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[OPINION] The Ugwuanyi’s Epoch; A Year Of Blistering Renaissance

By Steve  Oruruo

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – At close encounter, the most enthusiastic view must come to grips with the sobering fact of Nigeria’s endemic leadership deficit, dating back many decades. The definitive intransigence of our administrative albatross has precipitated a state apparatus that is frustratingly trapped in the vortex of its own policy myopia , tenuous attention to social compact and implacable resistance to the whole notion of rectitude in public office.

It is against this self-inhibiting background that any person of goodwill weighs in on the performance of governments at various levels with an eye of constructive criticism. Certainly, a culture of rigorous and continuous self-scrutiny can only strengthen systems  and deepen strategies, optimizing efficiencies and last minute impact.

Our political leaders have been repeatedly handed opportunities to rebuild our country, to finally put Nigeria in a position to  achieve the greatness long foretold ,yet too long unattained.The saying that every society gets the kind of leadership it deserves cannot be truer. Intriguingly, history through analytical prowess has incredibly set a chilling tone of brilliance, the present leaders are already benchmarked, while posterity has stolen a vantage position from where  it will pound unbiased judgements on today’s gladiators of power.This is a time of national consensus in favour of radical change. Thankfully, some leaders are already in the spirit.

*“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”_*

These immortal words on the marble by Mother Theresa of the blessed memory come closest to summing the first year of His Excellency Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s second term in office as the Executive Governor of Enugu State. It has been one year of creating far-reaching and encompassing ripples of good governance, spanning the urban, suburban and rural landscapes of the state. Governor Ugwuanyi who reclaimed the reins of leadership in dramatic fashion after polling a history-making 95.54% of all valid votes cast at the 2019 elections, has made good on his promise to uphold the renewed social contract between him and _Ndi Enugu._ By the grace of God, _Gburugburu_ has been _*“breaking mountains, filling valleys, straightening crooked ways and smoothening rough parts to ensure the continuation of good governance and delivery of democracy dividends in Enugu State.”*_

One uncommon quality that sets Governor Ugwuanyi apart from any crowd is his visionary style of leadership, the seemingly innate ability as a trendsetter to take a peek into the future and prepare in advance for looming trends. In the manner of a clairvoyant, the governor had kicked off the second term of his tenure with a string of reforms and infrastructural development projects in the health sector of the state. He approved a 200 million naira takeoff grant for the Universal Health Coverage, engaged the services of 102 resident doctors and 125 interns at the ESUT-Teaching Hospital, and refurbished several public health facilities. In response to other imminent needs, the Governor removed all financial barriers for people living with HIV, and also executed a mass meningitis campaign for all children between the ages of one and five, the first of its kind in southern Nigeria. These and more prepared the state for the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently making mockery of public health structures and global institutions.

The entire landscape and skyline of Enugu State have been transformed by new infrastructural projects since May 2019 in furtherance of the Governor’s oriental wonders during the first term such as the Opi-Nsukka dual carriageway. Some completed road projects in this past political year include but not limited to: Monarch mini-bridge; Echara Road – Obechara Junction road; 49km Udenu Ring road with two bridges; old UNTH-Bunker road; Amalla Orba – Orie Orba – Eke Ovoko road; and Amaeze Road – St. Theresa’s Road, Eruchalu Street. Others include: the 22.443km Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba – Obollo Etiti inter-community road; the 26.665km Ukpabi-Nimbo-Ugbene Ajima-Eziani road in Uzo-Uwani LGA, and the 13-kilometre Nike Lake Junction – Harmony Estate – Amorji Nike – Adoration Pilgrimage Centre – Orie Emene road dubbed a ‘miraculous road’.

On other equally critical fronts of Governor Ugwuanyi’s infrastructural development drive: ten units of Executive Guest House at GRA have been completed; Abuja Building, Government House has been renovated and furnished with state-of-the-art facilities; and the first ever Enugu State Customary Court of Appeal Headquarters complex has been completed. Also completed are a complex of eight Magistrate Court Halls and another complex of two High Court Halls with one Open Registry at Nsukka Judicial Division. Several legacy projects including: Block A of the twin Enugu Secretariat Annex at Ede-Oballa; Eha Alumona-Eha Ndiagu-Mbu road; asphalting of the Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-Obollo; and the Nsukka Township Stadium, are at various advanced stages of construction. 

His Excellency’s governance thrust in this second term has continued to espouse and reflect the strategic role of the education sector in the state as the incubator of talents and the hub of innovative development research. This is best portrayed by the ongoing construction of the University of Education in Ihe, Awgu LGA, first in the history of the southeast geopolitical zone. Elsewhere, a new campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology is being constructed in Nsukka. At the Institute of Management and Technology, the governor is masterminding an infrastructural rebirth featuring the construction of four gigantic academic buildings and other structures. Through a plethora of incentives, he has continually stoked the flames of academic excellence & innovation and engaged the institution in various development projects such as the beautification of the capital with artworks and the invention of an automated ultra-modern hand washing machine.

