Enugu State”, adding that “this is the first time, since the current republic, a regime has provided peace within the ruling party and across party line”.
Dr. Nwodo who said that “this is very commendable”, pointed out that the governor has been “most proactive” in assisting the security agencies in Enugu State, as “all the agencies have been provided with massive logistic support to assist them in securing the state”.
His words: “He [Ugwuanyi] has even gone further to create local vigilante groups and Forest Guards to help the police in their efforts. He is one of the first state Governors to set up community policing in Nigeria. When it comes to settling communities that have been at daggers drawn for many years, he has built a reputation for himself.
“I am aware that the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators conferred on him an honorary membership of the institute in recognition of his efforts in conflict resolution and mediation. I wish him well in all these initiatives to make Enugu the most peaceful state in Nigeria”.
Presenting his verdict on Gov. Ugwuanyi, Sen. Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, a former Governor of the state, opined that “his [Ugwuanyi’s] administration has prioritized justice and fairness to all, peace, security and prosperity to our people, economic empowerment and infrastructural renewal”.
Sen. Nnamani emphasized that the governor “scores impressively high on peace, security, rural development, urban renewal, political inclusiveness and forbearance, improvements in healthcare and basic education, industrial harmony as well as a workforce motivated by prompt payment of salaries and other incentives”.
According to the Senator, “he has shown remarkable leadership in times of adversity and kept our state relatively safe from the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic”.
On his part, the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, while baring his mind on Gov. Ugwuanyi’s penchant for peace, said: “In Enugu State, we have experienced peace and the era where people have political enmity and others, have all gone. Everybody is happy, the traders are happy, there is sympathy, there is concern, and there is respect for everybody, irrespective of class, religious or political affiliation”.
During a special post-election Thanksgiving Mass at the Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (AMEN), the Spiritual Director of the Ministry, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a rare, God-fearing leader who has continued to lead the state on the path of peace and good governance with uncommon zeal, passion and humility, even after his re-election to office.
The cleric therefore commended the governor for continuing with his massive infrastructural development projects across the state as well as other remarkable achievements such as workers’ welfare. He equally lauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for his humility, passion for the wellbeing of the people, especially the poor “and kind-heartedness for being a father to his people”.
Prior to that, Rev. Fr. Mbaka, had during Gov. Ugwuanyi’s Thanksgiving Mass for his victory at the Supreme Court, poured encomium on the governor, describing him as “an epitome of peace; an outstanding leader, a sanctuary of conflict resolution and model for rural and urban development”, stressing that this is the first time since he became a priest, that the state is experiencing peace.
As Enugu State clocks 29, soaring in peace and good governance, the message is clear: that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s uncommon leadership style has kept faith with the dreams and aspirations of the state‘s founding fathers.
This aligns with the stance of former Secretary-General and now President-General of Enugu State Development Association (ESDA), Chief Enechi Onyia, who had identified the promotion of the principles of love, unity and peace among the political, religious and traditional institutions, as one of the cardinal dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of Enugu State.
Chief Onyia had also attributed the developmental strides in the state to the peace and good governance initiatives of Gov. Ugwuanyi, saying: “There is very significant peace in Enugu State; without peace there is no progress”.
Interestingly, Enugu State under Ugwuanyi’s watch has continued to occupy its pride of place as one of the most peaceful and secure states in Nigeria, to live and do business, as well as the capital city of the nation’s Eastern Region; East Central State; old Anambra State; old Enugu State, when Abakaliki (now part of Ebonyi State) was part of it and the present Enugu State.
It could be recalled that Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman, lawyer and philosopher who played an important role in the politics of the late Roman Republic once observed that “The safety of the people shall be the highest law.” If Cicero’s insight held true then, it certainly does so currently.
Today, the country is witnessing challenges bothering on violence and insecurity, among others. But in the Coal City State, the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, leveraging on an inclusive vision of governance, discipline and regime sincerity has managed to keep the state on an even keel, safe and progressive.
This peace being enjoyed today in Enugu State, which the leaders have endorsed in unison, is hardly contestable and must not be taken for granted. It needs to be further recognized and complemented by all stakeholders in the overall interest of the people and the state.
Amoke writes from Enugu.