Born on March 20, 1964, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, to the glory of God, today clocks 54 years. Today’s anniversary, no doubt, calls for celebration and thanksgiving to the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and the awesome God of David, for His mercies and kindness to the man of the moment, who hardly commences any engagement without giving Him “due glory, honour and adoration.”
The occasion reinvigorates the governor’s commitment to charity and almsgiving, a constant moral obligation in appreciation of God’s goodness and amazing grace to him as “Nwaogbenye.” The nucleus of the event is, therefore, anchored on the wellbeing of the poor and underprivileged in the society with every sense of divinity and patriotism.
It is common knowledge that during this annual ritual, Ugwuanyi, in his usual style, has always maintained an anonymous breath of love, care, solidarity and compassion with the lowly and downtrodden through his philanthropic gestures. The governor’s bite of philanthropy, which knows no bounds, has remained the fulcrum of his success story and the nexus between him and God.
Re-echoing his disposition towards alleviating the sufferings of the people, which he has always ascribed as the greatest objective of government, Ugwuanyi has continued to make a date with history through charity and uncommon leadership style.
Easily given to kindness and compassion towards sharing in the pains and sufferings of the lowly and vulnerable, the governor, in the spirit of the Lenten Season and in keeping with his long-held tradition, had always urged those who intended offering him birthday gifts “to channel them to charity homes and orphanages in appreciation of God’s mercies and kindness.” He had also expressed aversion to marking the occasion with public activities.
As an unassuming leader, a God-fearing and adequate personality whose wealth of experience, dint of hard work, intellectual ability, milk of human kindness, humility, simplicity, benevolence and penchant for peace and good governance have continued to endear him to the people, Ugwuanyi’s swelling popularity and transformational mark in the socio-economic and political gamut of Enugu State and the country at large stand him out as an epitome of success, emblem of unity and a great achiever.
The governor is so much loved and admired by the people to the extent that the avalanche of goodwill, acceptance and tremendous support he enjoys from all spheres of society have remained unbeatable in the annals of the state. He earned this feat through his open-door policy, inclusive leadership and close contact with the commoners on the streets, who are always touched and honoured by the rare privilege of meeting, seeing, feeling and interacting with their governor.
Having enjoyed similar goodwill from the people during the 2015 governorship election as a result of his sterling leadership qualities, one is glad to note that the governor, in less than two and half years in office, received a gale of spur-of-the-moment commendations for his good works and uninfluenced endorsements for re-election in 2019 from virtually all spheres of the society such as the leaders of religious institutions, chieftains of opposition political parties, the state workforce, traders and artisans, among others.
Consequently, one, therefore, appreciates with all sense of objectivity the tremendous achievements of Ugwuanyi in Enugu State, which have entrenched peace and good governance in spite of the nation’s daunting economic challenges. He has maintained his long-standing path to vision, integrity, inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and prudent management of the state’s lean resources. His milestone feats in the provision of massive critical infrastructure across the state; rural development; qualitative and affordable education and health care delivery; regular payment of workers’ salaries and pensions; innovative and robust investment drive; peace and security; empowerment, and agricultural revolution, among others, are not only enduring and unprecedented, they have impacted positively on the lives of the people, especially rural dwellers, rekindling their confidence in participatory democracy.
For instance, the governor’s passion for the wellbeing of the people, especially the lowly and the forgotten, saw to his administration’s paradigm shift of development from urban centres to the rural areas to ensure that long-neglected communities in the state feel the positive impact of governance.
In this regard, it is on record that Gov. Ugwuanyi has executed landmark road projects in the rural areas and satellite towns, where the majority of the people reside, than in the urban. Interestingly, road projects are on-going in these areas, such as Abakpa-Nike, Emene, Eha-Amufu, Amurri, Akpugo, Coal Camp, Ngenevu and Iva Valley, among others, while more road contracts are being awarded seamlessly to improve the living standard of residents and give them a sense of belonging.
In view of the above, it is also on record that the state government has spent over N40 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the state in the last two and half years, covering over 240 kilometres.
A few weeks ago, Ugwuanyi flaunted his commitment to ensuring that meaningful development reaches every nook and cranny of the state with the disbursement of N2.25 billion to 450 autonomous communities, as the first tranche of the N10 million earmarked for every community in the state to execute development projects of their choice.
The uniqueness and excitement of the scheme, christened: “One Community, One Project,” the first of its kind in the history of the state, are that the choice of the projects and their execution were left entirely to the discretion and at the disposal of the stakeholders of each individual community, according to their peculiar and immediate development needs.
According to the governor, the decision was also in fulfillment of his administration’s promise to promote participatory democracy and extensive rural development in the state as well as the active involvement of all local communities in the implementation of government policies and programmes.
Recently, his administration re-launched the state’s Traders Empowerment Scheme with an annual bumper package of N120 million instead of the previous N60 million, representing double the amount at the inception of the scheme, to assist the traders in the state grow their various businesses.
In the repackaged scheme, 200 genuine traders will now win N10 million every month at N50,000 each as against N5 million for 100 traders in the last scheme. Again, 17 other markets were added to the existing 37 to ensure that the empowerment scheme reaches out to every nook and cranny of the state for more winners to benefit, accordingly.
As a compassionate leader, Ugwuanyi was recently commended by not only the Nigerian Army but also the ex-servicemen in Enugu for his N19.6 million empowerment grant to 96 widows of fallen heroes residing in the state to assist them start businesses of their choice to ameliorate their sufferings.
Extending his wings of magnanimity, the people’s governor, a few weeks ago, upon receiving the sad news of the fire outbreak at the Kenyatta Timber Market, Enugu, had to end the meeting of the State Executive Council to visit the site and ensure that adequate intervention was made to put out the inferno. The governor did not stop at that, within an interval of two days, he visited the market for the second time, and directed the immediate rebuilding of the affected 72 shops with a promise to assist owners of the shops with the sum of N7.2 million to enable them restart their businesses, saying: “I am here to wipe away your tears.”
It is also noteworthy that the governor’s wife, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, has been supportive and has remained in the vanguard propelling her husband’s philanthropic gestures into the hearts of the poor and the less-privileged through her pet project, Ugo Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF), designed to assist indigent members of society, especially women, children, the aged and other vulnerable groups attend to some of their basic needs.
• Amoke is the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Enugu State Governor