Chronicling Ugwuanyi’s seven years of good governance in Enugu State
It is indeed another year of stock taking of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s seven years of good governance and people-oriented programmes in Enugu state that had endeared him and his administration to the people.
These seven years, which include four years of his first term and three years of his four-year second term have
been eventful, challenging, developmental, peaceful and inclusive.
Within this period, Enugu people have witnessed massive infrastructural development, absolute peace, security, social justice, social services, good governance and employment generation, which were among Ugwuanyi administration’s four-point agenda unveiled to Ndi Enugu during his first term swearing-in at Okpara Square, Independence Layout Enugu in 2015.
No doubt, Ugwuanyi’s administration has recorded remarkable achievements, despite the fact that on assumption of office, he was confronted with myriad of daunting challenges that included recessed economy, paucity of funds, backlog of unpaid workers’ salaries, arrears of pensioners, infrastructural deficits especially in rural areas, unemployment and others.
Apart from these aforementioned challenges, Ugwuanyi’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has been in power at the centre and state with enormous goodwill and ample opportunities, for the first time since 1999 lost power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the centre in 2015.
Not deterred by these obvious discouraging and enormous challenges, Ugwuanyi in his inaugural speech, committed the affairs of the state to God Almighty with the slogan “Enugu State Is In The Hands Of God.”
Without hesitation, Ugwuanyi’s administration hit the ground running, by bringing to bear the governor’s financial prowess and prudence in reforming, rejigging and repositioning the state’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) system for better performance and improved revenue generation.
This singular action improved significantly the states’ Internally Generated Revenue from N14b in 2016 to N18.4b in the first ten months of 2017 and now N31billion, thereby placing the state in a good financial stead, even without the monthly federation allocation as revealed by The Economic Confidential in its 2018 Annual States Viability Index (ASVI).
Also introduced in the day-to-day running of the government by Ugwuanyi were good governance, equity, fiscal discipline, accountability and transparency. Since then, governance in the state took a new direction geared towards peaceful co-existence, integration, and even development across the state. Ugwuanyi’s leadership style has decidedly remained inclusive, progressive, eclectic and unprecedented in the state’s leadership history.
Within his first term in office, Ugwuanyi administration’s presence and footprints prefaced virtually all the 450 autonomous communities, 17 local councils and three senatorial zones in the state.
All the sectors of the state economy witnessed his government’s interventions with rural development, education, health, infrastructure, security, workers’ welfare, youth empowerment, taking the lead.
Across the state, roads like Opi-Nsukka dual carriage way, Obechara Road Junction-Umuakashi Mechanic village-Ikenga Hotels Junction-Enugu Road Nsukka Junction and Umuezebi-Nru Junction have been completed. Others include extension of Agbani-AforAmurri Road, the extension of Ituku Road, the construction of Ogonogoeji- Ndi Akpugo Road ( Atavu Bailey Bridge-AforOnovo) the construction of the 42-metre span Bailey Bridge and road works across River Nyama to Amichi, linking Umuogo and Umuagba Amaechi Uno/ Obinagu community, all in Nkanu West Local Council.
Of note is that the Agbani-Amurri Road was constructed for a community that has never witnessed any form of development or government presence on its land in the past 100 years plus. In the same vein, the Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo Road from Atavu Bailey Bridge to Afor Onovo is the first state government road in the entire Akpugo land since the creation of the Enugu State.
Not left out is the popular and historic Milliken Hill Road, Ngwo, constructed in 1909, but was abandoned for several decades before Ugwuanyi’s administration reconstructed it with streetlight. The three-kilometre road is part of the 12-kilometre 9th Mile-Ekochin-Ngwo- Miliken Hill-New Market federal road, which state government rehabilitated to serve as alternative route for commuters and motorists plying Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.
Also within the state capital, Ugwuanyi’s administration has executed numerous road projects at Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Nawfia Street, Ibuza Street, Isi-Uzo Street all in Independence Layout Enugu. Also asphalted are Mount Crescent, GRA Enugu, Dental School-Tipper Garage Road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Loma Linda-Timber Shed Road and many others. In his first four years Ugwuanyi’s administration spent not less than N45b in road construction and reconstruction across the state. These are not inclusive of the numerous road projects awarded by Ugwuanyi’s administration close to his reelection that have been completed and are in use now.
