By Louis Amoke
There is no doubt that the indices of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s popularity and acceptance by the people of Enugu State are gathering momentum by the day, with gales of endorsements for his re-election in 2019 from different strata of the society .
For instance, while the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu West and North Senatorial Districts of the state had unanimously endorsed him for second term because of his unprecedented achievements in just two years in office despite the severe economic challenges in the country, the state’s workers, during a one-day symposium organized by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Enugu State Council, passed a vote of confidence in the governor and asked him to “carry go”.
The most recent was the endorsement by the state’s traders under the auspices of Enugu State Amalgamated Market Traders Association (ESAMATA). The traders at a solidarity rally they organized in appreciation of Governor Ugwuanyi’s entrenchment of good governance and initiation of a unique traders’ empowerment programme, also unanimously endorsed his re-election in 2019, saying that he has “performed creditably in just two years in office despite the daunting economic challenges in the country”.
The traders in an extreme display of their appreciation and support, on that faithful day, shut all the markets in the state and mobilized themselves en masse to the venue of the rally to honour the people’s governor. They were full of gratitude to him for good governance and his uncommon empowerment initiatives borne out of his desire to give traders in the state a sense of belonging and bring them closer to the government as the true heroes of democracy.
These outpouring endorsements, which are in recognition of the governor’s people-oriented programmes aimed at impacting positively on the lives of the people, have gone a long way to give credence to the overwhelming support and goodwill he enjoys from the people of the state.
Announcing the decision to shut the markets, the president general of the association, Hon. Temple Ude, in a statement issued earlier, stated that “the plan to shut down the markets to celebrate Gov. Ugwuanyi was a unanimous decision of the traders in the state”.
Hon. Ude added that the rally will be unprecedented in the history of the state as “all the markets in the state will be shut down on Thursday, June 15, 2017 and all roads will lead to Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, where excited traders will converge en masse to appreciate and celebrate our traders-friendly Governor for his support and good governance”.
He advised residents of the state “to store foodstuffs and other needed items ahead of Thursday”, saying that the rally will offer the traders a unique opportunity to interact with the governor and take far reaching decisions that would further improve their fortunes as well as sustain the progress of the state.
On the empowerment programme tagged “Enugu State Traders Empowerment Scheme”, which was the brain child of the governor flagged off on February 21, 2017, it is pertinent to note that the scheme was one of the policy thrusts of the present administration carefully designed to assist the traders to grow their various businesses for the socio-economic stimulation of the state. It has a package of N60 million annually to be won by 100 lucky winners monthly at N50,000 each through an open raffle draw.
Consequently, 1,200 genuine traders in the state will be empowered annually and as at the moment, 400 traders have so far benefited.
The governor’s vision has remained that winners of the lottery will invest the money into their various businesses to help promote all round economic growth in the state.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration had organized a similar open lottery programme for civil servants in the state from grade levels 1-10, where 100 lucky winners won one unit of one bedroom apartment each at Elim Estate, Enugu, with the state government paying over 50 per cent equity contribution – a landmark feat that saw 100 lucky civil servants become proud landlords in the state.
At the well attended rally, the elated traders immediately Gov. Ugwuanyi arrived the venue, took to their dance steps praising and cheering him to a loud ovation as he walked round with other dignitaries to appreciate and acknowledge the cheers from them.
It was indeed an enduring encounter between “a governor and his people”, as the excitement that exuded from the jubilant crowd was a reality of the governor’s swelling popularity and acceptance.
The rally was also a demonstration of unwavering support, love, goodwill and solidarity as the traders could not hide their enthusiasm for the governor’s good works in the state and his kind thoughts for them, saying that his administration “is most favourable to traders doing business in Enugu State”.
In his address, Hon. Ude stated that the traders are very happy and at home with Gov. Ugwuanyi for his visionary leadership and the empowerment programme initiated by his administration, adding that “the idea was to stimulate the economy of the state as well as alleviate the sufferings of the people”.
The president general applauded the cordial relationship existing between the governor and traders in the state, saying that it “is equal to none when compared to other states in Nigeria, especially in the south east states”.
Expressing their desire for the governor to govern the state beyond 2023, Hon. Ude said: “Your Excellency, no government in the past has ever attempted to establish the existing relationship between traders and government. Traders in Enugu State have resolved that if tenure elongation is democratic, they will sponsor a bill that Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi should be cleared for third term in office. Sir, we are committed to showing loyalty and sacrifice to your government, hence you have done much to traders in Enugu State”.
On security and workers’ welfare, he noted that Gov. Ugwuanyi has created “an enviable security outreach in the 17 local government areas with the establishment and equipping of the Neighborhood watch associations in all the nooks and crannies of the state, and has equally remained regular in the payment of workers’ salaries, disclosing that such feat has gone a long way in encouraging traders to do business in the state”.
“We are convinced that even with the current economic hardship you still positively navigate the affairs of the state for the betterment of the people of Enugu State. We have unanimously endorsed your re-election come 2019”, the president general declared with a loud ovation from the traders.
– Amoke writes from Enugu State