By Steve Oruruo
On Tuesday, the 27th of August, 1991, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted the document, “Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova”, ratifying the birth of a new Nation. On the same day, several nautical miles away, in Nigeria, a distinct set of people was also writing the prologue of their new destiny. A military Decree created Enugu State alongside eight other states in the federation including Abia, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba, and Yobe.
Thursday, August 27, 2020, marked the 29th year since our great state was created from the eastern two-thirds of the old Anambra state. Despite the travails of our checkered history, the embedded discriminatory vestiges, the conspiracy of profaning silence and the slurring recriminations, we have every cause to celebrate how far we have come as a people and our enduring collective achievements over the years. Our purposeful existence today is a testimony to the buoyantly magnanimous mercies, grace, faithfulness and favour of the God.
It is unfortunate however, that our celebration appears to be tainted by the somber specter of a vicious foe, confronting the world – the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation of the world economy reels in convulsive throes and pangs in its quest to meet both the exigent infrastructural and recurrent imperative to tackle and contain this scourge. We have all made enormous sacrifices to protect ourselves, our families, neighbours, colleagues and friends. The economy of our state has also suffered severe contractions.
Therefore, our celebration also calls for sober reflection. The demand for unity, oneness and solidarity is dire. By the grace of the Almighty God we will defiantly emerge from these murky waters, stronger and better. Triumphing over trials and tribulations is as pivotally ingrained as it is fundamentally entrenched in the character of the Wawa man. It is the insignia of our indomitability. It resonates with the indestructibility of our hope. Once again, affliction has risen against us to test our faith and resolve. Together, we will stand strong, fight in unison and conquer in one accord.
The creation of our dear Enugu State on the 27th day of August, 1991 by the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, was destiny in invincible manifestation. The preludial antecedents and circumstances of that historic moment featured an interplay between divine providence and the spirited agitations of some of our bravest heroes. Those men and women, some of whom still live in our midst today, secured our right to self-determination and set the foundation for the evolution of the Enugu we are proud to have today. Luckily for us, their unflappable courage, unbridled enthusiasm, unflagging energy, unmitigated strength of character and implacable commitment still inherently course through our veins. We must then rediscover ourselves and unbridle our enormous potential to push Enugu to even greater heights.
Our capital city, Enugu, occupies a prime place in Nigeria’s political history as the cradle of Igbo civilization. Following the discovery in 1909, and subsequent mining of coal in commercial quantity, Enugu rose in prominence, morphing into a cosmopolitan settlement. Afterwards, it became the administrative headquarters of Southern and Eastern Provinces in 1929; capital of Eastern Region from 1954 to 1967; capital of the defunct State of Biafra for the greater part of the Nigeria civil war between 1967 and 1970; capital of East Central State from 1970 to 1976; capital of the old Anambra State from 1976 to 1991; and capital of the Old Enugu State when Ebonyi state was part of us.
As a people, we are profoundly grateful in unmistakable terms to the political generosity, sagacity and goodwill of our past leaders who improvised to write elegant chapters in our historic narrative: His Excellencies, the legendary Nnamdi Azikiwe, famously regarded as the father of Nigerian Nationalism; Michael Iheonukara Okpara, the Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic; Senator Jim Nwobodo and Chief Christian Onoh, former democratically elected governors of the old Anambra state whose precocious leadership acuities chaperoned the emergence of Enugu State. To the military governors whose reign preceded the birthing of our dear state, we appreciate your time.
Since the turn of our creation in 1991, the state has been divinely and gorgeously decorated with remarkable Governors under whom giant leaps were resoundingly despatched with sublimity and stunning exquisiteness: His Excellencies, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Distinguished Senator Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani and Barrister Sullivan Chime.
Through the instrumentality of victory at a gubernatorial election, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi willfully entered into a social contract with Ndi Enugu to preserve our cherished socio-cultural heritage, sustain our sense of pride and steer a voyage towards the vista of a new Enugu.
