Ugwuanyi And the Development Imperatives of Enugu Rural  Communities – By Boniface Idoko

Ugwuanyi And the Development Imperatives of Enugu Rural  Communities – By Boniface Idoko

Ugwuanyi And the Development Imperatives of Enugu Rural  Communities – By Boniface Idoko

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Time, they say flies.Just the other day on May 29, 2015, our new set of executives from the President to the Governors took  the oath of office and allegiance to assume powers for the next four years . Just like yesterday, the four years remain barely one year and a few months to wind off. Expectedly, as they were being  inaugurated, they  were also  reaffirming  the promises, if you like call it  manifestoes they made to the people in the course of their  electioneering, apparently  thinking that they have a whole lot  of four years to fulfill them. But barely one year to wind off their tenure, some are still scampering to do  something  to show the electorates in the next election.

As an indigene of Enugu State, the only message that sounded loud and clear to me during the inauguration of my  Governor, Right Honourable Ifeanyi  Ugwuanyi, fondly called ‘Gburugburu’  was his  firm promise to develop the rural communities of the State. I was fascinated by this promise because I come from a rural community like most people from Enugu State which  unfortunately have been grossly neglected by the past Governors in the State especially since 1999 to  at least the period Ugwuanyi took over the mantle of leadership . They were not keen in developing the communities which constitute the larger part of the State. And that in effect implies that Enugu State  has not been  benefiting from democracy dividend  in the last 22 years or thereabout, Nigeria returned to democratic rule.

The abysmal performance of these  leaders  no doubt might have accounted for  lack of development of Enugu  State, because as I have continued to argue that  if you don’t develop the rural communities of the State, where else in the State will you develop. Is it Enugu municipality, which has experienced development for the past 100 years,  that we continue to concentrate on by every administration that comes on board  because we want to pander to the whims of  our parasitic elites.

I can say without equivocation or fear of  contradiction that the people of the State have not experienced dividend of democracy in the hands of its former Governors since 1999. Ugwuanyi”s declaration that he will concentrate on rural communities but not equally neglecting the urban areas was a paradigm and  radical shift from the previous development agenda of the State.   I have always believed  that investing in Shop Rite and their likes  as is done by the immediate past administration in the State and in many States today was never development in real sense if it.  The decision of the  past regime in the State to convert Polo Park recreation centre meant for the youths and children  to build  Shop Rite was never a development and a part of mandate given to him by the people of the State.  It was more of  commercial investment for selfish motives.

The point must be made that the  former Governors of the State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime failed to understand or appreciate the peculiar situation and needs of their people and were busy enjoying themselves without looking back to asses if they were addressing the developmental needs of  the people they were voted to take  care of. And that is why posterity will never judge them as great Enugu or Igbo leaders. They refused to understand that Enugu is almost 70 percent agrarian and rural, and 30 percent  civil servants and urban based. They went on frolic of  their own as lawyers would say  at the detriment of  the larger percentage of the down trodden and rural people of the State.

Ugwuanyi seemed to have understood that for any Governor to consciously say he is developing Enugu State,  he must direct his attention and energy to the rural communities of the state,  which have been bearing the brunt of neglect, poverty and ignorance in the State for ages past.    Across the rural communities of the Stste, whether in Okwute, Unadu, Ozalla, Uvuru,  Apugo, Amokwe and many other communities, the people are not only   living in abject poverty and penury but  equally go through untold hardship to eke out living  because there is no road, primary healthcare centres, electricity and portable water among other basic  amenities.

But the critical issue here is that three years down the line in Gburugburu”s   administration has he  lived up to his promises.  Has he actually tried to advance the status of the rural people if the State. Many of his aides and supporters will answer this question in affirmative.   It is understandable.   However, my candid observation is  that the implementation of grassroots development as promised by Ugwuanyi seemed not  to have  moved  as one expected. Gburugburu supporters   will ask how did I know, whether I toured all the Local Governments and communities in the State? I know because apart from the fact that little or nothing is happening in some communities I had the opportunity  to pass through recently such as Itchi, Ibagwa- Aka, Unadu , Alor- Agu all  in  Igbo Eze South Local Government and other surrounding communities ,  my observation  showed that  the most rural part of the State  have not felt the impact of Gburugburu’s development initiative in the State as  some of us expected.

The most important and critical road in my Local Government is the Ibagwa-Aka-Itchi- Unadu- Alor- Agu road and virtually nothing is going on that road. Indeed what this writer saw on that road is not only ridiculous but embarrassing to the Governor. There seemed to be what looked like road construction from Ibagwa-Aka to a few metres to Itchi community but it was embarrassing the way the work was being  done  by two young men each with a barrow and a shovel. Never in the history of road construction have I seen  a government using  a barrow and a shovel to build road even if it is carried out though direct labour.

On further inquiries, one was told that the Governor has no intention to do it but because he wants to please Chief Okey  Ezea, former  All Progressives Congress (APC) from the area, he wants to try and  do the road to his place. Then the other communities  are not part of the State . This is most unfair to the other part of the communities.But my understanding is that  our representatives in the Government are  not doing enough to impress it upon the Governor  on the compelling need  to  construct this all important  road.

