The Gains of Ugwuanyi’s Rural Development Strategy
By Louis Amoke
Recently, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, Rt. Hon. Wole Oke, who represents Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State, gave a good account of the policy thrust of the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and its positive impact on the lives of the people of the state.
Hon. Oke who led members of the Ad-hoc Committee on Investigation and Monitoring of Recruitment of Nigerians by MDAs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to pay a courtesy call on Gov. Ugwuanyi, when they visited the state on their oversight assignment, disclosed that the governor has concentrated massive development more in the rural areas than in the state capital.
The parliamentarian extolled the leadership qualities of Gov. Ugwuanyi as a peaceful, humble, focused, hard-working and grassroots politician, stressing that they were impressed with the level of progress going on in the rural communities of Enugu State.
He added that Gov. Ugwuanyi as “a lawmaker who makes his point without waging war; without humiliating or harassing anybody” bequeathed such style of leadership to “us in the parliament”, saying: “We are delighted that His Excellency has deployed this style in the governance of Enugu State, and has turned out to be an apostle of peace; a politician who bears no grudges against anybody; a politician who nurtures no bitterness or ill will against anybody”.
Attributing the governor’s uncommon leadership style to his administration’s success story, the public accounts committee chairman maintained that “that is why Enugu has remained a peaceful state and has witnessed the level of progress we have seen in the rural areas unlike what we have in other states where a governor will concentrate development in the state capital”.
According to him, “In the case of Enugu State, we see a governor who is grassroots-oriented, a governor who has employed over 5,000 teachers to look after the young ones, our future leaders. We see a governor who employed 1,700 Forest Guards to enhance the security of the state. We see that as an example for other governors to follow.
“One lesson from Enugu State is that we have a governor who has managerial skills, a governor who has a federal exposure, a governor who is a financial engineer - and that is why Enugu is making progress.”
Hon. Oke’s remark on Ugwuanyi was not only candid but also a true reflection of what his administration stands for. His assessment has reechoed the intrinsic aspect of the governor’s vision, strategy and untiring endeavor in reconnecting the people with reality and act of good governance, irrespective of class or socio-economic background.
Ugwuanyi, in spite of the nation’s daunting economic challenges, the state’s lean resources and recent security challenges, has remained undaunted and resolute in his sustained efforts to build Enugu State of the founding fathers’ dream, where peace, harmony, inclusive governance and rapid development hold sway. The governor, who believes firmly that the greatest objective of government is to alleviate the sufferings of the people and make life more meaningful for them, initiated the rural development policy to take good governance to the doorsteps of the dwellers.
His vision and passion for the well-being of the people of the state, irrespective of class or social status, as major stakeholders in the development project, gave birth to the massive infrastructural rebirth being witnessed in rural communities since the inception of his administration.
As Hon. Oke rightly stated, Ugwuanyi’s grassroots development initiatives have truly ensured more concentration of infrastructural developments in rural areas than in urban centres. This reverse in the development strategy, which is novel in the annals of the state and seems to be alien to some urban residents, was in view of the fact that past administrations concentrated development largely in Enugu city, neglecting the majority of the state’s population who live in the rural areas. The governor’s rural development agenda have no doubt addressed to a reasonable extent, the unorthodox imbalance between urban and rural dwellers in terms distribution of infrastructure and other basic amenities.
The success of the strategy, especially its direct positive impact on the lives of the rural dwellers was no doubt responsible for the over 94.5 percent votes Gov. Ugwuanyi garnered to win his reelection in 2019, which was adjudged the most peaceful and transparent electoral exercise in the history of Enugu State.
In clear terms, the landslide victory which was unprecedented in spite of the fact that it was the first time the state went to the polls as an opposition political party to the ruling party at the national level, was indeed a referendum on the governor’s outstanding performance.
The outcome of the 2019 governorship election went beyond parochial sentiments in proving that the overwhelming majority of the people of Enugu State appreciate the good works of Gov. Ugwuanyi and his uncommon panache of humility, peacefulness, godliness and inclusiveness, which he brought to bear in the governance of the state.
Standing on his vision to channel the bulk of development projects to the rural areas, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his inaugural address in 2015, promised to pay a special attention to rural development; open up the rural areas; create more urban centres; develop fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on Enugu metropolis for socio-economic expansion.
The governor’s policy direction, which became the fulcrum of his administration’s success story, made it possible that citizens/communities in Enugu State who have not felt the positive impact of governance for many decades did so in an ambiance of peace and harmony.