In the education sector, through the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), Enugu is among the states that have consistently paid their counterpart fund making it possible for them to access the Federal Government Universal Basic Education fund.
With this, ENSUBEB has built and renovated more than 480 primary school classrooms, provided learning and teaching facilities and recruited more than 3500 teachers. Also recruited through the Post Primary Schools Management Board ( PPSMB) were more than 1200 secondary teachers in addition to the 857 volunteer teachers( engaged during the past administration) but were not regularised as permanent staff.
Of great emphasis is the fact that Ugwuanyi’s administration has equitably distributed developmental projects and appointments across the state in spirit of unity, equity and fairness to the admiration and happiness of all in the state. This is a clear departure from the winner takes all practice of the past that created bad blood among political stakeholders in three senatorial zones of the state.Ugwuanyi has not only continued to maintain the infrastructure he met on ground, he has built new ones, completed and still completing the abandoned ones across the state.
After many decades without any national or international trophy in its kit, the state-owned Rangers International Club with the massive support of Ugwuanyi’s administration had won the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League and the 2018 Federation Cup.
Notwithstanding that his administration inherited backlog of salary of workers and arrears of pensioners, Ugwuanyi never engaged in buckpassing or blame game for one day. His government boldly took the bull by the horn by clearing the outstanding salaries, promotion and introduced prompt payment of workers.
Since then, workers in the state receive their salaries every 21st of the month and 13 month in December as bonus until recently that financial constraints hit government at all levels. The gesture to workers is the first of its kind in any state in Southeast zone. This is despite the fact that Enugu State is not an oil producing state and is almost at the bottom in the cadre of monthly Federation allocation.
The gesture made the national leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and workers in the state to confer on Ugwuanyi the award of Most Workers’ Friendly Governor in Nigeria.
Despite paucity of fund, Ugwuanyi’s administration is gradually attending to arrears of pensioners that have piled up for years due to inability of the past governments to clear it.
Under Ugwuanyi’s administration, Enugu State has recorded the lowest crime rate, even in the face of the resurgence of criminal activities across the country. This milestone, which brought about the peacefulness of the state was once attested to by the leadership of Police Service Commission.
This was responsible for the prevailing peace in the state, till date and the award of the most peaceful Governor in Nigeria to Gov. Ugwuanyi by Nigerian Peace Ambassadors International.
Even when there was some security lapses across the country after the 2019 elections of which some parts of Enugu were affected, Ugwuanyi quickly rose to the occasion by rejigging the security architecture of the state, established and equipped Forest Guard in the state. The Enugu Forest Guard is first of its kind in the country. Ugwuanyi’s administration also appointed former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnia Onovo as the State Security Consultant.
The overwhelming support Ugwuanyi’s administration enjoyed during his first term and his resounding victory in his reelection was a clear testimony of his outstanding performance in office and style of leadership that gives everyone,irrespective of religion, tribe, status and party affiliation sense of belonging in the affairs of the state. That is why from Enugu West, East to North, among the artisans, Christians, Muslims, workers, youths, adults, residents, visitors, religious groups and others, Ugwuanyi is the man of the people, father and governor of all.
It is also for this reason and others that Ugwuanyi’s chieftancy title, Gburugburu has remained a brand, movement and household name in the state and beyond today. His style of politics is emulative and tolerant. Unlike most political leaders, Ugwuanyi has used political power as shield to protect and unite the people, instead of the usual sword, political office holders often use it to divide and oppress the people, especially perceived enemies.
After being overwhelmingly reelected for a second term with 95. 5 plus percent votes by Ndi Enugu, many had thought or expected that Ugwuanyi would rest on his oars and give good governance a back seat. That was not the case. Knowing full well that to whom much is given, much is expected and that the reward for hardwork is more work, just like in his first term, Ugwuanyi hit the ground running after being sworn-in for second term in office.
