The month of January 2019 will remain remarkable and unforgettable in the annals of the history of Enugu State governor Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. This is because the month was filled with the celebration of excellence, service to humanity, and hard work of the governor.
Ugwuanyi, on assumption of office in 2015, told Ndi-Enugu that he would lead the state on a four-point agenda anchored on employment generation, social services and good governance, rural development, security and social justice.
Ugwuanyi went on to say that he would renew the message of peace, hope and development of Enugu State, and the principles of seamless continuity and consolidation, adding that he was deeply humbled by the mandate given to him to pilot the affairs of the state, noting that with a deep sense of humility and gratitude, he accepted the task of leading the state to an enviable height.
Three and a half years down the line, Governor Ugwuanyi has not only lived up to his promises but has created a new phenomenon in the political atmosphere of the state, which is equity and democracy-dividend driven. The only challenge retarding the comprehensive actualisation of his promises is the dwindling allocation accruing to the state from the federation account. But being a prudent finance manager, Ugwuanyi has been able to judiciously use the allocations to the state since his assumption of office to ride on with the implementation of his four-point agenda.
Despite being the third state in the federation with the poorest allocation accruing to it, Ugwuanyi has been able to construct over 203 roads, bridges and culverts across the 17 LGAs in the state, thereby linking a majority of the rural areas of the state to the state capital in a bid to boost the economy of rural dwellers. This development has equally reduced the rural-urban migration menace and also encouraged investors to site their companies in rural areas of the state, considering that the governor also procured electric transformers across the state which has boosted power supply in rural areas.
In the area of empowerment, the governor has so far empowered over 50, 000 budding entrepreneurs, graduates, traders and widows through skills acquisition, loans and grants aimed at stimulating employment across the state; reduction of crime rate in the state and the country at large.
The governor, who further surprised Ndi-Enugu when he delivered the first tranche of N5million each to all the 458 communities in the state, to enable them to embark on self-identified development projects, promised to deliver the balance of N5m to each of the communities as the economy of the state improves.
While a majority of his colleagues are battling to pay the salaries of their workers, Governor Ugwuanyi has not only maintained consistency in the payment of salaries of workers across the state on the 23rd of every month, including Christmas bonuses, popularly called the 13th month, he has so far employed over 4,500 workers in the education sector of the state, rehabilitated over 1,500 schools and established ICT hubs in 143 of the rural schools.
He has also cleared his administration’s inherited arrears of salaries and pensions in the state’s local government system using the Paris and London Clubs refunds.
In the area of healthcare development, the governor has constructed over 450 health centres, most with doctors/staff quarters that are manned by National Youth Corps medical personnel with an impressive monthly allowance to encourage them to work in rural areas. Free maternal and child healthcare programmes are also effectively being implemented to reduce cases of mother and child mortalities.
In a bid to discourage corruption, he initiated and introduced a robust due-process system that is currently saving the state over N2bn on a monthly basis in the past three and a half years.
The sports sector which was hitherto been neglected has been re-jigged by the administration of Ugwuanyi, with the Rangers International Football Club winning the 2016 Premier League Champions Cup, and the 2018 Aiteo Challenge Cup and currently performing excellently well at the Confederation of African Football Cup competition.
No wonder, in a spate of one month, three reputable media organisations decided to appreciate and honour Governor Ugwuanyi, with the awards of the Sun Governor of the Year Award 2018, the Vanguard Personality of the Year 2018 Award and the Daily Independent Governor of the Year 2018 Award for Grassroots Development.
It is pertinent to state that there are other accolades Enugu State has won since Governor Ugwuanyi was saddled with the leadership of the state, like the Safest and Most Peaceful State in Nigeria (The Nigeria Police); Best State in Efficient Utilisation and Accounting for FG Bailout Funds (Senate Committee on States and Local Governments); Best State on the Use of ICT (National Council on Communication Technology, 2018); Second Most Improved State in Nigeria on Implementation of Ease of Doing Business Programme (The World Bank); Second Most Improved State on IGR Collection, exceeding the 15 per cent tax revenue to GDP benchmark set by the United Nations (JOINT Tax Board), and the 8th Most Solvent State in Nigeria in 2017 (BudgIT).
With the above achievements made by the governor in the past three and a half years of his reign in the state, one would not question what informs the increasing popularity of the governor and why a majority of Ndi-Enugu believe that his re-election bid in the 2019 governorship election in the state is going to be a walkover. This aphorism was recently proved to be a reality when over 83 political parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Enugu State chapter, named Ugwuanyi the Commander of Good Governance and Democracy Dividends in the state, and reassured him of their support.
Governor Ugwuanyi has no doubt shown capacity and preparedness to take the state to greater heights with these tremendous achievements leading to a litany of awards and accolades to him and the state under his reign. It is an indication that the people are happy with his style of leadership and, like Oliver Twist, Ndi-Enugu want some more of his leadership beyond 2019.
Emmanuel Jonathan, JP, a public affairs analyst and Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on New Media Matters, writes from Alor-Agu in Enugu State.
Caption for Pix below: Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi posing with some top management staff of the Sun Publishing Limited and well-wishers after he was bestowed with the Sun 2018 Governor of the Year Award at Eko Hotels & Suites