It was indeed a deliberate step anchored on the core values of justice, equity and fairness in an uncommon zeal to “take up the gauntlet of the struggle for the emancipation of the Wawa man from where our heroes past stopped”.
On Ugwuanyi’s modest achievements, in spite of the recurring decimal of paucity of funds, coupled with the inherited huge debt profile and other enormous wage bills to be serviced, considering the state’s status as a large and the oldest city in the South-East, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has remained regular in payment of state workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions, including the 13th month salary, even without receipt of federal allocations.
His administration has covered about 550 kilometers of roads scattered all over the nooks and crannies of the state with some ongoing special intervention projects in Enugu and Nsukka, such as the One-Day Road, Enugu South Local Government Area; Old UNTH Road, Enugu; Ngenevu-Bunker Link Road, Enugu; Amalla-Orba-Orie Orba-Ovoko Road; extension of Ogurute-Mkpamute-Igogoro-Ikpamodo-Okpo-Amaja Road and Ogurute - Umuogbo-Umuopu-Ette Road in Igbo-Eze Local Government Area; and numerous internal roads in the University town of Nsukka.
Other development projects that are receiving government’s attention include, the Enugu State Secretariat Annex in Nsukka; the state-of-the-art administrative building of the Enugu State University of Education in Ihe, Awgu Local Government Area - first university in the South-East zone that would be a degree-awarding institution in the area of education and a centre for training of teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary education; and the 200-bed Igbo Ano Specialist Hospital, Enugu North Senatorial District, which when completed with other proposed infrastructural development in the site, will serve as facilities for the ESUT College of Medicine that has been relocated to Nsukka.
In keeping with its commitment to zero tolerance for potholes on roads built by past administrations and maintenance of existing infrastructure, the state government, acting on professional advice, has announced plans to commence fixing of potholes created recently by persistent rainfalls, once the rains subside.
Three months into his first term, Gov. Ugwuanyi spearheaded the massive development of urban and rural roads across the three senatorial districts of the state, in Emene, Abakpa-Nike, 9th Mile Corner and Nsukka. Shortly after, his administration simultaneously executed 35 grassroots development projects across the 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu State, which ensured that every council benefited at least one project from the programme.
There was also the N10 million “One Community, One Project” scheme, which has made it possible for every community in the state to execute one or two priority projects of her choice. The scheme has recorded a huge success in expanding development to the frontiers of the rural areas - ensuring that communities that had never experienced any government presence benefited, accordingly.
All these were going on as completion of works on projects started by previous administrations were given adequate attention, such as the Enugu State Diagnostic Centre (completed), the International Conference Centre Enugu (ongoing), the Poly General Hospital Asata, Enugu and the Udi General Hospital now completed and billed to be inaugurated in few days.
Besides the foregoing, the following were among the development projects successfully delivered to standard by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration in the last four years.
The Nike Lake road and Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Local Government Area, which were hitherto in deplorable conditions; the two 9th Mile Bypasses in Udi Local Government Area, which have relieved travelers the stress of traffic gridlock in the area, especially during festivities; the Opi-Nsukka Dual Carriageway in Nsukka Local Government Area with state-of-the-art underground drainage and other facilities befitting a University town and the second largest city in the state - the first of its kind to be delivered by a state government in the entire south east. The New Market-Milliken Hill-Ngwo-9th Mile road, an ancient, historic and undulating road, modernized with streetlights and other safety measures after decades of neglect to showcase its potentials as a tourist attraction and the state’s natural roller coaster, which now serves as an alternative gateway into the city of Enugu, from Onitsha-Enugu expressway.
The Agbani-Amurri road in Nkanu West LGA, constructed for a community that has never experienced any form of development on its land in the past 100 years. The Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road (from Atavu Bailey bridge to Afor Onovo), in the same council, which has a historic and symbolic attraction as the first state government road project in the entire Akpugo zone since the creation of Enugu State.
Another project of significant importance to lives of the lowly and neglected is the Ngenevu road, which was constructed with the provision of two 500-KVA transformers by the governor for the suburb of Enugu that had not witnessed any form of government presence. Other high density suburbs such as the Iva Valley, the Ugbodogwu, the Ogwuagor, Abakpa Nike, Emene, etc, have equally benefited from the rural development programmes of the Ugwuanyi administration.
The 49km Udenu Ring road (ongoing) linking over 10 adjoining communities with three bridges equally stands out as one of the legacy projects of Ugwuanyi’s administration in the rural areas.
