By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.Ralph Waldo Emerson;
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”.Jim Rohn
“You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness”. Zig Ziglar
Yesterday evening was such a bad period for me.
As a fanatical follower of the London based professional football team- Chelsea fc, which i have deducated the last one decade of my life to support not just morally, but i do also make substantial investments by way of purchases of their branded products directky from their business premises in the United Kingdom .
Chelsea fc players bought with loads of cash worth billions of United States Dollars by the American part owner- Todd Boehly, played so miserably Yesterday at home turf that they conceded a whooping 2 goals deficits to Aston Villa football club- the football club loved so much by Prince Williams.
However, another information filtered in through a news page I read in a foreign press about a recent vote in which the word LOVE was voted as the World’s greatest word.
It was reported that after an online poll by dictionary.com, ‘Love’ has been voted the Greatest Word of All Time (GWOAT).
After multiple rounds and nearly 14,000 votes, online users chose Love ahead of words like Thank You, Yes, Ok and Why.
In the final matchup, love faced thank you, a term kindred in its good will, though probably too practical and specific to have a chance against lofty, all-encompassing love.
The platform deduced that the voters went for ‘love’ for its value as both a noun and a verb — as not just something to seek and to say between I and you, but as something to do.
It said, “The fact that a clear majority chose love as the word they consider most important and essential is, to us, cause for hope.
“In retrospect, it does seem inevitable. Of course love won. When the choice is between love and anything else, the choice is obvious.”
And so, Yesterday eventually turned out a potpourri of the good, the bad and the ugly. But of course I settled down to take a decision to reflect on all of these.
It was at the same moment that my mind went straight to the young Nigerian man who in the last eight years has been the governor of Enugu State, known politically as the Right Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The desire to put a piecevtogether that resonates the nexus between the online votes on the word LOVE and the personality of Governor if Enugu State especially when the repprt on the concept of love filtered in and the decision made on the word and its symbolism fits into how a lot of Enugu State indigene see their governor as a well beloved governor.
Although as a human being with frailties and imperfections, Governor Ugwuanyi has his full house of haters especially those infinitely jealous that such an urbane gentleman well polished upwardly mobile man could make it to the lofty height of a governor of the former regional capital of Igboland- Enugu State with millions of people of diverse fields and vocation.
THE former Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye said as much and close enough to my aforementioned claims when he recently commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his pro-workers policy and his efforts to improve working conditions in the state.
Rev. Nwoye, who is a governorship aspirant in the state also felicitated with Nigerian workers, especially workers in Enugu state as the commemorate the 2022 Workers Day.
In his May Day message, Rev. Nwoye urged workers to continue to give in their best and contribute to the betterment of the state.
He thanked them for their efforts and sacrifices towards nation building.
While celebrating the leadership and members of the organized labour and workers unions, Rev. Nwoye regretted the disagreement between the Federal Government and the four university-based unions and the government over the industrial action that has lasted for months keeping students and workers at home.
He called on the Federal Government to find a solution and end the strike.
He thanked Governor Ugwuanyi “for his pro-workers policies and for his dedication towards ensuring that his administration prioritizes workers welfare and improve working conditions in the state.”
He said, “it is indeed a happy workers day for Enugu state workers and they have a workers friendly governor who have made the happy in happy workers day a reality unlike what is obtainable in other states.
“Enugu state workers are the only ones that receive a 13th month salary and this is due to the benevolence and compassion of the governor towards improving workers welfare.”
The governorship hopeful also congratulated the governor and people of Enugu state for the successful conduct of ward congress.
He praised Governor Ugwuanyi for his efforts in ensuring that political party activities are peaceful and well organized.
“This has greatly contributed to the relative peace Enugu state enjoys. Governor Ugwuanyi has done well and we are proud of him. He has worked for this state as the Chief Worker and worked for the progress of the party in the state. Enugu state is indeed very lucky to have him,” he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, among others, for their commitment and invaluable support towards the full actualization of the Diocese’s agricultural dream project, the Mary Agro Farms, located at Udi Town, Udi Local Government Area.
