A former Enugu State Commissioner for Local Government Matters, Chief Okey Ani, has appealed to elder statesmen and party stalwarts in the state to stop over pressurizing Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to produce his successor in 2023.
Ani, who is also a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), gave the warning while speaking with newsmen in Enugu on Sunday.
He said that Ugwuanyi, as the leader of the party and Enugu State, must be given the liberty to use his wisdom, wide consultation, and engagement of stakeholders and due process to produce his successor.
“The idea of respected elder statesmen and political stalwarts in the state to out rightly telling Gov. Ugwuanyi which council area or even possible the person to appoint as his successor is uncalled for and not in the overall interest of the state.
“Ugwuanyi remains our leader in PDP and in the state and should be accorded that respect as our leader, given the liberty and latitude to chose a person with integrity, sound mind and wisdom to hand over power to.
“In the history of the state, previous governors have been given the liberty and chance to choose and present their successors. Why is it difficult in Ugwuanyi’s turn or they scornfully look at him with the negative stereotype of ‘that Nwa-Nsukka’?
“Statesmen and elder political stalwarts should desist in heating up the state’s polity unnecessary; they should stop these newspaper/press engagements. I am sure that Ugwuanyi by his nature is open to engage with them one-on-one if they approach him.
“Statesmen and party elders should behave as elders by seeing, hearing and acknowledging more but speaking very little with restraint and wisdom,” he said.
Ani, who is the Coordinating Chairman of Nsukka Zonal United Forum, also urged statesmen and elders not to take Ugwuanyi meek and humble nature as a weakness or someone who is clueless on issues of governance and political calculations.
The former commissioner noted that notwithstanding every human have weaknesses and shortfalls; Ugwuanyi had brought in and produced some unique and distinctive style of governance.
Ani noted that Ugwuanyi peaceful nature had been contagious in the state, bringing unprecedented peace at all levels in the state be it politically, socially, economy, at council, community levels and even wading in into family disputes.
“The former administration of Gov. Sullivan Chime, which I served, did much for peace to reign in the state; but Ugwuanyi has deepened the peace in the state in any ramification you look at it; thus, making the state the most peaceful state in the country.
“This is why people are troop in and in their numbers to come and live, school and relax in the state. The noticeable increase in number of residents is daily in the growing road traffic and population in all nooks and crannies of the state.
“Another is that Ugwuanyi through his humble nature has demystified governance. He has made governance simple, open and to the reach of all. A governor that is receptive and open to all strata and shade of the residents.
“Little wonder he relates to everyone both artisans, vulcanizers and others; while many people have direct access to him and he picks their calls and shows keen interest and attention to their matters.
“Today, every type and shade of unions and associations have access to the governor and often times the unions’ members march direct and with direct access to the government house to express their grievances on any matter and solution found after seeing the governor,” he said.
He noted that apart from his two qualities emanating from his personal nature, Ugwuanyi has done well in opening up and building hundreds of rural access roads than any other governor in the country presently.
According to him, these rural access roads have helped in evacuating farm produce, improved rural economy and made communities at the hinterlands host sign-posts of their names; thus, answering their names instead of answering generic (popular) names of areas they are located.
Ani said that Ugwuanyi administration had made outstanding legacy on health provision and delivery in the state, adding that the state’s Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) are scattered in every community especially at rural communities in the hinterland.
travel from communities in the Uzo Uwani council area to Nsukka to access a PHC with maternity facilities for child delivery. But today, PHCs with capacity to offer such services are scattered within every community and it only takes a few minutes to access healthcare.
“These PHC centres also offer vital services to the residents especially the rural dwellers, which included immunization services, treatment of ailments and referral services among others,” he added.
The former commissioner said that Ugwuanyi had managed the scarce resources of the state prudently, adding that he had judiciously handled issues of award of contracts, project funding and payment of counterpart funds for joint funded projects with transparency and due process.
“Notwithstanding, the difficult times created by recession, inflation and COVID-19 economic lock down as well as then oil price downturn, Ugwuanyi have continued to manage the state’s financial resources very well, borrowed no money for recurrent expenditure, fulfilled the state’s financial obligations and lots more.
“Ensure that the state workers get ‘alert’ of their monthly salaries every 25th of each month and regularly pay pension and gratuity to retired civil servants as much as the scarce financial resources of the state can carry,” Ani, who is also the National Chairman of Igbo-Etiti United Forum, said.
He also called on prominent politicians from the Enugu North Senatorial Zone, including former Gov. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Sen Ayogu Eze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and others to rise in defense of an illustrious son of the zone, who have changed the narrative and style of governance for the better in Enugu State.
“Ugwuanyi, to say the least, deserves the support of everyone in the state especially elder statesmen and political stakeholders for him to intelligently present another people-friendly, people-focused and a person with a nature full of milk of human kindness like him, as our next governor,” he added