It is in the name of the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and the awesome God of David, that I and my Deputy, Her Excellency, Hon. Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, greet you all on this
2016 Democracy day and the historic occasion of my one year in office as your Governor and humble Servant.
To that great God, we give all honour, glory, adoration and thanksgiving for this wonderful privilege and for the favours and mercies that had accompanied us in this journey since inception.
I will start by congratulating the President and Commander-in-Chief-of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and indeed all Nigerians for the attainment and sustenance of seventeen unbroken years of democracy. It shows our common faith in the progress and stability of our county and our capability to accomplish any goal that we have set our minds upon, despite our differences.
I will continue to thank the good people of Enugu State both at home and in the Diaspora, the true heroes of democracy, for the overwhelming support you gave me during the elections that brought me into office and for the goodwill, cooperation and solidarity you have continued to accord my administration from its inauguration.
I pay my special respects to the founding fathers and elders of Enugu State, all former Governors of Enugu State, the Deputy President of the Senate and other members of the National Assembly, my Lord the Chief Judge of Enugu State and the entire Judicial arm of the State Government, all major stakeholders of Enugu State, our revered and respected traditional rulers, my Lord Bishops and other members of the clergy, the organized labour, the brand new State Chairman of our great party and all the party faithful. We are grateful to you all for your cooperation and for your sincere and unrelenting prayers for the peace and progress of Enugu State under our watch.
We are thankful to the Speaker and the Honourable members of the State House of Assembly whose unalloyed support, understanding and cooperation, have enabled us to forge ahead even in the face of the most daunting challenges Precisely one year ago today, I addressed you for the first time as your Governor, and I did proclaim that my divinely appointed mission, was to bring good news, message of continued hope, peace and development to our people; to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to every Wawa man caught in the prison of poverty and under-development. I promised that we will deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment. I said that we will drive with full force, investment promotion, renewal of the agricultural sector, provision of critical infrastructure, human capital development and skills acquisition. I also pledged that rather than allow the severe economic recession occasioned by the negative developments in the oil sector, deter us from achieving our goals, we will instead, turn the situation into an opportunity to look inwards and harness those potentials which free oil money has blinded and prevented us from exploiting all the while.
Ndi Enugu, I believe that a critical appraisal of our actions and achievements within this past one year, will show that we have not only kept faith with these promises despite the severe economic difficulties confronting our nation today and we are poised to do even much more. It is indeed a very well known fact that, as a consequence of the nation’s current economic woes, the monthly allocation to States from the Federation Account has fallen to less than 38 per cent of what it used to be.
Before we came into office, Governors used to enjoy access to excess crude fallouts but now, the language has changed to bailout funds. The situation has become so bad that many states are unable to pay salaries and meet other obligations; and when a Governor pays salaries, he is applauded and it makes news. The Federal Government essentially summed up the situation with its recent and solemn declaration that the country is broke.
However, notwithstanding these bleak economic realities, we were able to embark on the massive development of urban and rural roads across the state in fulfillment of our promise to create more urban centres, enhance rural access and boost economic activities in every corner of Enugu state.
Enugu State currently occupies a prominent space in the global economic map owing to the resounding success of the first ever Enugu State Investment Summit which we organized to showcase the economic potentials of the State in line with our promise to vigourously promote investment and pursue the diversification of the State’s economy. We have also profiled 14 moribund state-owned companies and agencies for privatization and commercialization. We are hopeful that investors will soon take advantage of this great opportunity to get the companies back in business.
Also as part of our rural and agricultural development initiatives, we constructed a 15-kilometre Inter-Town Connection (ITC) 2.5MVA Injection Sub-Station at Ezi-Nze, Udi Local Government Area which currently supplies electricity to communities in Udi, Igbo-Etiti and Uzo-Uwani Local Government Areas. It will also activate businesses in these rural communities and power the Adada Dam Project as well as the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme.
We also procured 20 tractors to be hired to genuine farmers at very low rates and released counterpart funds for the robust participation of our State in the implementation of the N2 billion Staple Crops Processing Zone (SCPZ) programme by the African Development Bank in conjunction with the Federal Government of Nigeria. The fund is also being channeled to the revival and expansion of the Adani Irrigation Scheme as well as the construction of feeder roads and other critical infrastructure that will catalyze agricultural development in the State.
