At the passing of Chief Lateef Jakande last year, our own veteran Analyst, Ike Abonyi was on hand to reminded us that only Sen. Jim Nwobodo of Enugu and Alh. Ibrahim Auwal the current Emir of Suleja are the surviving icons among the Nigeria Governors set of 1979 who reigned in the first republic. The “most performing governors” he called them, while he gave roll call of the repective 19 states they ruled.
Most time we unintentionally delay appreciating renown men of power, who walk our political space until they are gone. Posthumous eulogies are good, but they cannot equate with “viva il” (long life) wishes.
And so here, we are sparing a space to appreciate the genius of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Lawrence Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi (Gburugburu), the fourth and incumbent executive governor of Enugu State in his 58th birthday anniversary.
If William Barclay’s assertion that “the two most important days of our lives are the day we were born and they day we discover why” is anything to go by, then Governor Ugwuanyi has done everything there are to merit fulfilled lifetime. For he did not just discover the “why” of his sojourn on earth but has in his youthful age ebulliently actualized it in his person and in the society. He has positively influenced more lives than any of his contemporaries.
No one can admire him enough. We can only paint the side that touched us the most, while other chroniclers of his uncommon achievements do the rest.
To do this, we can draw analogy from an event that took place in the global scene, four years before he was born.
In October of 1958, after 10 ballots in what nearly became the longest conclave ever, the cardinals-electors chose Angelo Roncalli — Pope John XXIII, (almost against his will), to reign as the 261st supreme pontiff of the universal church. Little did they know they had elected a reformer of pragmatic repute.
He would sow in the world, what he considered in his pre-conclave interviews “the greatest gift” a pope should have — Peace!
He opened the doors of the church to all, and catalyzed the peace agreement between the then Soviet Leader, Nikita Khruschev and U.S. President J.F Kennedy which made them retrieve their armoured tanks that were onshore to throw the world into nuclear war more deadly than that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
No one appreciated his innovative four year-long papacy until he was gone.
Juxtapose the above story with Ugwuanyi’s reign in Enugu State and make honest appraisal of his governance, and you would see the intertwining similarities.
It cannot be denied that infrastructural development gap existed much in Nsukka and other Enugu zones, but his strides in this respect is felt and continuous.
Even international personality profilers like Wikipedia agreed that “amidst sentimental backlash mainly from Enugu North, the governor has maintained the developmental trajectories of Enugu. As the past governors since 1999 had focused on urban development, Ugwanyi turned his attention to rural development. Within his first tenure, he completed the Udenu Ring Road which had been a death trap for most the people of Ezimo and Imilike-Ani. The completion of this road has opened up these towns to the outside world for business and other transactions. He engaged in this capital-intensive project when many state were not able to pay workers’ salaries.”
It is the first time in the history of the state that opposition politics melted in favour of government in power.
No doubt, security of lives and property is top-notch in today’s Enugu. Fortified road networks are also treasured goods, urban and rural development are quite enormous. But nothing compares to the peace he fostered and still fosters among politicians and citizens. No rife between stakeholders of opposing views. Enugu is their collective political party, thanks to Ugwuanyi’s pragmatic emulation of Pope John XXIII.
And what is more?
Where peace is, there is unity of purpose. Since the foundation of Enugu, from the old Anambra state till date, there is no worship centre in the Lion Building. Ugwuanyi felt the need to have a Christian worship centre at the heart of our government house. And he built and dedicated a chapel of ecumenical dimension in the first year of his second term. Here, christian faithfuls across all divide can worship their God. Divine presence became domiciled more concretely in the helms of the state’s administrative headquarters.
Before the Pope we cited in the opening narrative died, he convoked an ecumenical council as an evergreen survenir of his pontificate. His successor — Paul VI in the concluding message of the sacred council addressed rulers of the world thus:
“At this solemn moment, we, the Fathers of the 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, address ourselves respectively and confidently to those who hold in their hands the destiny of men on this earth, to all those who hold temporal power.
We do honor to your authority and your sovereignty, we respect your office, we recognize your just laws, we esteem those who make them and those who apply them. But we have a sacrosanct word to speak to you and it is this: God alone is the source of your authority and the foundation of your laws.
Your task is to be in the world the promoters of order and peace among men. But never forget this: It is God who is the great artisan of order and peace on earth, for He it is who guides human history and who alone can incline hearts to renounce those evil passions which beget war and misfortune…
In your earthly and temporal city, God constructs mysteriously His spiritual and eternal city, His Church. And what does this Church ask of you the powers of the earth? What does the Church ask of you today? She asks of you only liberty, the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love her God and serve Him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life.
Allow Christ to exercise His purifying action on society. Do not crucify Him anew. And we, His humble ministers, allow us to spread everywhere without hindrance the Gospel of peace on which we have meditated during this council. Of it, your peoples will be the first beneficiaries, since the Church forms for you loyal citizens, friends of social peace and progress”
It seemed Ugwuanyi felt this message was addressed to him personally by the council fathers. In public office, he took God as his guide, thus the slogan “Enugu is in the hand of God.”
Aside this, the completion of the Nike Lake junction – Harmony Estate Road – Amorji Nike – Adoration Pilgrimage Centre, Phase II and III, in Enugu East LGA, which will link Abakpa and Emene and serve as a critical bypass that will decongest traffic gridlock at Abakpa T-junction; the asphalting of a 22.443km inter-community link road – the Neke-Mbu-Ogbodu Aba-ObolloEtiti road – that connects Isi-Uzo and Udenu LGA, under the Rural Access and Mobility Project II (RAMP II); rehabilitation of numerous internal roads in the University town of Nsukka and the flood routing/erosion control works at Achi Street, Independence Layout, remains a huge mystery to those who who knew the peculiarity of economically unfriendly time of his leadership.
Pardon me for drilling you through all these, but it is hard to write a birthday tribute to Gburugburu without highlighting the correlations of his achievements. He has redefined governance. It will be worthwhile to appreciate him as he clocks 58 years of age.
The common prayer on this day is: “may his kind always grace governmental positions, for when the righteous is on throne the people rejoice (Prov. 29:2).”
Keep the good work coming.
Happy birthday, His Excellency Dr Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi.
Long live Nwa Vero Pius
Long live Dunu Gburugburu of Orba
Long live Enugu State.
Hon. Mrs. Bibian Anekwe
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on moblization and Empowerment to Enugu State Governor.
Director General (DG) ENUGU DI N’AKACHUKWU MOVEMENT
Bibian Anekwe News