By Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
The new sworn-in governor of Enugu State Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi last Friday urged the people of the state to tighten their belts as his administration takes off.
Ugwuanyi promised that his administration would turn the present economic challenges into huge blessings.
He noted that while expectations are high, there was need for patience, faith and the people’s full involvement in governance, which he said would be matched with the right decisions and good work for positive result.
His words: “I will therefore be calling on Ndi Enugu to tighten their belts. But the difference between our model of belt-tightening and the one you used to know, is that the belt-tightening under this administration will start with government functionaries and business.
“We will lead by example. We will lead a lean government to free up resources and channel them to the real development issues.”
As a result of dwindling economy, the new governor said it was time Enugu State, and indeed Nigeria looked “inwards and harness those potentials, which free oil money has blinded us all the while from exploiting.
Ugwuanyi warned that every revenue-generating agency of government should be ready to generate and remit revenues to fund government’s development efforts and stressed the need for individuals and corporate entities to start paying tax as defaulters will not be counted as friends of the State. He praised his predecessor Governor Sullivan Chime’s developmental strides,intellectual capacity, political sagacity, and vision that has brought this far describing his administration as a seamless continuity and consolidation of all the good works he and others before him has done in the State.
His Inaugural Speech!
Ndi Enugu, the appointed day has finally come. It is the Lord’s doing and it is still marvelous in our eyes. To Him, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and the Awesome God of David, be all the glory and honour in Jesus name. Amen.
Exactly eight years ago and on this ground, an enigma, a man of uncommon zeal for development, and indeed the true leader met for our souls was inaugurated as the third executive Governor of Enugu State. That man is no other person than His Excellency, Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, CON. Looking back at his developmental strides, there is no doubt that he was divinely anointed and equipped with the intellectual capacity, political sagacity, and vision to take Enugu State to its rightful place in the comity of federating states. With a well thought-out blue print for consolidation and rapid growth, our amiable leader was rated as one of the best performing Governors for the eight years that he held sway.
Ndi Enugu, today, it has pleased God and you, men and women of goodwill that I step into the big shoes of my predecessors as the next Governor of Enugu State in a seamless continuity and consolidation of all the good works he and others before him has done in the State. It has pleased God that I take up the gauntlet of the struggle for the emancipation of the Wawa man from where our heroes past stopped. It can only be God, for it is He who raises the poor from the ash heap and makes him to inherit a throne of honour. He has anointed me for a mission to bring good news, message of continued hope, peace and development to our people; to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to every Wawa man caught in the prison of poverty and under-development. And these, I owe you and my God to fulfill.
Ndi Enugu, in line with my campaign promises, I recommit myself to continuing with the legacies of the Sullivan Chime’s administration and his roadmap for taking Enugu State to the next level. I recommit myself to employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, rural development and indeed, security and justice. We will deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment. We will drive with full force investment promotion, agricultural sector renewal, provision of critical infrastructures, human capital development and skills acquisition.
We are aware that you are aware, and saddled with the same awareness, that unemployment is a major issue in our Country today. In order to alleviate the sufferings of our people in this regard, we deliberately designed government policies embedded in our road map to generate employment and provide the platform to partner with the private sector.
In the area of agriculture, we shall consolidate the efforts of the past administration in the San Carlos Farm project, the Adarice and other such farm settlements where our people will be gainfully employed.
We undertake to continue with the on-going educational reforms which have lifted our public schools to new levels of excellence. The introduction of e-learning and exchange programmes for our tertiary institutions in line with international best practices will be our priority.
The need to compliment the already established state-of-the-art medical diagnostic centre the first of its kind in our geo-political zone- with our vision to create hospital chains to make Enugu the preferred destination for receiving high quality and affordable medicare in the Country will be a matter of first choice.
Your Excellences, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
Enugu State under us will pay a special attention to rural development because the bulk of our people live in the rural areas. We will create more urban areas to boost economic growth. In line with this, we must equip and modernize Nsukka a University town founded over half a century ago to compete with other University towns in attracting technology and knowledge based businesses and other industrial support ventures, bearing in mind that Nsukka is the second largest town in Enugu State.
In the same vein, the Ninth Mile Corner is a long overlooked economic hub that we need to harness to enjoy the full benefits of our newly acquired status as a Free Trade Zone. We will give attention to these places to speed up urban development, create fresh economic opportunities and reduce pressure on the Enugu metropolis.
Likewise we will boost the Enugu city by opening up the Independence Layout Phase Two, Abakpa Nike, Emene and other satellite towns to compliment the proposed Industrial Park. We will partner with the private sector, not only in housing development but also in agricultural development and industrialisation. We want people who are ready to enter into strategic partnerships with us to develop Enugu State. We will provide the necessary legal and policy frameworks to make investment thrive.
It is on this note that I wish to call on our people in the diaspora and the business community to key more freely into the new phase of development in Enugu. I enjoy the diaspora’s overwhelming support and goodwill for which I will remain grateful. Now, it is time for them to consummate this support by investing more at home and using their wide network of contacts to boost socio-economic development in the State. Although it is said among our people that “Ebe onye bi ka o na awachi”, it is also a fact that “Aku ruo uno, amara onye kpara ya”.
Let me state categorically that while we are gearing to achieve so much, we must bear in mind that the resource flow has grown so lean across the Country due to the nose-dive of oil prices in the International market. As His Excellency, the outgoing Governor pointed out during the thanksgiving service last Sunday, Enugu’s purse is growing leaner as federal allocations dwindle to an all-time low. A political associate recently told me that this is not the best of times to be the Governor of Enugu State. But I replied that this is indeed the best time to lead Enugu State. If former President Franklin Roosevelt could lead America out of the Great Depression; and if President Barak Obama could lead the Americans out of the economic melt-down, I believe that we too can turn the present economic challenges into huge blessings. Since it is knowledge driven economies and not oil driven economies that rule the world, I believe that this is another great opportunity for Enugu State, and indeed Nigeria to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded us all the while from exploiting. It is an opportunity to live to our full potentials and discard the feeding bottle federalism syndrome. Importantly, I believe in the miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fish. I believe that God will give us the wisdom and courage to successfully navigate the state through the current economic crunch.
Yet while I have no doubt that we will get to the promised land; while expectations are high, and rightly so, it is also important to state that the times we are in require some patience. With patience, faith and your full involvement in governance, we will surely get there.
However, I also believe that we must match our faith with the right decisions and good work. I will therefore be calling on Ndi Enugu to tighten their belts. But the difference between our model of belt-tightening and the one you used to know, is that the belt-tightening under this administration will start with government functionaries and business. We will lead by example. We will lead a lean government to free up resources and channel them to the real development issues.
In addition, every revenue-generating agency of government should be ready to generate and remit revenues to fund government’s development efforts. Likewise, individuals and corporate entities should henceforth start paying tax as defaulters will not be counted as friends of Enugu State. But one thing I must assure you is that every kobo you put into the coffers of government will be utilised transparently and in a way that adds value to your lives.
We will continue with our foreign investment drive. We were in China recently. We had fruitful discussions with some businessmen who want to invest in our state. The result of those meetings will be felt by the good people of Enugu State when investors storm Enugu State soon. We will continue to provide favourable policies, legal frameworks, and business friendly environments to encourage others to follow suit…