By Louis Amoke
For a better appreciation of the good works of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in Enugu State, it will be rational to assess its stewardship from the standpoint of the nation’s economic adversities when the governor took over the mantle of leadership in May 29, 2015.
When the governor assumed office, the country was in recession and confronted with various degrees of economic challenges as a result of drastic drop in the crude oil prices which adversely affected the state’s allocations from the federation account.
This recurring decimal of paucity of funds, coupled with the inherited debt profile and other huge wage bills to be serviced, no doubt posed a serious threat to the speedy actualization of the government’s well-thought-out vision for the people of the state as contained in its four-point agenda.
Enugu State was among the worst hit, considering that it is third from the bottom of the revenue allocation chart from the federation account and predominantly a civil service state with high expectations for socio-economic expansion borne out of its enviable status as the historical capital of the Eastern region, old Anambra State, old Enugu State and capital of the present Enugu State.
The situation was really a source of worry to the extent that the immediate past governor of the state, His Excellency, Sullivan Chime, during the thanksgiving Mass to commemorate the end of his administration acknowledged that Enugu’s purse was growing leaner as federal allocations dwindled to an all-time low.
The nation’s economic challenges then was so bad that 27 states, Enugu State excluded, could not pay workers’ salaries, not to talk of embarking on capital projects. The era of sharing of excess crude oil funds which enabled past governments at the state and local government levels to execute sundry capital projects became a thing of the past as the governors resorted to bailout funds from the federal government to enable them to meet up the basic pressing needs of paying workers’ salaries and execution of projects, among others.
They were consequently tagged “bailout governors” and the burning question then was “is this the best time to be a governor?”
But, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his wisdom, sheer dexterity and passion for wellbeing of the people as well as rapid development of the state, remained undaunted in his vision to build Enugu State of the founding fathers’ dreams – 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.
In actualizing the lofty dreams, the people’s governor, constituted a 15-man Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee headed by Msgr. Obiora Ike, to advise his administration on the best policies that would engender sustainable economic growth to lead the state out of the nation’s economic crunch, through restructuring, re-engineering and reinvigoration of the state’s economy.
The innovative approach gave birth to the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit christened “Oganiru Enugu State”, which was successfully organized to showcase the economic potentials of the state and woo investors.
Recently, Enugu State was rated by the World Bank Group as the second most advanced state in Nigeria towards the frontier of global good practices with regards to Ease of Doing Business.
On workers’ salary which was a major puzzle for most states, the story is quite different in Enugu State as workers continue to receive their pay on the 23rd of every month, even when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. The state government last year paid the 13th month salary to its workers as Christmas bonus and also pays the pensioners on or before the end of the month.
Through an impressive increase in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), as a result of far reaching reforms introduced in the sector by the governor, this years’ June and July salaries were paid without the receipt of the federal allocations.
At the peak of all these challenges, execution of capital development projects were going on speedily across the three senatorial districts, coupled with state government’s swift interventions on failed sections of federal roads in the state.
Consequently, Gov. Ugwuanyi who was recently named the “2018 Sun Governor of the Year” for good governance; rapid rural development; traders and youth empowerments; nurturing of peace and harmony among the political class and critical support for security agencies, among others, has indeed kept faith with his campaign promises to the people of Enugu State.
Presently, the state government has so far spent close to N50 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the state, covering about 450 kilometres.
Apart from road projects, the Gov. Ugwuanyi administration has also taken bold steps in other spheres of development which have endeared him to the people of the state and beyond and equally earned him a gale of endorsements for his re-election by virtually all strata of groups in the state, including the religious and traditional institutions.
The areas include the traders empowerment scheme which has so far assisted 2400 genuine traders with the sum of N50,000 each to grow their various businesses; construction and renovation of over 589 primary and secondary school blocks in the state as well as procurement of learning tools and employment of over 4000 teachers; empowerment of 750 youths under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme.
Others include, provision of 100 units one bedroom apartment for 100 lucky civil servants under grade level 1 to 10; rehabilitation of facilities at Ajali and Oji River Water Treatment Schemes which has consequentially improved the supply of water to Enugu metropolis and its environs; construction and renovation of district hospitals and health centres in the state, especially in the rural areas under the primary healthcare programme, such as the Poly Clinic, Asata, Enugu and Udi District Hospital; construction of 14 new court buildings and open registries in the judicial divisions and magisterial districts across the state, which the state’s Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ngozi Emehelu, described as “unprecedented infrastructural development that has not been witnessed in the entire South East” and “the largest single intervention in infrastructural development in the Judiciary of Enugu State for over 20 years”; and other remarkable achievements too numerous to mention.
