The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the creation of Enugu State, which took place on August 27 at the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, has come and gone, but the memories of the event will remain evergreen in the minds of the people of the state, especially those who were present at the occasion. The silver jubilee, which commenced with an inter-denominational church service, was indeed a remarkable outing for the state, as it offered the people the opportunity to praise, exult and thank the Almighty God for the journey so far. It also offered the governor of Enugu State, His Excellency, Rt Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwunayi, a veritable platform to pay special tributes to the founding fathers of the state for their struggles and efforts towards the emancipation of the Wawa people from segregation and subjugation of all sorts.
The governor also appreciated the elders of the state who gathered in their numbers at the venue of the event to identify and celebrate the silver jubilee of Enugu State. These elders included the former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani; former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo; former military governor of old Anambra and Imo states, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke (retd); former governor of Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; former military administrator of Gombe State, Group Captain Joseph Orji (retd); and former military governor of Imo State, Navy Commodore Anthony Oguguo (retd).
It is unfortunate to note that the silver jubilee was turned into a mood of mixed feelings following the attack on Ndiagu Attakwu Akegbeugwu community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen, two days to the event.
Before delivering his address, Ugwuanyi noted that it was “a solemn moment for the people of Enugu State as we recall the unfortunate events of last Thursday, the 25th of August, which led to the death of a Catholic Seminarian, Lazarus Nwafor, and severe injuries to four other citizens of this state at Attakwu in Nkanu West Local Government Area.”
The governor told the gathering that the ceremony would have been postponed in deference to the profound feelings of the people of the state, if the arrangement had not been concluded before the sad incident occurred. He said the state government had, however, committed everything into the hands of God, assuring the people that his administration was “doing all that are necessary to ensure that justice is done in this matter.”
Ugwuanyi observed a minute silence in honour of the deceased Catholic Seminarian and prayed for the quick recovery of the injured ones.
It was at this juncture that the governor went into the business of his address. He first expressed gratitude to God for the grace and opportunity to celebrate the 25thanniversary of the creation of Enugu State.
While recalling the excitement and sense of accomplishment with which the people of the state welcomed and celebrated the creation of the state on August 27, 1991, Ugwuanyi noted that the feat heralded a pleasant and much desired end to the long period of agitation by the founding fathers for the creation of a state for the Wawa people of Igboland. He acknowledged the contributions of legends and giants of Nigeria history such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Professor Eyo Ita, Dr. Michael Okpara, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Dr. Ukpabi Asika, Senator Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo and Chief C.C Onoh to the development of Enugu in their respective roles as Premiers, Administrators and Governors of Eastern Region, East Central State and old Anambra State, adding that they were “all precursors to the present Enugu State”.
Ugwuanyi reassured the people that he will continue with the legacies of the founding fathers of the state to inspire it to greater heights, in spite of the daunting economic challenges. The governor recalled his promise in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015 to work in accordance with the ideals and aspirations of the founding fathers of Enugu State to deploy the resources of the state for the common good in face of the severe economic downturn. He added that he has not only kept faith with his promises but also put in place the platform for greater successes.
He also appreciated the contributions of the former governors and administrators of Enugu State, namely: Col. Herbert Obi Eze, Chief Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Navy Captain Temi Ejoor, Col. Mike Torey, Col. Sule Ahman, Navy Captain Adewunmi Agbaje, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan I. Chime.
Ugwuanyi told the gathering that the state was celebrating “the goodness of God, peace, unity and shared prosperity”.
In appreciation of all these, the governor announced the decision of his administration to reconstitute the Enugu State Elders’ Council to provide “the necessary guidance and counsel to ensure the seamless development of Enugu State.”
To further demonstrate his commitment to all-inclusive leadership, he disclosed plans to amend the state’s pension laws to accommodate past civilian governors of the old Anambra and Enugu states and their deputies in recognition of their contributions and services to the state.
On his vision to extend more dividends of democracy to the door steps of the rural dwellers, he reiterated the commitment of his administration to take development to the rural areas as part of its strategy to create new urban areas, boost socio-economic activities, create employment opportunities and reduce the pressure on Enugu metropolis.
Ugwuanyi also pledged to continue to pursue the diversification of the state’s economy through the full exploitation of the vast land resources of the state, particularly in the Nsukka and Greater Awgu areas, for agricultural production.
On the future of the youths, he said that his administration was laying a new foundation for the children as future leaders through extensive youth development policies and the enactment of relevant laws including the Enugu State Child Rights Act, which was recently passed into law by the House of Assembly.
The governor ended his address, thus, “Ndi Enugu, we have committed Enugu State into the hands of God and with Him as our shepherd, we will continue to overcome our challenges and record success in all our endeavours.
“Be assured that the God who brought us here, the God who created Enugu State, will certainly take us to the Enugu State of our dreams in Jesus Name. Amen.
“On a final note, let me once again appreciate the unceasing prayers, support, goodwill and cooperation that we have been receiving from the good people of Enugu State – from the mountains of Udi and Awgu to the elevations of Nsukka and the farmlands of Nkanuland and from our people in the Diaspora. We are truly indebted to you all and I assure you that your sacrifices will never be in vain, in Jesus Name. Amen.”
The ceremony, which was nearly marred by the heinous act of the herdsmen, eventually turned out to be a remarkable experience for the people of the state, especially the elders. They gathered in a warm atmosphere to celebrate and listen to the rhythm of the new anthem of peace, unity and progress as was initiated by their silver jubilee governor, Ugwuanyi. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God!