In 2015, the people of Enugu State elected Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the third executive governor . In this piece OMONU NELSON examines his three years at the helm of affairs at the ‘Coal City State.’
Democracy is so called because it affords the people the right to choose those to lead them, in a free and fair ballot. The good people of Enugu State, South East Nigeria, demonstrated the power of democratic choice, when they voted massively in the 2015 general election to elect Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the 3rd executive governor of the coal state (Enugu State).
In politics, political power is not an end in itself, rather, a means to an end, and the end of political power is “Greatest Happiness to Greatest Number.” Gov Ugwuanyi have since stepping into the ‘Lion Building’, as Enugu State Government House is fondly called, demonstrated that governance should be about the wellbeing of the people. With diligent application of leadership with character, consultations and selflessness leadership, Gov Ugwuanyi has been able to turn the leadership narrative and development paradigm in the state. This is made possible because the governor came, armed with the two essential elements that drives purposeful leadership, which is vision of what a leader wants to do with power, and passion for the people.
Driven by the vision and passion to stamp his feet on the sands of time, Gov Ugwuanyi pledged in his inaugural speech before mammoth crowds at the Michael Okpara square that, “I will embark on an aggressive infrastructural development across the state, especially, in the rural areas, where the majority of the people resides.” Three years down-the-line, the governor has successfully broken the jinx of ‘promise and fail’ by politicians and have by so doing, proven himself worthy of being trusted.
One of the strategic leadership approaches, Gov Ugwuanyi adopted, that has translated to a huge success story, is integrated and sustainable development. One of the far cries of the past leadership approaches, that have complicated development initiatives in our clime, is the inability of successive governments to simultaneously carryout urban and rural development; so that, in the short and long term, it will discourage rural-urban drift, which has characterized Nigeria’s development narrative, since the 70’s.
To breathe life into his vision to simultaneously transform the state, at both urban and rural levels, Gov Ugwuanyi decided to strike the iron, when it was still hot by constituting a committee on Enugu State Urban Renewal to review and identify locations that would witness infrastructural development as a matter of priority. The committee consulted widely and recommended Emene, Abakpa Nike, 9th Mile Corner and Nsukka – a University town founded over half a century and the second largest town in the state, among other satellite towns for immediate attention.
Again, to have vision and passion for the people is one thing; another is the ability to scup or mobilize resources towards attaining the set objectives in the face of dwindling economy. That is what differentiates deft leaders from ineffective ones. For the records, the Gov Ugwuanyi led administration came into office at a time Nigeria was going through its worst economic crunch. But, despite the lean resources and its financial status as third from bottom of the Federation allocation chart, Gov Ugwuanyi has wrought undeniable development in every local government, and corners of urban centres around Enugu State. The enhanced and bubbling economic activities in the state today, bear eloquent testimony to his transformational magic wand.
As a deft financial expert himself, Gov Ugwuanyi’s government has been severally rated and commended by institutions like the senate on the judicious utilization of the Bailout funds; the BudgIT report, which listed Enugu, Lagos and Rivers as the only three states out of the 36 states of the federation that have fulfilled obligations to their workers. Also recently, the Economic Confidential magazine passed a verdict that listed Enugu among the seven states that are solvent with impressive over 30 per cent Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to fund additional economic activities.
The state was also adjudged to be the fifth most competitive state in Nigeria, according to the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria; the third most debt sustainable State in Nigeria; the first state in Nigeria to publish its Audited State Final Account for consecutive three years; first in the South East geo-political zone and ninth in the country based on IGR as against Federal Allocation; one of the twelve states in Nigeria that can survive without federal allocations, among others.
For majority of the people of the state, especially the down trodden, whose tears the governor’s actions have turned to celebration, Gov Ugwuanyi is a God-sent.