He proved the cynics and sceptics, who had always believed that elected political office holders, especially governors do not perform in their second term wrong with his developmental and progressive actions since his reelection.
In line with his avowals, assurances and promises in his reelection acceptance speech that he and his team will continue to serve the state with fear of God, humility and unwavering commitment to improving lives and lifting the state to unprecedented heights, Ugwuanyi has been living by his words and walking the talk with the construction of the 22.443km Neke- Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti Inter-community road linking Isi Uzo LGA with Udenu LGA, 26.665km Ukpabi- Nimo-Ugbene Ajima-Eziani road targetted at opening up the agrarian communities of Uzo-Uwani LGA, and the 10.5km Nike Junction-Harmony Estate- Amorji Nike- Adoration Pilgrimage Centre road that serves as bypass to everbusy Nike road and a link between the densely populated Abakpa-Nike and the suburb of Emene Enugu and others.
Works have been completed at the first Enugu State flyover at the popular T-junction along Nike road that was awarded by Ugwuanyi’s administration. The flyover has been put to use. It has reduced completely the traffic snarl along the Nike Lake road and its environs.
With the approval of minimum wage for Nigerian workers, Ugwuanyi was among the first governor in Nigeria to approve minimum wage for workers, after working out the consequential adjustment with labour union leaders in the state.
Also with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in the country, Ugwuanyi was among the first governors that took proactive and precautionary measures by buliding and equipping Isolation centres, approving life assurance for health workers and embarking on aggressive sensitisation campaign alongside all the relevant stakeholders in the state.
These efforts were appreciated and acknowledged by the health workers. They include the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association of Nigeria that honoured him in Abuja with COVID-19 Response Champion and National Association of Resident Doctors ESUT Parklane Hospital Chapter, who commended him for being outstanding in handling the pandemic in the state.
In line with his administration’s flair for genuine peace, Ugwuanyi has not only settled some knotty and age-long communal crisis that have defied settlement before now. He also set up a Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee headed by Dr. Uche Ogbu with former members of House of Assembly and National Assembly as members.
Consolidating and expanding vigorously on its first term’s giant strides, Ugwuanyi’s administration has opened up the rural areas to reduce urban migration, created jobs, provided good governance, maintained and sustained peace and security as major policy thrust. Enugu State is indeed in the hands of God.
As Ugwuanyi’s government enters its last lap, the 5,000 seat capacity Township stadium at Nsukka, awarded by his administration is almost completed with the successful installation of Astro Turf, Tartan, Tracks, Seats and flood light stands as well as pavement.
Also adjacent to the Enugu State Secretariat Annex Ede Oballa built by Ugwuanyi’s administration is newly constructed befitting conference centre comprising multiple halls, other indoor activity hubs and recreation facilities such as adult and children swimming pools and lawn tennis court being constructed by Ugwuanyi’s government.
Nearing completion and set for approval by National Universities Commission (NUC) is the massive permanent hospital of Enugu State University Teaching University Hospital and College of Medicine at Igbo Eno Enugu State.
The health facilities, which was initiated and being executed by Ugwuanyi’s administration is made up of two sections of a teaching hospital sitting on two floors (the outpatient department of seven sections and in patient department with 200 bed ward. College of Medicine comprises 2 units of 12 classroom blocks, 2 units of 10 classroom blocks and 2 units of 8 classroom blocks and 2 units of 208 student-capacity hostel and a helicopter landing pad reserved for hospital emergency operations.
At the old Enugu Government Lodge, Ugwuanyi’s government is about to complete 600-seater state-of-art banquet hall with basement offices, meeting rooms and retaining walls.
Already completed there are 10 units of executive guest houses and 24 unit of guest flats with Dinning hall for routine guests of government, a standard lawn tennis court and others.
With the above mentioned signature projects and people- oriented programmes of Ugwuanyi’s administration in the face of daunting challenges, which are evidenced and experienced in the last seven years in Enugu state, Ugwuanyi has written his name in gold.
His administration will surely be remembered, not only for the numerous developmental projects it did across the state, but for the political stability, peace and security it brought and sustained in the state for the good of all.
– Ezea wrote from Independence Layout, Enugu