By Samson Ezea
In many ways, the March 9 Enugu Governorship/State Assembly elections is a referendum for Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration, but one that the outcome is known before it is conducted. This is not complacency or over confidence, but an obvious statement of the realities and facts on ground. To the majority of voters in the state, the March 9 governorship/ state assembly elections is nothing, but a conclusion of the referendum they started for Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration on February 23, when they voted massively for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Presidential/ National Assembly elections, basically because of Ugwuanyi’s stellar performance in office. The PDP victory in the NASS election was not only massive and impressive, it has shown that PDP is the favoured party on ground in the state and that the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates, who are mainly defectors from the PDP lacked political relevance in the state.
So, Nigerians shouldn’t be surprised to see the massive voters’ turnout and the number of votes they will cast for Ugwuanyi and PDP House of Assembly candidates in the Saturday Governorship and House of Assembly Elections in the state. It is a fact that since Ugwuanyi assumed office in 2015, he has built a cult followership for his government with his inclusive and transparent leadership style that has endeared him to the people. This is not a happenstance. It is by dint of the governor’s sheer hard work and total commitment to his responsibilities as the governor of the state, coupled with his outstanding performance in the face of obvious daunting challenges. This is why to the church leaders, the less privileged, traders, students, artisans, children, parents, youths, entrepreneurs, rural dwellers, Muslims, Christians and even the opposition parties, Ugwuanyi is an outstanding leader, who cares much about his people’s wellbeing, carries them along and treats them equally. The governor is seen and described by many within and outside the state as water that has no enemy at all. He is not only available. He is easily accessible, accommodating and humane. That is why the nickname name Gburugburu has become a movement in the state today and almost every resident is now a member.
Apart from these, Ugwuanyi’s administration, while improving and expanding basic infrastructure in the urban areas, has taken massive development to the rural areas that were hitherto abandoned for years. This include the hitherto impassable Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road in the agrarian community of Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo Council Area which was abandoned for more than three decades, but is presently being reconstructed by Ugwuanyi’s administration. Already completed and in use now is the Agbani-Amurri road that links Nkanu East and Nkanu West council areas. The road has been unattended to by successive governments for many decades. Also initiated and completed is the Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road from Atavu bailey bridge to Afor Onovo. That is the first state government project in Akpugo since the creation of Enugu State.
Across the state, especially in rural areas, more than 700 kilometer roads have been constructed and rehabilitated by the present administration in the state since coming into office. The workers in the state have not only experienced prompt payment of salaries, they have enjoyed 13month salary in December every year. The people’s darling club East of the Niger, Enugu Rangers Football Club broke the jinx of not winning silverwares for decades under Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration. Buoyed by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s unflinching support, the Club has won both the National League and FA cup in a spectacular and miraculous manner in last three years plus.
Across the length and breadth of the state, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s remarkable and verifiable achievements stare everybody in the face. There is no denial of this fact by the people of Enugu East, West and North senatorial zones. Their eyes have seen and tongues have confessed in unanimity that Gov. Ugwuanyi has done very well in office and deserves second term to continue his good work. Unlike in the other states, where governance took back seat immediately political campaigns took off, the situation is quite different in Enugu since the campaigns took off. Despite the hectic and distracting nature of campaigns, governance is ongoing in the state smoothly and unhindered, courtesy of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administrative ingenuity, love for the people and vision for good governance.
Apart from holding the weekly exco meeting, the governor creates time to visit sites of ongoing projects in the state. He works into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that all issues that affect the state are properly addressed and attended to urgently. He draws a parallel line between governance and politics. Just two weeks ago, the governor gave approval for the recruitment of additional 1000 unemployed youths to clean up the state under the Enugu Clean Team Project. This is in addition to the 1000 youths that had been earlier recruited into the project on the approval of the state government under Gov. Ugwuanyi’s watch. This, happening at a time most state governors are busy struggling to get money to pay workers’ salaries, contest election and attend to other government’s financial obligations, says a lot about Gov. Ugwuanyi’s personality and what he represents in public office. It is this uncommon gesture of the governor that spurred the beneficiaries of the scheme to recently celebrate a mass at the Holy Ghost Cathedral Enugu for the governor’s reelection and more successes in his future engagements.
Also in the same vein, a delegation of pensioners of Enugu State, who have benefitted from the monthly N100m approval by Ugwuanyi’s administration for the payment of arrears of gratuities from May 2018, recently paid a ‘Thank-You’ visit to the governor for rescuing them in time of need. The beneficiaries, who described gratuity as the life-wire of every retiree, in an address presented by the state chairman of Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) Comrade Damian Udeani, praised God for using Ugwuanyi to perform miracle in their lives. It is on record that before Ugwuanyi’s assumption of office, workers and pensioners were being owed backlog of salaries and gratuities in the state. While some local council areas were owing workers between five to seven month salaries, others owed between ten to fifteen months. Pensioners were last paid their gratuities in 2006. While Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has cleared the backlog of workers’ salaries and is paying them 13th month every December; the governor in his magnanimity and usual kind gesture, set aside N100m monthly to gradually clear the backlog of pensioners’ gratuities in the state.
Knowing that it is not possible for every community to have a representative in government due to limited space, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration established the N10 million “one project community scheme. Today all the autonomous communities in the state have benefited from the scheme. It has helped the people of the communities to embark on their priority projects and it has also given them sense of belonging in the affairs of the state. The scheme has taken development and government presence to the grassroots level. Apart from building additional five state-of-art fire service stations in three senatorial zones of the state, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has also renovated the three existing ones that were built when Enugu was capital of old Eastern Region. This has helped in combating inferno in the state professionally and urgently whenever it occurs. Even at that, victims of natural disaster such as inferno and flooding have directly benefitted from the state government’s gesture as Gov. Ugwuanyi has not only made it a point of duty to always visit the scene whenever such incident happens, but has given survivors or victims lifeline through immediate financial assistance.
Apart from his unquestionable performance in office in the last three years plus, the power rotation among the three senatorial zones in the state namely, Enugu East, Enugu West and Enugu North favours Gov. Ugwuanyi’s reelection for second term in the interest of equity and fairness. Considering all these giant strides of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration and the political atmosphere in the state ahead of March 9 Governorship/State Assembly elections, there is no doubt that his victory in the poll is certain. The governorship election will not only be a continuation of February 23 referendum for Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration, which gave PDP massive victory in the state, it is an election the good people of the state will surely pay him back by voting massively for him at the polling units to continue the good work he has been doing in the state in the last three years plus. Head or tail, Enugu people have spoken before now that there is no alternative to Ugwuanyi.