As we celebrate with the people’s governor, it is our collective responsibility to continue to appreciate God‘s abundant blessings upon him and his family’s life, reflect and pray fervently for continued peace and good governance, and encourage him to hold on tightly to his sound vision to take Enugu State to the next level.
He is no less a child of providence. Attaining 56 years of age on March 20, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State is certainly the man of the moment for so many obvious reasons. With his unique disposition to life, the governor has come a long way navigating with peacefulness, humility, caring, compassion, vision, hard-work and the fear of his beloved God. He has carved a niche for himself as an outstanding leader whose approach to handling issues remains unbeatable and enduring.
The governor’s birthday is the first after his inauguration for a second term in office following his overwhelming reelection by the people of Enugu State. He won with an unprecedented 95.54 per cent of the votes cast, the highest in the history of the country and this is symbolic and yet another opportunity to appreciate God, through acts of charity, for his mercy and kindness.
To this great man of faith and goodwill, compassionate in uplifting the downtrodden and resolute in entrenching peace and good governance in the state, the anniversary, is as always, people-centered and a boost to continue to serve with the fear of God and render selfless service to the state and humanity.
It is on record that Governor Ugwuanyi’s penchant for the wellbeing of the people, especially the needy and downtrodden in the society, has been unequalled and a great source of strength.
In ensuring peace and good governance in Enugu State, the governor in spite of the nation’s security and economic challenges, has continued to make sacrifices and work round the clock to sustain the state’s enviable peaceful atmosphere and enhance the delivery of service to the people at every level of the state.
As an unassuming leader, Governor Ugwuanyi is at peace with everybody; he relates and interacts with both the high and the low; he listens, tolerates, accommodates and cares; and most importantly, fears and serves God, faithfully. He has no enemy and always pays the ultimate price for peace to reign. The governor is one who delights in the joy of his people and shares in their grief as well.
Governor Ugwuanyi also delights in addressing grey issues that are paramount to the wellbeing of the people, especially the lowly and long neglected who had hitherto been denied the dividends of democracy.
His administration’s widely cherished rural development policy, which has provided the veritable platform to address the hydra-headed imbalance between urban and rural dwellers in terms of distribution of amenities, indeed, caused a spontaneous revolution that brought about massive infrastructural development in the rural areas.
The state government’s grassroots-development initiative has, therefore, ensured a systematic concentration of infrastructural developments more in the rural areas that were hitherto in dearth of amenities, helplessly. The special attention to rural areas, where the majority of the people reside, was borne out of the governor’s vision to give every citizen of the state a sense of belonging.
It is on record that Ugwuanyi’s administration has profusely invested huge resources in developing the rural communities, concentrating development projects in the remote villages to create more urban centres for socio-economic growth.
In this regard, communities such as Amurri and Ogonogoeji in Nkanu West LGA, Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo LGA, Ukpabi-Nimbo-Ugbene Ajima-Eziani in Uzo-Uwani LGA and Akpugoeze in Oji River LGA, that had not experienced state government presence for many decades, have been remembered with one development project or the other.
The sum of N3.4 billion was appropriated in the 2020 budget, for the establishment of a small/medium-sized Industry in each of the seventeen (17) local government areas of the State, at an average sum of N200 million per LGA.
While all these were going on, the Ugwuanyi administration through its urban renewal drive has equally ensured provision of critical infrastructure, beautification and upgrade of facilities in the urban areas, while restoring Enugu city to its original master-plan. The state government in its 2020 budget also captured the construction of the Enugu first ever flyover and completion of the International Conference Centre (ICC), among other legacy projects, to enhance the status and socio-economic potentials of the state capital.
On the whole, about 600 kilometres of road across the state have been covered so far by Ugwuanyi’s administration.
This is in addition to remarkable achievements in other sectors of development such as security, state workers’ welfare, education, health, empowerment, investment promotion, agriculture, Judiciary infrastructural transformation, among others.
Only recently, the state workers trooped out in their numbers and marched through the streets of Enugu to the Government House, in jubilation, to thank Ugwuanyi for being the first governor of the state, since the inception of democracy in 1999, to pay them the minimum wage without rancour.
The jubilant workers, who were led by the state leadership of the organised labour sang solidarity songs and displayed banners/placards with inscriptions such as: “Enugu State workers say Thank You His Excellency for the new minimum wage”, “Gburus, Enugu workers say Thank You for regular payment of salaries”, “Gburus, thank you for giving us new minimum wage without stress”, “Thank you for regular payment of monthly pensions”, “Gburus, you are a pacesetter”, “Gburus is our man”.
They told the people’s governor that the workers were surprised and elated to receive their salary alerts during the weekend reflecting the new minimum wage in line with the agreed consequential adjustment chart.
According to them, “today is a special day in the history of Enugu State. This is because there is no worker in Enugu State that did not benefit from Ugwuanyi’s alert, and that is why we are singing now”.
Narrating other numerous interventions of the governor towards the welfare of the state workers, such as the 100 units of one-bedroom flats for civil servants between grade levels 01-10, regular payment of salaries and pensions and the payment of 13th month salary, the workers pointed out that “It’s instructive that Governor Ugwuanyi was recording such feats at a time when many states could not pay their workers’ salaries”.
Speaking at the event, the state chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, Comrade Benneth Asogwa maintained that the state workers marched to the Government House to let the world know that “it is because you have been able to turn the history positively as far as minimum wage is concerned in Enugu State”.
According to him, “we want to also tell them (the world) that what we are doing today is significant because in the past, whenever minimum wage was being expected, it was always negative. Then, we would mourn from, maybe, New Haven to our Secretariat crying and shouting. Then, you would see all Enugu in pains. But today, we have come to Government House, smiling”.
Comrade Asogwa, who maintained that this was the first time the workers had a salary chart that was a product of collective bargaining, told Gov. Ugwuanyi that “the greatest political party you have identified with is the public service and you are a full registered member and we can tell you that you have our mandate, anytime.”
His words: “Your Excellency, I want to summarize by saying that history will never forget your regime. We stand here to say that in Enugu State, we have worked for years without salary chart until somebody called Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, a.k.a Gburugburu, came and the dignity of workers was restored. We stand here today to say, Your Excellency, we are very grateful”.
On the significance of the governor’s 56th birthday, the time-honoured occasion, symbolically reinvigorates his commitment to charity and almsgiving – a constant moral obligation in appreciation of God’s goodness and amazing grace to him as “Nwaogbenye”.
The anniversary offers him and 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.
Consequently, the pet project of the governor’s wife, Ugo’s Touch of Life Foundation, is at the moment offering one week free medical outreach across the 17 LGAs of the state, in collaboration with Dr. Chukwudi Abraham Nneji Hospital Organization, Germany, to celebrate the governor’s birthday.
This humanitarian exercise is in keeping with the governor’s long-held appeal that those who intended to offer him birthday gifts should deploy them to charity in appreciation of God’s mercy and kindness as well as in the spirit of the Lenten Season.
As we celebrate with the people’s governor, it is our collective responsibility to continue to appreciate God‘s abundant blessings upon him and his family’s life, reflect and pray fervently for continued peace and good governance, and encourage him to hold on tightly to his sound vision to take Enugu State to the next level. Happy Birthday, His Excellency. Enugu State is truly in the hands of God!
Louis Amoke writes from Enugu.