But it is not only Igbo Eze South that  Ugwuanyi seemed  to have ignored or  failed to remember as   Uzor- Uwani, which is the food basket of the State appeared to be entirely forgotten . Umulokpa, the headquarters of the Local Government cannot be accessed  from  any part of the  Local Government, except  one  go through Nsukka to 9th Mile  and  Oghe.

Previous Governors of Anambra State especially Peter Obi have done the Onitsha to  Omor  part of the Onitsha-Adani-Nsukka road but from Adani to Nsukka portion of the road has remained unattended to by the previous regimes of the State and there is no sign that this administration is thinking of working on it. I expected that given the strategic importance  of Uzor- Uwani generally to the agricultural development of this part of the country since the time   of  Eastern Region, Adani and other adjoining communities in the Local Government should by now  be a huge construction site. This is more so,  when the emphasis now is agriculture and if you must seriously develop agriculture in Enugu State, you cannot ignore Uzor Uwani Local Government. Most people from Nsukka area of State who resides in Anambra State  and  beyond would have preferred taking Onitsha-Omor-Adani- Nsukka road than the Onitsha-9th Mile Corner-Nsukka  Expressway, while traveling home but could not  because the Adani portion which belong to Enugu State is in a very deplorable State.

Other Local Government Areas in the State  especially the rural ones such as Aninri, Agwu, Nkanu East and West, Isi- Uzor among others are suffering from the same plight. In Igbo- Eze North, where the people have been complaining of gross neglect, Ugwuanyi was said to have awarded a number of roads. That is commendable. It shows that  he is sensitive to the complaints of his people. One hopes the road would not remain at the level of flag- off but commissioned before the election.

Some of the Governor’s supporters would not hesitate to drum into your ears that he has dualised Nsukka- Opi junction road. We also laud the Governor for that project, especially the solid work done there  and the lightening, which is yet to be powered.   But  flaunting the construction of Opi  Junction -Nsukka road as a major achievement of the Governor in our today’s politics in Nsukka  amount to insult on the entire people of the zone. It is like saying that a Governor is working in Enugu metropolis or is paying salary as and when due. Those things are good but actually, are they not the  basic  routine expected of a Governor. But that is the level our politics has degenerated. The irrefutable fact is that Nsukka North or Senatorial zone as it is today is composed of seven Local Governments and all of them are yearning for attention and development just like others in the State. So for any body to flaunt Opi Junction-Nsukka road amount to gratuitous insult to the people from the area.

It is pertinent to point out that there is no Government which ruled the State starting with Okwezilieze Nwodo to Chime which  did not do the Opi- Nsukka road. The only difference is the level of commitment and  the  quality  of work done.

As the next election approaches , the best campaign strategy for Ugwuanyi is his work in various communities and Local Governments of the State. Few days ago, I read in dailies that he has released substantial sum of money  for community based projects. That is heartwarming. No doubt, he might have borrowed from Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State’s development initiative, who started N20m community projects and N 10m market projects in the State. It  was actually  the former Governor, Mr. Peter Obi who  started it. Since he has started borrowing from  the Anambra State development initiative, he should equally extend it to massive road  network work development of  entire  State, which was started by Dr. Chris Ngige,followed by Obi in Anambra State. This has become the basis of assessment of any Governor in Anambra State and any Governor who goes  below it should expect the anger of  the people during  an election. I know a lot of proposal has been  made to Ugwuanyi to adopt the Anambra road development model.And I am persuaded that the earlier he does  that the better for his administration.There will be  less hassles for him during his re-election campaign.

The N10m  for each community in the State is  a welcome development  but it is just like a drop in the ocean. I expect Ugwuanyi to go all out and work, for that is what will speak  for him during his re-election campaign instead of all these populist programmes like the creation of autonomous communities in the State, which has created more crises in various communities  of the State among people who want to become emergency traditional rulers.  What is happening in most Enugu communities  is that instead of focusing on the real issue of overall development of our people, and the communities, everybody is now angling to become a traditional ruler or support  one candidate or the other.

Part of the developmental problem of Enugu State is our elites who because they want  patronages from government  will  see and say anything. One is not urging them to take up arms and constitute themselves into an opposition  but should be disposed to advise the government and speak out. But in Enugu State, when Government  is not doing well for its citizens, it is the elites who stoutly defend  it either because  of  what they benefit from the Government or because the Governor is from his/her area.

There is no doubt  Enugu State like most States has enormous challenges. The human capital development is low. There are still a lot of children who suppose to be in school, who are not. There are few opportunities for young people in the State even today.There  are  also growing poverty in our communities, yet in the face of all these, our political leaders remained insensitive and far removed from the people. I seriously believe that Gburugburu can make a difference for the people especially the coming generation.

Hardly in Enugu State you see a legislator  whether  in the State House of  Assembly or National Assembly who has a constituency  office or organise empowerment programme for his or her constituents.  The time has come when the Governor who is the father of the State should galvanise the efforts  of all his colleagues, elected or  appointed politicians whether at the State or Federal levels as well as highly placed and privileged  Enugu people in public and private sectors to move Enugu beyond this level we are now.

Mr Boniface Idoko, a public analyst and commentator lives at No 9 Ifite Road Road, Awka, Anambra State.



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