Recently, the Southeast Governors Forum rose from a closed door meeting in Enugu that lasted for several hours and issued a very strong-worded communiqué on issues affecting the country and Southeast region in particular. The resolutions which appeal to Federal Government to consider, among other numerous requests, the reconstruction of the runway of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, to enhance the safety of air travellers, commends Gov. Ugwuanyi for his numerous timely interventions in addressing recent concerns raised by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in ensuring that the airport remains functional. The forum reiterates its earlier stance that there is no land in the Southeast region for the suspended RUGA settlement programme and resolves to set up a security committee and a centre for Southeast Integrated security monitoring/ intelligence gathering, to be centrally located in Enugu, in response to the emerging security challenges in the Southeast region amongst others.
The communiqué is well-detailed, apt and very timely. It is also uniting and integrating. Now that the Southeast Governors Forum has risen to the occasion by boldly statingtheir readiness and plans to tackle the numerous challenges facing the zone frontally, what will the social media scaremongers, fascists and alarmists, who have consistently peddled falsehood targeted at ridiculing, maligning and impugning the characters and capacities of the governors in the zone, especially as it concerns the suspended RUGA policy and the rising insecurity across the country do? Will they bury their heads in shame and summon courage to right the wrong by tendering unreserved apology to the Southeast governors, especially the humble, taciturn and performing Enugu governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, whom these social media merchants have severely attacked for no just cause?
This is the same Ugwuanyi that got all the accolades and applauses from his colleagues in the Southeast and many prominent Nigerians for his sacrifices and swift response to addressing the numerous challenges at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport that nearly brought about the closure of the airport.These safety challenges at the Airport are not of today, they have been there from time immemorial, but successive governments left them unattended.
Even when the airport was upgraded during the last administration, it was not properly and professionally done to meet international standards. This is despite the millions of naira that was expended on the project. These are bare facts. But Ugwuanyi being a responsive leader understands the implications and consequences of the airport being closed down by the Federal Government. That was the reason he quickly deployed the state’s meager financial resources to address some of the challenges in order to the keep the airport operational and safe, pending when the Federal Government will holistically address the challenges bedeviling the airport.
It is of note that closing down the airport is like closing down the aviation economy of the Southeast region. This is considering that Enugu airport is the only international airport in the Southeast region, after more than four decades of the country’s independence. So by extension, closing the airport down by any means will amount to a dog taking the food of a child who is crying that the food given to him is too small. So, in the spirit of fairness, it is time the Federal Government addresses the challenges at Enugu airport, instead of threatening Igbos with its closure.
Frankly speaking, Ugwuanyi deserved more than the accolades his Southeast colleagues showered on him at the end of their last meeting. Enugu is the capital of the old Eastern region, East Central state and old Anambra state. It is to the Igbos what Lagos is to the Yorubas and Kaduna/ Kano to the Hausas. This simply means that failure of leadership in Enugu will be catastrophic for the entire Southeast region.
Ugwuanyi by his people-oriented policies and programmes since assuming office has clearly shown that he understands what is expected of his government and the pivotal place of Enugu in the affairs of the country in general and the Southeast zone in particular. That is why Ugwuanyi has ensured that Enugu State remains the most peaceful state in the country. This is despite the isolated cases of crime in the state in recent times, which is naturally expected and inevitable in any society, even in the developed countries with all their technologies.
What is of utmost importance and cheering is that Ugwuanyi has read the riot act to the heads of the security agencies in the state and at the same time took a bold step to review the state security architecture for better performance with the planned commencement of aerial surveillance in some flashpoints in the state. This is different from the move by the Southeast Governors Forum to set up a regional joint security team with its headquarters in Enugu.
Meanwhile, it could be observed that isolated crime cases seemed to have resurfaced in Enugu since the change of guard at the State Police Command. The police hierarchy should critically look into this development. This was not the case before now, not even during and after the 2019 general elections. The recent ugly development is worrisome, scaring and troubling. It is hoped some unscrupulous elements are not working with some security personnel to sabotage the prevailing peace in the state.
It is time the security agents in the state, having been given the required and massive support by Ugwuanyi’s administration should live up to expectation, by tackling adequately the rising isolated crimes in the state. They should not only fish out the perpetrators of the crimes, they should be proactive enough to be nipping crimes in the bud. This is because the state by its prominence and economic viability cannot afford to lose its pride and place as the most peaceful state in the country. It is one thing Ugwuanyi cannot afford to toil with at this point, because of its negative effects on the socio-economic affairs of the state and entire Southeast region.
Having closely observed Ugwuanyi’s government since 2015, I have come to the realisation that he is not a governor, who likes making noise in the morning to attract cheap popularity and goes to prostrate before the powers-that-be in the wee hours of the night for selfish favour. He believes strongly in doing things right, rather than saying or writing it right. He is not only his true self in actions and words, he always walk his talk.
There is no doubt that with Ugwuanyi government’s track record of outstanding performance, the recent isolated cases of crime in the state will soon be a thing of the past as the state government is capable of tackling it.
Ibebude, a retired civil servant, writes from Obiagu, Enugu State