Few days ago, workers in the 17 local government councils in Enugu State, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and local government pensioners, held a solidarity rally, where they unanimously endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as their candidate for the 2019 governorship election in the state.
At the colourful rally, which was attended by the national president of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, the jubilant workers and retirees in an address delivered by the unionâ€™s state president, Comrade Kenneth Ugwueze, disclosed that the endorsement was â€œin appreciation of peace and good governance in Enugu Stateâ€ and the governorâ€™s â€œundeterred friendly disposition to labourâ€.
The workers stated that Ugwuanyi â€œin less than three years in office wiped away our tears and assured us of a better futureâ€, declaring, â€œWe have come out today as the product of that mandate to overwhelmingly endorse you as our candidate for the 2019 governorship election in Enugu State.â€
The NULGEâ€™s endorsement, which coincided with Ugwuanyiâ€™s 54th birthday anniversary, was also seen as a birthday gift to the governor.
Khaleel, while upholding the stance of the unionâ€™s state chapter, described Ugwuanyi as a leader with â€œhuge humility, vision and comradeshipâ€. He also appreciated the governor for his good works in the state and commitment to peace and wellbeing of the less-privileged as well as the entire workforce.
Khaleel told the governor, â€œYour Excellency, youâ€™re the voice of the voiceless. Iâ€™m not surprised at the level of peace in your state. Where there is peace, the hand of God is there. That is why Enugu State is in the hands of God. When a man that fears God is in charge, certainly, Godâ€™s hands will be in every corner of his domain. After your second term in 2023, something greater is coming your way.â€
Similarly, the National Union of Road Transport Workers recently endorsed Ugwuanyi for re-election for peace and good governance.
Born on March 20, 1964, Ugwuanyi turned 54 penultimate Tuesday. The governorâ€™s 54th birthday provided him with another opportunity to show love, care, and compassion to the lowly and downtrodden through his philanthropic gestures – a constant moral obligation in appreciation of Godâ€™s goodness and amazing grace to him as â€œNwaogbenyeâ€.
The governor is very much loved and admired by the people. Unsurprisingly, the avalanche of goodwill, acceptance and support he enjoys from various spheres of the society have remained unbeatable in the history of the state. He is well known for his open-door policy, inclusive leadership, and close contact with the masses.
The governor has in less than two and a half years in office received many commendations for his good works and uninfluenced endorsements for re-election in 2019 from virtually all major segments of the society, such as leaders of religious institutions, chieftains of the opposition political parties, the state and local government workforce, traders, road transport workers, pensioners and artisans.
On the entrenchment of peace and good governance in Enugu State, in spite of the countryâ€™s daunting economic challenges, Ugwuanyi has maintained his longstanding path to vision, integrity, inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and prudent management of resources. His milestone feats in the provision of critical infrastructure across the state; rural development; qualitative and affordable education and healthcare delivery; regular payment of workersâ€™ salaries and pensions, including the 13thmonth salary; innovative and robust investment drive; peace and security; economic empowerment; and agricultural revolution, among others, have been acknowledged and applauded by friends and foes alike.
They are not only enduring and unprecedented, but have also impacted positively on the lives of the people, especially the rural dwellers, rekindling their confidence in participatory democracy.
The governorâ€™s passion for the wellbeing of the people, especially the lowly and the forgotten, for instance, saw to his administrationâ€™s paradigm shift of development from focus on the urban centres to the rural areas. This is to ensure that long-neglected communities in the state feel the positive impact of governance. Ugwuanyi has executed more landmark road projects in the rural areas and satellite towns, where the majority of the people reside, than in the urban centres. Interestingly, road projects are on-going in places, such as Abakpa, Emene, Eha-Amufu, Amurri, Akpugo, Coal Camp, Ngenevu, Iva Valley, and so on. More road contracts are also being awarded to improve the living standard of the rural dwellers and give them a sense of belonging.
It is also on record that the state government has spent over N40 billion on road construction and rehabilitation across the state in the last two and a half years, covering over 240 kilometres.
Few weeks ago, Ugwuanyi demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that meaningful development reached every nook and cranny of the state with the disbursement of N2.25 billion to 450 autonomous communities. That was the first tranche of the N10 million earmarked for every community in the state to execute development projects of their choice.
The uniqueness and excitement of the scheme, christened â€œOne Community, One Project,â€ the first of its kind in the state, are that the choice of the projects and their execution are left entirely to the discretion of the stakeholders of each community. The people are given the freedom to independently decide on projects according to their peculiar development needs.
Ugwuanyi says the â€œOne Community, One Projectâ€ initiative is also in fulfilment of his administrationâ€™s promise to promote participatory democracy and extensive rural development in the state. Similarly, it fulfils his promise of active involvement of all local communities in the implementation of government policies and programmes.
Recently, the Ugwuanyi administration re-launched the stateâ€™s Traders Empowerment Scheme, with an annual bumper package of N120 million. This was up from the previous amount of N60 million at inception of the scheme, representing a 100 per cent increase. The idea is to assist traders in the state to grow their businesses. In the repackaged scheme, 200 genuine traders will now win N10 million every month at N50, 000 each, as against N5 million for 100 traders in the last scheme. Again, 17 other markets were added to the existing 37 to ensure that the empowerment scheme reached out to every nook and cranny of the state for more winners to benefit.
Ugwuanyiâ€™s compassionate manners and generosity at the helm of power are legendary. He was recently commended by not only the Nigerian Army, but also the ex-servicemen in Enugu State for his governmentâ€™s N19.6 million empowerment grant to 96 widows of fallen heroes residing in the state. The grant was to assist the families of those who died in the service of the country to start businesses of their choice and live a better life.
Extending his arms of magnanimity a few weeks ago, the peopleâ€™s governor, as he is often called in the state, upon receiving the sad news of fire outbreak at the Kenyatta Timber Market, Enugu, had to end a meeting of the State Executive Council to visit the site. He ensured that adequate intervention was made to put off the inferno. The governor did not stop there. Within two days of the incident, he visited the market for the second time, and directed the immediate rebuilding of the affected 72 shops with a promise to assist owners of the shops with the sum of N7.2 million to enable them restart their businesses. â€œI am here to wipe away your tears,â€ he told the affected traders.
It is also noteworthy that the governorâ€™s wife, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, has been very supportive of her husband. She has remained in the vanguard, propelling her husbandâ€™s philanthropic gestures, warming the people, particularly the poor and the less privileged, to participatory democracy through her pet project, Ugo Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF). The project is designed to assist indigent members of the society, especially the women, children, aged and other vulnerable groups, attend to some of their basic needs.
As her selfless effort to serve the people, just like her husband, the Enugu State governorâ€™s wife is currently on a tour of communities across the state to offer free medical treatments against malaria, high blood pressure, and eye problems. She is also de-worming children and helping the people tackle other debilitating health challenges. She has used the occasion to empower the beneficiaries of her skills acquisition programme with sewing and grinding machines, hairdryers, school uniforms, bags, sandals, cash gifts, among other items.
In recognition of all these milestone achievements, which are the radiant bedrock of the governorâ€™s 54th birthday anniversary celebration, one therefore, urges the people of Enugu State at home and abroad, as well as friends of the state in Nigeria and beyond to continue to support him to render more selfless service to humanity and hold on to his vision to build Enugu State of our founding fathersâ€™ dream. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
â€“â€“Amoke is Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Enugu State Governor