Enugu State: A real mix of governance and human face

By The Citizen
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By Boniface Attama
All too often, people who have won election need to be asked to stop campaigning and start governing. But this isn't the case I have seen in Enugu State. Here I see a grasp of leadership and governance in action. Is this a dividend of the 12 years of experience of Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the House of Representatives? Is it his maturity in character, his gentle and humane approach in dealing with others or his zeal to impact lives by setting an example of what government should be - a service to society?

Perhaps it could be the fear of God, informed by his recognition that it is God that ultimately puts men in authority - the critical element that appears to have been thrown to the dogs in the fret and fascination of political power in this country. I see wisdom in governance in Enugu State, reflecting a combination of the virtues mentioned above and the beginning of all of it is the fear of the Lord that is the light of leadership and governance action in the state.

Leading people is quite different from ruling them, which is why Nigeria as a nation continues to bemoan leadership problem even though it has always had people ruling over it. When it comes to democratic governance and the demands of leadership, Ugwuanyi appears to have a lot in stock to show many others in this part of the world. The summary of what he is doing right now in Enugu State is using the instrument of state to lead people from where they have been to where they want to be. This is leadership!

This is quite unlike rulers in authority, who are using the instrument of state to achieve what they personally want at the expense of society. This expectedly leads to conflicts of interests, which the rulers try to address by waging battles with the opposition and 'settling' powerful interests with money and position to maintain their own position in power.

To the contrary, leaders that are focused on serving society tend to have less opposition. It is not that people with parochial interests will not rise to oppose them but they soon fade away. The rise of a progressive force in society is self reinforcing and before it no selfish forces can stand. Such is the leadership force that I have seen in Enugu State - a formidable force of human progress backed by the wisdom that emanates from the fear of God.

Maturity in character is an essential ingredient of leadership success. When you are the chief executive officer of a nation, a state or a corporate institution; don't forget you are in charge. You are in charge in both the two sides of it - the authority to act and the responsibility that attaches to that authority. If the institution fails, you have failed - not your subordinates. If it succeeds, you have succeeded even if your deputy is the one that suggested the strategy that has worked.

Those who are focused on going somewhere neither give nor take excuses and that is the strategy that is working out in Enugu State. So many people are out there blaming past leaders and rulers for the present situation in the country and in the various states of the federation. Unlike them, Ugwuanyi clearly recongnises that he is in charge now; that he has a chance to make a change in the lives of the people to the best of the available and collectible resources. He painstakingly goes to work with the resources at his disposal to create a bigger economic capacity in the state than he met it. This is leadership!

Society everywhere is collectively a positive force so that whenever good governance and quality leadership are introduced in a human society, a great force of human progress is normally activated. Herein lies my optimism for the people of Enugu State that the development forces activated in the 9-month old administration of Ugwuanyi is unstoppable.

Such progress isn't achievable in an atmosphere of bitterness and rancor. The obvious fruits of governance are easily blown off by fighting with political opponents, complaints against others' failures and the pointing of accusing fingers. For you to point one accusing finger, you must arrest the whole hand from work and engage it for the trouble shooting. This is the reason why those who keep attacking others to defend their own position will not achieve much.

Ugwuanyi is one governor that should have a lot to complain about his predecessors in office, about scarce resources - not an oil producing state and about federal government neglect of public infrastructures in the state and many more.  Rather than open up a political witch-hunt or vendetta on assumption of office as many others do, Ugwuanyi put on a character of political tolerance, cooperation and inclusion.

It is on his good record that during his electioneering campaign, he neither engaged anybody in war of words nor cast aspersion against any. Such a character is to me a much needed seasoning of peace that Nigeria as a whole should add to dilute the simmering political tension, mutual suspicion and agitation that presently becloud our beloved nation.

When you are elected into office, even if it is by the simplest majority possible, you suddenly become the father of all - the people, the communities and the states that voted for you and those that opposed you. The authority you are given by the majority carries with it this responsibility. If you begin to exercise the authority without the responsibility, you are failing in terms of the oath of office, the expectations of the people and of God – to whom all powers belong.

Ugwuanyi has succeeded in carrying everybody along in the state, irrespective of party affiliations. This isn't a sign of weakness but an effort to extract strength from all and sundry for the development task ahead. He is credited for having provided lifelines to many political actors in the state, making up substantially for the weakness arising from his party's loss of power at the federal level. While his policies are said to flow with the milk of human kindness, they are implemented with a knack for strategic precision, cost effectiveness and result orientation.

The definition of government's effectiveness is what happens at the grassroots and that is where the government in Enugu State seems to hold an edge. Ugwuanyi runs an open door policy in governance with which he has so far taken government to the people at the grassroots. Yet, he has an airtight administrative system that gives minute attention to details in decision making and implementation. This is to the extent that padding of budget or contract isn't possible around his office.

A wide consultation and dialogue usually happen before government policies and programmes are pronounced. By the way contracts are awarded; you can tell that the work will be done. It is not surprising therefore that in January this year, Enugu State received an exceptional commendation from the federal ministry of works for high quality rehabilitation works on federal government roads in the state.

Amid the dwindling revenue situation in the country, Ugwuanyi's government in Enugu State has made remarkable strides. Maximum extraction and equitable distribution of dividends of democracy are the goals of his government. There is a true manifestation of good leadership and governance in Enugu State – virtues that are conspicuously missing in Nigeria, especially at this critical point of Nigeria's economic challenges.

Attama, a public affairs commentator writes from Enugu.