CHIMA OBIEZE:ENUGU STATE@29;HISTORY, LEADERSHIP, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRATIC GAINS
Enugu State with an estimated population of over 3.8 million people covers an area of 7,161 km2 (2,765sq mi), and ranks 29th out of the 36 States of Nigeria in terms of land area. The word “Enugu” (from Enu Ugwu ) means “the top of the hill”. The first European settlers arrived in the area in 1909, led by a British mining engineer named Albert Kitson. In his quest for silver, he discovered coal in the Udi Ridge. The Colonial Governor of Nigeria Frederick Lugard took a keen interest in the discovery, and by 1914 the first shipment of coal was made to Britain. As mining activities increased in the area, a permanent cosmopolitan settlement emerged, supported by a railway system. Enugu acquired township status in 1917 and became strategic to British interests. Foreign businesses began to move into Enugu, the most notable of which were John Holt, Kingsway Stores, the British Bank of West Africa and the United Africa Company.
From Enugu, the British administration was able to spread its influence over the Southern Province of Nigeria. The colonial past of Enugu is today evidenced by the Georgian building types and meandering narrow roads within the residential area originally reserved for the whites, an area which is today called the Government Reserved Area (GRA).
From being the capital of the Southern Provinces, Enugu became the capital of the Eastern Region (now divided into nine States), the capital of now defunct Federal Republic of Biafra , thereafter, the capital of East Central State, Anambra State, (old) Enugu State, and now the capital of the present Enugu State through a process of state creation and diffusion of administrative authority.
Enugu State was formed on 27th August, 1991 when it was split from Anambra State with Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo as the first democratically elected Governor in January 1992 to November 1993 under the auspices of NRC (National Republican Convention). At the birth of the 4th Republic- May 29th, 1999; Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani was sworn in as Governor under the umbrella of PDP(People’s Democratic Party). Barr. Sullivan Chime is the immediate past Governor succeeding Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. Barr. Chime served from May 29th, 2007 to May 29th, 2015.
Then, the people of Enugu State came out in their droves to elect the most popular Governorship Candidate in the Country during the 2015 General Elections as the product name- *”Gburu Gburu”* resonated across the length and breath of Nigeria. *Gburu Gburu* became a household name in the country that it took some time for a good number of people to learn that the real name of the Enugu State Governor sworn into office on May 29th, 2015 is Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi as he took over the reign of Government when Enugu State was 24 where he boldly and unequivocally declared that *Enugu State is the Hands of God* during his inauguration.
As we celebrate *Enugu State at 29*; Governor Ugwuanyi has been consolidating Democratic Blueprints and Exploding Democratic Dividends in form of opus for the people of Enugu State who *Gburu Gburu* refers to as *Ndi Enugu*. The people again, showing great confidence in Gov. Ugwuanyi’s leadership, turned out again in 2019 to elect him for a second term.
It is note-worthy that this article is panegyrical of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s feats in office.
During the recent inauguration of a Bailey Bridge across Nyama River, linking various communities in Enugu, the former Governor of Old Anambra State, said that Gov. Ugwuanyi has wiped away his tears by building the bridge for his community after decades of neglects. Well, the truth remains that *Gburu Gburu* is not only building physical bridges, he is also building bridges between the Government and the People as he is always accessible, he listens and serve the people to his greatest abilities. In addition, he is building bridges the Leaders of the State- Political, Religious and Traditional Leaders alike. This was confirmed by Sen. Ekweremadu that “there are no bickerings or quarrels amongst the Leaders of the State”. Truly, Gov. Ugwuanyi is bringing everybody together irrespective of Political affiliations thereby treating everybody with utmost respect, equity, fairness and justice.
One of the biggest achievements of the Gov. Ugwuanyi led adminstration is that Peace, Security and Political Stability is now synonymous with Enugu State. This has also driven up investment rates, rapid development and economic growth leading to Job Creations, Massive Employment and prosperity for Ndi Enugu. In addition, prompt payment of workers’ salaries cannot be over-emphasised as the State’s labour force is highly motivated with diverse incentives as well as payment of new minimum wage before each month end with 13th Month payment.
Succinctly, the Score Card shows very high bars in aggressive Rural Developments, untiring Urban Renewal, excellent Healthcare Delivery evident in the fight against COVID-19; improved Basic Education, rapid Infrastructural Growth making Enugu a conducive Business Hub and also Business & Agro Development/Support Scheme and many other feats by the Governor.
Besides, Gov. Ugwuanyi has shown great leadership and courageous steps in keeping Enugu State relatively safe from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world. Ndi Enugu can also testify that there has been a huge recovery in the robust economy of the State as the Governor advises all to adhere to the COVID-19 safety guidelines continually.
And to those who are yet to appreciate the Leadership of this gentle Lion-Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, I assure you you will miss him when he is gone. The air of peace, security, love & unity we enjoy today in Enugu has never been the same.
Just yesterday the Remodelled Enugu International Airport was reopened for operations. While we thank President Buhari for releasing the funds for this project and thank Igbo leaders who followed through to remind the President the importance of this one International Airport in the Southeast, may we appreciate the Governor who went out of his way to see and deal with this project as if its a State Government project. Providing the FG, the Contractors and FAAN all necessary assistance to ensure that the Airport is completed and up & running. This is because, Gov. Ugwuanyi understands that being the Governor of Enugu State is being incharge of the Capital of the entire Eastern region.
Again, For the first time in the politics of Enugu State, Youths are beginning to have an inroad into governance. Gov. Ugwuanyi has provided a platform for mentorship for future leaders of the State by bringing them closer to the Seat of power so they can see for themselves how things are done and to prepare them for the future as it is clearly visible that there is transference of leadership qualities from the Governor to his protégées which some of us are privileged to be.
Furthermore, very worthy to mention is the cordial working relationship that Gov. Ugwuanyi has established between the three Arms of Government in the State- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. These working relationship has translated to speedy delivery of Democracy Dividends, Equity, Fairness and Justice for all.
As Enugu State hits 29, it is imperative to note that the Governor is not resting on his Laurel as he has vowed to continue working tirelessly for *Ndi Enugu*, thereby taking Enugu State to Greater Heights.
Therefore, through the tacit permission of Our Governor, I Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze, Member; Representing Ezeagu Constituency at the Enugu State House of Assembly, hereby enjoin the great people of Enugu State to keep their hands on the plough without looking back as we all in unison drive this great State led by Rt. Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Lawrence Ugwuanyi to increasingly greatness because we all are *”Enugu “*(city on top of the hill).
*Rt. Hon. Chima Emmanuel Obieze,*
*Member; Rep. Ezeagu Constituency,*
*Enugu State House of Assembly.*