Gov. Ugwuanyi: The first governor in Southern Nigeria to create a state security outfit.”
There is no doubt that near-eight years are pretty enough period to assess the administration of a state governor especially in a democratic setting.
Little wonder, while the Presidency is having the heat at the centre, state governors, national and state assembly members are not left out with each trying to assuage the fraying nerves of those they may have “injured” in course of implementing their policies and programmes.
In Enugu State where Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, holds sway, it is no longer news that during his first and on-going second stanzas in office, like many governors across the country, he is confronted with various degrees of economic challenges largely due to the fallout from the depression of the world economy.
Perhaps, it is against the aforementioned backdrop that there are mixed reactions as to whether Governor Ugwuanyi has performed well or failing in steering the wheel of the state, more-so as his regime is winding up in less than ten months.
Critics of Ugwuanyi’s administration opined that he spent most part of his days in office for “Thank You visits” and receiving guests at Government House, Enugu in the name of “Courtesy Calls”.
But pro- Ugwuanyi are quick to retort, saying the overwhelming support he got during the gubernatorial elections both in 2019 and 2015, deserved such solidarity visits which they deduced as a payback time.
Critics of Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration also believe that the present Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in Enugu is slow in taking critical decisions, citing his delay in making public the findings of the committee set up to investigate the alleged incursion into some parts of government lands which included the International Conference Centre and Eastern Industrial Layout at Uwani.
They further contend that many roads in Enugu metropolis are not given adequate attention while state owned industries had remained moribund for decades.
Even as the state government beats its chest for giving 100 civil servants in its employ, who are on grade levels 01 – 10, a one- bedroom flat worth N3.150m each, critics noted that it was inhuman for a civil servant with his family members to live in such flat when many politicians are living in mansions.
It was gathered that the Enugu government purchased the houses from a private developer, Elim Estate under its housing equity share contribution scheme for public servants while the beneficiaries were drawn from the 17 local government areas of the state.
Pro-Ugwuanyi’s government scores the PDP regime high, pointing out that on health/ education sector; the governor has made a bold step in promoting it.
They pointed out that Ugwuanyi built/attracted two new tertiary institutions; the Enugu State University of Medicine and the Ohodo Federal Polytechnic. He revived Enugu State Polytechnic Iwollo and made it a multi-campus institution, and started the Enugu State University of Education Awgu.
Ugwuanyi built at least 20 hospitals in the state and crowned it with a University of Medicine to train and supply professionals.
Truly, they said, Ugwuanyi constructed more rural roads than any administration in the state and has also invested in security more than his predecessors.
“It could be recalled that Ugwuanyi was the first governor in Southern Nigeria to create a State Security Outfit- the Forest Guards.
“He has built more Law Courts that any administration in the history of Enugu State as well as investing most in sports development and youth development through scholarships, more than any past administration in the state.
“Apart from being easily accessible, it is also to Ugwuanyi’s credit that since he assumed office in almost eight years ago, he has continued to pay salaries of core civil servants and teachers regularly”, they noted.
Perhaps, what unsettles Ugwuanyi is the perennial water scarcity in Enugu Urban as well as industrial dispute in the primary schools and local governments where the unresolved issue of N30,000.00 minimum wage has pushed teachers and council workers to embark on strike.
Prior to the last governorship primary of the PDP, Enugu was relatively peaceful largely due to bi-partisan policy of the governor.
Even, as at time of going to press, none of the governorship aspirants has challenged the process of the PDP primary held at Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu on May 25, this year.
The “sin” of Ugwuanyi in some quarters mainly in Enugu-North senatorial zone is that he did not support Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, to emerge as the 2023 PDP governorship candidate during the party’s primary as Isi-Uzo Local Government Area where Edeoga hails from has cultural affinity with Nsukka.
But Edeoga who enjoyed greater part of Ugwuanyi’s political patronage having served as State Commissioner of Local Government Matters and Environment has since clinched the gubernatorial ticket of the Labour Party (LP) amidst controversy even after collapsing his structure into Mbah’s umbrella, a situation that has divided his flank.
Prince U.S.A. Igwesi, a former member of House of Representatives and one-time Majority Leader of Enugu State House of Assembly, while x-raying the last seven years of Ugwuanyi’s regime, recalled that it was Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States of America who said, “the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things but the one that gets the people to do the greatest things”.
“Ugwuanyi, apparently in line with the philosophy of the former American President, moved decisively against pockets of opposition from his Nsukka cultural zone for the emergence of Dr. Peter Mbah, as the PDP flag-bearer for the 2023 governorship election, a development many see as a legacy and turning point in Enugu politics”, he said.
The ex-lawmaker maintained that juxtaposing the low and high points of Ugwuanyi administration, one can comfortably say that he is a great leader who has written his name in gold.
Igwesi noted, “Dr Peter Mbah and Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, is the best combination for the people of Enugu State. Tomorrow is here which is the slogan of the PDP candidate is not rhetoric. Mbah’s great exploits through disruptive innovation in both private and public sectors are unparalleled”
To Professor of International Law and Global Politics, Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji, “Any administrator whether civilian or military is judged by the success of his governance. The governance in turn is seen from the lenses of the governed.
“People tend to assess governance by how much money enters their pockets without proper appraisal of the general feeling of the masses. In this case it becomes a hard nut to crack as some individuals don’t seem to make a holistic assessment of governance structures before reaching their decision as to whether an administrator is a saint or a villain”, he said.
Prof. Nnaji who spoke from Germany where he had gone on official assignment further said, “While no one can be said to be a saint, it remains to be countered that some individuals have distinguished themselves despite swimming against the tide.
His words: “The case of Enugu State Government under the leadership of His Excellency Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi is one worthy of note.
“In the areas of security and infrastructure, the Governor of Enugu State scores highly. This is emblematic of the fact that where there is security of lives and property that businesses and freedom of movement thrive.
“Enugu State is host to so many companies and people from different States in Nigeria. I can go on and on to enumerate but from a prismatic perspective, I can say that the present Governor of Enugu State is a man whose scorecard is at the upper percentile.
“The governor of Enugu State played a key role in the violence free governorship primary election. He ensured that The traditional rulers and the aspirants worked to ensure there won’t be fierce rebellion after the peaceful primary election and for the rest aspirants to rally around who the eventual flag bearer is.
“This aspect made the primary election to be peaceful as against what many people feared. The governor of Enugu State is a peace maker of some sort. With Dr. Peter Mbah and his running mate Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, at the saddle, I am optimistic that they will move Enugu State forward, and that informed my decision to collapse my political structure into theirs after stepping down at the PDP gubernatorial primary.”
As it is, there is a biblical injunction that says “All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Governor Ugwuanyi as a human being may have walked beyond the lines but if opinion poll is a barometer to gauge his near eight-year regime, it is not an overstatement to score him high even as he still has an opportunity to make amend on his shortcomings in governance in the few months ahead.