Thursday, 10 December 2015

RT. HON. CHIEF IFEANYI UGWUANYI’S SIX MONTHS SCORE CARD IN ENUGU

Rt. Hon. Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State Governor
There is no doubt that the recent parley between the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and Stakeholders of the state was a stock taking event borne out of the desire of the governor to keep the people abreast with the happenings in the state.

The gathering eventually yielded its desired result as the Governor, used the opportunity to give a detailed account of his six months stewardship in the saddle. The governor’s account of stewardship which was embedded in the administrative enclave of selfless service, vision, innovation, probity, accountability, transparency and good governance, was cherished by the stakeholders, who listened with keen interest as he painstakingly reeled out his achievements.

To the stakeholders, it was indeed a job well done as they could not hide their expression of satisfaction with the service rendered so far by the governor. The significance of the event which had in attendance virtually all the major Stakeholders in the state, including the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, and other members of the National Assembly, among others, was in keeping faith with the governor’s promise to be giving them regular updates on the activities of government as they affect the lives and the aspirations of the people of the state.

It was also a veritable platform designed in the spirit of the new ethos of leadership in the state to seek the mandate of the people on some sensitive decisions the government was bound to take to move the state forward.

In an ambiance of cheerfulness laced with songs and praises to the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and awesome God of David, Gov. Ugwuanyi started by expressing his sincere gratitude to the people for the wonderful support and solidarity they have continued to accord his administration since its inception six months ago.

He assured them that his administration was not taking their support for granted and will continue to cherish and appreciate it as the government strives to fulfill its promises to the people of Enugu state. Gov. Ugwuanyi first announced that the state government has received a part of the bailout fund meant for offsetting outstanding emoluments of workers and retirees. He added that the state was looking forward to receiving the main part of the fund for infrastructural development in no distant time.

On workers’ welfare, the governor noted that in its sensitivity to the welfare of workers, his administration continued with the tradition of prompt payment of salaries. He stated also that the state government has provided electricity, water, and other ancillary services at the New Secretariat Complex to boost workers’ morale and enhance efficient service delivery.

He equally informed the stakeholders of the housing scheme project for workers’ at the Workers’ Estate at Ogbeke and the government’s 30 percent Equity Contribution to enable interested Enugu State civil servants from Grade Levels 01 to 10, to acquire 100 units of one bedroom flats at Elim Estate, Ibagwa, Nike, Enugu. He noted that the beneficiaries of this scheme have since been selected through an open lottery system held recently at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu.

On his administration’s reform agenda aimed at instilling fiscal discipline, probity, accountability and transparency in governance, the governor also told the august gathering of the 11-man Committee on Local Government Audit and Biometric Data Capturing, which he constituted to among other things, determine the true staff strength of each of the 17 Local Government Areas, the financial implications of the staff in respect of monthly remunerations, etc.

Expressing his vision for an efficient, effective and corruption-free administration in the state, the governor who announced that the exercise was already yielding the desired result and will soon be extended to the school system, reiterated his administration’s commitment to arrest the perennial problem of profligacy, corruption, and other sharp practices and also eliminate the ghost worker syndrome.

In the area of education, Gov. Ugwuanyi disclosed the premium his administration places on education and informed the stakeholders that the state government has nonetheless undertaken the renovation and re-equipment of secondary and primary schools across the state to ensure that children enjoy a conducive environment for learning.

He pointed out that a 12-man administrative committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo was constituted and was already looking into the issue of ENSUBEB projects in the primary schools and related matters. He equally added that as required by law, the state will soon apply for a loan to enable it assess the state’s counterpart funds for ENSUBEB which will add value to educational sector in the State.

On the need to return the State’s Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) to its original formation, the governor informed the stakeholders that government has decided to make the IMT a degree awarding institution, promising to put in place the necessary machinery to enable the state realize the objective.

Shedding more light on his administration’s vision for IMT and other state owned tertiary institutions, the governor said that his administration has also made fruitful efforts to provide and improve necessary infrastructure in the State’s Tertiary institutions, such as the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo and the Enugu State College of Education (Technical), through various interventions aimed at repositioning and revamping them to be able to award certificates.

In fulfillment of his campaign promise to catalyze urban and rural development and develop new cities in the state to boost economic activities, Ugwuanyi stated that his administration apart from continuous rehabilitation and maintenance of roads in Enugu, has embarked on the massive development of roads across the state through the recent flag-off of the construction of eight major roads across the state.

On the rural and agricultural development initiatives, the governor told the gathering that the government initiated the construction of a 15-kilometre Inter-Town Connection (ITC) 2.5MVA Injection Sub-Station at Ezi-Nze, Udi Local Government Area just a few days after his assumption of office. He stated that the project will supply electricity to communities in Udi, Igbo-Etiti, and Uzo-Uwani Local Government Areas and will also activate businesses in these rural communities and power the Adada Dam Project as well as the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme.

He added the present administration procured 20 tractors to be hired to genuine farmers at very low rates and directed the release of counterpart funds for the robust participation of the State in the implementation of the N2 billion Staple Crops Processing Zone (SCPZ) programme by the African Development Bank in conjunction with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The fund, according to him, will be channeled to the revival and expansion of the Adani Irrigation Scheme as well as the construction of feeder roads and other critical infrastructure that will catalyze agriculture in the State.

