By Ejike Anyaduba
THE Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo will on Friday November 23, present to the public, the book, An Honour to Serve: Enugu State in the Sullivan Years, a biography of former governor of Enugu, Sullivan Iheanacho Chime.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor George Obiozor, will be the chairman of the event, slated for Friday, November 23.
A visiting Professor at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu State, Prof Chidi Onyia, and the Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian Newspaper, Mr. Debo Adesina will review the long awaited book.
The 456-page book is edited by Chief Tony Onyima, a former Managing Director/Editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper. The biography tells the story of pre-colonial Enugu through the birth and upbringing of Chime.
It chronicles Chime’s rise to power, his tenure as governor between 2007 and 2015, style of governance, challenges and achievements, testimonies of witnesses to the great transformation under his watch.
Chime’s era is widely accepted in Enugu as the golden period. The former governor is perhaps too passionate about Enugu to be restrained from taking critical decisions that changed politics and governance in the State.
With the knowledge of an Enugu that worked, and conscious of its slide into decline, Chime accepted the responsibility to halt the slide and return the State to its pristine condition. His passion for order gave him strength to rework Enugu.
In time Enugu was transformed; a cut above many States in infrastructural development, fiscal discipline, local government administration, security and rule of law.
An unprecedented growth matrix was developed to trigger economic expansion and quickened infrastructural development. In its wake, a unique development model called Visit Every Community (VEC) was developed. The first of its kind, it was deployed religiously in tracking the development needs of communities in the State.
Agriculture, which was in a decrepit condition, took a turn for the better. In the place of the dilapidated State Secretariat, a modern complex was erected. The aging Government House (Lion Building), which had survived many governments, was also modernized into a splendid edifice.
Perhaps, the Chime administration would rank the dousing of political tension in the State as one of its greatest achievements. Secured at a cost many will balk at, it took a Chime to bring about the current political peace in the State.
In enthroning the incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Chime forfeited his his chance of furthering his political ambition. A selfless act a very few could have done.
Under Chime, democracy and rule of law was upheld in its truest sense. Local government elections were held on schedule and the principle of separation of powers dutifully observed.
There was little friction between the State and local governments, which perhaps explains the large-scale development seen in all the local government areas in the State. A subtle competition for high performance was introduced among the local council chairmen, which augured well for integrated development of the State.
Achievements were recorded in the cultural sector, health delivery, educational reforms, enhanced environmental health, transportation, human capital development, etc.
Every aspect of the economy was given a facelift. Governance was carried out to achieve set goals with less publicity. This perhaps explains the curiosity surrounding the news of Chime’s documented account of his stewardship.
According to Chime, “the publication is to enlighten whoever the reader may be about the challenges, triumphs, setbacks, successes, trials and victories that my team and I experienced during the period I served as the chief steward of Enugu State.”
He hopes that the book will “undoubtedly be seen, in years to come, as a beacon to guide successive political leaders, and a compendium of truths, which will offer a glimmer of hope and succour to doubting Thomases that, there is, after all, such a thing as ‘good governance’ “
The testimonies of indigenes and residents, point to the fact that the years 2007 and 2015 were indeed a golden period.
Former Chairman of Union Bank Plc, and a long resident of Enugu, Elder (Dr.) Kalu Uke Kalu, in his foreword, describes the book as “part journal, part leadership manual. This book is for everybody, but especially for those who desire proof that not all Nigerian politicians are selfish. It is for every serving public officer who seeks insight into what good governance truly means; for historians seeking reference material explaining the Enugu transformation; and, for people like me, who watched the transformation happen, and always secretly wished that this man’s good work would be documented.”
The editor, and former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Anambra State, Onyima, said the book “aims at filling a knowledge gap in our national heritage of keeping records. The presentation will afford Nigerians another opportunity to discuss leadership and stewardship in the nation’s governance.”
Anyaduba writes from Abatete, Anambra State