The Diocese expressed gratitude to Gov. Ugwuanyi for his immense contributions to the Church as well as his support towards the development of the permanent site of Mary Agro Farms at Omughu/Obunofia, Enugu State, for massive expansion.
Speaking when Gov. Ugwuanyi inaugurated and inspected the farm project at St. Mary’s Parish, Udi LGA, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for “always making it possible for us to partner with the Government of Enugu State, and the support you have been given us as the Father of the State”.
The event also witnessed the graduation ceremony of the first batch of trainees of Mary Agro Farms, Udi.
In his welcome address, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo, who is also the Director of Mary Agro Farms, on behalf of Bishop Onaga and the entire Presbyterium and laity of the Diocese as well as the management, staff and students of the farm, also thanked the governor for his administration’s positive intervention towards the acquisition of land for the permanent site of the farm.
Bishop Obodo said that the Diocese is committed to partner Enugu State government to make the state “a food basket of Nigeria as well as provide employment for the teeming youth of our state”, adding: “In this way we shall together stop crime in our society”.
Noting that Mary Agro Farms has enjoyed enormous support from public-spirited individuals and collaborations from Austria, the Enugu Catholic Diocese appreciated an entrepreneur and the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, for being “the first to give his support to this project”, revealing that “he (Mbah) sunk the first water project for Mary Agro Farms in 2018”.
Inaugurating the farm project, Gov. Ugwuanyi applauded the vision of the Diocese under the visionary leadership of the Most Rev. Onaga for embarking on the enterprise, “an integrated resource-efficient farm engaged in livestock and crop farming and seeks to grow the critical manpower for agriculture through training of our youths in the farming processes”.
Expressing delight that the trainees will be offered post-training mentorship and Start-up input support upon graduation, Gov. Ugwuanyi disclosed that Agriculture has been a major plank of his administration.
The governor pointed out that “Enugu State is one of the six participating states in World Bank supported Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project”.
He stated that the APPEALS project is currently providing numerous benefits to the people of Enugu State such as Youth and Women Empowerment Programme through which 1700 youths and women are being supported through training, registration of their Agribusiness with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), development of Business Plans, Starts-up grant for establishment of Agribusiness enterprise and mentorship for sustainability.
Gov. Ugwuanyi further stated that the project is also providing support to Technology Adoption by assisting existing farmers with improved technology and farm inputs for enhanced production, processing of farm produce, market linkages and alliances; adding that the construction of farm access roads, aggregation centers and cottage processing centers, etc, will soon commence.
The governor, who equally disclosed that his administration has trained 520 youths of the state at CSS Integrated Farms, Keffi, Nasarawa State in two batches, on different sections of the agricultural value chain, said: “We started ranching with Efigbo to help re-invent the Igbo heritage, launched the Coal City Rice to offer our people quality locally produced Rice that competes favourably with any other brand, etc”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi congratulated the first batch of trainees of Mary Agro Farms on their graduation and charged them to engage the world and deploy the skills and character inculcated in them and conquer.
Acknowledging the enabling leadership of Bishop Onaga and the hands-on superintendence of the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Obodo as well as the entire management of the farm towards the success of the enterprise, the governor said that “Your efforts to feed the body and soul are cherished, for a healthy soul resides in a healthy body (anima sana in corpora sano)”.
One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of a cheque of N500,000.00 to each of the graduates to establish agribusiness in their different areas of training.
The Deputy Governor, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, the Bishop of SAN Mali Diocese, Most Rev. Hassan Florent Kone, the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Nnayelugo Chidi Aroh, the Chairman of Udi LGA, Hon. Philip Okoh, his Ezeagu counterpart, Hon. Chukwudi Ozoeluba, the Chairman, Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, the PDP Candidate for Enugu West Senatorial District, Engr. Osita Ngwu, the PDP Candidate for Udi South Constituency, Hon. Okey Aneke, the Chaplain, Enugu State Government House, Rev. Fr. Chinedu Ozoude, and the Chairman, JAAC, Dr. Hyacinth Ngwu, were among the dignitaries at the event.
