By Chuks Ugwoke
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi will be taking an unfamiliar route today. He is a victim of some arm-twisting tactics cleverly designed and deployed by faces that are familiar to him. He struggled to wriggle out of the trap but the hunters refused to yield any ground.
And so, today, in Enugu, some friends of His Excellency from within and outside the State, in partnership with Association of Nsukka Professors, are organising a symposium to mark Rt. Hon. Ugwuanyi’s 57th birthday. The event which is being chaired by Senator Ken Nnamani, has as its theme – A Man at Peace with God and Man: Understanding the Mantra of Governance in Enugu. Three renowned men of letters – Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian Anieke, Prof. Damian Opata and Rev. Fr. Dr. Emeka Ngwoke – are to do justice to the sub themes whereas Prof. Chinedu Nebo, Senator Ayogu Eze and Igwe Abel Nwobodo will dissect the topics as discussants.
The sponsors of the event have the noblest of intentions to interrogate the essence of the Gburugburu magic, which has enthroned good governance, peace and security, politics without bitterness and excellence in public office. And for a leader who recognises the place of God in the affairs of state and service to mankind, it does not surprise people who have taken note of his politics of accommodation that two notable personalities in Senators Ken Nnamani and Ayogu Eze who belong to the opposition party, are playing key roles in today’s symposium.
In the years past, Rt. Hon. Ugwuanyi had often celebrated his birthdays in the company of orphans, people living with disabilities (PLWD), prisoners and the elderly. Never one to throw lavish birthday parties, he would take gifts during such visits to these classes of Nigerians, away from any sort of glitz and glamour, and not seeking earthly acclaim.
Expectedly, he will be there today, to have those happy and quiet times that he enjoys with the people he fondly calls “my friends.” But rather than return to his desk at the Lion Building after what ought to have been another low-key birthday commemoration, as was always the case, the governor will be a guest of his friends who have made him to bend backwards and kowtow to their whims.
The idea of the symposium is in itself fitting and timely. It is not just an assemblage to offer those usual wishes of longevity before posing to cut the cake, but an academic exercise intended to call attention to the essence of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s unique governance style which has endeared him to the people and engendered peace and unity, uncommon development that is fairly and equitably distributed.
A man of powerful introspection, Gburugburu has often set the standard on giving back to humanity. It began way back before he joined politics, and during which he gave scholarships to indigent students. He was driven by a high sense of philanthropy that abhorred identification and acclamation. Now as governor, he has taken his benevolence a notch higher. The evidence is everywhere that he has continued to give away large chunks of his personal wealth to assist the poor and the needy, but as his friends and loyalists would readily pinpoint, he continues to keep a distance from human adulation.
To underscore his humble background and the divine favours bestowed on him by his creator, Gov. Ugwuanyi has never failed to reverence God and acknowledge the extraordinary blessings that he has received. Upon his ascent to power, he was unequivocal in his submission that “Enugu State is in the hands of God.” It has become a popular refrain within and outside government circles, and one which accords well with the governor’s humility and disposition as a man of faith.
This, I believe, is part of what today’s event will strive to highlight. It will be a celebration of a rare and true leader, an accomplished administrator who has left indelible marks in just over five years in the saddle.
The tributes from the personalities attending today’s event will serve to recognize and honour the evident transformation of the state under his charge and the generosity of spirit that is exemplified in his outstanding service to the people. They shall seek to encourage others in positions of authority–secular or sectarian–to dispense humble services that promote equity, fairness and human dignity. From health to education, agriculture, sports, environment, tourism and other sectors, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s achievements have attracted recognitions from beyond the Coal City. Certainly, today’s ceremony is not an ideal time and platform to mark the sure steps of this humble achiever since he came to the throne in 2015.
When that time comes, there will be so much phenomenal successes and signature projects to showcase and every justifiable reason to rejoice. As is often alleged, it is commonplace for political office seekers to make electioneering promises, but a different ball game for most of them to open their wallets in fulfilment of the pledges they had made. Governor Ugwuanyi has shown, by example, that politicians can, indeed, keep their commitments.
Memories are still fresh of the awards from four reputed newspapers in only one year – Vanguard, Sun, Leadership and Independent. It has never happened before. The honours as ‘Governor of the Year’ were recognitions of the progresses that Enugu State, under his charge, has continued to make in the areas of peace, security, good governance and the novel initiative in inclusive rural development. From national agencies to youth organisations, labour unions, among others, there had been similar awards of excellence prior to the ones above. There have also been more since then, all of them paying tribute to accountability, good governance, probity and selflessness of the Enugu governor. These are the legacies that Rt Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi will bequeath to future generations when his time is up at the Lion Building. But he vows that he will work until his last day in office. And when that bell rings, he will march out in grace and honour because it will surely end in praise.
As the Holy Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, “for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In truth, Governor Ugwuanyi had been prepared “in advance” to lead his people and bring about happiness, development, peace and security that are prevalent in all the nooks and crannies of Enugu State. In turn too, he has earned the admiration and trust of his people as will be demonstrated today and beyond.