By Fred Itua
A lawyer and stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Enugu State, Mr Charlie Agbo in this interview spoke on the achievements of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the six years he has been at the helm of affairs in the Coal City state?
How would you assess the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, six years on the saddle?
Well, six years down the road, I would say that he has done well for the people of Enugu State.
Could you elaborate?
Let me start with road infrastructure. Take a look at Miliken Hill, that historical road which over the decades has portended very grave risk to road users has not only been given the best engineering lift possible but has added to the aesthetic ambience of Enugu, thanks to Governor Ugwuanyi.
Look at the Nike-Emene road. That road tore through Enugu from the Northern axis of Nike to the Eastern side of Emene. Most indigenes of the state are astounded by the scenery as they drive through the road, practically rediscovering Enugu. The impact of that road is far-reaching. Not only does it open up hitherto hidden crevices to modernity, but gives practical access to the metropolis. It is the power of foresight because without that road, the new initiative of the governor to decongest Nike would have been impossible.
That brings us to the flyover. The governor ordinarily is wary of fly overs because he sees them as too costly and largely cosmetic. But the nod he gave to this flyover is in the right direction. Since the new gateway to and from Enugu northwards is now Nike, the attendant gridlock in the road is thwarting its positive objective. A flyover has therefore become not only desirable but inevitable.
Look at Opi-Nsukka road. That road with its very long history has finally been addressed. A world-class road; its professional engineering is a testimony to purposeful governance. The people of Nsukka and Enugu State at large should be grateful to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for this achievement.
Look at Nike-Isi- Uzo road. It is a showcase of the power of road infrastructure. Most commuters now use the road en route the North because it bypasses Opi Junction. And the access it gives to road users to the Northern axis of the state is unbelievable. Thanks to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. It should simply suffice to say that he has excelled in road infrastructure because if we begin to reel out the roads littered all over the local government areas, we may end with roads only.
The entire country is engulfed in security crises. How would you assess his administration in the area of security? Would you say the governor is meeting the challenge of insecurity?
I think that the entire country is engulfed in an unprecedented level of insecurity. But Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has made strides that have seen Enugu in comparatively better state than other South Eastern states. His creation of Forest Guards has made nonsense of those troubling cases of kidnapping at the Awgu side of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway and across the state. This he complimented with hundreds of operational vehicles to all the security forces in Enugu State and the able-bodied guards themselves thereby taking security down to every ward in the state.
Would you say the same for the governor in education, housing, health etc.?
Let me try to take them in the sequence you presented them. I think that the government is doing a lot in all the levels of education in the state. At the tertiary level, all the institutions under the care of the government are receiving proper attention in terms of physical and infrastructural development. Right under our nose there in the Institute of Management and Technology, physical developments are on-going and same goes for Enugu State University of Technology and other higher institutions in the state. Almost all the courses of study have received full accreditation from the relevant regulatory bodies due to prompt release of funds by the government. IMT prior to the coming of this administration never had convocation ceremony for so many years due to several logistical difficulties. Governor Ugwuanyi has consigned that to the past.
At the primary education level, schools in Enugu are looking up. Teachers are recruited, trained and retrained. ENSUBEB has built and/or renovated over 480 classrooms over the last six years. Educational equipment, computers and other instructional material are provided. Schools are being given very serious face lift, making them conducive for our children to study in. The government is also augmenting with the collaboration beween ENSUBEB and UBEC to fund educational development. This it does by prompt payment of counterpart funding to access needed funds.
In housing, this government ranks among the best Enugu State has had since inception. If you remember, in 2016, the governor handed over one-bedroom apartment each to 100 civil servants who were successful in a ballot for houses in Elim Estate. That was no mean feat so soon after inauguration and at a time the country was neck-deep in recession.
In just one year in office, his administration had developed six new housing estates. They are Heritage Estate, WTC Estate, Transparency Estate, Rangers Estate 1&2, Citadel Estate and Valley Estate. Since then we have had Diamond Estate, Golf 2. Nsukka Palm Beach Estate, Obukpa, Network Estate Nike, Heliu Residences and now Coal City View Satellite Estate for 750 civil servants. Enugu State Housing Development Corporation is in partnership with private developers for this purpose. The list is endless. There is even one on the Port Harcout Expressway which name just escaped my memory. Its incredible.
How has he faired in sports development?
I believe the state is doing well in sports generally. It is an area well hit by COVID 19. But even at that, in football particularly, Governor Ugwuanyi is a jinx breaker. What he did with Rangers International football Club underscores this appellation. For instance, while the fans of the legendary club were still basking in the euphoria of winning the Nigeria Professional League trophy for the 2015/2016 football season, the club added another feather to its cap with the 2019 AITEO/Federation Cup which had eluded the club for 35 years. Could there be a better imprimatur of success?
Some governors have reshuffled their cabinet as part of getting ready for their last lap. Don’t you think Governor Ugwuanyi should follow suit?
Ugwuanyi’s talisman for very stable government I have long established is tenure stability. His aides seem to have at the back of their minds the psychological safety of their terms. This is important. If you remember, in the 70s, 80s, and even in the First Republic, there used to be tenure stability in government. Functioning in a peaceful atmosphere guarantees productivity. There are governors who have changed aides several times over. Functioning under an unstable tenure does not get the best from aides because they look over their shoulders and expect to be shown the way out the next day.