The recent report released by BudgIT, a data-simplifying civic organisation, which listed Enugu, Lagos and Rivers as the only three states out of the 36 states of the federation that could fulfil obligations to their workers, was not only a remarkable feat for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State. it was also a demonstration of his excellent managerial skills to navigate the state through the current economic crunch.
The verdict, which is widely adjudged as objective and based on facts and figures, shows the commitment of the governor towards the advancement of good governance and delivery of his campaign promises to the people of the state despite the current economic recession.
It has also shown the governor’s philosophy of prudent management of the state’s lean resources for the wellbeing of the people through accountability, transparency, financial discipline and application of the best economic practices that would engender sustainable growth and development.
Enugu State is third from the bottom of the federal allocation chart. It is also predominantly a civil service state with high expectations from the people borne out of the long held belief in the expansion of the state’s economic potentials.
It would be recalled that Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address promised to govern by example, to lead a lean government to free up resources and channel them to the real development issues, which include the welfare of the workers of the state. He assured the people that every kobo of the state “will be utilised transparently and in a way that adds value to your lives”.
A critical review of the intricacies of the present administration in Enugu State shows that the governor has made good his promise to lead the state on the path of administrative ingenuity and prudent management of its lean resources. It is pertinent to note that among the three states listed by BudgIT that are still able to meet their recurrent needs, Enugu is the least in terms of federal allocation and internally generated revenue.
As a civil service state, Enugu is not as economically endowed as Lagos and Rivers states, which generate huge resources from commercial activities. Yet, it was able to make the list alongside the two economic giant states – a feat, which many have described as outstanding.
The Ugwuanyi administration, in addition to paying workers’ salaries regularly, has also embarked on massive infrastructural development of the state with some road projects completed for inauguration in December. To alleviate the pains motorists pass through on some federal government roads in the state, the state government recently embarked on rehabilitation of the failed sections of the federal roads along Oji River- Ugwuoba- Anambra State border (by old road) and 9th Mile – Nsukka – Benue State border. This is despite the huge sums of money the federal government owes the state on past rehabilitated roads.
Ugwuanyi says, “This administration cannot sit down and watch road users suffer this much on the roads, hence the need for the rehabilitation.”
The road intervention, which has the backing of the State Executive Council, has equally given credence to the governor’s 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”.
On the vision to take development to the rural areas as part of the grassroots development initiatives to create new urban centres, boost socio-economic activities, create employment opportunities and reduce the pressure on Enugu metropolis, Ugwuanyi’s administration only recently flagged off 35 development projects spread across the 17 local government areas of the state. Many of the capital projects and other remarkable feats in various strata of the economy are on-going while the state is still able to fulfil obligations to its workers.
Reacting to the BudgIT’s report, the state chapters of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party applauded Ugwuanyi for his vision, administrative ingenuity and sheer dexterity in prudent management of the state’s resources. They said the BudgIT’s verdict represented the true position of things in Enugu State regarding the manner in which the governor has been managing the resources of the state for the interest of the people.
In a statement jointly signed by the state chairman and secretary of TUC, Comrade Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe and Comrade Ben Asogwa, respectively, the workers said, “it was an exceptional display of quality leadership for the governor to pay salaries regularly and still execute capital projects, despite the current economic crisis in the country.”
The labour leaders added, “For Enugu to be listed alongside Lagos and Rivers as the only states in the federation still able to meet their recurrent needs shows that Governor Ugwuanyi is a visionary leader who is committed to the wellbeing of the people.”
On his part, the state chairman of PDP, Hon. Augustine Nnamani, said the party was not surprised by the BudgIT’s report, stressing, “Ugwuanyi had maintained a culture of financial discipline that has helped his administration to save cost and ensure that its lean resources were adequately utilised for priority issues that would add value to the lives of the people of the state.”
The party urged the governor to remain focused and steadfast in his vision to advance good governance and deliver on his campaign promises in line with the PDP manifesto.
Also commenting on the BudgIt’s report, the Nigerian Labour Congress, during a solidarity rally in commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the slaying of 21 workers who were agitating for better working conditions at the Iva Valley Coal Mine, in Enugu, paid tributes to Ugwuanyi for prioritising the welfare of workers in the state and ensuring that their wages are paid regularly. Describing Ugwuanyi as the man with the magic wand, the NLC’s head of industrial relations and organising department, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboajah, who represented the body’s national president, noted that the accolades Enugu State received as one of three states that are regular in taking care of basic responsibilities to their workers was because the governor was committed to prudent management of resources and welfare of the workers.
Ugwuanyi, who had reassured the people of his resolve to ensure even development of the state, had also attributed the feats his administration to the grace of God and prudent management of the state’s lean resources. From all indications, it is obvious that Ugwuanyi is at his peak in providing the dividends of democracy for the people Enugu State. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
–– Amoke writes from Enugu.