By Samson Ezea
Fifty-Five years today, precisely March 20, 1965, a bouncing baby was born into the modest and cultured family of Mr David and Mrs Veronica Ugwuanyi, of Ohom Orba in the present Udenu Local Council Area of Enugu State. The male child, whowas delivered during the Lenten period was christened Lawrence and was also given Igbo name-Ifeanyichukwu, meaning Nothing Pass God; a name that is meaningful,philosophical, fulfilling and spiritual in all ramifications. A name that has lived with Ugwuanyi since then and has continued to manifest in all his endeavours till date. Just like his siblings, Gov. Ugwuanyi was brought up in a God fearing way, clothed with humility, taciturnity, intelligence, honesty and diligence.Growing among his peers, he shone like a star both in academic and extra-curricular activities during his primary, secondary, tertiary education and even in leadership positions.
Gov. Ugwuanyi is endowed with exemplary leadership qualities that began to manifest early in his life as a secondary school student at the prestigious St. Theresa College, Nsukka. After his secondary education, he secured admission into theNigeria’s foremost university, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and M.Sc. degree in Marketing majoring in Public Relations. In his quest for more knowledge and exposure, he moved further to acquire MBA degree in Finance and Accountancy from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).
While his colleagues were scrambling for white collar jobs, within and outside the country, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who had always believed and preferred working for his people and being with them picked job at Premier Brokers Limited, a prime insurance broking firm in the Southeast zone owned by five states of the zone and ACB bank. After years of excellent performance, he rose to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Premier Broking Firm. In 2002, he became the 16 president of the Rotary Club of Emene, Enugu. It was at this point that his exceptional philanthropy to the downtrodden and less privileged in the society came to public notice. Without hesitation and in appreciation of his rare philanthropic gestures, the people of his town, in an elaborate traditional ceremony conferred on him the title of Dunu Gburugburu 1 of Orba, meaning the man of the people.
Satisfied with his leadership exploits and track record in service, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s people beckoned on him to offer himself for political office. His foray in murky water of Nigerian politics commenced with his quest to become the chairman of his council area, Udenu. Despite losing the opportunity to political intrigues, Ugwuanyi remained undaunted and focused in his political pursuits, banking on God and his people’s support. In 2003, true to Ugwuanyi’s expectation and hope, the political opportunity came calling as he won the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party to contest for Igbo-Eze North/ Udenu Federal Constituency seat. He overwhelmingly won the election and his constituents enjoyed his representation. He was reelected in 2007 and 2011 making him the longest serving House of Representatives member in the whole of Enugu State, before 2015 elections. While in the House of Representatives, he moved so many motions and initiated some people-orientedbills. He also chaired and co-chaired some many committees,including Marine Transport committee he chaired for eight years.
Because of his philanthropy, performance and antecedent, while in the House of Representatives for more than a decade, Ugwuanyi’s desire to contest for Enugu State governorship seat on PDP platform received massive support and accolades across the state, with the exception of some few disgruntled elements in the party, who tried to play God, forgetting that it is Him that makes anyone king. Their move to thwart Ugwuanyi’s guber ambition failed them. Ugwuanyi won the election comfortably, but with his party, PDP’s loss of the presidency for the first time since 1999, he became the first governor of the state to be elected on opposition party platform.
Notwithstanding, Gov. Ugwuanyi on assumption of office in the face of obvious daunting financial challenges in 2015,handed over the affairs of the state to God, who made his victoryand every other thing possible. He faced his job with utmost diligence, equanimity and God’s fear. Before anyone could say Jack Robison, Gov. Ugwuanyi and his team have quickly turned things around and set the state on the path of greatness to the amazement of many. The state, despite not being oil producing state or rank high in monthly federation allocation became a reference point in financial and human resources management, courtesy of Ugwuanyi’s prudence and transparency.
Within a short period, Gov. Ugwuanyi by his leadership style which is result-driven, proved that leading a state without much resources is not a rocket science as some of his colleagues have Nigerians to believe. He became governor of many feats and firsts. His popularity soared and testimonies of his goodness and startling performance in office abound within and outside the state. Among the workers, pensioners, security agents, religious leaders, artisans, majority residents, visitors and others, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s government is popular and acceptable, because ofits good governance and people-oriented programmes. It was for this reason that four national dailies-The Sun, Independent, Vanguard and Leadership, independently found Gov. Ugwuanyiworthy of honour with different unprecedented awards at the same time, after painstaking assessments.
Even in the face of remarkable performance in office and the myriad of accolades that have continued to trail it, Gov. Ugwuanyi was never carried away, rather he has remained humble and focused on his job. At the peak of his campaign for reelection, he personally went to the grassroots to solicit for votes from traders in markets, artisans on the streets, and residents at their homes. Since his reelection on March 9, Gov. Ugwuanyi has also physically returned to the markets and streetswith his team to thank the voters for their support and at the same assured them of better days ahead with their support and prayers.
The ease, peacefulness and massive votes of which Gov. Ugwuanyi was reelected for second term speak volume of his performance, popularity and acceptance by the people in the state. It is a clear indicator of the renewed confidence and trust the people had in him to steer the ship of the state in next four years. It has also shown that Gov. Ugwuanyi is not only at home with his people, he is accessible by them and of assistance to them in time of needs and wants.
The coincidence of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s reelection, with that ofhis birthday and the Lenten period is an eloquent testimony of God’s presence in his life and plans for higher leadership responsibility for him in the years ahead. It is divine and a continuous fulfilment of God’s agenda in a good man’s life which no man or evil can stop. While it is expected that friends and well-wishers of the governor will roll out drums today to celebrate him amidst fanfare and razzmatazz, Gov. Ugwuanyiwill in his usual manner, philanthropy and religious belief celebrate it at orphanage homes with the orphans and less privileged, having directed his well-wishers and friends to take their gifts to the place. Low key celebration at orphanage homeshas been the governor’s way of celebrating his birthday for years now. He has not changed it and he is not changing it, knowing how God took him from grass to grace.
His Excellency, birthday is a new start, a fresh beginning and a time to pursue new endeavours with new goals. Trudge on with confidence and confidence, you are a very special person to your people. May today and all your days be amazing, prosperous and fulfilling as you sincerely and selflessly serve humanity. True to your name Ifeanyichukwu, Nothing Will Pass God in your life.Hurray and many more rewarding years ahead, the indefatigable leader at 55.
Ezea, writes from Independence Layout, Enugu State.