The Government recently acquired 750 hectares of land to be distributed to youths and women for use in commercial agriculture. Each beneficiary will be allocated 3 hectares of land for his or her use in the scheme.
We also successfully resolved the land disputes that threatened the operations of the San Carlos Pineapple farm which spans communities in Awgu, Udi and Oji River local government areas thus leaving it free to maintain its status as one of the foremost pineapple producers in the country.
Our health sector is already receiving a breath of fresh air as we have, among other things, continued to sustain our well acclaimed Free Maternal Health and Child Care programme while ensuring the proper equipment and staffing of existing health institutions in the state.
We are also on the verge of completing the ultra-modern medical diagnostic centre in Enugu and arrangements have been made for commencement of the construction of three new Specialist Hospitals in the three Senatorial Zones of the State in pursuit of our aspiration to turn Enugu State into the choice destination for medical treatment and medical tourism in the country.
Industrial peace has continued to reign in Enugu State as we made the welfare of workers a focal point of attention within this period. Not only have we ensured the regular payment of salaries and pensions, we were able to resolve the industrial disputes between the state government and some of her agencies and their workers. We successfully utilized the bailout fund from the Federal Government to liquidate outstanding pensions and subventions to parastatals, agencies and departments.
Also in line with the interest we have in the welfare of workers, we have provided electricity, water and other ancillary services at the New Secretariat Complex.
We are concluding arrangements for the formal hand over of 100 units of one bedroom flats at Elim Estate, Ibagwa Nike to benefitting civil servants who were selected through an open lottery system held at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu and for which the State Government paid over 30 percent Equity Contribution.
To arrest the perennial problem of corruption and other sharp practices and also eliminate the ghost worker syndrome, we set up an 11-man Committee on Local Government Audit and Biometric Data Capture headed by the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, to determine the true staff strength of each of the 17 Local Government Areas, the financial implications of the staff in respect of monthly remunerations including those handled by the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board and the Local Government Pensions Board. I am pleased to announce that the exercise has been yielding and will continue to yield, the desired results.
Reforms in the finance and economic development sector have resulted in a significant increase in the State’s internally generated revenue while considerably reducing wastages and leakages in revenue collection processes.
Appalled at the dismal and very deplorable state of some primary and secondary schools in the State, we had immediately upon assumption of office embarked on a programme for the renovation, rehabilitation and re- equipment of affected schools across the state to ensure that our children and their teachers enjoy a safe and conducive environment for learning.
In addition, we set up an Administrative committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Her Excellency; Hon. (Mrs) Cecilia Ezeilo to ensure the full and proper execution of ENSUBEB projects in primary schools in the State. The Government has just approved the release of funds for the execution of N3 billion worth of projects for the renovation of over 276 primary and secondary schools in the state with the Federal Government providing 50 percent of the sum.
We also made fruitful efforts to provide and improve necessary infrastructure and facilities in all the State’s Tertiary institutions. We set in motion the process and machinery for the upgrading of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) into a degree awarding institution and intervened to rescue the Institute from the crumbling weight of salary arrears and resultant low staff morale. We also took decisive steps towards repositioning and revamping the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo more especially through the revalidation of old programmes and the accreditation of five new courses by the National Board for Technical Education (NABTEB).
We also provided necessary funds to enable the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) scale its accreditation hurdles and be in a position to issue certificates which it had not been able to do for nine years due to non-accreditation of its courses.
In the interest of fairness and justice, we also ensured the full payment of outstanding salaries and other entitlements of over 153 disengaged staff of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.
We have strengthened and sustained the comparatively high and enviable level of security in the state through our concrete support for security agencies in the State. Shortly after our assumption of office, we donated 20 new vehicles to agencies and have continued to provide them with necessary logistics to aid their operations across the state.
When, despite our best efforts to forestall it, tragedy befell the state in the form of the killings of our brothers and sisters and destruction of property at Nimbo in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area on the 25 th of April, 2016, we were able to rise up to the responsibility of restoring and preserving the peace and preventing the situation from getting out of hand.
