HURIWA To Governors – Emulate Spirit Of Infrastructural Revolution Of Governors Ugwuanyi And Nyesom Wike

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Rt. Hon. Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (popularly known as “Gburugburu”) is a man who bestrides two arms of government like colossus – once an ace legislator and now Enugu State Executive governor. Born 58 years ago, the mercurial Nigerian politician was elected as a member of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria more than 10 years ago, representing Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency of Enugu State. Thereafter, he was elected Governor of Enugu State in April 2015, and was sworn on 29 May 2015. Ugwuanyi was re-elected the Governor of Enugu State still under the PDP and was sworn in as governor of the State for a second tenure on May 29, 2019. In Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike is serving out his second and final tenure as elected governor of the good people of Rivers State and from every indications, he is someone determined to deliver functional infrastructures to his people irrespective of tribes or Senatorial zones just like Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.

Like the Americans would say, Governor Ugwuanyi walks the talk and has proved that everything rises or falls on leadership. As governor, he has maintained the developmental trajectories of Enugu and has been leaving huge footprints on the sands of time. As the past governors since 1999 had focused more on urban development, Ugwuanyi turned his attention to rural development. Within his first tenure, he completed the Udenu Ring Road, which had been a death trap for the people of Ezimo and Imilike-Ani. The completion of this road has opened up these towns to the outside world for business and other transactions. It is worthy of note that Ugwuanyi engaged in this capital-intensive project when some States were not able to pay workers’ salaries. Rivers State’s Nyesom Wike is in the same mould as a workaholic bent of evolution of functional infrastructures in places previously neglected.

With his aggressive execution of legacy projects, Governor Ugwuanyi can pass as Mr. Infrastructure. What is more, these are projects that impact directly the people and connecting the rural areas to modernity. Some of these projects include the completion of the Nike Lake junction – Harmony Estate Road – Amorji Nike – Adoration Pilgrimage Centre, Phase II and III, in Enugu East LGA, which will link Abakpa and Emene and serve as a critical bypass that will decongest traffic gridlock at Abakpa T-junction; the asphalting of a 22.443 km (13.945 mi) inter-community link road – the Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-ObolloEtiti road – that connects Isi-Uzo and Udenu LGA, under the Rural Access and Mobility Project II (RAMP II); rehabilitation of numerous internal roads in the university town of Nsukka and the flood routing/erosion control works at Achi Street, Independence Layout, Enugu.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has been remarkably phenomenal in two critical areas, namely: rural development and youth empowerment. He understands that rural development is a strategic paradigm that is economic and social in nature intended to encourage concepts of retention, growth, and expansion in areas outside cities, including improving the quality of life of people living in rural areas.

Ugwuanyi understands that there is an urgent need to move away from the traditional Rural Development centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry. He is rather approaching development from a wider perspective and creating a broad range of development goals rather than merely incentivizing for agricultural and resource based businesses. Ugwuanyi’s government policy direction for rural transformation is focusing on education, entrepreneurship, physical infrastructure, and social infrastructure, all playing an important role in developing rural areas. The administration of the current Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike can similarly be placed as that which places high premium on delivering roads projects to connect the rural riverine communities, the hinterlands to the urban areas such as Port Harcourt. This step has greatly impacted on rural development and expansion of the economy of the rural dwellers who are now rapidly connected with the Urban centres of economic activities.

Through the Enugu State Small and Medium Enterprise Centre and loan schemes too, a lot of businesses have been set up and also supported to grow. As a result, many more youths are now becoming self-employed as well as employers of labour. This approach is fast reversing rural-urban migration and giving local populations the opportunity for endogenous initiatives for development. Ugwuanyi is therefore deliberately aiming to improve rural lives with participation of rural people themselves, so as to meet the required needs of rural communities.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi aka Gburugburu is also revolutionizing youth empowerment and development. He paved the way for the emergence of more than half of the chairmen of the 17 local government areas of Enugu state who are under 40.

Ugwuanyi knows that the best way to groom future leaders is to expose them early through shared leadership. In the Enugu State House of Assembly, he supported a lot of youths to pick party nomination forms and win the election. His government is therefore utilizing meaningful youth participation to contribute to structuring policies and services that affect young people’s lives to adequately address their needs and interests. He is meaningfully engaging young people to gain skills and a sense of empowerment and make healthy connections with positive role models, both peers and adults. Part of his youth empowerment strategy is partnering organizations to train youths on different skills.

By empowering the youths, Enugu state is reaping bountifully the benefits of massive positive energy, fresh ideas and enthusiasm and ensuring robust human resources by sharing responsibilities between adults and youth. In a nutshell, Governor Ugwuanyi is a bridge between the young and old by putting in place policies and programmes that increase youth competencies, self-esteem, skills and knowledge and enhanced individual development. Giving the youths access has brought about much meaningful youth participation that enhances a young person’s sense of connectedness, belonging and feeling of being valued, which also contributes to their positive mental health.

Of particular interest are his government’s efforts to provide youth development activities that range from skill acquisition, educational enrichment, career exploration and development as well as social and recreational opportunities.

Governor Ugwuanyi has indeed enhanced the essence of youth participation in the state’s development. This is promoting youth patriotism and sustainability of change of interventions; strengthening their abilities to meet their own subsistence needs and preventing and reducing youth vulnerabilities to an economically, politically and socially unstable environment.

It is therefore self-evident that Ugwuanyi is tackling head-on the challenges confronting youths of Enugu state. He is aware that the level and quality of education directly affect the likelihood of employment for young Enugu people. Due to the quality of education and coupled with the fact that the youths are not able to enter the workforce early enough, there is much frustration and restiveness of the youths as is in other parts of the country. The governor’s response is providing stopgaps, career enhancers and skills that are now proving alternatives to white-collar jobs that are in gross short supply. He is making the Enugu youths to be aware of options for future employment, careers, and/or professional development and more importantly focusing them on self-reliance.

The Governor’s focus is on positive youth development. His youth policies are an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths’ strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people.

Governor Ugwuanyi is also invariably preparing the Enugu youths to play a role in the emergence of a new Nigeria by preparing them to rise above the virulent animosity among ethnic groups and religions in Nigeria. The governor believes the Nigerian youths should see Nigeria as one, which will engender positive change, unity and development to the country.

Providentially, Ugwuanyi is aware of the challenges being faced by the Nigerian youths, which subsequently have led them to indulge in various criminal activities, drug abuse, prostitution and violence of one kind or the other. As a remedy, the governor is injecting deliberate policies and programmes to counter those negativities and instilling self-determination and self-belief. Problems such as youth unemployment, poverty, negative use social Media/Internet, negative impact of western culture, lack of access to support, drug/alcohol abuse, violence and cult activities in schools as well as dependency and lack of quality of education among others blight development of youths in Enugu state and the country.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is indeed a blaze of new leadership who is creating a future for Enugu state nay Nigeria and therefore a beacon of good example just like the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike and therefore, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is calling on governors of other State especially those whose final tenure will wind up in the year 2023 to brace up to the challenge of providing functional infrastructures to their rural communities and to aggressively address the yawning skills gap that constitute a cog in the wheel of technological advancement and personal economic development and empowerment of their teeming youths populations so as to address the unprecedented rise in organised and sophisticated crimes.

COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO; NATIONAL COORDINATOR
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)
DECEMBER 31ST 2021.

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