On rural development and good governance, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration in line with its vision to create direct positive impacts on the lives of the masses, the long forgotten and neglected, channeled the bulk of its development projects to the rural areas – a clear and systematic departure from the past when most major achievements were concentrated in the urban areas.
This vision which is novel in the state’s history was also in keeping with the governor’s inaugural address to “pay a special attention to rural development,” to open up the rural areas, create more urban centres, develop fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on Enugu metropolis for socio-economic expansion.
Three months into his administration, Gov. Ugwuanyi spearheaded the massive development of urban and rural roads across the three senatorial districts of the state, in Emene, Abakpa-Nike, 9th Mile Corner and Nsukka – a University town founded over half a century ago and the second largest town in the state, among other satellite towns.
Shortly after, his administration simultaneously executed 35 grassroots development projects across the 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu State, which ensured that every council benefited at least one project from the programme.
Today, we have the N10 million “one community, one project” scheme, which has also recorded a huge success in expanding development to the frontiers of the rural areas – an initiative that has made it possible for communities to decide their priority projects, ensuring that areas that never experienced any government presence benefited, accordingly.
All these were going on as completion of works on projects started by the previous administration were given adequate attention, such as the state-of-the-art Enugu State Diagnostic Centre, (now completed) the first of its kind in the South East geo-political zone, established to create hospital chains to make Enugu the preferred destination for receiving high quality and affordable healthcare delivery in the country.
Besides the foregoing, the following road projects were equally among the projects successfully delivered to standard by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration with special positive impact on the lives of the people, especially the lowly and long neglected.
The two 9th Mile Bypasses in Udi Local Government Area, which have relieved travelers the stress of traffic gridlock in the area, especially during festivities. The Agbani-Amurri road in Nkanu West LGA, newly constructed for a community that has never experienced any form of development on its land in the past 100 years. The Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road (from Atavu bailey bridge to Afor Onovo), in the same council, which has a historic and symbolic attraction as the first state government road project in the entire Akpugo zone since the creation of Enugu State.
Another project that has a direct impact on the lives of the lowly and neglected is the Ngenevu road, which was constructed with the provision of two 500-KVA transformers by the governor for the suburb of Enugu that had not witnessed any form of government presence. Other high density and suburbs such as the Iva Valley, the Ugbodogwu, the Ogwuagor, Abakpa Nike, Emene, etc, have equally benefited.
The story is the same in Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo Local Government Area – another long neglected agrarian community that is currently witnessing massive reconstruction of the Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road, after over 35 years of neglect.
Others include, the Nike Lake road and Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Local Government Area, which were hitherto in deplorable conditions. The Opi-Nsukka Dual Carriageway in Nsukka Local Government Area, delivered with the state-of-the-art facilities befitting a University town and the second largest city in the state. The Ogbaku road in Awgu L.G.A (one of the 35 simultaneous development projects) that was constructed on a difficult terrain that is both hilly and undulating.
The New Market-Milliken Hill-Ngwo- 9th Mile road, an ancient, historic and undulating road, modernized with streetlights and other safety measures after decades of neglect to showcase its potentials as a tourist attraction and the state’s natural roller coaster, which now serves as an alternative gateway into the city of Enugu, from Onitsha-Enugu expressway. The Ebonyi River Bridge in Isi Uzo Local Government Area, which connects so many adjoining communities to Ikem, the headquarters of the Council, and a host of others.
Numerous development projects have also been executed in the urban areas, such as the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mount Crescent, GRA, Enugu; Orofia Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Dental School – Tipper Garage road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Loma Linda- Timber Shed road, Maryland, Enugu; Nwafia Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mbanefo Street, New Haven, Enugu.
Others include, the Secretariat Road, G.R.A, Enugu; Court Avenue by new State Secretariat, Enugu; Ibuza Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Isi Uzo Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Owerri Road and Poly Clinic Road, Asata, Enugu; Renovation of the Enugu State House of Assembly Complex and rehabilitation and re-asphalting of the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, and a host of others. A lot of new projects scattered in the state are ongoing and more contracts are been awarded to improve the people’s standard of living.
Not too long ago, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration ensured that Enugu State had additional five new state-of-the-art fire service stations across the three senatorial districts, after 56 years three stations were built in the state, then Eastern Region.
The government has consistently been maintaining roads built by past administrations and has equally engaged 1000 youths under the Enugu Clean Team Project to clean up the state to enhance and sustain its rating as one of the healthier and cleanest cities in the country, among other landmark achievements.
From the above narrative, which is just a tip of the iceberg, it is well established that the present people-oriented administration in Enugu State has kept faith with its sacred mandate to transform the state and impact positively on the lives of the people – the true heroes of democracy. Truly, Enugu State is in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu State.