From Chinedu Asadu, Enugu
It was a Sunday. The popular Okpara Square was filled to capacity. The people of Enugu State and their friends had come out to join Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the celebration of his one year in office and the Democracy Day.
The state had organized an inter-denominational church service which was graced by eminent servants of God in the state.
At the end of the ceremony, it was all encomiums for Governor Ugwuanyi who the people applauded for piloting the affairs of the state well in the last one year.
One of the people who spoke to Oriental News at the ceremony was the Chairman of Nkanu East Local Government Council, Hon. Ikechukwu Ubagu, who scored Governor Ugwuanyi high on his one year in office.
The Transition Chairman told Oriental News during the event that the governor had shown in the state a government deeply committed to the people and that which had touched their lives substantially even in the face of dwindling resources.
The council boss said whereas resources currently available to the state were far lower than what it was in the past years, Ugwuanyi had recorded commendable impacts in rural transformation and urban renewal.
He commended the governor for choosing Nkanu East among the three local governments in special need of developmental interventions. The other two are Uzo-Uwani and Awgu.
Ubagu also commended the governor for the ongoing multi-million naira Inyaba Bridge Project that would link the Northern and Southern part of Nkanu East, as well as create more access between Enugu and Ebonyi states.
The chairman also thanked the governor for clearing the salary arrears of workers he inherited from the previous administration led by Chief Sullivan Chime, as well as ensuring the prompt payment of workers’ salaries despite the fall in monthly allocations to the state.
He also noted that the special attention being given to the agricultural sector and the efforts to diversify the state’s economy as exemplified by the Enugu Economic Summit would help to reduce dependency on oil revenues and other allocations from the centre.
He pointed out that Enugu has felt the impact of Ugwuanyi’s administration, but noted that the future would be brighter, given the foundations the government had laid down in the last one year.
Umunnah: Exit of a relentless warrior
• Encomiums for late ex-Imo SSG
By Mbadiwe Emelumba
The political landscape of Imo State quaked last month when news filtered in that Nze I.M.O Umunnah, the man whose initials symbolised the state had gone the way of all mortals, thus putting an end to an active political life that spanned four decades and affected lives in diverse ways.
Not many people believe that Nze Umunnah, former Secretary to Imo State Government and two term member of old Imo State House of Assembly was only 74 years when he took his bow. This is because since 1979, he has been a recurring decimal in the politics of the state, dominating his environment and generally shaping the political consciousness of the people.
A seasoned Accountant who began his career in the banking sector, the man who was popularly called Father, Father and Ojinnaka, his traditional title, bestrode his environment like a colossus, offered quality and selfless service to his people and took his bow doing what he knows best which is political battles.
Umunnah was so knowledgeable about Imo Politics that he could read the political temperature of the over 300 wards in Imo State and predict them with near clinical accuracy.He was politically as insightful as he was courageous. He was never a man to shy away from political battles, and would never lead from the rear. Instead he would be in the forefront, exhuming incredible confidence, spiced with the masterful audacity of a season general in the war front.
NzeUmunnah was deeply passionate on issue he believed in and he is ever ready to go to battle to defend them. He was forthright and downright honest.Many saw him as brutally frank and unprivacatingly stubborn in his quest for the best ideals of democracy, a position that earned him not a few adversaries.
Born at Mgbidi in the present Oru West local government area of Imo State, NzeUmunnah did not choose politics. In fact politics chose him. A born fighter and activist, he was always restless in search of justice and equity for his people. Even when the word marginalization had not assumed political currency, NzeUmunnah knew that the people of Orlu Senatorial Zone were not getting their fair share from even the old Imo State.
It was not surprising therefore that he was one of the Statesmen who gave birth to the famous Imo Charter of Equity that prescribed the rotation of governorship of the state among the three zones of Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri effective 1999.
As a man who had been elected twice to the State House of Assembly, he knew the deprivations suffered by Orlu zone and therefore campaigned vigorously for the enthronement of an Orlu son as the governor of the state.
Instructively when no other notable political leader from across Imo State believed in Chief AchikeUdenwa’s aspiration for the governorship, NzeUmunnah stood behind him like the Rock of Gibraltar. As a man who saw tomorrow, he rallied the entire Imo State to support Udenwa. Against all odds, Udenwa won the election, thus making Umunnah, the political Nostradamus of Imo State.
As Secretary to the State Government from 1999 to 2006, NzeUmunnah not only proved his mettle as an astute administrator but became the engine room of the administration. In fact some called him the alternate Governor because of the influence he wielded. His office was not only the clearing house for all appointees, but he leveraged on it to empower young people who today owe their political successes to him.
Without casting him in the mould of an Orlu irredentist, Umunnah ensured that the years of marginalization of the zone were redressed, especially in the civil service which was then dominated by people from other zones. It is also to his credit that some Orlu sons who were languishing abroad with shattered hopes were brought back and rehabilitated. Naturally, these audacious moves of his became a source of antagonism against him, particularly from politicians outside Orul zone. But it nonetheless made him the most dreaded and most talked about politician in Imo state. It so happen therefore, that the fear of Umunnah, became the beginning of political wisdom in Imo State then.
As a man of character and great conviction, Umunnahremained undaunted and instead forged new alliances, not for one day losing sight of the political battles ahead. Incidentally one of his greatest faults was actually his strength. He trusted easily and forgave quickly. He believed in second chances. Enemies lasted only as the present battle was fought while friends were retained and sustained for the future.
But unlike many of our politicians who compete with the chameleon in changing parties, Umunnah was consistent and fiercely loyal to his beliefs. Again he saw politics only as a means to better the lives of his people and not for pecuniary gains. Even with the powerful position he held between 1999 and 2006, he did not amass wealth, which perhaps account for why he left no visible wealth at the point of his death. Yes for all practical purposesNzeUmnnah was not just honest, and uncorrupt, he was almost incorruptible.
Although many would have wished that he lived longer, but this man of vision could be said to have accomplished a major plank of what he set out to do, which is primarily the political liberation of Orlu people. A man who successfully raised political children in not just Orlu zone but Imo state certainly lived a fulfilled life. His legacies of selfless service will continue to inspire the generation yet to come.
It is not an accident that he died in active service;trying to contend with the latest political challenges that assailed him. If he would have any regret on his dying bed, it could only be that he could not conclude that battle. But as the saying goes there is so much to do in life with little time to accomplish them.