The leadership of the organised labour in Enugu State comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) then added the icing on the cake when they paid glowing tributes to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his exceptional commitment to the welfare of the state workforce notwithstanding the avalanche of challenges experienced by his administration since it assumed office in 2015.
The labour leaders, in what could be described as a valedictory visit to Governor Ugwuanyi at the Government House, Enugu, on Thursday, said that the governor has done so well for the workers even though “we may not say that you have solved all the issues facing workers.”
The organised labour stressed that Governor Ugwuanyi met the most difficult economic recession twice in the history of Enugu State and in Nigeria, and yet, he was able to address the basic needs of the workers to a satisfactory level, and enjoyed a harmonious working relationship with the state workforce unlike in the past.
Pointing out that Enugu is dominantly a civil service state with inherent huge wage bills and other related financial obligations to be attended to monthly from the state’s lean resources, the workers appreciated the governor’s remarkable efforts in addressing their needs and also attend to development issues in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the workers of the state and leaders of the organised labour, the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Comrade Bennett Asogwa, disclosed that their relationship with Governor Ugwuanyi was very cordial and unprecedented in the history of the state, saying: “Your Excellency, we know that we are really going to miss you seriously. We are praying for the incoming governor, (Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah) to be better; but so far, so excellent.”
Comrade Asogwa highlighted the numerous good things that Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration did for the workers to include payment of N30,000 new minimum wage with its consequential adjustment, enhanced civil servants’ welfare, regular payment of workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions as well as promotion, training and retraining of workers, and the making of 100 lucky civil servants proud landlords of one bedroom apartment each.
He went on to thank the governor and reassured him of their unceasing prayers, solidarity and support.
“If we sit down and count what you (Ugwuanyi) have done for workers, that is the only time people will understand how far you have taken us.
“You gave us that free hand that we could call, we could text, we could come physically at any time interact with you. It is a very rare privilege even considering your tight schedule as a governor.
“Your Excellency, you have already set the precedence that must be sustained because whatever the case may be, nobody will say he is going to meet more difficult economic challenges than you met because we know you came in when there was economic recession in the country and thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic, EndSARS protest, among others.
“And none of these challenges which drastically affected the lean resources of the state scared you from implementing the new minimum wage. There were so many other underlying structures unimplemented before you came in as governor and you brought those things to bear.
“We thank you so much. And we know that God has not finished with you; this is the beginning of your leadership; we are expecting you in higher places in Jesus name,” the labour leader said.
Appreciating the workers for their kind words, solidarity and support all this while, Governor Ugwuanyi charged them to remain focused and committed to the peace and progress of the state.
He urged them to extend the same support and cooperation to the incoming administration of Dr. Mbah.
The climax of the visit was the formal introduction of the new State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Barr. Fabian Nwigbo and other new executives of the union to Governor Ugwuanyi.
Also present at the event were the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Due Process, Mr. Sylvanus Onoyima.
But, something not quite right also happened recently, when this governor loved and beloved by a cross section of the good people of Enugu State was not returned by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the Senator to represent Nsukka zone. He nursed the ambition to serve his immediate constituents in Nsukka Senatorial zone as their representative in the upper chamber of the National legislative body in Abuja.
This was basically for a number of reasons including gross and very extensive use of violence by some elements in the Labour Party and other manipulative tendencies.
His effort to go to the Senate was thwarted by these reactionary elements bent on creating atmospheres of animosity in a state in which the governor is finishing so strong and is as vibrant as a freshly inaugurated governor. This temporary political setup caused by the unequalled opportunities by the candidates abd the regime if bloody violence, has in no way made him an angry person. He still puts up a convivial atmosphere and an appearance of a near infinite enthusiasm to continue to deliver the democracy dividends fir his people in Enugu state. This I think is the most appropriate reaction to the temporary political setback he suffered during the National Assembly poll on February 25th 2023.
He, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi seems to be in a hurry to accomplish and finish all the outstanding infrastructural projects he started about eight years ago.
So, this writer does not share the lazy stereotype that the governor hasn’t worked and so he is not loved by the people of Enugu State- this is a fallacy going by the narratives of the different stakeholders I the state snd importantly, the leadership of the organised labour.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the HEAD of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.