Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, Saturday said the coal city state in its 25 years of existence has continued to play a key role in the socio- political cum economic life of Nigeria, identifying recent herdsmen incursions into its communities as a major black spot in the history of the state. This is as he assured the people that he will continue with the legacies of the founding fathers of the state to inspire it to greater heights.
Ugwuanyi who spoke at the event marking the 25th Anniversary of the creation of Enugu State which took place at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, paid tributes to all those who laboured tirelessly for the creation of the state, saying that their vision and contributions would always be appreciated.
The governor who observed a minute silence in honour of the deceased Catholic Seminarian, who was murdered by suspected herdsmen at Ndiagu Attakwu, Akegbugwu, in Nkanu West Local Government Area, noted that the ceremony would have been postponed if the arrangement had not been concluded before the sad incident occurred. His declaration came on the heels of reports that another victim of the attack reportedly died on Friday night, bringing the death toll to two.
While wishing the injured ones quick recovery, Ugwuanyi said that the state is nonetheless celebrating the “goodness of God, peace, unity and shared prosperity”. Said he: “this is a solemn moment for our people as we recall the unfortunate events of last Thursday, the 25th of August, 2016 which led to the death of a Catholic Seminarian, Lazarus Nwafor and severe injuries to four other citizens of this State at Attakwu in Nkanu West.”
Recalling the events that led to the creation of the State on the 27th of August, 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration, he said, “it was a development that heralded an end to the long agitation for the creation of a State for the Wawa people of Igboland. Among other things, she has produced and is still producing world class professionals and achievers in every field of endeavour.
“This long list includes a President of the Nigerian Senate in the person of Dr Ken Nnamani, a three- term Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, an award winning Professor of Robotics Engineering and founder of the first indigenous private sector power company in Nigeria, Professor Barth Nnaji and the first Nigerian winner of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Best Actor Award and Oscar award nominee, Chiwetelu Ejiofor.
“Enugu State is also the home of the first Igbo Medical Doctor, Dr Simon Onwu, the first Nigerian Justice of the World Court, Justice Daddy Onyeama, the first Nigerian football Captain to lift the African Nations Cup, Christian Chukwu, MON among many others.
“ Today, Enugu, the State capital, stands as one of the safest cities in Nigeria and a proud member of the elite club of 100 Resilient Cities in the world; the first and only one in Nigeria and one of the only five in Africa. It has also become the hub of the nation’s booming movie industry popularly referred to as “Nollywood”.
The governor recalled his promise in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, to work in accordance with the ideals and aspirations of the founding fathers of Enugu State to deploy the resources of the state for the common good in the face of severe economic downturn. He added that he has not only kept faith with his promises but also put in place the platform for greater successes.
Ugwuanyi announced the decision of his administration to reconstitute the Enugu State Elders’ Council to provide “the necessary guidance and counsel to ensure the seamless development of Enugu State.”
He equally disclosed plans to amend the state’s pension laws to “accommodate past civilian governors of the old Anambra and Enugu States and their deputies in appreciation of their contributions and services to the State.”
“I wish to reiterate our commitment to take development to the rural areas as part of our strategy to create new urban areas, boost socio-economic activities, create employment opportunities and reduce the pressure on Enugu metropolis.
“Also in line with our promises, we will continue to pursue the diversification of the State’s economy through the full exploitation of our vast land resources, particularly in the Nsukka and Greater Awgu areas, for agricultural production.
“We are laying a new foundation for our children as future leaders through extensive youth development policies and the enactment of relevant laws including the Enugu State Child Rights Act.
“Ndi Enugu, we have committed Enugu State into the hands of God and with Him as our shepherd, we will continue to overcome our challenges and record success in all our endeavours. Be assured that the God who brought us here, the God who created Enugu State, will certainly take us to the Enugu State of our dreams in Jesus Name. Amen,” Ugwuanyi prayed.
Earlier in his sermon, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Prof. Godfrey Onah, lamented the recent herdsmen attack on a community in the state, calling on the President to take drastic actions to put an end to the incessant killings and maiming of innocent citizens of the state and the country at large.
Dignitaries that attended the event include the wife of the governor, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi; the Speaker of Enugu House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi; former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani; Senator Chukwuka Utazi and some other members of the National Assembly from the State. Others are Senator Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke (rtd), Air Commodore Anthony Oguguo (rtd), the clergy, security chiefs, traditional rulers, among others.