From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Managing Director of Enugu State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (EN-RUWASSA), Dr. Okenwa Frank Omeje speaks on what the administration is doing in the area of water, which used to be a serious issue in the state.
What is EN-RUWASSA doing to improve water supply and sanitation in Enugu State?
EN-RUWASSA is saddled with three primary responsibilities of water supply, ensuring sanitation and hygiene and the agency is living up to its billing as far as I am concerned. And big thanks to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has not just ensured enabling environment is there for us to thrive but also granted our request in the most important area of fund. As I speak, we have his approval to execute a N300 million water project in 73 rural communities across the state. The executive council has approved the release of the fund and we have commenced plans for immediate execution of the project.
Since 1999, Enugu State has had two governors. What is your assesment of the Ugwuanyi administration?
Before you do the comparative analysis, you have to consider what is on ground. You have to consider the situation of things at the different point in time. His predecessors served during the era of oil boom, but he is serving at a time the economy of Nigeria is under recession following the fall of oil price in the international market. Some people are of the view that Gburugburu is unlucky to have come in at the wrong time when the economy is bad. Nevertheless, he is not doing badly. To the best of my knowledge, he has effectively offset backlog of arrears of salary and pensions he inherited from his predecessor. Presently, Enugu is ranked alongside states like Lagos, Rivers and Anambra as states that pay worker salaries promptly. In terms of security, I think Enugu is one of the states where residents and visitors sleep with their two eyes closed. And if you are in Enugu, you will discover that the level of electricity supply has tremendously improved. Furthermore, under recession Ugwuanyi is constructing worldclass roads across the three Senatorial zones in the state. The number of roads he has constructed so far is higher than what his predecessors did all altogether. You talk about Nsukka-Opi road with dual carriageway, the 9th Mile bypass, the rehabilitation of 9th Mile-Obollo Afor – Makurdi road, reconstruction of old Enugu Oji River – Awka – Onitsha road, reconstruction of Nike road and many others. Few weeks ago he approved a huge amount of money for the rehabilitation of Ajali Water Scheme for adequate provision of water to the people Oji River and Nsukka axis. He is doing all these under recession coupled with the fact Enugu receives the least amount of money from Federal monthly allocations to the states. That is why people call him the magic governor. Another area he has done better is in the area of personal dispositions. His humility and passion for justice, equity and fairness is amazing. He is like water that doesn’t have enemy. He is not interested in fighting. All these have made us to declare that Enugu is in the hands of God. What makes the system under Ugwuanyi more robust is that things are working well under recession.
This administration is a complete shift from the old order were fighting had a field day. In Enugu now, there is no iota of financial recklessness as far as the administration of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is concerned. Everything regarding finance is done on top of the table and under due process. Gburugburu as I know him, is a good financial manger because that is his area of specialisation. He has enough experience in financial management both practically and academically. On the issue of nepotism, the governor is working with a system of triangular equilibrium just as his name goes, Gburugburu. No Senatorial zone in the state can raise an eyebrow against his administration to complain about marginalization. If you talk about thuggery, I will also say no because the police are fully in charge and more so like I said earlier Enugu is in the hands of God, so where does thugs come in, how can they operate? No they can’t.
In your observation, has the present administration improved on the economy of the state by first, making the environment conducive for business and secondly attracting investors into the state?
Yes, you remember that at the outset of his administration he set up an economic team and followed it up by organising what looked like a global economic summit in Enugu. I’m sure we have reaped some benefits from the committee and the summit. Not long ago a team of foreign investors from the United States of America were in Enugu for negotiations on how to invest in agro business. So, investors come here and the most interesting thing like I said earlier is that there is adequate security in the state and to the best of my knowledge there is nothing like overbloated or excess taxation or imposition of levies.
For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, Enugu is now in the opposition party, how has this impacted the state?
I would rather say positively because it has brought the best out of the state. Being in opposition is like making a hard budget of deficit. In budget we have surplus, balanced and deficit. When you have budget of surplus it makes you lazy. When you have balanced budget you work on average rate but when it is on the side of deficit, you work harder to meet up with the challenges lying before you. So being on the side of opposition has made the present administration to work harder and we are seeing the good results on ground. Enugu is faring better than most states that are under the ruling party. Going by the massive commendations being accorded Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration from eminent Nigerians like the Sultan of Sokoto and others, there is enough evidence to prove that being in opposition has no negative impact on Enugu State.