By Louis Amoke
The good news about Enugu State under the watch of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is that since the governor entrusted the state to the hands of God, the goodness of God has continued to be made manifest in its affairs, to the delight of the people.
Born on March 20, 1964, Gov. Ugwuanyi, today, Wednesday, March 20, clocks 55, to the glory of God. Inaugurated as the 3rd civilian governor of the new Enugu State on May 29, 2015, Ugwuanyi on Saturday, March 9, 2019 was overwhelmingly re-elected, in one of the most peaceful, transparent and credible elections in the history of the state.
The most amazing aspect of the entire scenario was that the governor’s resounding victory in this month of March coincided with his 55th birthday anniversary, which calls for double celebrations in thanksgiving to God, for His mercies and kindness to a man of faith and goodwill.
Though his overwhelming victory and that of all other candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, did not come to many as a surprise, especially those who are informed about the political antecedents of Enugu State, as well as the governor’s sterling performance and swelling popularity in the state, the hidden truth remains that Gov. Ugwuanyi won his reelection the day he had his first interaction with journalists, a few days after his inauguration in 2015.
On that fateful day, Gov. Ugwuanyi stated clearly that his administration will work hard to ensure peace in the state as a panacea for progress and rapid development. The peace-loving governor pledged not to engage in any act that would undermine the relationship between his administration and the past ones, vis-à-vis himself and past leaders of the state. He promised to unite the leaders of the state and accord them due respect irrespective of political affiliations, stressing that “everybody is our friend and the era of politics of bitterness is over”.
This strange resolution which Gov. Ugwuanyi religiously adhered to, no doubt contributed immensely to the overwhelming support and endorsement he enjoyed from the people of the state from all spheres of the society and across party lines, prior to the general election as well as his landslide victory at the polls.
The governor’s decision became one of his greatest assets and a rallying point for prominent leaders from all walks of life, such as the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, former Governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Fidelis Okoro, Senator Hyde Onuaguluchi, and Ambassador Mrs. Justina Eze, to endorse and campaign vigorously for his reelection.
For instance, at the grand finale of the governor’s door-to-door campaign, held at Udenu Local Government Area headquarters ahead of the just concluded governorship and state assembly elections, some of these leaders eulogized him for entrenching peace, tranquility and good governance, in a manner that has never been experienced before in the history of the state.
They described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a man of history, expressing delight that he has united everybody in the state, irrespective of political leaning. The leaders told him that the culture of peace and good governance he has entrenched in the state was unprecedented and will earn him a landslide victory at the polls.
The party stalwarts added that his pre-election adoption by 70 political parties in Enugu State as their consensus candidate was an affirmation that the governor has united everybody in the state.
While Senator Ekweremadu disclosed that “there is no bickering or quarrels among the political leaders in the state”, Senator Nwobodo, who described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a son thanked him “for bringing everybody together”.
According to Senator Onuaguluchi, “Gov. Ugwuanyi has brought uncommon peace to the state” and “all of us have come to learn from Gburugburu (Ugwuanyi)”. Senator Okoro pointed out that “we have not seen his type before”, and Amb. Mrs. Eze joined others in urging the people to vote massively for him and other candidates of the PDP.
Shortly after the March 9 election, which was adjudged the most peaceful, freest and credible by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)-accredited local and foreign observers, 70 political parties, and leaders of the state, among others, the coalition of governorship candidates in the state led by Gerald Abonyi of Labour Party (LP) congratulated Gov. Ugwuanyi, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the exercise and pledged to support his administration.
Basking in the euphoria of the well-deserved victory, support groups and people from various Local Government Areas have continued to troop to the Government House, Enugu to equally congratulate the governor.
On the day the people of Igbo-Eze North LGA paid him a congratulatory visit, the peace-loving governor appealed to members of his political party to be magnanimous in victory by promoting peace and unity and showing love to one another irrespective of party affiliations. He stated that “now the election is over, politicians in the state should invoke their Christian faith, go back and unite with their perceived enemies, show love to them, so that the prevailing peace for which Enugu State is known will be adequately sustained”.