The marked evidence of Gov Ugwuanyi’s leadership capacity is in the fact that, while more than 27 states are unable to regularly pay their workers’ salaries, the Enugu government is not only paying salaries and allowances, but involved in massive development of urban and rural roads across the three senatorial districts of the state. In keeping with his vision and passion to make life more meaningful for his people, Gov Ugwuanyi, within three months of his inauguration, simultaneously flagged off construction and rehabilitation of over eight massive road projects in 9th Mile Corner, Nsukka, Abakpa Nike and Emene, among others.
Also, in line with his vision for a sustainable and integrated development, the administration also paid priority attention to rural development agenda, along with the urban renewal programme. Gov Ugwuanyi’s administration simultaneously executed 35 grassroots development projects across the 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu State, which ensured that every council benefited at least one project from the programme.
In our clime, one sore point that has retarded comprehensive development is lack of continuity of projects by successive government. The end of one government marks the abandonment of the projects initiated by it. But Gov Ugwuanyi decided to be different, anchored on the believe that, “Government is a continue.” In this connection, he carried along with the projects he initiated, the projects his predecessors started. Some of the inherited projects that he completed are the state-of-the art Enugu State Diagnostic Centre, the first of its kind in the South East geo-political zone. The new Lion Building Government House, Enugu, with additional works such as landscaping and installation of flood and security lights as well as renovation of the Deputy Governor’s office, Abuja Building, parking lots, and fuel Dump, among others.
One of the greatest crave of most state government today, is the diversification of the economy to depend less on allocation from the Federation Account. Aware of this importance, Gov Ugwuanyi decided to take the bull by the horn by convening the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit christened: “Oganiru Enugu.” This was done to showcase the economic potentials of the state and woo investors. This initiative is beginning bear direct benefits, as a Chinese Investment Company, Lion Business Park Limited, recently entered into a business engagement with the government to establish an industrial market on a 2000 hectares of land located in the proximity of the Enugu Industrial Park – FTZ (ENPOWER Free Trade Zone) at the 9th Mile Corner, Enugu, to be known as Lion Business Park, modeled after the Dragon Market in Dubai.
One of the major commitments to this all-important business venture was the formal presentation of N300 million to three communities of Ogwofia Owa, Enugu Eke and Akama Oghe by the company as agreed compensation for the economic items, on the acquired land for the development of the project under Public Private Partnership (PPA).
In the health sector, Gov Ugwuanyi has in addition to the completion of the Enugu State Diagnostic Centre; under the primary healthcare delivery services constructed and renovated district hospitals and health centres in the state especially in the rural areas such as the Poly Clinic, Asata, Enugu and Udi District Hospital. The state government also recently approved the monthly contribution of N8.5 million as counterpart fund for the Free Maternal and Child Health programme designed to provide primary healthcare to pregnant women at the grassroots and children under the age of five years.
Despite the economic difficulties that Nigeria faced in recent years, with prudence in the management of available resources, Gov Ugwuanyi led government has so far spent over N45 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the state, covering about 300 kilometers. Among these roads are the two 9TH Mile Bypasses in Udi Local Government Area, which now serve as alternative roads for travellers from the Northern parts of the country to Onitsha and western states.
Also, the Opi-Nsukka Dual Carriageway in Nsukka Local Government Area, delivered with the state-of-the-art facilities befitting of a University town; the Nike Lake road and Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Local Government Area. The Imilike Ani-Ezimo Uno- Ezimo Agu-Imilike –Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti-Amalla-Obollo Afor popularly known as Udenu Ring Road. The Holy Ghost-Ogbete Main Market road, Enugu,
In the spirit of the new development paradigm that, “No part of the state will be left unattended, the Agbani-Amurri road in Nkanu West LGA, was constructed for a community that has never experienced any form of development on its land in the past 100 years. The Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road (from Atavu bailey bridge to Afor Onovo), also in Nkanu West LGA, which has a historic and symbolic attraction as the first state government road project in the entire Akpugo zone since the creation of Enugu State.
Also not left out is the Ogbaku road in Awgu Local Government Area (one of the 35 simultaneous development projects) that was constructed on a difficult terrain that is both hilly and undulating. The Ituku road also in Awgu Local Government Area received the attention of Ugwuanyi led government.
