Acritical review of the development trajectory of the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Enugu State points to the fact that its governance policy thrust centres on rural development.
Unlike in the previous administrations when development seemed to be concentrated in the urban areas, Ugwuanyi has made giant strides towards advancing good governance and socio-economic development in the rural areas. The governor’s vision is anchored on the fact that the majority of the people reside in the rural areas and pass through queasy experiences in their daily struggles to survive because of dearth of infrastructure and other basic amenities.
Ugwuanyi, as a grassroots politician who values the people and appreciates their worth in a true democratic setting, where power belongs to the people, his decision to focus development on the rural areas is not only apt but also central to the vision and progress of his administration.
As an empathetic leader who feels the pains the people at the grassroots are going through, Ugwuanyi’s development agenda in the rural areas has no doubt given the rural dwellers a sense of belonging and rekindled their confidence in participatory democracy. It has also given credence to his vision to recommit himself “to employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, rural development and indeed, security and justice,” in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
The governor’s grassroots development vision, aimed at taking development to the door steps of the rural dwellers, is not only a paradigm of visionary and all-inclusive leadership, it also draws analogy to his vision 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.”
Consequently, one may not be surprised to note that most of the development projects being undertaken by the present administration in Enugu State, such as construction of roads, bridges and drainages, renovation and rehabilitation of public schools, rural electrification, maintenance of water facilities, healthcare delivery and agricultural projects, among others, are located in the rural areas.
His administration’s vision to open up rural areas for rapid socio-economic growth and link up communities with quality road network, bridges, electricity and other basic amenities, in spite of the daunting economic challenges, is no doubt a sign of good governance and a step in the right direction. The governor has embarked on massive construction and rehabilitation of more roads and bridges in the rural areas than in the urban areas.
For instance, his administration has embarked on the construction of the Inyaba Bridge in Nkanu East Local Government Area of the state, which when completed will link adjoining communities of Uzam -Amaechi Idodo- Inyaba-Umunevo and Amagunze and enable the people of the areas access their council headquarters.
Ugwuanyi’s administration, in the spirit of development, has also opened up the popular 9th Mile Corner with the construction of two by-pass roads (one completed) that will serve as alternative roads to the major road in the area, in order to decongest and allow easy movement of vehicles on the roads, especially during the yuletide.
The same goes for the university town of Nsukka and its environs, where the governor has shown his hand as a pragmatic leader with uncommon zeal and penchant for the advancement of development in the rural areas. As part of its grassroots development initiative, Ugwuanyi’s administration is about to award contracts for the construction of 25 new roads, including three bridges, across the 17 local government areas of the state.
It is also worthy of note that the first project the governor executed few weeks after his inauguration was the 15km Inter-Town-Connection (ITC), 2.5MVA Injection Sub-Station at Ezi-Nze in Udi Local Government Area, which currently supplies electricity to communities in Udi, Uzo-Uwani and Igbo-Etiti local government areas. The project, which was in keeping with the governor’s vision to extend development to the frontiers of the rural areas, will also activate businesses in these rural communities and power the Adada Dam project as well as the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme that has also been in the proverbial pipeline for decades.
Apart from procuring 20 tractors to be hired out to genuine farmers at very low rates, the government recently acquired 750 hectares of land to be distributed to youths and women for use in commercial agriculture in the rural areas. It has made efforts towards the revival and expansion of the Adani Irrigation Scheme as well as the construction of feeder roads and other critical infrastructure in the rural areas that will catalyse agricultural development in the state.
The administration, through the office of the wife of the governor, Her Excellency, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, has embarked on people-oriented programmes aimed at empowering and alleviating the sufferings of the rural dwellers, especially the women.
While achieving these, civil servants in the state still receive their salaries on or before 25th of every month.
Ugwuanyi has, through his grassroots programmes and impetus to champion a new order and paradigm shift in the concentration of development in the urban areas, demonstrated his commitment to paying a special attention to rural development, which he promised the people of the state.
It would be recalled that Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address did promise thus: “Enugu State under us will pay a special attention to rural development because majority of our people live in the rural areas. We will create more urban areas to boost economic growth.
“In line with this, we must equip and modernise Nsukka – a university town founded over half a century ago – to compete with other university towns in attracting technology and knowledge-based businesses and other industrial support ventures, bearing in mind that Nsukka is the second largest town in Enugu State.
“In the same vein, the 9th Mile Corner is a long overlooked economic hub that we need to harness to enjoy the full benefits of our newly acquired status as a Free Trade Zone. We will give attention to these places to speed up urban development, create fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on Enugu metropolis.”
It is, therefore, the responsibility of the public to appreciate and support the lofty vision of Ugwuanyi as he transforms the core of the rural areas into modernity using critical infrastructure. This will greatly aid the people at the grassroots to enjoy the full dividends of democracy.
––Amoke writes from Enugu.