Promises made by the Governor on 29th May to stay committed to sustaining the thriving amity and security in Enugu state have been fulfilled beyond conceivable expectations. His administration procured and donated: 100 Innoson Pickup Trucks; 260 Bajaj Boxer 100CC Motorcycles; 300 Afro 26 Inches Mountain Bike (MTB) Bicycles; and siren systems with mobile communication gadgets, to security agencies/Neighbourhood Watch Groups in the state; in addition to five Innoson Motors firefighting trucks to the State Fire Service. A 1700-personnel Forest Guards was constituted and equipped with vehicles and other necessary tools. The Governor also approved the acquisition of 18 automated drones to enhance surveillance operations in the state.

Appreciating the veritable contributions of the civil service as the engine room of any government, Governor Ugwuanyi has continued to keep faith with the workers, seamlessly approving the national Minimum Wage, paying salaries on the 23rd of every month and sustaining the 13th month tradition. He has further reformed the civil service and strengthened it to provide improved services in alignment with his leadership goals and objectives.

Other important sectors like tourism and trade, commerce & industry, received no less attention in the first year of Governor Ugwuanyi’s second term. The ongoing Forest Reserve being constructed adjacent Michael Okpara Square, Enugu is at the heart of the governor’s quest to consolidate Enugu’s place as a preferred tourism destination in Nigeria. It will also serve as a place of relaxation and recreation for residents, an integral vertex of the urban triangle. Work is underway at the Enugu International Conference Centre to tap into the great social and economic promises it holds for our people. The successes of the governor’s commercialization and industrialization agenda is most evident in the leapfrogging of Enugu state from its 2014 World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking as 27th out of 37 states (including FCT Abuja), to an enviable ranking as 2nd State in Ease of Starting Business and 3rd State in Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria in the 2018 World Bank Ease of Doing Business sub-national ranking. Furthermore, the State Executive Committee approved the sum of 3.4 billion naira for small/medium-scaled industries in each of the 17 local government areas of the state, a spatially-targeted chain of investments to boost rural economic development opportunities.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, the Covid-19 pandemic triggered an eclipse of economic and development activities globally, and necessitated Governor Ugwuanyi’s focus to shift towards combating the existential threat. Safeguarding Ndi Enugu and preserving the state’s rich historical and cultural heritage deservedly became His Excellency’s primary burden. The governor’s very first actions were the release of the sum of 20 million naira to the management of the State Isolation Centre, approval of 330 million naira to further enhance preparation and response operations, and the inauguration of a Multi-Sectorial Rapid Response Team comprising representatives of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies including local and international partners. The State’s Isolation Centre was upgraded and strategically relocated to ESUT-Teaching Hospital.

Day and night, the governor has toiled tirelessly to devise new policies and measures towards breaking chains of transmission, obliterating the marauding virus and preparing Enugu State for the post Covid-19 era. Months back, schools, offices, cultural & social gatherings and markets were closed down. Individuals and places providing essential services were exempted with orders of strict adherence to safety protocols as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Dedicated emergency lines were made public, new rules of public transport passenger conveyance were implemented and extensive public enlightenment kick-started with heightened intensity at the grassroots. All boundaries in Enugu were closed to non-essential travelers. However, loopholes in the enforcement of this order by security operatives resulted in the importation of a few cases of the disease into the state, many of whom have been treated and discharged. The governor was swift and tactical in handling these lapses through mobilizing the locals to man the boundaries and undertaking regular personal inspections.

The ultra-modern Enugu State Medical Diagnostic Centre inherited from the previous administration which was already being equipped was activated for use as Isolation and Treatment centre, followed by a brand new centre in Nsukka. The newly-acquired former Colliery hospital is under speedy reconstruction and extensive rehabilitation. The State Fire Service has been fumigating all public places in Enugu metropolis and its environs including markets, shopping malls and offices. The Governor, in his trademark responsiveness and sensitivity has continued to disburse palliatives to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on the most vulnerable populations of the state.

With the recent approval for the commencement of remedial works on all emerging potholes on roads in the state; procurement for the asphalt overlay of Agbani Road dual carriageway; construction of Type 3 Primary Healthcare Centre in 7 LGAs; and renovation works, improvement of facilities and provision of essential supplies in 34 health facilities, across the 17 Local Government Areas, the wheels of progress in Enugu continue to spin as Governor Ugwuanyi tenaciously upholds his divine mandate and social contract with the good people of the state. Just one year into his second term, His Excellency has accomplished flurry of eye-catching and blistering performances.

Steve Oruruo is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State on Information

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