The New Market-Milliken Hill-Ngwo- 9th Mile road that now serves as an alternative gateway into the city of Enugu, from Onitsha-Enugu expressway. Two 500-KVA transformers were also provided for the jubilant people of Ngenevu.
To inject life into the economic activities of a long neglected agrarian Eha-Amufu community, in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area, the government is currently reconstruction the 8.8 kilometers Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road, after over 35 years. The Iva Valley road; the Ugbodogwu road, off Phase 6 Trans Ekulu; the Ogwuagor road Abakpa Nike, among other numerous roads in high density areas that have direct, positive impact on the lives of the lowly and underprivileged.
The Ugwuanyi led government recognizes the economic benefits of connecting roads and bridges across the state. The construction of the bridge over Ebonyi River in Isi Uzo Local Government Area is nearing completion and would connect adjoining communities to Ikem, the headquarters of the Council.
The last time three Fire Service Stations were built in Enugu State was 56 years ago, under Eastern Nigeria Regional Government. To demonstrate his concern for safety, Gov. Ugwuanyi is currently constructing five new ultra-modern fire service stations across the three senatorial zones, strategically located in Four-Corner, Ozalla, Nkanu West LGA; 9th Mile Corner, Udi LGA; Orba, Udenu LGA; Oji, Oji River LGA and Ogrute, Igbo Eze North LGA, where the project was recently inaugurated by the governor.
Among the first phase of projects to be delivered by the Ugwuanyi led administration was the Airport Roundabout-Orie Emene- Eke Obinagu road, Enugu East Local Government Area; the Enugu Road (Nsukka) Junction -Nru Junction-University Gate road; the Post Office Roundabout- Odenigbo – Ogurugu road; the Obechara-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction road all in the University town of Nsukka.
In pursuance of Gov Ugwuanyi’s urban renewal programme, the government embarked on massive road construction and rehabilitation. Among the many roads that received attention are the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mount Crescent, GRA, Enugu; the Orofia Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; the Dental School – Tipper Garage road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; the Loma Linda- Timber Shed road, Maryland, Enugu; the Nwafia Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; the Mbanefo Street, New Haven, Enugu; the Secretariat Road, G.R.A, Enugu; Court Avenue, by new State Secretariat, Enugu; the Ibuza Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; the Isi Uzo Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Owerri Road and Poly Clinic Road, Asata, Enugu.
In agreement with the saying that, if we fail to build schools, we must be ready to build more prisons, Gov Ugwuanyi decided early in the life of his administration, to roll up his sleeve to confront the pitiable situation of public education in the state head on! Three years after, a giant stride has been recorded in the education sector. With regular payment of workers’ salaries on 23rd of every month and the recent 13th month salary paid to all civil servants including the Local Government Staff as Christmas bonus, it is also on record that the administration of Gov. Ugwuanyi has within three years in office recruited the highest number of primary and secondary school teachers ever in the history of the state to improve the standard of learning.
The state government within its first year in office constituted an administrative committee on full and proper execution of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) projects, headed by the Deputy Governor, Her Excellency, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo.
The committee in line with its mandate ensured that over 276 primary and secondary classroom blocks were constructed and renovated. The state government also provided 12, 480 writing desks and chairs for primary school pupils in the state and 868 tables and chairs for teachers to improve the standard of learning.
The Enugu State Executive Council (EXCO) recently approved the sum of N2.5 billion for the immediate construction of new class room blocks and renovation of dilapidated structures in both primary and junior secondary schools in the state under the ENSUBEB, totaling 208 in number.
State-owned higher institutions have not been left out. The governor in his concerted efforts to reposition the foremost Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu to transit into a degree-awarding institution, recently approved N810 million in addition to over N200 million expended for upgrade of infrastructure in the institute. The Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT); the Enugu State College of Education Technical (ESCET); and the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo, among others, have also been benefitting from the government’s educational transformation programmes.