Prior to this, Ugwuanyi, as a humble and appreciative leader, had shortly after the victory returned to the markets and streets to say “Thank You” to the people for reelecting him as their governor. It would be recalled that the governor and his party, the PDP, unlike other political parties, embarked on an intense door-to-door campaign at the markets and streets of the state canvassing vigorously for votes.
It was, therefore, a heartwarming experience for the residents, the petty traders, the barrow pushers and the market men and women, among others, seeing their governor at their doorstep, coming to say “Thank You” for reelecting him into office.
Gov. Ugwuanyi had earlier in his acceptance speech expressed gratitude to God and thanked the people of the state for their overwhelming support in renewing his mandate.
Accepting the mandate, the governor stated that “this victory does not belong to me alone”. He disclosed that “it belongs to Ndi Enugu – our political leaders and other stakeholders irrespective of party affiliations; the market men and women, the barrow pushers, taxi and commercial bus drivers, Okada and Keke riders, petty traders, other artisans, town union and community leaders, the clergy, our revered traditional rulers, civil servants, the farmers, the professional class, youth and women groups, students and others who are the true heroes of our democracy”.
He told the people of the state that he was “deeply humbled that you have, once again, invested your trust and faith in our team”, saying that it is now for him and his deputy and running mate, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo “to continue to work for you”.
Ugwuanyi pledged that his administration will devote energy and time to work harder for the wellbeing and prosperity of the people, stressing that “we are open to new ideas and new visions, as we continue to lay the solid foundation for a more prosperous Enugu State”.
According to him, “I hereby reaffirm that we will continue to serve you with the fear of God, with humility and an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of our people and lifting the State to unprecedented heights of development and progress”.
The governor also expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for “his exemplary leadership and for providing the enabling environment that ensured the peaceful conduct of elections in our State”. He equally saluted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “for a job well done and for keeping alive the dream of a brighter democracy”.
Speaking further he said: “We are equally grateful to the Nigerian security agencies and the independent observers who ensured that we had peaceful processes at the polls”.
To his fellow party leaders, members and teeming supporters, Gov. Ugwuanyi thanked them for “the wonderful job that you all did”, saying: “I am very proud of your contributions”.
Extending his hand of fellowship to other contestants he added: “In truth, the victory is not a winner-takes-all. In our spirit of brotherhood, everyone is a winner. Therefore, I reach out my hand of friendship and partnership to my fellow contestants. I invite all of you to join hands with me so that together, we shall build a better Enugu State, to the glory of God.
Re-committing himself to the service of God and the state, Gov. Ugwuanyi declared: “Now is the time to get back to work. We are inspired by the sacrifices and support of our people in renewing our mandate. I am confident that by the special grace of God and with your continuing cooperation and prayers, all things concerning Enugu State will continue to end in praise”.
On the significance of today’s birthday celebration, the time-honoured occasion reinvigorates the governor’s commitment to peace, charity and almsgiving – a constant moral obligation in appreciation of God’s goodness and amazing grace to him as “Nwaogbenye”.
The anniversary offers him, his family, friends, well-wishers, and teeming supporters, who have remained steadfast in prayers, yet another opportunity to give to the poor and less privileged in the society with all sense of divinity and benevolence.
It re-echoes his disposition towards alleviating the suffering of the people as the nexus between him and God. It also re-echoes his long-held appeal that those who intended to offer him birthday gifts should “channel them to charity homes and orphanages in appreciation of God’s mercies and kindness” and “in the spirit of the Lenten Season”.
This, one believes, is the best way to celebrate the governor’s resounding victory at the polls, appreciate God‘s abundant blessings upon him and his family’s life, as well as pray fervently for continued peace and progress of Enugu State, as he strives to render more selfless service in realization of the dreams of the state’s founding fathers.
Your Excellency, it has indeed ended in praise, Happy Birthday. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
*Amoke writes from Enugu