Monday, 25 May 2020

BEHOLD THE GOVERNOR WITH AN EAR TO THE GROUND

Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Chris Chime

One vital aspect of governance that stands out the regime of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is this unique strategy of going out of his way to involve the governed in the process of governance. From the onset he was determined to run an all-inclusive government that did not leave out any individual, group or segment.

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I witnessed that much during my brief stint as a Government House reporter. The Lion Building, by reputation, a highly restricted zone under previous administrations was graciously thrown open to all citizens and groups, whether on a friendly visit or there to protest government activity that did not go down well with you. It seemed as if there was a standing order that no group on whatever mission should be stopped from gaining entrance into the government house. Each time they came, the governor would leave whatever he was doing to attend to them and on each occasion, they always departed with smiles of satisfaction on their faces.

Some critics were of the opinion that the governor spent too much of the time he should have used in looking into more serious matters of State, listening to different shades of disgruntled and on some occasions ragtag groups. In the opinion of these critics the Secretary of State or other lower ranked officials should be attending to such details. The truth of the matter is that this approach by the governor depicts the best practical approach to democratic governance. By stepping out of his office under short notice to address these motley crowds for twenty or thirty minutes, he is able to make more political capital than could have been made in one week of traversing the constituencies during his electioneering campaign tours.

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Members of these groups come with the hope of meeting one on one with their governor who ordinarily is unreachable. You could then imagine their surprise when instead of a political aide, the governor steps out in flesh and blood to address them. Some may not have had the opportunity of coming this close to him. At the end of the day the major satisfaction to them was that he came out in person to address them. His speech may end up not solving their problems, but the mere fact that he left all he was doing to address them was enough to make their day.

I must say I am all for this grassroots oriented style of governance because it is one simple strategy a good leader could use to endear himself to the hearts of his people. On another note, it is on record that Gov. Ugwuanyi has been able to transform the traditionally frosty relationship between his predecessors and their deputies on one hand and that between them and other political stakeholders, elder statesmen, traditional rulers and national assembly members representing the state.

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Before now, we have had situations where the previous governors treated their deputies as strange bed fellows who were there to be merely tolerated while their tenure lasted. The elders and stakeholders were put at arm’s length and territorial feuds were common with members of the national assembly representing the state. Today, peace reigns in Enugu State and from all ramifications, it is peace that carries prosperity on its wings. The governor appears to have attained the biblical state of being at peace with all men and with God. He has perfected the act of live and let live.

The other unique selling point that stands his administration out poignantly has to do with his disposition towards civil servants. Whereas those before him relegated civil servants to the back burner, Gov. Ugwuanyi made them his priority. In an economy that is undergoing recession, and in a country where even some oil states are unable to pay salaries, he has consistently and consummately met all his financial obligations to civil servants. Some people claim it is magic, but on the contrary, it has to do simply with commitment to an ideal and a clear understanding of the indices that govern economic principles.

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In keeping with the common truth that Enugu State is predominantly a civil service state, simple economics holds that civil servants must be the ones driving the economy. It thus follows that any financial largesse extended to them will automatically trickle down to the other sectors of the economy. The moment a civil servant receives his salary, an automatic downwards distribution system is activated. He has to fix his car, buy domestic items from the market trader, make one or two new clothes and by the time the month is ended the entire pay pack has changed hands, enriching practically every other member of society down the line. This was one economic truth the two previous governors failed to appreciate and that was part of what turned out to be their undoing politically.

We thank God that today we have as governor, a pacifist of uncommon dimension who understands the real meaning of reconciliation and accommodation. There appears to be no end to his capacity to accommodate and readily come up with a kind word to every citizen that runs to him for succor.

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Chris Chime writes from Enugu

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