By Louis Amoke
A few days ago, the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State in its magnanimity approved a 13th month salary for the civil servants of the state as Christmas bonus, to assist them celebrate the festive season with ease.
The good news about the package is that the state workers will receive their basic salary, double, this month of December, an unprecedented feat that beats the imagination of many, who wonder how the governor does the magic, considering the severe economic challenges being encountered today in a country, where many states are unable to pay workers’ salaries, not to talk of executing capital projects.
In Enugu State, Gov. Ugwuanyi is paying workers’ salaries regularly; executing numerous capital projects across the state; awarding multiple contracts for more development projects, and in his magnanimity, still deemed it necessary to pay workers of the state a 13th month salary as Christmas bonus.
Also worthy of note, is the fact that the bonus, which has the approval of the Enugu State Executive Council, was freely given to the workers without them asking or agitating for it.
Kudos must, therefore, go to “The Most Labour-friendly Governor in the History of Enugu State”, for such a brave and timely gesture, which has received a lot of applause from not only the workers themselves but also from all segments of the society.
In spite of the nation’s harsh economic climate and the fact that Enugu State is third from the bottom of the federal allocation chart, Gov. Ugwuanyi has remained undaunted and up-to-date in the payment of workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions, which is one of the cardinal objectives of his administration.
Interestingly, the 13th month salary bonus reaffirms and re-echoes the recent verdict by the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), which listed Enugu as one of the few states in the country that is “up-to-date in payment of workers’ salaries and pensions”.
A recent media report stated that “according to the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), 23 states of the federation currently owed workers arrears of salaries ranging from one to 24 months, adding that “only states like Lagos, Anambra, Enugu, Bauchi, among others are said to be up-to-date in payment of salaries and pensions.”
The verdict, no doubt, demonstrated Gov. Ugwuanyi’s commitment to workers’ welfare and his ingenuity as well as passion for the common good of the people of the state.
The governor as an economist and a financial expert strongly believes that the economy of Enugu as a civil service state can only be reactivated to alleviate the sufferings of the people of the state, when workers’ salaries are paid regularly.
This captivating vision has remained one of the guiding principles of his administration 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”.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address, promised to lead a lean government to free up resources and channel them to the real development issues. He stated that his administration will look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded the country from exploiting.
The governor promised to reward the electorate “who defied rain and sunshine to ensure that their votes counted” and indeed the entire people of the state (who he describes as “the true heroes of democracy), with good governance. He also pledged that his administration “must match our faith with the right decisions and good work”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi declared his firm belief in the miracle of five loaves and two fish to feed the people of Enugu State, believing that God will give his administration the wisdom and courage to successfully navigate the state through the current economic crunch, among others.
Today, one is delighted to note that in less than three years into his administration, these promises centered on the wellbeing of the people are been realized persistently.
Reacting to the 13th month Christmas bonus, the elated state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Virginus Nwobodo, described the gesture as a surprise package and unprecedented in the history of the state, especially in the light of the nation’s economic downturn that has made it impossible for many states to pay workers’ salaries.
While commending Gov. Ugwuanyi for the offer borne out of his magnanimity and an incentive to the workers to motivate them to discharge their duties efficiently, the Labour leader urged the state workers to reciprocate the gesture by putting in their best to increase productivity.
Also speaking, the state chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe, who equally appreciated the state government’s gesture, noted that the beauty of the offer was that the workers never asked or agitated for it.
He said: “It was freely given to us and because of that it is another milestone in this administration of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. and Comrade Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who is always passionate about workers’ welfare”
Comrade Igbokwe who stated that the workers are part of the Enugu project, maintained that the leadership of the union and the workers will continue to appreciate the gesture and reciprocate by discharging their responsibilities for the growth and development of the state.
In a separate reaction, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) joined in commending Gov. Ugwuanyi for his uncommon gesture, saying that “Enugu State has proved to the Nigerian nation that she remains the trail blazer and the standard for good governance and workers’ welfare”.
The students through a statement by the state chairman of the association, Comrade Chidi Ilogebe, said that “in a time when some state governments cannot pay workers and pensioners, with some owing up to 14 months arrears, the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is miraculously paying up to the 13th month”.
Describing the bonus as a surprise gift, the students said: “Your Excellency, you left everybody deep in thought, thinking if Enugu is now a miracle ground where 5 loaves and 2 fish were being used to feed thousands”, adding: “The entire students populace of Enugu State numbering over one million have given their voices in commendation of your giant strides in the state”.
In a similar development, the teachers of the state totaling over 21,000 recently staged a mass solidarity rally for Gov. Ugwuanyi in appreciation of his good works and the remarkable achievements in the education sector.
The rally, which commenced with a road-walk in Enugu, saw the enthusiastic teachers dancing and singing solidarity songs in appreciation of the governor and his good works.
The teachers, who declared their firm support for the governor in 2019, conferred on him the title of “Odozi Obodo I” of Enugu State, meaning the Reformer of Society.
As Gov. Ugwuanyi continues to spread good governance in all strata of the economy, it is the responsibility of the public to encourage and support his peace and good governance initiatives, aimed at impacting positively on the lives of the people of the state, for truly; Enugu State is in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu, Enugu State