Way back in 1979, coursing through 1983, former President Shehu Shagari had formed the Federal Government at the centre on the platform of National Party of Nigeria (NPN). At that time, the present-day Enugu State was part of the former Anambra State, made up of the present-day Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states.
Operating under a struggling opposition, the administration of that defunct Anambra State had waded successfully through the federal might of the day to produce Chief Jim Nwobodo as the governor on the platform of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP). Nwobodo had brought with him a charming popularity that made him a household name within the defunct Anambra State.
This overriding popularity notwithstanding, when he ran for a second term in office, he lost to former Governor Christian Chukwuma Onoh. At that time, it was a fight to the finish.
After the Nwobodo-Onoh saga, with the latter’s administration being cut short by another rude military interruption in democratic rule, former Governor Okwesilieze Nwodo was elected in an election midwifed by the military regime of former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, in 1991. Nwodo was governor of a new Enugu State after the present-day Anambra State was created out of the old Anambra State.
To become governor, he slugged it out with Chief Gbazuoagu Nweke Gbazuoagu, who ran on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) against Nwodo’s National Republican Convention (NRC). The election was marked by intense ethnic colouration, as Nwodo, coming from the Nsukka stock, which had remained the underdog in the politics of the day decades after Nigeria’s independence, carried the day.
Nwodo’s administration was also cut short in 1992 by the military, which dissolved all the civilian administrations in the country and took charge of government at all levels. It was rather a long interregnum of military rule.
By the time government was returned again to the civilians in 1999, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani won the election to govern present-day Enugu State. In the beginning, it was a smooth ride but, shortly after, the bubble burst between him and his political godfathers, chief among them were Chief Jim Nwobodo and Senator Ken Nnamani, not to mention several other leaders, especially the politically active members of the Nwodo family.
The cookies continued to crumble the more till 2007, when Nnamani handed over to former Governor Sullivan Chime, a lawyer and son of former federal cabinet member. Chime took over from his political godfather in whose cabinet he served as attorney-general. Within that period, he sharply parted ways with his predecessor. In short, Nnamani worked hard to thwart Chime’s second term bid when he floated a political party, People for Democratic Change (PDC) and sponsored a candidate to take over from Chime, albeit unsuccessfully.
At the end of his administration, Chime himself threw his weight behind the present governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Three years have gone by, but there is no known open or covert dispute between him and Chime. Though his predecessor has dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) allegedly to seek refuge in the now ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Ugwuanyi has continued in his unique governance style of making all the people of the state his subject indeed.
Leaders, political, community and opinion, are in good relationship with the governor, who has meritoriously earned for himself a widely acclaimed image of a man of the people. Indeed, for the first time in the history of Enugu State, the people have got a governor who is for all. In fact, that is why on this commemorative day, we serve you the different imageries of Governor Ugwuanyi fresh as they came from the people within and outside the state.
Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, is from Anambra State and he recently assessed the situation thus: “I don’t know how many of you who came from outside. As you passed through Opi junction descending down Nsukka, you would think you were in some parts of Europe. And I know how that road used to be in the past. Some people who live in Enugu State told me that kidnapping is no more; it’s gone.
Security is now there in Enugu State. They are the fundamentals the entrepreneurs require to even begin to set up shops. So, I thank Gov. Ugwuanyi for making Enugu State safe for investment.” Soludo spoke at the university town of Nsukka recently.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode: “Irrespective of party affiliation, development is development and progress is progress and the whole thing is more about being people-oriented and we give God all the glory that there are still people who can prove that there is good governance in Nigeria.”
Former Governor of old Anambra State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Jim Nwobodo: “I’m here because Gov. Ugwuanyi is the governor of all the political parties. I don’t talk about the governor when it comes to politics because he has surprised everybody. He has done so well and has united everyone. He has conscience.”
Former Minister of Power, Prof. Bath Nnaji, a known political leader in Enugu State: “Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is doing marvelously well in construction of roads despite the lean resources of the state, and has provided security, pays salaries, among others. Many investors are now coming because Enugu is a place you can sleep with your two eyes closed.”
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in a recent terse assessment in Enugu: “Gov. Ugwuanyi has utilised IGR to transform Enugu.”
The Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, has also given the governor pass mark on security: “Governor Ugwuanyi’s support has earned Enugu the status of the most secure state.”
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus: “There is absolute peace in Enugu State and remarkable achievements recorded by Gov. Ugwuanyi. We are very happy with your leadership style and good performance. Enugu State governor deserves to be emulated. Nigerians are happy with the governor. It is because of states like Enugu that other states will vote for the PDP.”
South East National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Chief Austin Umahi: “Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is a man of peace. He has handed over Enugu State to God and Enugu State is better under his leadership. There is now peace in the state and that is why there is no other political party in the state.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu: “There is peace everywhere in Enugu State. Peace between government and workers; government and national and state assemblies’ members; PDP and APC, among others. Enugu State is the best place to live in Nigeria. That is the reason any person who wants to go to National Youths Service Corps wants to be posted to Enugu State, because of the leadership style of our peace-loving governor.”
Business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze: “I decided to follow Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to this rally because he is a good man. People love him because he is peaceful. I have many friends in APC, but I will support this man. So, I urge you to support him.”
The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. (Dr.) Calistus Onaga: “Gov. Ugwuanyi is a good man and a man to be reckoned with. We are proud of him because he is not a sectional leader. We are praying that God will continue to protect him to enable him to complete the myriads of projects he is embarking upon in Enugu State.”
Former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, an indigene of Enugu State, said: “Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is a visionary and ‘wonderful’ leader whose style of politics is sincere, inclusive and result-oriented.”
State Chairman of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Nonye Enemuo: “The testimonies are already with us that private schools in Enugu State now produce children who do not just make ‘nine distinctions (A’s) in SSC exam’ but ‘nine distinctions of all distinctions (A1).’ We, therefore, wish to remind you that the reward for a good job is more responsibilities, as we assure you of our unflinching support come 2019.”
Organised labour spoke through the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Enugu State council, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo: “Your administration has, apart from the regular payment of salaries and pensions, paid the outstanding arrears of salaries and allowances owed workers in the state; approved and paid the 13th month salary to workers and teachers in the state and local government areas as Christmas bonus; approved the conduct and release of outstanding promotions, conversions and advancement in the state civil service and recruited about 4,000 primary and secondary school teachers to enhance our educational sector.”
Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Enugu State chapter, Chief Matthew Asogwa: “We have come to put into practice the saying that honour should be given to whom it is due. Your Excellency, the good people of Enugu State, particularly members of our great union, are proud of you for your sustained and untiring efforts at transforming Enugu State to greater heights.
“The union wishes to assure you that we are solidly behind you and we are going to deploy all machinery in motion to ensure the realisation of the theme of this rally, ‘One Good Term Deserves Another.’”
You can see from the foregoing that Governor Ugwuanyi is set to have a smooth ride in his second term bid.
•Abugu is Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ugwuanyi