Governor Ugwuanyi’s Day of Glory in Abuja

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By Uchenna Nwuzo

The grand reception held last week by the Enugu State National Assembly caucus in honour of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was to all intents and purposes a fitting reception for a distinguished ex-colleague. And why not? The Enugu State governor was after all one of just a few legislators whose gubernatorial bid proved successful among a coterie of also-rans. But the import of the Abuja gathering was even far more instructive as it gave an emphatic seal to Governor Ugwuanyi’s reelection which had been enjoying a unanimous acclaim across the state.

Just as significant was the bipartisanship evident in the gathering as it comprised legislators with diverse political leanings, a feature clearly in sync with the governor’s inclusive governance philosophy, and one which continues to earn him plaudits as well as endorsements. From labour unions to student associations, farmers’ cooperatives to religious leaders, the groundswell of support for Ugwuanyi is both an eloquent testimony of service to the electorate and a self-evident performance scorecard.

This point was well articulated by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara. “Our brother (Ugwuanyi) who is a true leader is performing beyond expectation with the very little resources that he has,” the speaker said at the reception also attended by former speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar N’Abba; former Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Na’allah, who represented the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu.

“Now that you have done exceptionally well, all the Enugu people are happy and they have decided to endorse you for a second term. The people of Enugu State are celebrating you, we are appreciating you. So I wish you well. I know that you will continue to distinguish yourself creditably and define leadership in Enugu State,” he noted further.

Governor Ugwuanyi’s cross-party appeal was further highlighted by Senator Ekweremadu who, alongside other legislators from Enugu State, maintain a warm camaraderie with the governor and thus standing in that regard as beacons in a country where such relationship is often a no-love-lost one. “Governor Ugwuanyi has connected with the people of Enugu State in a very peculiar way,” said Senator Ekweremadu who also represents Enugu West Senatorial Zone. “If you look around here, there are people from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu and those from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). That is how we live in Enugu State. There is no discrimination, no division. We have 17 local government areas in Enugu State and none of them is complaining of marginalization.”

Such wide acclamation couldn’t have been attained through grandstanding; it is the inevitable results reaped when leaders observe an absolute fidelity to their social contract with the people. It was on the strength of this that the reception for Ugwuanyi and his subsequent endorsement was premised, as succinctly captured by Senator Ekweremadu. “I have the mandate of the members of the Enugu State caucus at the National Assembly, and I believe all our people who live in Abuja, to say that on account of the peace you have brought and all the work you have done for the last three years, we have no hesitation whatsoever in endorsing you for one more term in 2019,” he said.

Indeed, the rhetoric on the night of that reception was consistent with the reality in Enugu State where the governor’s imprints stand as indelible reminders of a social contract kept. They could be glimpsed in the robust and ongoing urban renewal in the Enugu metropolis that has turned hitherto blighted communities neglected for decades into habitable enclaves with once impassable inner city roads now paved and public water supply restored in many parts. Of course, the impressive scorecard is equally apparent in the health sector where the administration runs a free treatment programme for pregnant women and infants, which has substantially reduced maternal and infant mortality in the state.

The one-community-one-project, an initiative of the Ugwuanyi administration that has seen each of the 450 autonomous communities in the state receiving N5m (out of the approved N10m) to fund development projects of their choice is another remarkable example of responsive governance which has drawn wide commendation. The beauty of this grassroots programme that ensures government presence in every community lies in the latitude it gives the people to choose projects which they are convinced will add a greater value to their lives when implemented. As chairman of the Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, had enthused at the presentation of N5m cheques to community leaders in the programme’s first phase, “this is a special development that has never happened in Enugu State”.

Agubuzu’s reference to the trend-setting characteristics of the Ugwuanyi administration also reechoes in Senator Ekweremadu’s speech. Eulogizing the governor, he said: “Since 1999, we usually had crisis, troubles, and major misunderstandings any year preceding general elections. At times, we wondered if we would survive it. It happened in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and it happened in 2014. But today, we are in 2018, and Enugu has been adjudged the most peaceful state. There is also freedom in Enugu State. Governor Ugwuanyi does not take offence when people have cause to criticize him. He learns from the criticisms and he dialogues a lot. The judiciary is free and independent, working without fear or favour. That is what democracy is all about.”

For Ugwuanyi, there was no reveling in personal glory; it was, in his reckoning, a story of shared success. “We have become one people united by the determination to develop our state and we will continue to remain one family. With your support and prayers, I will continue to lead an Enugu State where peace, justice, and equitable development remain the watchword. We will continue to work together to build that same united, prosperous, and great Enugu State envisioned by our fathers,” he told the gathering which responded with a loud applause.

– Nwuzo, an Enugu resident, sent in this piece from Abuja