By Joseph Aneke
When Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi assumed office as the governor of Enugu State on May 29, 2015, and promised to deliver a new state devoid of political rancour and acrimony, but laced with development in every gamut, many thought he was making a political statement. They likened it to the usual antics where politicians promise to build a bridge where there is no river or even a gully.
However, five years down the line, Gburugburu, as he is fondly called has proved cynics wrong and shown that his words are his bond. First, he coined a slogan, “Enugu is in the hands of God,” to drive home the central message of what his administration represents.
The slogan, which has become a signature tune of all official engagements in the state is not just in words; but also in action, as evidenced by the uncommon peace and massive infrastructural developments that have enveloped the state since he came onboard.
Currently, what catches the fancy of many is Ugwuanyi’s efforts to ensure that as many rural communities as possible are connected by quality roads and bridges. Worthy of mention in this piece also are his efforts to ensure that existing roads in the urban centres are maintained and new ones constructed.
It is clear to every discerning mind that the integrated rural development agenda of Ugwuanyi’s administration is poised to enhance connectivity and access to homes, businesses and communities, as well as stimulate commerce and economic growth in the benefiting communities.
This was clearly demonstrated recently when the former governor of the old Anambra State and Senator, who represented Enugu East Senatorial District, Chief Jim Nwobodo, acknowledged publicly that Ugwuany’s rural road infrastructure has wiped away tears in his eyes and put smiles on the faces of his people in particular, and the entire Enugu people as a whole.
Nwobodo was reacting to the construction of the 14-Bay Bailey Bridge across Nyama River, linking Umuogo and Umuagba Amechi Uno/Obeagu communities in Enugu South Local Government Area.
Nwobodo, who spoke during the inauguration of the bridge by Ugwuanyi, said: “Thank you for this great honour, which you have done to me. I thank you for wiping away my tears. Since 1999, I have never stayed more than two weeks in Enugu, but since this governor came, all that has changed. I have been in Enugu for the past six months because of the peace he has entrenched.”
By constructing that bridge, the former governor confessed that Ugwuanyi had actualised the age-long dream of his people, adding that it was a feat the past governors of the state could not achieve.
Although many people wondered why Ugwuanyi should construct such a bridge in Nwobodo’s senatorial zone when he failed to do that as a governor and even as a senator, those who are conversant with Ugwuanyi’s style of governance would appreciate the fact that he was not just fulfilling his promise of delivering democracy dividends to every part of the state, he was also responding to his administration’s rural development agenda.. He saw the compelling need to unlock the tremendous opportunities for the benefitting communities and he utilised it as a clairvoyant leader.
Again, Ugwuanyi recently delivered a 13-kilometre Nike Lake Junction, linking Harmony Estate to Amorji Nike and Adoration Centre, through Orie Emene Road. This is happening at a time when most state governors are dropping development projects in their states due to the harsh economic effects of Coronavirus pandemic, which has practically brought the global economy to its knees.
The road which traversed the thick forest of Umuchigbo community in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state, would not only help to reduce the traffic congestion experienced in Abakpa Nike, but also increase the economic development of the area. The road has lined drains and five river crossing, as well as culverts and bridges, linking the busy and thickly populated Abakpa Nike with Emene satellite town.
The road is so strategic that it would open up development at the Harmony Estate as well as provide access to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, which is currently undergoing massive rehabilitation.
Even the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, could not but commend the governor for the project and prayed that God would continue to increase his wisdom to enable him to work for the people of the state. “The road passed through a thick forest, and it is only a governor, who has a political will to work for his people that could do what Ugwuanyi did,” Mbaka said.
The governor has also, within the last few months, transformed the university town of Nsukka into an urban city. All the major roads leading into and out of the town have been dualised with street lights lining most of them.
It is also important to note that the Enugu State Government under Ugwuanyi has successfully keyed into the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP); a project specifically designed by the Federal Government to improve the ease of transportation and bring sustained access to the rural population through rehabilitation and maintenance of key rural roads in selected states in the country. Enugu is one of the states that are successfully implementing the project, which is jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the French Development Agency.
Ugwuanyi approved the release of over N4.2 billion as its counterpart fund payment in the first phase of the project which involved nine rural roads totaling 115.36km in the state. This is in addition to another rural road project in the state known as the Community Based Road Maintenance and Annual Mechanised Maintenance, which has already mapped out plans to rehabilitate 49.8km of rural roads.
The nine roads under the RAMP include Abor Road, Egede-Awhum Road, St. Mary Ngwo-Nsude Road, Ugwuoba-Nkwere Inyi-Inyi Road, and UNTH-Enugu Agu-Ndiagu-Umuaniagu-Obe-Amurri road. Others are Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti Road, Ukpabi-Nimbo-Ugbene Ajima-Eziani Road; Ikwoka-Amagu-Ajuona-Akabusiyi Obimo Road as well as Adani-Asaba-Igga-Ojjor Road.
A cursory look at the above rural roads would seem as if the governor is giving undue advantage to some communities but that is very far from the truth. Gburugburu is a governor that spreads infrastructural development, particularly rural roads, to every part of the state irrespective of party leaning or ancestral lineage. He attends to the needs of a particular community or section of the state depending on how such projects impact the lives of the people in such areas.
On that score, the state Executive Council recently awarded contracts for more infrastructural developments in the urban and rural areas, worth over N1.1 billion. Top on the list of road projects awarded for construction and rehabilitation is the construction of phase III Amokwe Road in Udi Local Government Area, starting from Udi Station through Ibuzo Amokwe to Amokwe Station Road. Others include the extension of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ezi Ukehe-Afia Four-Umurusi-Major General Ezugwu House-Umuoka Junction Road in Igbo Etiti Local Government Area, the construction/rehabilitation of Ojoto Crescent, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; the reconstruction of Brown and Brown Crescent, Independence Layout, Enugu; completion of internal roads at Diamond City Estate, GRA, Enugu; as well as the completion of Ozidem-Nrobo-Abbi-Nimbo Road in Uzo Uwani LGA.
Ugwuanyi is indeed, God’s sent to Enugu people, and like he has always said: “Enugu is truly in the hands of God.”
––Aneke writes from Coal Camp, Enugu.