By Louis Amoke
THE two-year development trajectory of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in Enugu State signposts a clear and systematic departure from the past when most major achievements were concentrated in the urban areas. In his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, Ugwuanyi stated that his administration will “pay a special attention to rural development because majority of our people live in the rural areas.”
In an explicit commitment to rural development, he emphasized that his administration will open up the rural areas, create more urban centers, develop fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on Enugu metropolis to boost socio-economic expansion and give rural dwellers a sense of belonging by equipping and modernizing some satellite towns such as Nsukka, 9th Mile Corner, Emene, Awgu and Abakpa, among others.
To actualize this, the governor, as an ingenious leader, few weeks after his inauguration, held an interactive meeting with stakeholders of the state, where his plans for the development of these areas were endorsed. The state House of Assembly consequently, gave the plans a constitutional backing by approving a supplementary budget to that effect.
Two years in the saddle, one is impressed that the governor, in spite of the adverse effects of the economic recession in the country, has been able to record remarkable feats in line with his promises to entrench good governance, peace and alleviate the sufferings of the people, the true heroes of democracy.
The policy thrust of the administration has remained grassroots-oriented, focusing on developing the rural communities through concentration of massive infrastructural development in the most remote and neglected areas across the state’s 17 councils. His recent impromptu visit to Amurri in Nkanu West council, to inspect the neglected road and interface with the people of the community and find out from them their immediate needs, is an evidence of his commitment to rural development. This has, indeed, endeared him to the masses as a caring leader.
This is also evident in the over 35 infrastructural projects going on simultaneously across the state. While some of the projects have been completed and inaugurated, others are at the advanced stage of completion. Recently, the government initiated a community-based programme, “One Community -One Project,” carefully designed to attract N10 million worth of project in every community in the state, in line with the grassroots development initiatives. It is, therefore, worthy of note that Ugwuanyi’s administration, in just two years, has fulfilled virtually all the promises as contained in his inaugural address and is also in full flight fulfilling other people-oriented programmes across the state.
For instance, the state government has completed and inaugurated the intractable Nike Lake road and Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Council, which were, hitherto, a nightmare for travellers traversing through the Enugu-Ugwuogu Nike-Opi road to the northern parts of the country. The administration has also completed and inaugurated the two bypass roads at the popular 9th Mile Corner in Udi Council, which were constructed to decongest the area of traffic.
Other road projects completed and inaugurated so far by the Ugwuanyi-led administration include the Airport Roundabout/ Orie Emene road; the Enugu Road (Nsukka) Junction-Nru Junction-UNN Gate road; the Orie Emene –Adoration Ministry road; the Odenigbo Roundabout- Ogurugu Road, and the Obechara- Ikenga Hotels Junction road both in the University town of Nsukka, etc. The Opi-Nsukka dual carriage way installed with street lights and the Udenu Ring road are nearing completion. On the Inyaba River Bridge in Amagunze, Nkanu East Council, which will connect over 10 communities to their headquarters, Amagunze, and save the people of the areas the pains of having to pass through four councils to access the council headquarters, concrete work has been completed while the earthwork (linkage) is at the final stage.
For the people of the affected communities, who hitherto had to travel on an emergency bridge constructed on a river, it is a dream come true when Ugwuanyi came to their rescue. The story remains the same in Ogbaku, Awgu Council, where the governor grabbed the bull by the horns in breaking down the undulating hills in the community to provide access road for the people. While the road has been completed, the people of the area are overwhelmed with excitement and appreciation to the governor for the vision to embark on the work on such a difficult terrain to alleviate the sufferings they pass through in accessing their ancestral home. Recently, the state government, in keeping with its vision to create more satellite towns to decongest Enugu Urban, approved the installation of solar-powered street lights at Mgbowo- Aki na Ukwa junction, Awgu council.
The above are just a tip of the iceberg of the massive and verifiable infrastructural development going on in the rural areas in Enugu under the watchful eyes of Ugwuanyi. Apart from the remarkable impacts in rural development, which is the focal point of the administration, the governor has also made a mark in other spheres of development. These include education, agriculture, health, workers’ welfare, peace initiatives, security, mass housing scheme, investment promotion/ economic recovery, employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, prudent management of resources, etc. All these are consistent with the four-point agenda of the present administration.
The administration has also upgraded infrastructure in Enugu metropolis through the rehabilitation of numerous urban roads, and maintenance of street lights and traffic lights as well as aggressive maintenance of roads under the “Operation Near Zero Potholes” scheme. The state government also made significant intervention on rehabilitation of failed sections of federal roads in the state to alleviate the pain users had experienced in the past. Ugwuanyi’s commitment to the welfare of workers in the state and his sustained cordial relationship with the Organized Labour has remained firm as evident in the regular payment of salaries and pensions on or before the 25th of every month, while still executing capital projects even when most states are unable to do so.
The governor’s new ethos of leadership also saw to the transparent management of the Paris Club loan refund and his wisdom in allowing the council share of the money to be used for the payment of salary arrears of workers at that tier of government, despite the fact that the Federal Government requested that minimum of 50 per cent of the fund should be used for the said purpose. Ugwuanyi’s discharge of his duties to the satisfaction of the masses and his passion for peace, humility and good governance has earned him several awards. These include “The Best Governor in the utilization of Federal Government Bailout Fund by the Senate”; “The most Labour-friendly Governor Award in the History of Enugu State” by the Organized Labour; the Budget report which listed Enugu among the three states capable of meeting their recurrent obligations.”
Others include “The Most Student and Youth-friendly Governor Award in Nigeria by the Enugu State chapter of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); “The Most Labour-friendly Governor Award in Nigeria” by the national leadership of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC). The state chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) equally commended the governor for the transparent management of the Paris Club loan refund, etc. The state government, apart from the recruitment exercise of 2,000 primary school teachers to improve the standard of education in the state is also executing a N3 billion worth of projects for the renovation of 348 public primary and secondary schools in Enugu with the federal government providing 50 per cent of the state sum.
Recently, the government procured 600 computers, 600 computer desks, 600 UPS, 60 power generators and 60 printers for public secondary schools in the state. Infrastructure and other logistics are being provided in the state-owned tertiary institutions for accreditation of new courses and the efforts to upgrade the Institute of the Management Technology (IMT) into a degree-awarding institution. It was through the support and intervention of Ugwuanyi that the foremost Enugu Rangers International Football Club won the 2015/2016 NPFL trophy after 32 years in the wilderness.
The truth remains that there is excitement in Enugu and the citizens are happy with their visionary and God-fearing governor for his selfless service and efforts at giving them qualitative and people-oriented leadership. The governor’s mid-term scorecard gives reason to celebrate as well as recommit the state into the hands of God.