He took an oath to spread messages of rejuvenated hope, enduring peace and sustained development to our people; to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to every law-abiding Wawa man caught in the unprovoked web of poverty and under-development. He committed himself to employment generation; enhanced social services and good governance; rural development; security and justice.
Four years later, in 2019, Ndi Enugu reenacted their immeasurable love, self-sacrifice, sense of justice and equity to seamlessly deliver one of the most remarkable electoral victories in the history of our nation. They renewed their social contract with the Governor and filled him with robust impetus to further stretch the frontiers of good governance.
On this occasion of our state’s 29th anniversary, I cling on this rare ephemerality to graze the surface of his achievements during the past five years that God in conjunction with man has graciously kept him in office.
Recall that our state was in dire financial straits when he mounted the saddle of leadership in 2015. The allocation from the centre was abysmally poor and dwindling, due to the economic recession exacerbated by drastic drop in crude oil price. It was a time when many states in the country struggled to offset their monthly wage bills. Instead of cowering and resigning to fate, Governor Ugwuanyi set out to reinvent and re-strategize.
As a crucial first step, he applied himself to accountability, honesty and prudent management of resources. He curbed unnecessary expenditures, plugged loopholes of misappropriation and systematically grew our IGR profile. As it stands today, Enugu State is ranked 9th out of 36 states and the FCT, in terms of IGR performance. His creative strategies, shrewdness, prudence and painstaking efforts have amassed incredible results. He has been engendering conciliation and fostering goodwill. He has been synergizing priorities and interests, forging new bonds and cultivating a sustainable culture of peace. His government has remained stoical in its commitment to open-door participatory democracy.
Cognizant of the definitive premium of indispensability hanging on the electorate by the power of his mandate, the importance of inclusivity and the weightier demands from the Almighty God; the Enugu Governor built bridges across divides, united age-long foes and forged new bonds of alliances and friendship; all geared towards a robust development of the Southeast capital, returning the clemency of the state’s ambiance and triggering a seismic socioeconomic prosperity.
For the past 5 years, he has been intentional and strategic in re-jigging the security architecture in Enugu state to ensure we always stay ahead of emerging dynamics. He has never lost sight of his primary constitutional responsibility, which is to secure our lives, properties and interests. To this effect, the State Government among other things procured and donated 100 units of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) patrol vans with communication gadgets to security agencies in the state. Enugu’s 1,700-pesonnel Forest Guards, the first in the South East geo-political zone, were empowered with 260 motorcycles, 300 bicycles and other appurtenances. The government took concrete steps in repositioning the Vigilante/Neighbourhood Watch groups in the state; donating 260 security vehicles to enhance their Community Policing operations.
Today, Enugu state is one of the most peaceful and secured states in the federation. On this fertile ground, Governor Ugwuanyi has sown and nourished policies to transform the state into a foremost investment destination of choice in the Southeastern divide of the Niger. The first Enugu Investment Summit which was piloted by Enugu State Economic and Investment Committee was conceived to put Enugu on the global business map. And it sure did with aplomb, as Enugu state leapfrogged from its 2014 World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking as 27th out of 36 states, including FCT Abuja, to 2nd in Ease of Starting Business and 3rd in Ease of Doing Business in the 2018 World Bank Ease of Doing Business sub-national ranking.
Governor Ugwuanyi’s developmental strides on all facets have sought to rebalance the scale of the urban-rural contrast. He had consciously discountenanced with the parochial misconception that development can only be viewed to have been accomplished only if adjudged via the prism and precincts of urban renewal. Long-forgotten communities have been remembered with social amenities. He has charted new territories, connected communities and established economic-oriented rural-urban linkages. His grassroots development agenda has been in perfect sync with his urban renewal drive, both coalescing into inclusive non-discriminatory governance. From the valleys of the Milliken Hill to Opi Nsukka dual carriageway; from Ebonyi River bridge Ikem to the bridges in Udenu ring roads; from Iva Valley road in Enugu North LGA to Nkalagu-Eha Amufu road neglected for over 35 years; from Ukpabi-Nimbo- Ugbene- Ajima-Eziani road to Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti inter-community road linking Isiuzo and Udenu LGAs; from Inyi-Akpugoeze road in Oji River LGA to Ituku road in Awgu LGA and down to Amurri road in Nkanu West LGA to mention but a few, he has courageously lifted the knees on the neck of rural dwellers through the construction of major road networks.
