By Hyginus Eze
That government is best, Which governs least
– Henry David Thoreau
There is little or no doubt that Enugu State is the most multi-ethnic State in the South-East. The reason for this is historical: Enugu had served as the capital city of the Southern Protectorate of Nigeria as well as the capital city of the Old Eastern Region. For some people, Enugu is synonymous with Igbo-land. It is the destination of the high and low. It is, in fact, estimated that more than 50% of the houses in Enugu metropolis belong to non-Enugu indigenes. Hence Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has described Enugu as the ‘political and socio-cultural capital and home for all Igbos’ (‘Address on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Creation of Enugu State on 27th August, 2016’). Despite the multi-ethnic nature of the State, it has, from 2015 when Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi assumed office, maintained its position as the most peaceful State in Nigeria. All thanks to quality leadership! Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has made Enugu a home for all, whether Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbo, Enugu has a place for you. In spite of the fact that some paid agents frequently unleash the social media on him, circulating all manner of lies, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has always kept his cool, allowing criticisms, no matter how negative and toxic to flourish. With Governor Ugwuanyi I am led to agree with Chinua Achebe that the trouble with Nigeria is indeed leadership – peace or violence has a cascade effect. Not many leaders in the world today have an intellectual grip of the present era. The world is in a postmodern era, something that is traced back partly to the American Ronald Regan, and what some writers referred to as his voodoo economics. The postmodern space is a world of make-believe, of simulation, of adverts, of voodoo, of falsehood, and the socio media is the melting pot of the era. Truth be told, it is extremely tough to persist in democratic principles in today’s world. The temptation to unleash power has never been as strong. It is credit to Governor Ugwuanyi that no critic of his Government, no matter how virulent, has ever been molested or even accosted for writing or posting falsehood about the Governor; no critic of the Governor has ever been challenged, not even a verbal warning. He takes all in his strides. He understands that the world has evolved. As Henry David Thoreau would admonish, ‘That Government is best which governs least’. The more you gag the people, especially the youths in the socio media, the more violent they become. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi governs best because he governs least. He places no limitations on people, he refuses to mount surveillance on his critics, no matter how unfair, he does not restrict, he does not emasculate, he does not gag; his arms are ever spread out in fellowship with all and sundry.
When Henry Patrick, one of the early Americans cried, ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ he was accusing Great Britain of emasculating the then young America. Centuries after, those words still resonate. To chain a people mentally is to stifle their ability. By running a liberal Government, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi liberated and unlocked the energies of youths. The several Tech-hubs built and equipped by the Governor are centres of innovation, where youths use social media platforms to generate jobs for themselves; the SME (Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises) in Enugu State is the probably the most vibrant in the country generating hundreds of thousands of jobs, especially in the area of automobile using socio media apps. All this was made possible by the Governor’s benign attitude towards the social media. Social liberation equals psychological liberation. It is a master-stroke how the Governor, through his liberal leadership, is helping youths to re-purpose the social media to make a living.
In Enugu State, it is indeed a marriage of peace, security and projects. For example, Governor Ugwuanyi’s footprint in the education sector is unmatched in the history of the State: in a space of six years, he constructed and equipped one thousand two hundred and thirty classroom blocks in public primary schools alone; within the same period he recruited five thousand and thirty teachers. Thus, he ended the era of ‘doubling’, where one teacher was teaching more than one class in our primary schools. Some school halls in our primary schools are like faculty buildings on a university campus. And he accomplished just as much in post primary schools. The resources Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has deployed in 2021 for the construction of new school blocks, toilets, libraries, just name them, will leave you mouth open. But I won’t pre-empt you, I will leave you to see for yourself, after all the taste of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. On May 23, 2021, seven persons were presented to the Governor. They are leaving the country for doctoral studies in the best universities in the US. The worth of their scholarships is #616,750,000 (six hundred and sixteen million seven hundred and fifty thousand naira). This was made possible by the Governor’s innovative approach to the sourcing of scholarship opportunities for Enugu people. A new lease of life to young men and women from impoverished families!
The gap-toothed, kind-hearted, good-natured, ever-smiling Governor has completed 650 kilometre roads, many of which had to plunge through thick forests and rocky, mountainous topographies; also, by decentralising the infrastructures in the three senatorial zones of the State, he re-activated the original plan of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), in fact, a world-class teaching hospital with 13 faculties and hostels is nearing completion at Enugu North Senatorial Zone; he built and equipped tier-three hospitals in almost every local government area of the State, and empowered them to be 24 hours accessible to the people; to combat Covid-19, he splashed isolation centres in every nook and cranny of the State. While battling Covid-19 last year, yellow fever broke out in Enugu North Senatorial Zone. Again Ugwuanyi rose to the challenge, a veteran of many battles, he marshalled the full weight of his power, and in less than three weeks an epidemic that was already sweeping through the senatorial zone was arrested. Little wonder that out of 36 State Governors, Ugwuanyi was singled out and honoured by Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) as the Covid-19 Response Champion. With Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi it is, as Shakespeare would say, even envy would call fair – those who don’t like him will respect and admire him. During his inauguration in 2015, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was clear about the direction of his Government – development of rural areas. It’s an agenda, and he’s following it through. In developed societies, where people vote agenda, you judge performance in relation to campaign promises.
Since Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi took office, Nigeria has been through a series of severe economic recessions, and we are currently battling through another one. Do we ever wonder why, for civil servants, business people, and workers in Enugu State, recession is just mere alphabet?
Dr. Eze writes from Independence Layout, Enugu