There was excitement in Enugu on Wednesday as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi formally handed over N5 million cheque each to 118 autonomous communities that have so far fulfilled the requirements for the release of the fund, as the first tranche of the N10 million earmarked for every community in the state to execute development projects of their choice.
The 118 autonomous communities that received their cheques, according to the Commissioner for Rural Development, Gab Onuzulike, were among the 450 communities approved by the Enugu State Executive Council (EXCO) that have opened accounts with designated banks. He added that the remaining communities will receive theirs as soon as they open bank accounts and send the details to the Ministry of Chieftaincy Matters/Rural Development.
Governor Ugwuanyi while presenting the cheques to the Traditional Rulers and the President Generals of Town Unions in the communities stated that the decision was in line with his administration’ resolve to empower each autonomous community in the state with the sum of N10 million to carry out projects that would address their “peculiar and immediate development needs.”
The governor added that the government decided that the choice of the projects and their execution were left “entirely” to the discretion and at the disposal of the stakeholders of each individual community.
He said: “This was in fulfillment of our promise to promote participatory democracy and extensive rural development in the state as well as the involvement of all local communities in the implementation of government policies and programmes.”
Governor Ugwuanyi, who disclosed that the exercise was the first time in the history of the state, explained that the projects to be executed by the communities are different from those being done in various communities by his administration through the Community Development Project (CDP), the World Bank-assisted Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to him, “to march words with action, the State Executive Council on the 22nd of November 2017, approved the release of the sum of N2.25 billion to cover the first tranche of N5 million to be given to every community in the state so as to enable them commence work on their self-chosen projects. The communities were also asked to open bank accounts for the lodgment of the said funds”.
While thanking the communities that received the cheques for their support and eagerness to participate in “this historic scheme”, Mr. Ugwuanyi expressed explicit confidence that they will utilise the funds for the identified purposes for the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of their people, reassuring that his administration will not relent in its development efforts until the fruits of good governance are felt in every community in Enugu State.
Responding on behalf of the Igwes and the Town Unions’ Presidents-General, the Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Lawrence Agubuzu, thanked Mr. Ugwuanyi for the “innovative, unique, socio-economic and new developmental strategy for Enugu State”, saying that they are happy to have him as a governor.
The Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Town Unions, Paully Eze, had described the release of the fund as a pleasant surprise, saying that the governor has wiped away the tears of the people in so many communities, who he said had never experienced any development project in their areas.
He maintained that the grassroots development programme, will ensure that government presence is registered in all the over 450 autonomous communities in the state, commending Mr. Ugwuanyi for his passion for the wellbeing of the people.