Having directly felt the pangs of Urban/rural dichotomy and the attendant neglect, he is condemned to reengineer a reawakening by re-integrating the hinterlands into the affairs and benefits of governance, through infrastructural renaissance and multi-dimensional economic development. Governor Ugwuanyi’ s Government is challenging an unhealthy tradition of rural-urban bias and provoking new pacesetting trends.
Instructively, out of the shadows and shackles of the traumatic and inglorious abandonment of the past, emerged a resilient rural personnel grinding out survival through the socioeconomic easements offered by this administration. Under his watch as a Governor, his government had vehemently stood with the people. It will neither pander to elitist whims that serve the interests of a few Lords of the Manor in a recycled serfdom nor adopt self-serving policies that negate the yearnings of the plebeians.
Governor Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi has unequivocally promised to remain resolutely committed to his convictions and allied to the advocacy that the sovereignty of the law, supremacy of human dignity, inclusivity and commonality in governance, the necessity of due process and the triumph of collective freedom, by far, outweigh the whimsical and pyrrhic victory in selective patronage.
He has always acknowledged the civil service as the engine room of his government and partners in progressive leadership. No wonder he initiated and sustained the tradition of paying salaries on or before the 24th of every month and the novel 13th month miracle. His government’s promptness in implementing the new National Minimum Wage depicts his unwavering devotion to this pool of very consummate, resourceful and dedicated men and women. The welfare of pensioners and elder statesmen and women, who served the state with dignity and dedication for long years, is manifestly a priority in Ugwuanyi’s government.
The Enugu governor seizes every chance to recognize with admiration, the tremendous sacrifices and efforts of our healthcare workers who have been unrelenting on the frontlines of our fight to contain the ravaging and debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been reliable stakeholders in our health sector reform endeavours. Evidently, the government’s goal to provide the people with quality, accessible and affordable healthcare is being pursued with unyielding determination and profound vigour; a glimpse of the preparedness to respond swiftly and effectively to the evolving challenges posed by this novel Corona virus pandemic.
This regime has completed and equipped the ultra-modern Diagnostic Centre inherited from the previous administration. In the interim, it functions as a COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Centre, complementing the other two centres in ESUT Teaching Hospital and Nsukka.
Governor Ugwuanyi project 2020 team’s healthcare infrastructural renaissance drive saw to the upgrade of seven general hospitals including Poly General Hospital and Udi General Hospital. In furtherance to his unalloyed commitment to total recovery, he has also constructed and renovated district hospitals and health centres in the state, especially in the rural areas. He reconstructed and erected new structures at the Colliery Hospital, Enugu, which now operates as an Infectious Disease Isolation and Treatment Centre. Just recently, his government awarded multiple contracts for the construction of 7 units of Type 3 Primary Health Care Centre in 7 LGAs. The trajectory he has set in motion continues on a conscious but well- tailored glide.
Since Governor Ugwuanyi’s election into office, the Enugu education sector has flourished. He has been investing massively in the training of our youths; the future of Enugu’s economy and leadership. Retooling our leadership training and recruitment process has become an impediment that must be diligently resolved to give our future a chance. These days, when the allure of politics appears to have eclipsed intellect, it is so gratifying to see an emerging generation from this side of our geographical divide, with a profound penchant and flair not only for esotericism but also for science and technology. Interestingly the state government has offered scholarships to 680 indigent Engineering students of Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo, and the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. Also 22 post-secondary school indigent students are currently far away in India, studying at Mewar University on state-awarded scholarships, just as more are being speedily readied for Cambridge university.
