*We pray he should not lower his guards in his second term
In this interview, Prince Nnah E. Marcel, Abuja-based business tycoon explains why he has solidly been supporting Governor Ifeanyi Ugwunyi of Enugu State and sets agenda for his second term in office. ABBABAOBI-EKU ONYEKA reports.
You have been an adent supporter of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwunyi of Enugu State; why?
I want to use this medium to congratulate him for the expected lanslide victory at the last governorship election. With his avalanche of achievements, I had no doubt he will win and remember, I had said this several times before that he had no match in the contest because of the volume of his achievements during his first term. To answer your question, I am not the only one that is solidly behind him, because a careful study will show you that almost all the citizens of Enugu state are solidly behind him as a result of effective leadership and performance.
If you take a trajectory drive in the state, you will see how he has not only kept his promises, but also implemented policies to the satisfaction of everybody, the high and the low. The governor has put equity into consideration in appointment of his cabinet members, among others. He is from Nsukka and his Chief of Staff is not from there, likewise his Secretary of Government. To crown it all, in order to accommodate women in his government, his deputy is a woman of integrity and outstanding pedigree, Lolo Cecelia Ezeilo. So, his apointees are men and women of integrity and outstanding pedigree. I want to inform you that he provided the state with enough human and material resources that have been elusive in Enugu state over time. As a human being, he knows that he does not know it all, that is why he has listening ears which has been one of the magics behind his successes. He has touched positively on the lives of even the less privileged. He does not discriminate between the rich and the poor. He associates with everybody freely. He is the only state governor in Nigeria that freely mixes up with the people during occasions and he is not afraid that people might hurt him because he has no enemy; like the legendary Fela Anikulapo said, Ugwuanyi is water, he has no enemy.
It appears that there are no communal disputes in Enugu, but there are herdsmen issues which has also disrupted peace there. Is it part of his achievements?
The issue of herdsmen is a national issue and the governor has done wonderfully well in the area of fostering harmonious relationship between the herdsmen and the villagers. He has also invested so much in the area of security and ensured that each citizen is always vigilant. I can tell you that he has made every people of every tribe and profession resident in Enugu State to respect the rights of the other person. He has wonderful PR and so, when information gets to him that herdemsn are plotting to cause havoc, He will call Fulani and Housa leaders and they will bring their boys in line with decorum and peaceful relationships. That is why the issue of herdsmen attacks in Enugu State is very few and far between.
Apart from Enugu the state capital, where infrastructural development, among others are visible, some people believe that the governor appears to be focusing more in his area, especially his own town, near Ubollo Afor and Nsukka senatorial zone more than other places. Why is it so, or don’t you agree with this concerns?
Few people have been saying this without digging deep into the man’s system of governance and administration. I want to remind you that when former Governors Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime were in office in Enugu state they each refused to connect Nkanu people to the Enugu urban, due to their inability to construct a linking bridge through Amagunze. Their inability to construct the road crumbled business transactions in the area. But this present governor they are accusing of neglecting other area for his area, constructed that seemingly elusive bridge, put motorable road in place and more than 40 communities are now enjoying economic activities and linked up with the state capital and other places. So I don’t agree with them with the reason that he is decentralizing development in the state.
If you go to Enugu West, he has set up a module which has seen every community being supported to embark on community projects of their choice to the tune of no less than N10 million per community. This he also did in every community in the state, over 300 communities and you can imagine the impact on social and economic development. Also, he encourages LGAs to carry our massive infrastructural projects to the extent that right now, Enugu State is regarded as a massive industrial layout with projects going on in all the 21 LGA at the same time connecting every town and community. So, those making such claims are uninformed.
He will be sworn-in for the second term on May the 29th, what would be your advice to him with regard to the provision of social infrastructures, such as heath, education, water, facilities, among others? As you no pipe borne water is not adequately provided in the state.
His Excellency has been providing pipe born water and other amenities more than his predecessors in office. I have just mentioned part of his community develooment initiatives. Most of those projects are actually to provide portable water in the communities and he gave 100 per cent approval and as I speak, all those communities are enjoying pipe borne water.
I assure you that from May the 29, he will do more to the satisfaction of the citizens. Remember that he is one of the governors that pay workers salaries regularly. He pays wages and allowances as at and when due. That is why civil servants in Enugu are the happiest in the world. And this translates to economic boom in the state unlike some other states where their governors do not pay workers. Everybody is happy in Enugu. The state is like one big family all because Governor Ugwuanyi believes in investing in human beings more than in any other thing and this has made him to become the envy of his colleagues at the Governors Forum.
No doubt, the civil servants are happy, because the industrial dispute in the state is very low or non existent. What is your advice to him in handling small crimes, such as cultism among the primary and secondary school children in the state?
It is true that the rate at which cultism is growing in Nigeria is alarming and before his time in office, the evil menace had grown in proportiins and was nothing to write home about in the state. But now that he is in office, vices such as cultism have been reduced to the barest minimum. I drive from Enugu the capital of the state to my home town in Agba Umana between 11:30 pm and 1 am safely and at ease without any molestation. The state is safe. He is empowering security agencies and fraternising well with their leadership. That is why all the security chiefs in Enugu are working as if it their home state and the resultant effect is peace and tranquillity.
People talk about one thing or the other about governors and in Enugu state, there is this feeling that Ugwuanyi has pocketed every politician and who-is-who in the state, what is your own opinion in that regard?
No! What the people are talking is his ability to promote peace in the state. Ugwuanyi does not know political bareer outside of electioneering period. He does not discriminate but ensures that amenities spread round the state, including the home towns of his political opponents. That is why they all respect him. People think he has bought over people. It is a misconception. The man unddrstands that every part of the state is his constituency and that being the case, he earns the respect of his political opponents becsue they see nothing with which to fight him.
Each of the three arms of government is independent and as the executive governor, he ensures that there is separation of power and checks and ballances with understanding, devoid of unnecessary rivalry. There is proper divolution of power in this his administration and everybody is usually given chance to play his or her roles in line with democracy and the law. So you can observe that he is really the governor of the people and he is committing the state to the hands of God.
What will you want the people of Enugu state to do for him in his second term?
While I congratulate him again for his re-election, I hail the citizens of the state for doing the right thing at the right time. However, I urge them to continue to be law-abiding, be supportive to the governor and involve God in everything, for the common good and progress, development and peace, among others to be achieved.
Though as a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, you are expected to support the governor. He is a human being and no one knows it all, what are those things he didn’t do well in his first tenure, you will like him to address in his second term?
Though the opposition may be complaining, even if the governor is doing well or not, but I don’t know the area he didn’t touch. That is why opposition politics is dead in Enugu State because Ugwuanyi is governor for all. He touched every aspect of life of the people irrespective of political or other leanings and I urge him to keep it on, so as to not deviate from effective performance he is known for. The only thing I want him to do is to keep the flag flying.
There is a constitutional provision for joint state and local government account which is what is being implemented. Now the president said that the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should ensure that those joint accounts are no longer operative, that the local government should get their money independently direct. What is your opinion about that debate?
This is a constitutional matter and instead of over heating the polity, let it be taken to the Supreme Court for interpretation. We dont need any more crises in this country and the Federal Government should not be seen as stoking embers of crises. Let the constitutional provisions take paramount place until it is amended.