Governor Ugwuanyi signing the budget

Jonathan Eze writes that with the signing of the 2018 budget by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State into law, the state can now be more confident of transformative developmental projects.

Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has demonstrated uncommon traits of leadership since he was sworn in on May 29, 2015. He has created job opportunities for the people through agriculture, entrepreneurship and investments. He has also actively increased the tempo of infrastructural development especially in the rural areas; built capacity and remained regular in the payment of civil servants’ salaries and pensions.

Nsukka and other districts are wearing a new look with good road networks, electrification among others.

From the records, the governor has exceeded expectations of the people and stakeholders in the state to the extent that even leaders of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state are acknowledging and nodding at his tireless efforts aimed at transforming the state in spite of its meager resources.

Like a man truly prepared for the tasks ahead, Ugwuanyi had a blueprints of what he wants to achieve and his delivering even beyond what he promised the people during his electioneering campaign. Enugu State is really, really better in the hands of a workaholic governor popularly called Gburugburu.

Everything he does revolve around the people. His actions are indeed a reflection of true leadership coming from a man who is filled with ideas, tact and divine wisdom.

Ugwuanyi’s broad approach to governance is yet again manifested in the N103. 5 billion 2018 budget he assented to a few days ago.

The governor had on December 28, 2017 presented a budget estimate of N98.5 billion to the state House of Assembly but in passing the budget on February 12, the lawmakers jerked it up by N5 billion.

Speaking at the budget signing ceremony which took place at the State Executive Council Chambers, the governor reiterated the resolve of his administration to deliver good governance with a view to unlocking the potential of the state. He added that he was committed to the full and prompt implementation of the budget.

He thanked the members of the state assembly for the speedy and considerate passage of the budget, adding that he was not taking for granted the wonderful relationship between the two arms of government.

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Edward Ubosi, had earlier said the legislators had after wide consultation and robust debate, jerked up the budget estimate.

Justifying the budget, Ubosi said the increase became necessary in order to accommodate the various road projects in the state that needed urgent attention, adding that the budget was realistic and accommodated the pressing needs of the state.

The speaker said that the 2018 budget reduced external and internal borrowings of the state by 60 per cent and would not drag the state into any form of indebtedness. According to him, the gains of the 2018 budget are a clear testimony that the state Board of Internal Revenue was alive to its responsibilities, adding that the legislators were impressed.

“We are happy with the way the revenue board is working to reduce stress from the government but they should not put hardship on our people,” he said. He commended the governor for the prudent management of the state’s resources.

In the same vein, Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, commended Governor Ugwuanyi for what he described as a “realistic budget.

Chukwuma expressed optimism that Ugwuanyi will implement to the letter the budget. According to the cleric, Enugu State in consideration of the nation’s economic realities, presented a modest budget proposal it could implement with the lean resources at its disposal.

The clergy applauded the governor for his people-oriented and inclusive leadership that has touched lives and earned him support and praises from leaders of opposition political parties in the state.

Moved by the dynamic leadership the governor had provided, the cleric recently at an event to usher in the New Year, made case for a second term opportunity for the governor.

He reiterated his stance on Ugwuanyi’s re-election in 2019, saying: “Anybody who says you’re not going for second term will fail”.

“I am happy that APC chieftains acknowledge that you are doing well. So anybody who comes to challenge you will fail. Enugu is peaceful, no report of any upheaval, unlike other states where there were killings and pandemonium’’.

While thanking the governor for the passage of Child Rights Act into law, the Archbishop also commended him for the massive road projects in the rural areas to improve on the living standard of the people, especially the dwellers.

With the budget now passed into law, the governor can now consolidate the foundation that he had already laid in creating an enabling environment for the full development of human and natural resources, revitalisation of social services as well as building vital infrastructure for sustainable and inclusive development.

The exemplary leadership provided for Enugu people also received commendation by the federal government. The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, recently expressed delight at the impressive pace of development in the state, attributing the stride to the focused leadership of Governor Ugwuanyi and his prudent management of the state’s meager resources to address the basic needs of the people.

She described the governor as a “brave” leader, who had done very well in growing the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) “transparently” and has also ensured that the revenues collected are utilised for the development of the state.