Through ENSUBEB and PPSMB, the government has constructed, renovated and equipped several classroom blocks, offices and hostels across all zones and levels of education in the state.
Governor Ugwuanyi ‘s led government loves, respects and believes in the prowess of teachers. The governor is aware of the weight of responsibility on their shoulders to mould our younger generation into great men and women. To address yawning shortfalls, the government recruited over 5000 primary and secondary school teachers, converted 1000 existing volunteer teachers to permanent staff and released all outstanding arrears of promotion, thus suggesting that teachers are the heroes and indispensable partners in the remaking of our tomorrow’s fate.
The government’s extensive infrastructural development efforts in the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) facilitated its transitioning into a degree-awarding institution and the recovery of hitherto-lost accreditation for several courses. The regime is also transforming the landscape and capacity of other state-owned institutions including the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Enugu State College of Education Technical (ESCET) and Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo.
This administration is building the first degree-awarding institution in Education in the South East zone, the Enugu State University of Education in Ihe, Awgu LGA. The government prides itself as one of its many historic firsts. In a similar vein, the administration has returned Enugu State University of Science and Technology to its original multi-campus structure with a new campus being constructed in Enugu North Senatorial Zone.
Cautiously aware that social justice flows from the estuary of Judicial activities than from the firth of religious crusades, Governor Ugwuanyi’s government has diligently made several interventions in the Judiciary in order to promote fairness, equity and speedy dispensation of justice. In line with the above, it constructed the first Enugu State Customary Court of Appeal Headquarters complex in Enugu and several other court buildings across the rural, suburban and urban areas in the state. Amongst a myriad of other projects, the regime successfully established Multi-Door Court House in Enugu and renovated the State Judiciary Headquarters complex, Enugu all in a bid to accentuate a Judicial system; trademarked with inalienable independence, robust infrastructure, unquestionable competencies, untainted probity, unscathed transparency, glaring incorruptibility and unflagging commitment to rule of law, due process, rectitude, enduring peace and sustainable orderliness.
Governor Ugwuanyi has empowered 3,600 traders with 50, 000 naira each under the Enugu State Traders Empowerment Scheme. He has also empowered 750 youths in skills acquisition under the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). A thousand of our finest young men and women are currently engaged under Enugu Clean Team Project and are the secret behind Enugu’s spotless surroundings and unclogged drainages.
Taking cognizance of the fact that Enugu’s economy is predominantly agrarian, the government has been implementing the greatest agricultural reform program since the creation of the state 29 years ago. The administration approved the establishment of two World Bank projects, namely IFAD and APPEALS programmes for women and youths agricultural empowerment for which it regularly pays counterpart funds. Not long ago, the administration rolled out the drums to launch the Coal City Rice, a commodity which is in high demand in the entire South East and beyond.
The administration has rehabilitated facilities at Ajali and Oji River Water Treatment Schemes; massively improving water supply to Enugu metropolis and its environs. Yet, efforts are still being tenaciously redoubled to enhance improved reticulation. The numerous housing development initiatives by the government are targeted at addressing accommodation deficits arising from the steady influx of people into the state.
With the support of Ndi Enugu, governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi orchestrated the revival of our legendary football Club: Rangers International, the flagship sigil or terra-sigillata of our post-war resilience, the symbol of our collective bravery and a movement of our fraternity. For the first time in our 29-year old history, Rangers International won the Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) and the Unity League Federation Cup (Challenge Cup) titles in the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 seasons, breaking a jinx that held sway for 32 and 35 inglorious years. The amiable governor has promised to continue to tear down limitations, surpass expectations and engineer giant successes in the sports sector.
At 29, especially under an amiable and peace loving Governor, Rt. Hon. Dr. Lawrence Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi, Enugu remains an unconquerable and resilient state that will continue to renew her faith and rewrite her credentials while resolutely treading on the path of mutual respect for her unity in diversity.
Steve Oruruo is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on Information