Ugwuanyi: Celebrating the Peoples’ Governor at 54

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Chinenye Ezeah

On March 20, 1964, there was a birth of a bouncing baby boy in Ugwuanyi’s family in Orba in the present Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State. He was named Lawrence Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi. The name Ifeanyichukwu, which simply means Nothing Pass God started manifesting in his life early enough. He grew up an outstanding child, clothing himself with humility, reticence, honesty and diligence.

After his primary education, he proceeded to the prestigious St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka, from where he gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). He obtained a B.Sc. degree in Finance and M.Sc. degree in Marketing (Public Relations). He also obtained MBA degree in Finance and another MBA degree in Accountancy from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).

After a prosperous career as the Chief Executive Officer of Premier Brokers Limited which was the prime Insurance broking firm in the South-east zone of the country and owned by the five states in the zone and ACB Bank, Ugwuanyi made a mark as a great manager both human and material resources.

His philanthropy and strong belief in human empowerment singled him out among his peers. It was as result of this, coupled with God’s special grace that he was lured into active politics by his people, who believed he would be a good leader and perfect representative of the people.

No wonder Ugwuanyi’s foray into active politics since 2003 has been without disappointment, but abundant blessings to mankind. That was why after his election into the House of Representatives to represent Igbo Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency in 2003, he was re-elected twice, making him the longest serving member of National Assembly in Enugu North Senatorial zone.

While in the House for 12 years of three terms, Ugwuanyi proved his worth by making meaningful contributions on the floor of the House, sponsoring bills and holding leadership positions in vital committees. Within this era, Ugwuanyi positively and silently touched lives of many people within and outside his constituency; an action that made his people conferred on him the title of Dunu Gburugburu of Orba.

In 2015, while still in the House of Representatives as a member, divine circumstances and the people beckoned on him to offer himself to serve as governor of Enugu State on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This marked the beginning of new dawn in Ugwuanyi’s leadership role.

After little challenge during his party’s governorship primaries, God in line with Ugwuanyi’s name Ifeanyichukwu (Nothing Pass God) made it possible for him to emerge the authentic PDP governorship candidate with the massive support of the people. He won the election landslide.

On assumption of office, Ugwuanyi faced major challenges, which include the paucity of fund, due to the crash in oil price. This was enough to deter any leader, but Ugwuanyi faced it with stoicism and prudence. He quickly brought his managerial prowess and leadership acumen to bear by reforming and repositioning the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The result is that today apart from Rivers and Lagos, Enugu has the most improved IGR across the country.

His government has taken infrastructural developments to the rural areas to open it up for accessibility and even developments. The completed roads in the state include dualised Opi-Nsukka Road, Post Office Roundabout-Odenigbo Roundabout-Ogurugu-Ikenga Hotel Junction Road and the Obechara Junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction Road both in the University town of Nsukka. Others are: Amaeke-Ngwo-Nsude-9th Mile By-pass Road in Udi Local Government Area and the Airport Roundabout/Orie Emene Road in Enugu East Local Government Area. While the list is endless, lack of space here is a major constraint in outlining all of them.

Even now that most first term governors are obsessed with the politics of 2019, Ugwuanyi is not distracted as he has continued to focus on developmental projects across the state. His development strides cuts across all sector of the economy of the state.

Several new contracts that were awarded by Ugwuanyi which include Obollo Eke Junction-Agala-Okpaligbo Junction, Ohom Orba-Amajioka-Umuikeoha-Agu Orba, and Okpu Agu Orba Road, both in Udenu Local Council. Others are Ogurute-Mkpamute-Igogoro-Ikpamodo-Okpo-Amaja Road (phase 1), Ogurute-Umuogbo Ulo-Isiugwu-Umuopu-Ette Road and others are being executed at a speed pace.

While most state governments and their workers are always at loggerhead over non-payment of salaries and allowances, workers in Enugu State have continued to receive their salary 23th of every month since Ugwuanyi assumed office. The workers have not only endorsed Ugwuanyi for second term, they have fervently prayed for him and conferred several awards on him. One of the awards was ‘The Most Workers’ Friendly Governor in Nigeria’. Many communities, groups, associations including religious bodies and civil society organisations have endorsed Ugwuanyi for second term ahead of 2019. Saying that Ugwuanyi enjoys overwhelming support and followership of majority of the residents of Enugu State is an understatement.

One thing many Nigerians, especially those outside Enugu may have not observed or know is that Ugwuanyi is a home, grassroots and handy governor, who is always there and accessible by his people, when it matters most. He is not a ghost or Diaspora governor, who spends most of his time outside his state. While most of the governors are always globetrotting in the name of searching for investors, Ugwuanyi, without much noise or travels has made Enugu an investment destination through his achievements in office. It would be recalled that since he assumed office, he has only travelled abroad once. That is why the name Gburugburu is reverberating at all the nooks and crannies of the state.

Since his coming into office, Enugu has witnessed absolute peace, security of lives and property. There is no cult clashes, political fights or security crisis. Ugwuanyi carries every stakeholder in the state along irrespective of party affiliation, religion, status or tribe. Even members of opposition in the state that are neither here nor there can testify Ugwuanyi’s massive popularity in the state, which is as result of his outstanding performance in office as governor.

Ugwuanyi’s actions and inactions have greatly endeared him to the people of Enugu. His works speak for him. His style engenders peace and joy. At 54, Ugwuanyi has not only provided good governance, he has shown leadership. He has shown that leadership is not a rocket science, but about serving the people selflessly at all times.

That is why it is not surprising that from Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Senator Jim Nwobodo, Senator Ken Nnamani, Ex-IGP, Ogbonnia Onovo, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka, workers, teachers, Okada riders, rural dwellers, traders to others in the state, testimonies and confessions about Gburugburu and his unprecedented good works in Enugu are the same. No wonder, the universal slogan in that state today is: “Enugu is in the hand of God.”

So what else does Nigerians need to know that come 2019, Enugu State is up for Gburugburu without much ado? This is because Ugwuanyi has indeed done the needful to deserve his people’s massive support come 2019. Already the political atmosphere in the state does not indicate otherwise.

Meanwhile, there is nothing wrong saying that Ugwuanyi remains a case study for Nigeria’s present leaders, especially the state governors, who are finding it difficult to run the affairs of their states. A trip to Enugu for a leadership tutorial will make a difference. After all, there is no shame and limit to learning. Life and leadership is all about learning and not grabbing power for self-aggrandisement, material acquisition and intimidation of the people.

Ezeah, a public commentator wrote from Aku in Igbo-Etiti of Enugu State