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By Tony Edike
Senator Ike Ekweremadu who has represented the Enugu West Senatorial district since 2003 would ordinarily have been rolling out the drums this weekend on his attainment of the golden age. However, the natural intervention of the demise of his father curtailed plans for pomp and pumping of hands in the senatorial district.

The five local governments in the constituency include Aninri, Awgu, Ezeagu, Oji-River and Udi. Before the inception of the fourth republic in 2003, a little was heard about the senatorial district in terms of urbanization and provision of modern infrastructure.

The zone which had contributed immensely to the political development of Enugu state remained under-developed despite the emergence of renowned politicians and top military officers from the area. Although such politicians and military officers, some of who had served as military administrators in different states across the country, were seen as very influential during their time, they were unable to attract basic infrastructure that were needed to uplift the status of the zone.

The people of the zone continued to lament their woes under successive administrations with no good roads, portable water and electricity in most of the communities.

Through the instrumentality of his office, Ekweremadu facilitated the construction of roads, erosion control, water and electricity projects across the five local government areas in his Enugu West senatorial district. Beyond the expectations of many, the Senator extended his constituency projects outside his constituency as many projects were also sited in Enugu East senatorial district between 2009 and 2010.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu
Some of the projects initiated and completed from his first tenure in 2003 to date include construction of Oji-Achi-Mmaku-Ndeabor-Mpu-Okpanku-Akaeze road with bridges; rehabilitation of Ohaozara-Uburu-Ishiagu road; construction of Enugu-Onitsha express road; Ninth Mile-Enugu-Port Harcourt express road; Obollo-Affor-Ehamufu-Nkalagu road, second Niger Bridge across River Niger; and rehabilitation of Nenwe-Oduma road.

In the area of electricity and energy, Ekweremadu also facilitated the construction of Solar Plants and streetlights in various communities in Aninri, Awgu, Udi, Ezeagu and Oji-River in addition to construction of Ivo Dam project. Erosion control projects were also attracted to ameliorate the sufferings of his constituents in many communities whose landed property and farmlands had been ravaged by gully erosion.

Ecological projects attracted and executed in various communities within the senatorial district included Ugbonabo-Ugbokpala-Obeagu erosion control; Rosary High School, Awgu erosion site, Amoli Junction to Enyimba Achi erosion site; Isu Awaa-Agbudu-Ihe erosion control site; Mpu-Oduma erosion control, Nenwe-Oduma erosion site  and Amokwe erosion control site. Over 15major erosion projects were executed within the five councils through the assistance of the Deputy Senate President.

Mindful of the fact that majority of Enugu people are farmers who are regarded as low income earners, Ekweremadu got the federal government to provide some irrigation and dams in the state. His Aninri local government which is regarded as the food basket of the state got an irrigation project while another was sited at Amagunze in Enugu East.  He also attracted another project for Ada Rice in Enugu North to boost rice production.

Many communities also benefited from water projects through the assistance of Ekweremadu who has demonstrated strong commitment towards alleviating poverty among his people. Ndeabor, Nenwe, Oduma, Ihe water extension schemes and Aku, Obeagu, Udi, Ezeagu, Agbada Ani, Amoli, Isuawaa exit schemes were facilitated by Ekweremadu and executed during the period under review. He also attracted some water projects to communities which had over the years suffered  lack of portable water.

The Umuavulu, Abor communities in Udi local government, Umuagbonwu Akama Oghe and Okpogho Imezi communities in Ezeagu local government and Isikwe Achi and Enugwu Agu Achi communities in Oji River local government are now enjoying portable water courtesy of the senator who engaged ZAIN, a telecommunication firm, to undertake the projects.

Most communities in Enugu West which never had the privilege of enjoying electricity for decades were electrified through the Deputy Senate President's effort. Aninri and Ugo got rural electrification projects while construction of Nenwe-Mpu 132KV DC lines and Ugwuaji-Mpu 132KV DC lines were also made possible by the senator.

Ndeabor, Mpu, Nenwe, Amoli and Awgu communities also benefited from electricity projects attracted by Ekweremadu to whom the benefiting communities have continued to show gratitude for extending dividends of democracy to them.

Outside his immediate constituency, Senator Ekweremadu mounted subtle pressure on the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation to ensure that facilities at the Akanu Ibiam airport were upgraded.

He played a major role in the award of contracts for the expansion and resurfacing of the airport.  He also made it possible for the Federal School of Dental Technology and Therapy, Trans-Ekulu, Enugu to be given a facelift. While the Rector's residence which was non-existent was built, new auditorium, administrative block and additional classrooms/sickbay were provided at the institution.

In the area of education development, the Deputy Senate President has played a major role in the provision of facilities that have improved many institutions in Enugu West.  Several classroom blocks, furniture and toilets were provided for some secondary schools in the senatorial zone while some got modern libraries, furniture and books.

Besides, Ekweremadu had used his Ikeoha Foundation founded since 1997 to give succor to the less privileged members of the society across Enugu State.  The  Foundation which was registered by the Senator as a non-governmental, charitable and non-profit organization  to pursue the economic well-being and advancement of people, especially the more vulnerable groups such as women and youth, had awarded scholarships to over 1,500 indigent students in tertiary institutions.

The Foundation had brought relief to many poor families who were unable to earn a living, let alone training their children in tertiary institutions.  Several women from the senatorial zone have also been sponsored for skill acquisition training and the impact is already being felt in the zone; the beneficiaries have started earning a living from the various trades learnt under the scheme.

For Ekweremadu, it has been a successful political journey so far. Having been elected to represent Enugu West for the third consecutive time, and rising to the rank of Deputy Senate President, he believes that he is a child of destiny.  He had repeatedly said to the hearing of his supporters and political associates that, 'God had been very faithful to me', hence his decision to always channel his God-giving resources towards improving the welfare of the people.

The legacies so far left in Enugu West Senatorial district by the Deputy Senate President, who doubles as Speaker of the Parliament of the ECOWAS, is a clear indication that the current Transformation programme of the Goodluck Jonathan administration is being replicated at the grassroots level.

Those communities that have benefited from several development projects provided by Ikeoha have testified of the tremendous improvement in their living condition as those who were not visiting their homes regularly on account of bad roads and absence of electricity now frequent their villages and towns.

This, many believe, is the fruit of good governance and quality representation. No wonder Ekweremadu had been re-elected three consecutive times to represent his people at the upper chamber of the National Assembly after holding top offices in his home state for almost a decade.

As the Deputy Senate President clocks 50 years (Golden Anniversary) on Saturday, May 12, 2012, the University of Nigeria- trained legal practitioner cum politician, would be joined by his associates and thousands who had one way or the other benefited from his numerous projects and gestures, to give God the desired gratitude for what he has so far done through the Senator from Enugu State.

Mr. Edike is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers, Lagos.