Ugwuanyi at 52: A date with charity
By Louis Amoke
It was Marcus Tullius Cicero, a great Roman statesman, philosopher and orator, who said that certain phenomena are understood better by first describing what they are not, rather than what they are.
Consequently, there is no better way to paint a vivid picture of the growing phenomenon of the man, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, the incumbent governor of Enugu State, other than to start from the standpoint of what he is not, rather than what he is.
Ugwuanyi is not an ungodly personality. He is equally not a leader that segregates. He is neither selfish nor malevolent. The governor is evidently not an autocratic leader whose stance on an issue remains static irrespective of its harsh consequences on the people he leads. He is not a leader who sacrifices the feelings and needs of the people on the altar of neglect and discountenance. He is also not the type who eats while the underprivileged starve and languish to death in abject poverty, among others.
If he does not represent all these awkward features, one may therefore ask, who then is Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi?
He has, by his action, proved beyond reasonable doubt to be a God fearing, listening, visionary and adequate personality whose wealth of experience, dint of hard work, intellectual ability, milk of kindness, humility, simplicity, benevolence and penchant for peace stand him out as a great leader, an epitome of success and a God-sent leader.
Today, our generation appreciates God for the special gift he bequeathed to mankind 52 years ago through the birth of this great son of the Igbo nation; a detribalized leader, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi. He is a humble leader who has distinguished himself creditably both in his private and public dealings.
Popularly known as Gburugburu, Governor Ugwuanyi has made date with history through his phenomenon posture as a leader with an unusual style of leadership that has given succor to the poor and vulnerable, through charity and almsgiving.
The governor has no doubt come a long way on the positive side of history. He has certainly attained a high position of distinction and eminence in the society through his cherished accomplishments and profiling. A leading light for the younger generation, he is easily given to kindness and empathy towards the lowly and downtrodden. As a devout Roman Catholic, he sipped deep of the Church's moral teachings, especially the Christian obligation towards sharing in the pains of others by ameliorating their sufferings.
Gov. Ugwuanyi's legacy of philanthropy informs the bedrock of today's Birthday Anniversary celebration. The mantra of today's celebration is anchored on a special thanksgiving to the Almighty God for giving Enugu State a peaceful, worthy and people-oriented leader, who has dedicated himself to selfless service.
Even though the Gburugburu of our time needs no introduction, considering his wide-range of popularity and acceptability, one is compelled by the status of his office to make a few comments on his personal life.
He was born to peasant parents, the late Chief and late Lolo Lawrence Ugwuanyi from Orba in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State on March 20, 1964. He attended his secondary education at St. Theresa's College (STC), Nsukka. He obtained his first Degree, a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN); Second Degrees, MBA in Finance and Accounting from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, (ESUT) and third Degree, Master of Science (M.Sc) in Public Relations/Marketing from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). He had an outstanding career in the financial sector having worked in insurance brokerage where he rose to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Premier Brokers, the then prime brokerage firm in the entire South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria.
On his public life, Governor Ugwuanyi joined active politics in 2003 when he contested for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives. He was first elected member for Igbo-Eze North /Udenu Federal Constituency in the 5th National Assembly (2003-2007). Subsequently, he was re-elected to the same seat in the 6th National Assembly (2007-2011) and again, for the third time, to the 7th National Assembly (2011-2015) serving a total of twelve (12) years in the green chambers of the National Assembly.
In the National Assembly, Ugwuanyi left a great imprint and an enviable record. Between 2003 and 2007 he served as Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Public Service Matters and Deputy Chairman House Committee on Pensions, respectively. Following his victory at the National Assembly elections of 2007, he was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Transport (2007-2011). On account of his stellar performance as Chairman of the Committee on Maritime Transport, Ugwuanyi was re-appointed to the same committee position on winning back his House seat in 2011 thereby emerging as the first member of the National Assembly (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) to chair this all-important committee for two consecutive legislative sessions.
As a man easily given to humility, kindness and empathy towards the lowly and downtrodden, the majority of the people of Enugu State and beyond were not surprised at his emergence as the consensus governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state in 2014 and his subsequent election as the governor of Enugu State in 2015.
As the incumbent Governor of Enugu State, Ugwuanyi has applied his vast experience in public service towards giving the state quality leadership, even in the face of the current economic recession in the country. He has maintained his long standing path to vision, integrity, all-inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and prudence in the running of the affairs of the state.
Apart from the on-going massive road construction across the length and breadth of Enugu State, which are in advanced stages of earthworks, concrete and pavement works (asphalting), Governor Ugwuanyi has also recorded tremendous feats in other sectors of development, such as education, housing, healthcare delivery, security, agriculture, rural development, investment promotion, revenue generation, sports, humanitarian gestures, among others.
These unprecedented landmarks and verifiable achievements have received wide commendation of the public who keep wondering the secret behind the success story so far. Having kept faith with his promises, it is pertinent on this special day in his life to pay special tribute and encourage him to remain committed to his ideals as well as dedicate his life, family and administration to the protection and blessings of the Almighty God, who is the Father of all things on earth.
Your Excellency, your people are proud and satisfied with your sound vision and development trajectory which have started yielding positive results in the state. Your new ethos of leadership has changed the political equation of Enugu State for the better. It has also repositioned the people first and re-kindled their confidence in participatory democracy where the power belongs to the people.
The people of Enugu State and indeed the globe cannot hide their feelings today as you mark your 52nd Birthday Anniversary in grand style, in contact with the needy, just as you have done in the past.
In all, what else can we say about a governor who has made a lot of sacrifices to attend to the needs of the people; the electorate whom he has tagged the true heroes of democracy for the rain and sunshine they defied on the election days to ensure that their votes were counted? What else can we say about a governor who dedicated his first official duty as Governor of Enugu State to attend to the sick in the hospitals where he compassionately settled the bills of 21 indigent patients who were held back after being discharged due to inability to pay for their bills? A governor who has not changed his phone lines and has not stopped picking calls to keep in touch with the people who voted him into power.
Again, what else can we say about a governor who has taken charity and almsgiving to a height that pleases God by dedicating his service to not only the state in general but also to the less privileged in the society. These are attributes of a populist leader. These are signs of a good leader worthy of our honour today. We celebrate him today not just because he has made a mark in the political lexicon of the nation through hard work and diligence, but because he has, through his uncommon philanthropic disposition, kept faith with God whose grace and mercies made it possible for him to attain the enviable height of governing Enugu State today. Hence today's date with charity and almsgiving.
Happy Birthday, Your Excellency and may the good Lord continue to bestow you with long life, sound health, wisdom, peace, and many more years of selfless service to humanity and our fatherland. Amen!
• Amoke, the Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu State Governor on Media Matters, wrote in from Enugu.