The finance minister spoke at the launch of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in Enugu, which offer taxpayers an opportunity, within a limited time, to regularise their tax status relating to previous tax periods.

She emphasised the need for the development of taxes that will assist states and the country achieve their potential and vision for the people, stressing that “with regular taxes, we will avoid the pain that the recent collapse in oil prices and the consequent recession inflicted on Nigerians”.

Mrs. Adeosun also commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for the massive road projects in the state, especially his administration’s intervention on federal roads such as the 9th Mile-Ngwo- Miliken Hill-New Market road, adding that “Enugu State is one of the states where a lot is going on”.

The minister disclosed that the federal government has recognized that infrastructure is the key to job creation, growth and wealth, stressing that “payment of taxes is a fundamental requirement for our growth story”.

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of Joint Tax Board, Oseni Elamah, who applauded the finance minister for initiating the scheme, also commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for his giant strides in Enugu State.

Describing Ugwuanyi as a “digital governor”, Elamah said that the governor has been able to manage the resources of the state in a transparent manner that has added value to the lives of the people, wondering how he has been able to achieve such remarkable feats with the meager income of the state.

“The governor (Ugwuanyi) is doing it in a digital way, because we all know that Enugu State is not one of the oil producing states, it is among the states that get the least federal allocation. We wonder where the governor gets the resources to do all that he is doing”, the Executive Secretary said.

It is also on record that the government had spent over N40 billion on the construction/rehabilitation of about 240km of roads across the three senatorial zones of the state between 2015 and this year while “about N2.7 billion of the sum was spent on the rehabilitation/reconstruction of some Federal Roads including sections of the 9th Mile- Udi – Oji River – Ugwuoba – Anambra State border; sections of the 9th mile – Opi Expressway and the 9th Mile-Ngwo-Miliken-New Market road”.

Gov. Ugwuanyi himself acknowledged that the far reaching reforms initiated by his administration saw to the significant increase of the state’s IGR to “an all-time high of N22 billion at the close of 2017 in contrast to the N14 billion that we collected in the whole of 2016 fiscal year”, regretting that federal institutions in Enugu were owing the state government over N14 billion in unpaid taxes.

Just recently too, he awarded contracts for the construction of six major roads across the state at the sum of N2.4 billion, covering the Eha-Amufu-Nkalagu federal road at Isi-Uzo Local Government Area, which has been in a deplorable condition.

Other roads include the extension of the Agbani-Afor Amurri road; the extension of Ituku road; the construction of Ogonogoeji Ndi Agu Akpugo road (Atavu Bailey Bridge –Afor Onovo); the construction of 42 meter span Bailey bridge and road works across river Nyama to Amechi-Linking Umuogo and Umuagba Amechi Uno/ Obinagu community, all in Nkanu West L.G.A.

Addressing journalists recently, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Greg Nnaji, explained that the executive council approved the splitting of the 8.8 km Eha-Amufu-Nkalagu road into lots 1 and 2, and awarding of the contracts to separate reputable contractors that will commence works simultaneously from the Nkalagu axis that borders Enugu and Ebonyi States and the Eha-Amufu College of Education section.

Nnaji disclosed further that the 8.8km road which will cost over N1.3billion, was divided into two lots “to ensure that the construction is fast tracked within the weather window available this year”.

On the Ogonogoeji Ndi Agu Akpugo road, the works commissioner expressed doubt if the people of the area, particularly their children who were born over 20 years ago had seen an asphalted road, adding that the state government’s intervention was significant and timely.

He also announced that the council’s decision to rehabilitate and renovate the seven District hospitals in the state located in Agbani, Udi, Igbo Eze North, Isi-Uzo, Nsukka and Awgu was upheld, adding that approval was given for the immediate upgrade and renovation of Polly Clinic/Asata District Hospital, Enugu and Udi District Hospital, Udi Local Government Area

“We are no longer talking about roads. We are looking into other public buildings and things that would impact positively on the lives of the people of our state”, the works commissioner said.

Indeed, with all the projects scattered across the state and with the signing of the budget, Enugu will now be a beehive of activities for positive development.