The government and the people of Enugu State have indeed continued to receive commendations from all over the world for the maturity and wisdom with which we handled the situation. The people of Enugu State actually demonstrated that their support for my administration was not limited to times of peace and joy but also extended to times of adversity and anguish. Like President Barrack Obama of the United States who shed tears as he remembered the 20 elementary school children slaughtered in Newtown Connecticut, I had also wept when I saw death and destruction at Nimbo. For we cry when our people cry and rejoice when they rejoice. I had also promptly called for prayers and fasting over the incident and it was because Enugu State is in the hands of God that the Nimbo incident received the sort of attention it did from all over the world. Such incidents had happened elsewhere in the country but the world stood still when it happened in Enugu State. Just a few days ago, the Nigerian Police announced the arrest of five of the suspected attackers. Who will then say that Enugu State is not in the hands of God?
I wish to use this medium to appreciate the solidarity visits we received over the Nimbo incident from various groups and individuals including Governors of the All Progressives Congress, Governors of the South East States and other leaders from the zone, PDP Governors of the South East States and other elders of the party from the zone; the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Enugu State Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); South East Town Unions, Catholic and Anglican Bishops, the Fulani and Shuwa Arab Communities in Enugu State; the Nsukka General Assembly, the Nsukka Professional Group, Enugu State indigenes in the UK and Germany among others.
We have since constituted a judicial commission of inquiry to unravel the circumstances surrounding the attack. The State Government and leaders of the Fulani and Shuwa Arab Communities also agreed to ban night grazing and set up a joint peace committee to promote peaceful coexistence between cattle herdsmen and their host communities with a view to preventing future clashes between them. In addition, we have taken steps to reactivate and reinvigorate the neighbourhood watch associations in all communities and approved an initial seed money of N100 million, towards entrenching security and security awareness in every community and every corner of the state.
In response to the persistent complaints from our people, we took concrete steps to end touting, illegal collection of fees and undue harassment and intimidation of citizens by unscrupulous persons and others purporting to be working for government agencies in Enugu State. This informed the suspension of the collection of fines for traffic offences and the reinforcement of the ban on cash payment of rates or fees to government agencies including ESWAMA and the Local Government Councils.
To ensure an efficient and affordable transportation system in the state and enhance harmony between the Government and operators, we created the Transport Committee or TAC comprising of stakeholders in the sectors including the National Union of Road Transport Workers. We also constituted a Committee on Driving Registration, Standardization and Certification made up of officials of the Ministry of Transport, Federal Road Safety Corps and owners of Driving Schools in the State, to ensure efficacy and regularity and in the issuance of Drivers’ licenses. Plans are also in progress to inject new buses into the Enugu State Transport Company (ENTRACO) to enhance its operations and further alleviate the transportation difficulties facing our people.
The Enugu SME Centre has facilitated the extension of loan facilities through its partner banks to about 700 beneficiaries who in turn, have through their micro, small and medium scale businesses, created thousands of direct and indirect jobs. The Centre has also successfully extended professional and technical services to hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and mentored and coached more than 2,500 businesses and entrepreneurs across the state.
Our efforts in the housing sector included the provision of basic infrastructure at Satellite Estate, Akpuoga Nike; development of Legacy Estate Ugwunani by Phase 6, Trans Ekulu and development of the 1st phase of the 9th Mile Corner Mega Estate. We are also working on a proposal to partner with the local government authorities to construct staff quarters for workers of the Councils.
We also made successful strides to revive sports and youth development in Enugu State in the past one year. Through our committed efforts including release of funds for the recruitment of quality players, payment of outstanding entitlements of staff and players and the provision of buses and official cars, the Rangers International Football Club is once again the toast of Nigerian Football. The club currently sits atop the Nigerian Premier League and we are confident that it will begin to win laurels again.
My dear Ndi Enugu, time and space will not permit us to furnish you with more details of the efforts we have made in the past one year towards the fulfillment of our campaign promises.
However as we recount our successes, I must, with all sense of responsibility and sincerity, remind ourselves that the journey has only just begun. Yet we know that Enugu State is and will remain in the hands of God. With Him on our side, we have nothing to fear and we shall continue to conquer. The God that brought us here will certainly lead us to the Enugu State of our dreams.
So, I call on Ndi Enugu, from the mountains of Udi and Awgu to the elevations of Nsukka and the farmlands of Nkanuland and indeed every nook and cranny of our land, to remain prayerful and hopeful, for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Because He lives we can face tomorrow
Because He lives
All fear is Gone
Because I know
He holds our future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives
God bless Enugu State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you all and remain blessed.
Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Governor Enugu State