There is no doubt that the indices of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s popularity and acceptance by the people of Enugu State are gathering momentum by the day, with gales of endorsements for his re-election in 2019 from different strata of the society.
For instance, while the members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu West and North Senatorial Districts of the state had unanimously endorsed him for second term because of his unprecedented achievements in just two years in office despite the severe economic challenges in the country, the state’s workers, during a one-day symposium organized by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Enugu State Council, passed a vote of confidence in the governor and asked him to “carry go”.
The most recent was the endorsement by the state’s traders under the auspices of Enugu State Amalgamated Market Traders Association (ESAMATA). The traders at a solidarity rally they organised in appreciation of Governor Ugwuanyi’s entrenchment of good governance and initiation of a unique traders’ empowerment programme, also unanimously endorsed his re-election in 2019, saying that he has “performed creditably in just two years in office despite the daunting economic challenges in the country”.
The traders in an extreme display of their appreciation and support, on that fateful day, shut all the markets in the state and mobilised themselves en masse to the venue of the rally to honour the people’s governor. They were full of gratitude to him for good governance and his uncommon empowerment initiatives borne out of his desire to give traders in the state a sense of belonging and bring them closer to the government as the true heroes of democracy.
The outpouring endorsements, which are in recognition of the governor’s people-oriented programmes aimed at impacting positively on the lives of the people, have gone a long way to give credence to the overwhelming support and goodwill he enjoys from the people of the state.
Announcing the decision to shut the markets, the president general of the association, Temple Ude, in a statement issued earlier, stated that “the plan to shut down the markets to celebrate Gov. Ugwuanyi was a unanimous decision of the traders in the state”.
Mr. Ude added that the rally will be unprecedented in the history of the state as “all the markets in the state will be shut down on Thursday, June 15, 2017 and all roads will lead to Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, where excited traders will converge en masse to appreciate and celebrate our traders-friendly Governor for his support and good governance.”
He advised residents of the state “to store foodstuffs and other needed items ahead of Thursday,” saying that the rally will offer the traders a unique opportunity to interact with the governor and take far reaching decisions that would further improve their fortunes as well as sustain the progress of the state.
On the empowerment programme tagged “Enugu State Traders Empowerment Scheme”, which was the brain child of the governor flagged off on February 21, 2017, it is pertinent to note that the scheme was one of the policy thrusts of the present administration carefully designed to assist the traders to grow their various businesses for the socio-economic stimulation of the state. It has a package of N60 million annually to be won by 100 lucky winners monthly at N50,000 each through an open raffle draw.
Consequently, 1,200 genuine traders in the state will be empowered annually and as at the moment, 400 traders have so far benefited.
The governor’s vision has remained that winners of the lottery will invest the money into their various businesses to help promote all round economic growth in the state.
It would be recalled that Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration had organised a similar open lottery programme for civil servants in the state from grade levels 1-10, where 100 lucky winners won one unit of one-bedroom apartment each at Elim Estate, Enugu, with the state government paying over 50 per cent equity contribution – a landmark feat that saw 100 lucky civil servants become proud landlords in the state.
At the well-attended rally, the elated traders immediately Gov. Ugwuanyi arrived the venue, took to their dance steps praising and cheering him to a loud ovation as he walked round with other dignitaries to appreciate and acknowledge the cheers from them.
It was indeed an enduring encounter between “a governor and his people”, as the excitement that exuded from the jubilant crowd was a reality of the governor’s swelling popularity and acceptance.
The rally was also a demonstration of unwavering support, love, goodwill and solidarity as the traders could not hide their enthusiasm for the governor’s good works in the state and his kind thoughts for them, saying that his administration “is most favourable to traders doing business in Enugu State”.
In his address, Mr. Ude stated that the traders are very happy and at home with Governor Ugwuanyi for his visionary leadership and the empowerment programme initiated by his administration, adding that “the idea was to stimulate the economy of the state as well as alleviate the sufferings of the people”.
The president general applauded the cordial relationship existing between the governor and traders in the state, saying that it “is equal to none when compared to other states in Nigeria, especially in the south-east states”.
Expressing their desire for the governor to govern the state beyond 2023, Mr. Ude said: “Your Excellency, no government in the past has ever attempted to establish the existing relationship between traders and government. Traders in Enugu State have resolved that if tenure elongation is democratic, they will sponsor a bill that Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi should be cleared for third term in office. Sir, we are committed to showing loyalty and sacrifice to your government, hence you have done much to traders in Enugu State”.
On security and workers’ welfare, he noted that Mr. Ugwuanyi has created “an enviable security outreach in the 17 local government areas with the establishment and equipping of the Neighbourhood watch associations in all the nooks and crannies of the state, and has equally remained regular in the payment of workers’ salaries, disclosing that such feat has gone a long way in encouraging traders to do business in the state”.
“We are convinced that even with the current economic hardship you still positively navigate the affairs of the state for the betterment of the people of Enugu State. We have unanimously endorsed your re-election come 2019”, the president general declared with a loud ovation from the traders.
The traders equally commended the state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, for his accessibility to them, disclosing that this is the first time since the inception of democracy in the state traders’ complaints are being “treated promptly without any iota of nepotism”.
Responding, Mr. Ugwuanyi thanked the visibly jubilant traders for the gesture, love, goodwill, solidarity, enthusiasm and support, adding that he feels highly honoured that they shut down the markets in the state to gather in their numbers “to show appreciation for the empowerment scheme that we launched for traders in Enugu State last February”.
He explained that the Traders’ Empowerment Scheme, carefully designed to boost economic activities in the state and improve the lives of the ordinary members of the society, was “in line with our promise to deploy government resources and services to create fair and equal opportunity for every citizen to make a living, create wealth and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment”.
He told the traders that the empowerment programme was only the beginning of his appreciation for the immense support and affection that they have continued to accord his administration since inception.
Reaffirming his administration’s commitment to the welfare of the traders, the governor said: “We have indeed resolved to do all that is necessary to better the lot of traders in Enugu State and in this regard, I promise that we will never allow anyone to harass, oppress or exploit you as you go about your legitimate businesses. Be assured that we will deal with any such case, promptly, decisively and comprehensively, as soon as it is brought to our notice.
“We are discussing with financial institutions, international corporations and other relevant organisations on the ways and means of extending easier and more convenient lines of credit and other facilities to traders in Enugu State.
“We are also working to upgrade the capacity of the Enugu State Marketing Company to arrange special import services for traders just as we are committed to the continuous development and equipment of markets in Enugu State as part of the efforts being made to create a more conducive environment for business and commercial activities to thrive in the state.
From the above narrative, it is glaring that Mr. Ugwuanyi is the man with the hearts of the people of Enugu State who have no regret in overwhelmingly electing him as their governor in 2015.
The onus is therefore, on the people to continue to support and encourage him to render more selfless service to build the Enugu State of the founding fathers’ dreams, because the state is securely in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu State.