In the area of health, he said that his administration has among other things, continued to sustain the well acclaimed Free Maternal Health and Child Care programme and ensured proper equipment and staffing of existing health institutions in the state. He disclosed that the state was also on the verge of completing the ultra-modern medical diagnostic centre in Enugu and has initiated the construction of three new Specialists Hospitals in the three Senatorial Zones of the State with the flag off of the scheme at Orba, Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

On the issue of persistent complaints of the people over the untoward activities of some people purporting to be working as traffic wardens cum revenue collectors for the state, Gov. Ugwuanyi informed them that his administration has taken concrete steps to end touting, illegal collection of fees and undue harassment and intimidation of citizens by unscrupulous persons and others purporting to be working for government agencies in Enugu State. He disclosed that that informed the recent suspension of the collection of fines for traffic offences and the reinforcement of the ban on cash payment of rates or fees to government agencies including ESWAMA and the Local Government Councils. The governor added that he has also directed the State Ministry of Environment to stop the collection of levies for sand excavation in the State till further notice.

To standardize, streamline and shore up our Internally Generated Revenue, the governor disclosed that the state government has set up a team to design a blueprint for the collection of revenue to help eliminate corruption and illegal collections. He equally briefed the house of some innovative approaches his administration had embarked upon to revive the state economy in response to negative development in the nation’s economy, such as the constitution of the Economic Advisory Committee to advise government on the best economic practices to engender sustainable growth, among others.

Importantly, apart from the update on some of the things his administration has achieved and intends to achieve to justify the mandate that the people of the state graciously gave to it, through their votes, the governor also raised a salient issue that has generated debate in political gamut of the state.

The governor told the stakeholders that he also summoned the meeting to reason with them, on some very critical issues affecting the third tier of government- the Local Governments.

He sought the mandate of the people to constitute Caretaker Committees to run the affairs of the 17 Local Government Areas from January 4, 2016 and disclosed that the two major reasons for opting for the committees were the on-going local government staff audit and others reforms and the inadequate budgetary provision for the exercise in the current budget.

While assuring the people of his commitment to the conduct of the Local Government elections in the state, the governor promised to address the deficiency in the 2016 budget, to enable the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) conduct the elections next year.

The governor maintained that the decision to constitute caretaker committees in order to avoid vacuum on January 4, 2016 was “in keeping with the extant laws of Enugu State” and “in consonance with the Local Government Laws of the state”

It was at this juncture that the governor, as a true democrat called for the mandate of the people to decide on the next and appropriate line of action that his administration must take in view of the issues raised above.

The Stakeholders after due consideration of the issues raised by the governor, unanimously approved the setting up of caretaker committees to run the affairs of the 17 Local Government councils in the state from January 4, 2016 when the tenure of the current council chairmen will expire.

It is on record that the Stakeholders’ approval which coincided with a similar resolution by the Enugu State Chapter of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) – the umbrella organization of all the political parties in the country, was granted by the three senatorial districts whose decisions on the matter were presented by the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West), Prof. Bart Nnaji (Enugu East) and Chief Nnia Nwodo (Enugu North).

Responding to the governor’s account of stewardship and mandate to appoint caretaker committees, Chief Ekweremadu in his speech, described the outcome of meeting as a reflection of the peoples’ commitment to support the government to move the state forward.

He said: “On behalf of the good people of Enugu West Senatorial District, we say big congratulations to our governor for his accomplishments within the last six months. We have just heard what he has done and what he plans to do, in spite of the very tight economy we have. So, for the governor to have done that much and promised to do more, it means he is a visionary leader. So we must thank and encourage him. Let us assure you our governor that just as we have supported you in the past, we support you now and even tomorrow.”

Prof. Barth Nnaji, while speaking on behalf of the people of Enugu East Senatorial District also applauded the governor’s developmental strides in six months and the method of caretaker committees in view of the lean resources of the state.

He said: “The fact that Governor Ugwuanyi was doing literally just to squeeze money out of the very lean resources available to the state in order to pay workers and still achieve all these he just mentioned, which are verifiable, without receiving any intervention fund yet, is a powerful statement that he is a just leader, that deserves our commendations. I will like to conclude by saying that we applaud your method of caretaker committee. It is a very good approach giving the resources of the state. We also commend your method of consulting with stakeholders. We appreciate your inclusive approach in decision making.”

Chief Nnia Nwodo who spoke on behalf of Enugu North Senatorial District, described the governor as a futuristic leader and commended his peace and development initiatives.

In his own words: “I have listened to the speech of Governor Ugwuanyi concerning his performances in the state since he assumed office six months ago and noticed no loopholes in what he has said. Our governor started his speech with the workers of Enugu State. He has energized the civil servants of the state. His first priority is that at the end of every month workers should have their salaries. He has also embarked on several measures aimed at saving the cost of governance both at the state and Local Government levels.

“Our problem with the Local Government elections is that the money appropriated for it cannot conduct it in one senatorial zone not to talk of the whole state. You told us that under this circumstance, you will run afoul of the law by spending money that is not appropriated in the finance law. Consequently, that you will make provision in the next year’s budget for the conduct of local government elections and in the circumstance, something that Senator Ekweremadu called the Doctrine of Necessity, that you have no choice but to constitute caretaker committees. And luckily your predecessor had laid the legacy law, so we have no choice but to have caretaker committees.”

In all, Enugu State is experiencing a fresh breath of good governance. Let’s motivate the governor to do more in the overall interest of the state. (NAN)