Consensus Governor. If there is any state chief executive deserving of such an adjective, the helmsman in Enugu State Government House, Chief Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi fits the bill.
When the Holy Scripture says that better is the end of a matter than the beginning, that should apply to the people of Enugu State. Governor Ugwuanyi is on the final lap of his second term as governor. Not that alone, he is the last man on the row of power rotation arrangement in the Coal City State.
In the almost six years on the saddle, Governor Ugwuanyi has shown that it is easy to lead a diverse along the path of peace and inclusion. His political philosophy of ecumenism has won him more convert the affable good nature that won him the governorship in 2015.
To understand the reason for the prosperity of peace in the Enugu State, recourse must be made to the three-dimensional leadership paradigm, which Ugwuany has carefully deployed in delivering his mandate to the Enugu people.
His politics consists of quiet diplomacy and inclusion. For development, his target is reaching the unreached with critical infrastructure, while in the distribution of social amenities, he adopts equity as his guide.
Recently when the governor stepped down a 30MVA injection substation in Nsukka, some elderly women were heard rejoicing that, “those who sat in darkness have seen light.”
Such warm sentiments are a common feature in the past six years because wherever he goes the governor has been known to bring joy and succor. As a servant leader, Ugwuanyi sees public service as an opportunity to lift the poor without endangering the comfort of the elites.
Effortlessly, the governor has made it impossible to locate the disparity of political parties, because whether Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) or All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), faithful are treated as members of one family of Enugu people under one God.
When there you hear the cliché, Enugu State is in the hand of God, it is the mantra of a people who have been tutored to value peace and ensue it. The prosperity of peace in Enugu State is not the product of preachment or sloganeering, it is a fruit of a carefully designed governance scheme enhance by a bottom-up approach to development.
For instance, in the area of security, the governor quietly donated hundreds of vehicles and communication gadgets to all security agencies in the state. He also followed it up with the setting up of Forest Guards, to ensure that the farmers go to their farms without skin pain.
His answer to the bourgeoning climate of insecurity includes the strengthening of Neighbourhood Watch groups to oversee security in the rural areas. Not done with his determination to secure the life and property of Enugu people, Governor Ugwuanyi launched the Community Policing Programme across the entire 17 council areas of the state without fanfare.
Coming to infrastructure, the Ugwuanyi administration constructed more than 700 kilometers of roads and rehabilitated many others, which have been dilapidated by long-years wear and tear. It is arguable if there is any other state government that has covered such mileage in the area of road construction in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic happened just about the time the governor has laid the foundation of an Infectious Diseases Hospital and an Ultra-Modern Specialist Hospital, which is underway in Igboano. The government has also constructed Type 3 Hospitals in the 17 Local Councils of the state in addition to the rehabilitation of many District Hospitals, especially the upgrade of the legendary Poly Clinic at O’Connor Enugu and Udi General Hospital to full hospitals.
This forward-thinking approach to governance explains why the government was able to put up three isolation and Treatment centres that have been handling COVID-19 cases.
Governor Ugwuanyi has indicated that education is one of the priority areas of his administration and has never looked back on equipping and rehabilitating schools, which has seen more than one hundred primary and secondary schools rehabilitated under his watch.
Apart from the flexible award of scholarships to indigent students, Governor Ugwuanyi deployed his rich contacts to ensure that courses in the Enugu State University and Science and Technology (ESUT), Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) and other state-owned institutions were accredited.
The governor has also scaled up the Clean Cool Coal City programme, which involves a deliberate effort to situate Enugu as one of the tourism destinations in the country by encouraging tourism in the state.
It was this programme that saw the creation of Unity Park Enugu with giant-sized Lion sculpture, which would soon be inaugurated in addition to the massive upgrade and modernization of Nike Lake Resort Hotel.
What would be the signature programme of Governor Ugwuanyi? The governor maintains that the most important achievement cum legacy that he could bequeath to Enugu people is peace, security and social harmony.
He has with quiet diplomacy achieved the reconciliation of political leaders in the state, especially uniting former political allies that were estranged by exigencies of competitive partisan contests.
The recent shuttle diplomacy of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, which saw the former governor relating in talking terms with the former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and his successor, Sullivan Chime, was the backchannel instigation of the merchant of peace, who Enugu people call Gburugburu, the all-rounder.
While other states are troubled by the Abuja group syndrome in political animosity, Ugwuanyi has succeeded in making Abuja politicians as relevant to their constituencies and the state as their mandate requires.
Speaking while flagging off the construction of Nru road, in Nsukka LGA, a constituency project of Hon. Pat. Asadu, the governor praised the federal lawmaker for “keeping faith with the mandate of the people of the area.”
As he turns 57 today, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has shown that youths can attain great heights and achieve greats with focus and friendliness. The humanity of the governor mixes with his humility in a fine tone of empathic leadership. He has made his tenure durable, not only through his inclusive political style that harbours no bitterness but also entrenching peace, without which no real progress or development could be recorded.