BY Louis Amoke
It was about 2:25pm on May 29, when Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State mounted the podium at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, to address the people of the state on his one year stewardship. The governor’s address, which was part of the activities marking this year’s Democracy Day celebration, presented a compendium of his achievements so far and made projections into the future on how to continue to advance good governance and guide the state through the current economic realities in the country.
It was, indeed, the scorecard of a worthy and visionary leader, as the governor demonstrated his passion for good governance and commitment to deliver on his campaign promises to the people of Enugu State.
It is on record that Ugwuanyi’s administration has in just one year in office completed six major road projects while over 15 development projects are on-going. The government has also recorded unprecedented feats in other sectors of development in the state. His administration has advertised the award of contract for 25 new roads, including three bridges in the 17 local government areas as part of his administration’s grassroots development initiatives and the exercise is currently at the stage of bidding.
Standing confidently before an array of dignitaries, who came in their numbers to grace the first anniversary ceremony, Ugwuanyi started by paying special tribute to God for the wonderful privilege, favour and mercies that have accompanied his administration since its inception. He appreciated the good people of the state both at home and in the Diaspora for their support, goodwill, cooperation and solidarity, describing them as “the true heroes of democracy.”
One significant thing about the 2016 Democracy Day celebration in Enugu State is that it was the first time an immediate past governor of the state attended the first anniversary of his successor. Former Governor Sullivan Chime was prominent on the roll call of those who witnessed the colourful first anniversary of Ugwuanyi.
While congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari and, indeed, all Nigerians for the attainment and sustenance of 17 unbroken years of democracy, Ugwuanyi stated that the feat “shows our common faith in the progress and stability of our country and our capability to accomplish any goal that we have set our minds upon, despite our differences.”
Ugwuanyi’s Democracy Day address read in part: “Precisely one year ago today, I addressed you for the first time as your governor, and I did proclaim that my divinely appointed mission was to bring good news, message of continued hope, peace and development to our people; to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to every Wawa man caught in the prison of poverty and under-development.
“I promised that we will 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. I said that we will drive with full force, investment promotion, renewal of the agricultural sector, provision of critical infrastructure, human capital development and skills acquisition.
“I also pledged that rather than allow the severe economic recession occasioned by the negative developments in the oil sector deter us from achieving our goals, we will instead, turn the situation into an opportunity to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded and prevented us from exploiting all the while.
“Ndi Enugu, I believe that a critical appraisal of our actions and achievements within this past one year will show that we have not only kept faith with these promises, despite the severe economic difficulties confronting our nation today, we are poised to do even much more.”
After presenting the true picture of the economy, which includes a fall in the monthly allocation to states from the Federation Account to less than 38 per cent of what it used to be, declared, “Notwithstanding these bleak economic realities, we were able to embark on the massive development of urban and rural roads across the state in fulfilment of our promise to create more urban centres, enhance rural access and boost economic activities in every corner of Enugu State.”
On investment promotion, Ugwuanyi told the people, “Enugu State currently occupies a prominent space in the global economic map owing to the resounding success of the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit, which we organised to showcase the economic potentials of the state in line with our promise to vigorously promote investment and pursue the diversification of the state’s economy.” He expressed his confidence that investors would soon take advantage of this great opportunity to do businesses in the state.
On rural and agricultural development, the governor stated that his administration constructed a 15-kilometre Inter-Town Connection (ITC) 2.5MVA Injection Sub-Station at Ezi-Nze, Udi Local Government Area, which currently supplies electricity to communities in Udi, Igbo-Etiti and Uzo-Uwani local government areas. He said the injection sub-station will also activate businesses in these rural communities and power the Adada Dam project as well as the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme, adding that it procured 20 tractors to be hired to genuine farmers at very low rates.
The disclosed that his administration recently acquired 750 hectares of land to be distributed to youths and women for use in commercial agriculture, noting that each beneficiary will be allocated three hectares of land for his or her use in the scheme.
On health sector, Ugwuanyi observed that the sector was already receiving a breath of fresh air. He stated that the state government had continued to sustain its Free Maternal Health and Child Care programme while ensuring the proper equipment and staffing of existing health institutions in the state.
He said his administration was close to completing the ultra-modern medical diagnostic centre in Enugu and arrangements had been made for commencement of the construction of three new specialist hospitals in the three senatorial zones of the state in pursuit of its aspiration to turn Enugu State into the choice destination for medical treatment and medical tourism in the country.
On workers’ welfare, Ugwuanyi said his administration had made the welfare of workers a focal point of attention by ensuring the regular payment of salaries and pensions. He stated that the state government had successfully utilised the bailout fund from the federal government to liquidate outstanding pensions and subventions to parastatals, agencies and departments, adding that the industrial disputes between the government and some of its agencies and their workers have been resolved amicably.
In line with the interest his administration has in the welfare of workers, he noted that electricity, water and other ancillary services at the New Secretariat Complex had been provided. The governor said arrangements were been concluded for the formal hand-over of 100 units of one bedroom flats won through an open lottery system by lucky civil servants for which the state government paid over 30 per cent equity contribution.
On finance and economic development, he said the issue of waste and leakage in governance had been addressed, resulting in a significant increase in the state’s internally generated revenue.
On education, he disclosed that his administration upon assumption of office embarked on a programme for the renovation, rehabilitation and re-equipment of affected schools across the state to ensure that school children and their teachers enjoy a safe and conducive environment for learning.
The governor stated that the government recently approved the release of funds for the execution of N3 billion worth of projects for the renovation of over 276 primary and secondary schools in the state, with the federal government providing 50 per cent of the sum. He added that fruitful efforts had been made to provide and improve infrastructure and facilities in all the state’s tertiary institutions.
On security, the governor said his administration had strengthened safety of lives and through support for the security agencies in the state. The state government donation of 20 new vehicles to the agencies and continues to provide necessary logistics to aid their operations across the state, Ugwuanyi said. He further stated that his administration had reactivated and reinvigorated the neighbourhood watch associations in all communities with a donation of an initial seed money of N100 million.
On sports, he noted that the state government had tried to revive sports and youth development in the past one year, especially the Rangers International Football Club, which has posted an impressive performance.
Ugwuanyi has in the last one year proved that he is a worthy and visionary leader. “The journey has only just begun… remain prayerful and hopeful, for Enugu State is truly in the Hands of God,” he assured.
– Amoke writes in from Enugu.