By Jeff Ejiofor

According to Ralph Nichols, the most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood, and the best way to understand people is to listen to them.The Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s philosophy of leadership is a perfect reflection of the above assertion having displayed a sufficient capacity in the art of responsive governance. From his response to the pulse of the masses over sensitive and burning issues in the society, he has been consistent in proving to be a dependable and reliable listening leader that can be trusted with public office. The turn of events since his assumption of power in Enugu State as the Executive Governor in 2015 will leave nobody in doubt about his open door policy disposition. The recent withdrawal of a bill seeking to amend the Enugu State Ex-Governor’s Pension Law which was passed into law in 2007 is a clear manifestation of listening leadership.

Pertinently, his reorganization of the state’s waste management system as well as sanitization of traffic control in Enugu metropolis on assumption of duty is a testimonial exhibition of his listening ability. As a matter of fact, from the above observations, Ugwuanyi is undoubtedly an embodiment of a true democrat who upholds the tenets of true democracy and respects the wishes of the people. His regime is an intrinsic replica of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy.

In an apparent display of true commitment to the yearnings and aspirations of Enugu citizens, Ugwuanyi has always rescinded any decision taken by his government perceived to be unpopular in the court of public opinion. Since the inception of his administration, he has responded to public outcries against policies and decisions seen as inimical to the well being of the people, and made necessary adjustments to suit the wishes of the masses.

Unarguably, he has taken glaring actions in the past to support this narrative. For the purpose of clarity, let me remind us how he discarded some of those perceived anti people policies of his predecessors in affirmation of the people’s sovereignty. The manner he handled the obnoxious and draconian conduct of Enugu State West Management Agency (ESWAMA) and Ministry of Transport (MOT) on assumption of duty is a demonstration of true and impeccable leadership.

It is imperatively important to note that the recent withdrawal of Enugu Ex Governors’ Pension Amendment Bill was at the behest of the governor to primarily respond to public outcry. Though the amendment was not his brain child in the first place, he took it upon himself to prevail on Enugu State House of Assembly to step the bill down in the interest of the general public. He had to convince them to discontinue anything about it so as to assuage the feelings of the poor masses who saw it as an albatross to the economic prosperity of Enugu State considering the current hardship in the country. Although the content of the amendment is far from what some social media hawks circulated online to deliberately misinform the public and malign the government, the governor deemed it fit to consider the reaction of the people above anything else.

We must not forget in a hurry how ESWAMA and Ministry of Transport (MOT) terrorized Enugu residents in the past before Ugwuanyi’s intervention. Let us recall how these agencies were draconian in their operations to the detriment of the poor masses. They undoubtedly constituted an obvious nuisance to the society and turned themselves into an instrument of
oppression against the people. It was really a nightmare to both residents and motorists who suffered constant molestations in their hands. Many potential visitors unfortunately avoided Enugu State throughout their reign of terror and that affected the socio-economic development of the state. In short, Ugwuanyi’s intervention by suspending their operations with immediate effect saved the situation.

In order to solve the above problem, Gov. Ugwuanyi sought other measures to handling traffic control and waste management without necessarily having to hurt ordinary citizens of Enugu State as was done in the past. He rather recruited and trained able bodied youths for traffic control while he involved the private sector for waste management and put it directly under his supervision. These measures have returned sanity to both sectors and things are now working smoothly without their usual noise and highandedness of the past.

Ironically, some self acclaimed social critics erroneously believe that their myopic social media rants over the pension amendment bill led to its withdrawal. I think they need to study the unblemished democratic antecedents of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to understand why that action was taken.They should know that the governor has a history of addressing issues affecting the yearnings and aspirations of the people and could not have done otherwise in the face of public outrage of such immense magnitude. One clear fact they should also know is that a million criticisms cannot deter a man who is undemocratic from carrying out actions he deems fit no matter how unpopular they are. So, let me make it clear to them and their cohorts that the withdrawal of Enugu Ex-Governors Pension Amendment Bill was simply because of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s benevolent style of leadership which places public opinion above dictatorship, and not any malicious criticism from anybody.

In conclusion and from all indications, it is abundantly clear that Ugwuanyi as a listening governor has always applied caution in handling issues affecting the public taking into cognizance their opinions. His listening disposition is unparallelled in the history of Enugu State and that has helped deepen democracy in the state. It has intrinsincally raised the hope of the common man towards participatory governance making Enugu one of the freest and fairest states in Nigeria currently where freedom of speach is celebrated. As a matter of fact, the good people of Enugu State are politically savvy to have elected a sagacious leader with such immense capacity. Ugwuanyi is indeed a leader whose administration epitomises democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln, government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Enugu is in the hands of God.


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