For better appreciation of the good works of Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in Enugu State, it would be rational to assess its stewardship from the standpoint of the nation’s economic adversities when the governor took over the mantle of leadership in May 29, 2015.
When the governor assumed office, the country was in recession and confronted with various degrees of economic challenges as a result of drastic drop in the crude oil prices, which adversely affected the state’s allocations from the federation account.
This recurring decimal of paucity of funds, coupled with the inherited debt profile and other huge wage bills to be serviced, no doubt posed serious threat to the speedy actualisation of the government’s well-thought-out vision for the people of the state as contained in its four-point agenda.
Enugu State was among the worst hit, considering that it is third from the bottom of the revenue allocation chart from the federation account and predominantly a civil service state with high expectations for socio-economic expansion borne out of its enviable status as the historical capital of the Eastern region, old Anambra State, old Enugu State and capital of the present Enugu State.
The nation’s economic challenges then was so bad that 27 states, Enugu State excluded, could not pay workers’ salaries, not to talk of embarking on capital projects. The era of sharing of excess crude oil funds which enabled past governments at the state and local government levels to execute sundry capital projects became a thing of the past as the governors resorted to bailout funds from the federal government to enable them to meet up the basic pressing needs of paying workers’ salaries and execution of projects, among others.
But, Gov Ugwuanyi in his wisdom, sheer dexterity and passion for wellbeing of the people as well as rapid development of the state, remained undaunted in his vision to build Enugu State of the founding fathers’ dreams – to deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment.
In actualising the lofty dreams, the people’s governor, constituted a 15-man Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee headed by Msgr Obiora Ike, to advise his administration on the best policies that would engender sustainable economic growth to lead the state out of the nation’s economic crunch, through restructuring, re-engineering and reinvigoration of the state’s economy.
The innovative approach gave birth to the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit christened “Oganiru Enugu State”, which was successfully organised to showcase the economic potentials of the state and woo investors.
Recently, the World Bank Group rated Enugu State as the second most advanced state in Nigeria towards the frontier of global good practices with regards to Ease of Doing Business.
On workers’ salaries which was a major puzzle for most states, the story is quite different in Enugu State as workers continue to receive their pay on the 23rd of every month, even when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. The state government last year paid the 13th month salary to its workers as Christmas bonus and also pays the pensioners on or before the end of the month.
At the peak of all these challenges, execution of capital development projects were going on speedily across the three senatorial districts, coupled with state government’s swift interventions on failed sections of federal roads in the state.
On rural development and good governance, Gov Ugwuanyi’s administration, in line with its vision to create direct positive impacts on the lives of the masses, the long forgotten and neglected, channeled the bulk of its development projects to the rural areas – a clear and systematic departure from the past when most major achievements were concentrated in the urban areas.
Three months into his administration, Gov. Ugwuanyi spearheaded the massive development of urban and rural roads across the three senatorial districts of the state: in Emene, Abakpa-Nike, 9th Mile Corner and Nsukka – a University town founded over half a century ago and the second largest town in the state, among other satellite towns.
Shortly after, his 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.
Today, we have the N10 million “one community, one project” scheme, which has also recorded huge success in expanding development to the frontiers of the rural areas – an initiative that has made it possible for communities to decide their priority projects, ensuring that areas that never experienced any government presence benefited, accordingly.
All these were going on as completion of works on projects started by the previous administration were given adequate attention, such as the state-of-the-art Enugu State Diagnostic Centre, (now completed) the first of its kind in the South East geo-political zone, established to create hospital chains to make Enugu the preferred destination for receiving high quality and affordable healthcare delivery in the country.
Numerous development projects have also been executed in the urban areas, such as the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mount Crescent, GRA, Enugu; Orofia Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Dental School – Tipper Garage road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Loma Linda- Timber Shed road, Maryland, Enugu; Nwafia Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mbanefo Street, New Haven, Enugu.
Others include, the Secretariat Road, G.R.A, Enugu; Court Avenue by new State Secretariat, Enugu; Ibuza Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Isi Uzo Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Owerri Road and Poly Clinic Road, Asata, Enugu; Renovation of the Enugu State House of Assembly Complex and rehabilitation and re-asphalting of the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, and a host of others. A lot of new projects scattered in the state are ongoing and more contracts are been awarded to improve the people’s standard of living.
Not too long ago, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration ensured that Enugu State had additional five new state-of-the-art fire service stations across the three senatorial, districts after 56 years three stations were built in the state, then Eastern Region.
The government has consistently been maintaining roads built by past administrations and has equally engaged 1000 youths under the Enugu Clean Team Project to clean up the state to enhance and sustain its rating as one of the healthier and cleanest cities in the country, among other landmark achievements. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
—Amoke writes from Enugu State