Areview of the activities of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State in 2016 towards the advancement of good governance and provision of critical infrastructure in the state could not come at a better time. The year under review was no doubt a tough one, considering the adverse effects of the economic recession in the country on the people. It was, indeed, a year many Nigerians, both the rich and the poor, will not forget in a hurry.
In Enugu State, even though 2016 was coarsened by the severe economic hardship in the country, the pragmatic, people-oriented and visionary leadership of Ugwuanyi impacted positively on the lives of the people, especially, through the provision of critical infrastructure and good governance.
The governor’s development trajectory with the meager recourses at his disposal occasioned by the economic meltdown in the country, his peace initiatives and humble disposition have endeared him to the people of the state. His administration has remained focused and steadfast in its efforts to deliver on its campaign promise “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.”
Ugwuanyi during his one year anniversary in office on May 29, 2016, said “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.”
According to him, “it is indeed a very well-known fact that, as a consequence of the nation’s current economic woes, the monthly allocation to states from the Federation Account has fallen to less than 38 per cent of what it used to be.
“Before we came into office, governors used to enjoy access to excess crude fallouts but now, the language has changed to bailout funds. The situation has become so bad that many states are unable to pay salaries and meet other obligations; and when a governor pays salaries, he is applauded and it makes news. The federal government essentially summed up the situation with its recent and solemn declaration that the country is broke.
“However, 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.”
The achievements of Ugwuanyi’s administration in 2016, in the midst of the daunting economic challenges, speak volumes for his leadership qualities. It was in 2016 that the administration commenced massive construction of over eight major roads spread across the three senatorial districts of the state. These were kicked off late 2015.
The roads include the Nike Lake road; the Abakpa Nike road; the Opi-Nsukka dual carriage road; the Amaeke-Ngwo-Nsude- 9th Mile bypass; the Amankwo-Amaeke-Amah Brewery Junction-9th Mile by-pass; the Ohom Orba Junction-Imilike Ani- Ezimo Uno- Ezimo Agu-Imilike –Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti-Amalla-Obollo Afor ring road; the Enugu Road Junction-Umuezebi-Nru Junction-University Gate road; the Post Office Roundabout- Odenigbo Roundabout- Ogurugu Road-Ikenga road; and the Obechara Road Junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction road. It is worthy of note that five of these roads have been completed and opened while others are nearing completion.
It was also during the year under review that a data-simplifying civic organisation, BudgIT, listed Enugu, Lagos and Rivers as the only states out of the 36 states of the federation that could fulfil obligations to their workers. Enugu State, in spite of the economic recession, has been regular in the payment of workers’ salaries and still executes capital projects. In fact, the state government paid last December’s salaries on the 19th to enable its workers celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. The wise decision was based on the fact that Enugu is predominately a civil service state and it is only when workers’ salaries are paid that the economic activities of the state are reactivated for the overall interest of the people.
In 2016, Ugwuanyi’s administration grabbed the bull by the horns and embarked on the rehabilitation of the failed sections of the federal government roads along Oji River-Ugwuoba-Anambra State boarder by old road and 9th mile-Egede-Nsukka-Obollo Afor- Benue State boarder road to alleviate the pains road users experienced on the roads and guarantee smooth and safe transportation during the Yuletide.
It was also last year that the governor moved to extend the frontiers of development to the rural areas by creating more urban centres to boost economic growth and improve the lives of the people. He simultaneously kicked off 35 infrastructural projects across the 17 local government areas of the state. The projects, which comprise 25 roads, water schemes, electricity, hospitals, schools, buildings, among others, are on-going.
Last year, the state government 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 need money. It also embarked on the recruitment of 2000 primary school teachers to improve the standard of education in the state.
Recently, 750 unemployed youths selected from across the 17 local government areas of the state were enrolled into the SDGs Skill Acquisition programme to create opportunity for them to realise their potentials. The state government pays each trainee N5, 000 per month for transportation and N100, 000 at the end of the training to assist the person start his or her own business.
The governor’s passion for sporting activities and support to the Enugu Rangers International Football Club helped the club to win the 2016 Nigerian Professional Football League – a remarkable feat that broke the club’s jinx of not winning a trophy since 32 years.
It was also in 2016 that Enugu State through the instrumentality of its Economic Advisory Council organised the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit, christened “Oganiru”, to showcase the economic potentials of the state in line with the promise to vigorously promote investment and pursue the diversification of the state’s economy.
The above achievements are only a small part of the laudable feats recorded so far in the state in line with the governor’s campaign promises. They were made possible by accountability, transparency, financial discipline and prudent management of the state’s lean resources. They were also made possible through the application of the best economic practices that would engender sustainable growth and development, reform programmes in the public service, finance and economic development sector which had resulted in a significant increase in the state’s internally generated revenue. For instance, the state government after a staff audit in the 17 local government councils discovered a total of 3,916 ghost workers who received salaries on monthly basis.
The governor recently presented the 2017 budget estimates tagged, “Budget of Economic Recovery and Inclusive Development,” before the Enugu State House of Assembly. The budget articulated the plans and vision of the present administration to create an environment that will encourage development of the state’s human and natural resources. With this, Ugwuanyi has rekindled his commitment to the provision of social services and rebuilding of vital infrastructure in all sectors and across the state.
He said the budget “will among other things, propel the state along the part of economic recovery and promotion of full and productive employment of the citizens of Enugu State.”
The present administration has promised and demonstrated that it will not allow the prevailing harsh economic climate in the country prevent it from attaining its lofty objectives for the people. The people of the state should reciprocate this gesture by intensifying their support and prayer for the government.
––Amoke, writes from Enugu State