Today, the people of Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo Local Government Area are in jubilant mood as they await the inauguration of the 8.8km road connecting their agrarian community with Nkalagu, Ebonyi State, which was reconstructed to high standard by the Ugwuanyi administration after it was abandoned for over 36 years.
Others include the Ogbaku road in Awgu L.G.A (one of the 35 simultaneous development projects), which was constructed on a difficult terrain that is both hilly and undulating; the Ebonyi River Bridge in Isi Uzo Local Government Area, which connects so many adjoining communities to Ikem, the headquarters of the Council, the Nkwo Inyi-Akpugoeze-Mamu Forest road in Oji River Local Government Area, and the Nike Lake junction-Harmony Estate-Amorji Nike-Adoration Pilgrimage Centre road (Phase one), with five river crossings, which when completed will link Abakpa and Emene and decongest traffic in the areas.
Numerous development projects have also been executed in the urban areas, such as the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mount Crescent, GRA, Enugu; Orofia Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Dental School-Tipper Garage road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu; Ugwuaji-Loma Linda-Timber Shed road, Maryland, Enugu; Nwafia Street, Independence Layout, Enugu; Mbanefo Street, New Haven, Enugu; the Nwodo Close, GRA, Enugu; Valley Crescent and Ezillo Street and internal roads at Ebeano Estate, in Independence Layout, Enugu.
Others include, the Secretariat Road, G.R.A, Enugu; Court Avenue by New State Secretariat, Enugu; Ibuza Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Isi Uzo Street at Independence Layout, Enugu; Owerri Road, Poly Clinic Road, Carter Street, Ogidi Street and Onyeama lane in Asata, Enugu; rehabilitation of Okwuosa Bridge, Ogui, Enugu; renovation of the Enugu State House of Assembly Complex and rehabilitation and re-asphalting of the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, etc.
Apart from road projects, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has also taken bold steps in other spheres of development which have endeared the governor to the people of the state
The areas include, the Enugu Traders Empowerment Scheme which has so far assisted 3600 genuine traders with the sum of N50,000 each to grow their various businesses; construction and renovation of over 589 primary and secondary school blocks in the state, with more than 260 ongoing, as well as procurement of learning tools and employment of over 5000 teachers; empowerment of 750 youths under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme.
Others include award of scholarships to 680 indigent engineering students of Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo, Ezeagu L.G.A and the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, for four years of academic studies as well as the recent scholarship offered to 22 post-secondary school indigent students to study at Mewar University, India; provision of 100 units one bedroom apartment for 100 lucky civil servants under grade level 1 to 10; rehabilitation of facilities at Ajali and Oji River Water Treatment Schemes which has consequentially improved the supply of water to Enugu metropolis and its environs.
Others still include, construction and renovation of district hospitals and health centres in the state, especially in the rural areas under the primary healthcare programme; construction of 14 new court buildings and open registries in the judicial divisions and magisterial districts across the state, which the state’s Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ngozi Emehelu, described as “unprecedented infrastructural development that has not been witnessed in the entire South-East” and “the largest single intervention in infrastructural development in the Judiciary of Enugu State for over 20 years”.
There are also the construction of additional five new state-of-the-art fire service stations across the three senatorial districts, after 56 years, three fire stations were built in the state, then Eastern Region; engagement of 1000 youths, with additional 1000 underway, under the Enugu Clean Team Project to clean up the state to enhance and sustain its rating as one of the healthiest and cleanest cities in the country, among other numerous landmark achievements.
Following the recent odd security challenges, which attempted to undermine the enviable status of Enugu as one of the most peaceful and secure states in the country, Gov. Ugwuanyi has grabbed the bull by the horn by initiating measures and strategies to decisively tackle the situation with the establishment of the Forest Guard operation (a first in the entire country); reorganization of the Vigilante/Neighborhood Watch groups; creation of a new Ministry of Security Affairs; appointment of the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo as Security Consultant to the state government and purchase of 360 security vehicles for community policing, among others.
With the submission of the weighty reports of the 12 sectoral ad-hoc committees set up by his administration on assumption of its second term to review government’s programmes, policies and activities in the last four years and make recommendations that would assist it to reposition the state’s public service for optimized service delivery and advancement of good governance, Gov. Ugwuanyi is set to commence more aggressive polices and strategies.
These are expected to usher in further rapid development and take Enugu State to the next level for Ndi Enugu to continue to enjoy democracy dividends. Enugu State is truly in the hand of God!
#Amoke writes from Enugu