There is indeed palpable and unbridled joy and celebration in the land. The land of my birth. Again, there is every reason to roll out the drum, strike the cymbals and blow the trumpet to appreciate God Almighty for sustaining that city on a hill officially proclaimed a state status exactly 30 years today and officially a cosmopolitan city for over a century.
The young generation might not have figured it out that the name Enugu is an Anglo-Saxon version of the original and undiluted name Enu-Ugwu which means “Top of the Hill”
When the first European settlers arrived in the region in 1909 and led by a British mining engineer, Mr. Albert Kitson, they searched for silver but instead found coal in large quantities around the Udi Ridge. Today, the slogan of Enugu State has remained the coal city state to depict a city founded on a hill with large deposits of coal which turned a major earnings of the government in the years gone by.
It is interesting to relate that the Colonial Authorities at the time led by Governor Frederick Lugard took a keen interest in the discovery of coal in Enugu and by 1914 the first shipment of coal was made to Britain. As mining activities upscaled, Enugu emerged as a permanent cosmopolitan settlement and was subsequently supported by a railway system. Enugu acquired a township status in 1917 and became strategic to British interests. Consequently, foreign businesses began to move into Enugu, notable of which were John Holt, Kingsway Stores, the British Bank of West Africa and the United Africa Company.
It is equally important to stress that from the city of Enugu, the British administration was able to spread its influence over the entire Southern Province of Nigeria. Today, the colonial past of the city of Enugu could be evidenced from the relics of some Georgian building types and meandering narrow roads within the residential area originally reserved for the whites, an area which is today called the Government Reserved Area (GRA).
Because of the strategic importance of the city of Enugu, it moved from being the capital of the Southern Provinces to becoming the capital of the old East Central Eastern state as well as the capital of the then defunct Federal Republic of Biafra on the 27th of May 1967. Enugu went further to becoming the capital of old Anambra state which now has a new Anambra and Enugu states through a process of state creation and diffusion of administrative authority. Unarguably, the City of Enugu has come a long way whose trajectories must be a source of pride for her inhabitants and founding fathers.
It is good to note that this same sense of pride embedded in the psychological make up of an average wawa individual as the people of the Enugu area which included old Agbaja clan, Nkanu, parts of Abakaliki and Ogoja are called resulted in the relentless efforts and strident calls to have Enugu carved out as an independent state entity within the federal Republic of Nigeria. Kind prayers must constantly be offered in remembrance of our forebearers, elder statesmen and other critical stakeholders some of whom are still alive for their courage and forthrightness to glorify the pride of the Wawas. It may not be easy to crystallize the efforts of these individuals visavis their expended wealth and sweat to bring about the creation of Enugu state exactly 30 years ago via the pronouncements of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the then Military President of Nigeria. Enugu state must have had a date with the history of ’27th’. On the 27th of May, 1967, Enugu was made the capital of the Eastern region and on the 27th of August, 1991 she became a full fledged state within the federal Republic and still bearing the capital status with a seventeen local government Councils and three Senatorial zones.
Today, Enugu State is officially 30 years old and should be regarded as a massive adult. Ndi Enugu are more often regarded and rightly so for their popular cuisines. Their preparation of the local delicacies like “African salad”, Bambara nuts(Okpa), leguminous foods like ‘Akidi’, ‘Fiofio’ to mention but these few have no equal elsewhere in the whole of the South-East region. Yet, Ndi Enugu is noted for their robust industries, resilience and Peaceful dispositions. Again if one wants to have the best taste of local palm wine, the best place to be is Enugu State. Enugu State is indeed blessed with both human and natural resources.
One important thing that must not escape mention in this exposition remain the trajectories of successive administrations in the state since her creation some 30 years back. While it is important to applaud the efforts of her past leaders including the men in khaki, it is pertinent to stress that Enugu state has never had it so good than she is having with the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. All men of goodwill and discerning citizens of Enugu State would readily testify to this claim. History book might not conclusively contain the accomplishments of governor Ugwuanyi within the six years he has steered the ship of the state which he captained with so much vigour and passion.
Ugwuanyi has remained an unrepentant apologist for good governance and result oriented leader of our time. Perhaps, it is important to recast what could have reinforced his personal philosophy and in his own words here …
“We will bequeath to all, a just, equitable, peaceful, united and prosperous Enugu State that has ascended more rungs on the development ladder”.
This is indeed a confidence assurance from a confident leader whose epitaph post 2023 will read these famous lines… “I came, I saw and I conquered”
Congratulations Enugu State @ 30. You sure dwell in the hands of God.
Bibian Anekwe News added …”Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.
©️ Austin Okechukwu Chijioke.
A Political Analyst
Media Team Member ENUGU DI N’AKACHUKWU MOVEMENT