Governor Ugwuanyi’s smooth sail from a Good Man to an Iconic Leader, By Ike Ezugwu

Posted by News Express | 16 July 2019 | 2,826 times

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•Governor Ugwuanyi


Hon Ifeanyichukwu Lawrence Ugwuanyi, fondly known as Gburugburu, was born on March 20, 1964 to the family of late Chief and Mrs. Lawrence and Veronica Ugwuanyi of Ohom-Orba in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State. The young Ugwuanyi was the first child of his parents, with four other surviving siblings and one late brother. He attended St Mary’s Primary School, Uwani, Enugu, and thereafter proceeded to the prestigious St. Theresa’s College (STC) Nsukka for his secondary school education which he completed in flying colors. He was to later bag Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from University of Nigeria.

Raised by devout Catholic Church cum civil servant parents, the young Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi could boast of receiving the best in parenting and guidance. His late father, Chief Lawrence Ugwuanyi, was a staff of the University of Nigeria, while his late mother was a renowned lecturer at the Anambra State University of Science and Technology – now Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi received very remarkable mentoring from his beloved mother, late Mrs. Veronica Ugwuanyi, a strict character moulder and disciplinarian. Mrs. Ugwuanyi instilled discipline, integrity and love for service to humanity in her son, Ifeanyi. In her days, Mrs. Ugwuanyi was known to be a voice for the less privileged and the down-trodden; an epitome of compassion, humility, selflessness and love. She was also known to have raised so many indigent children who were not related to her alongside her six biological children. It is therefore very easy to trace Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s uncommon empathy, love of God, humility, compassion, hard work, philanthropy and love for humanity to his mother, Mrs. Veronica Ugwuanyi.


Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s career history is a glorious one that climaxed in his elevation to the position of Managing Director/CEO of one of the nation’s foremost insurance brokerage firms, Premier Brokers Insurance PLC. It was from here that Hon. Ugwuanyi delved into politics and was subsequently elected to represent his people, Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency, at the Federal House of Representatives in 2003. At the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi sought the betterment of his constituents from Igboeze North Local Government and Udenu Local Government - both in the North of Enugu State, Nigeria.

In the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Ugwuanyi became the Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Transport. He was also the Chairman of the South East Caucus of the House of Representatives. Hon. Ugwuanyi was one of the best brains in the House – known for his strong intellectual abilities, legislative prowess, friendliness, bridge-building and love for hard work, commitment and service to the people. He became one of the strategic thinkers of the House of Representatives, a silent operator whose committee collaborated well with all the Heads of the agencies in the maritime sector to engineer the revolution in that sector of our national economy.

Apart from chairing the House’s Committee on Marine Transport of the 7th National Assembly, he had, at various times in his illustrious legislative career, been a Member of Committee on Defence, Population, Aviation, Privatization and Commercialization, Science and Technology, States and Local Government Affairs, to mention but a few. He had equally been the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Public Service Matters and Committee on Pensions.

Did Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi deliver to his constituents? Yes, he did and so well too. Apart from ensuring adequate representation in the House of Reps, he initiated and completed many Constituency Projects like provision of farmers’ loan scheme to enable the farmers in Udenu/Igboeze North Federal Constituency have access to soft loans; construction and renovation of schools; skills acquisition centers, health centers for primary health care, numerous boreholes, among many others. He also instituted scholarship scheme for his constituents.


Hon. Ugwuanyi’s decision to serve the people of Enugu State as Governor in 2015 received unprecedented acceptance, endorsements and goodwill. His emergence witnessed ground-shaking enthusiasm, staunch support, excitement, euphoria and acceptance as evidenced in his adoption as the Consensus Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the people of Enugu North Senatorial Zone.

In the words of His Excellency Sullivan Chime, the then Governor of Enugu state: “Hon. Ugwuanyi is a humble man who hardly distinguishes between the rich and the poor, the low and the mighty, the haves and the have-nots and, above all, a bridge builder who will no doubt unify the entire Enugu indigenes.” The emergence of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the candidate of the PDP was not the handiwork of a few politicians but the wish of the people of Nsukka, Enugu North and the entire Enugu people. There is no doubt then that with his background, character/persona, and experience Hon. Ugwuanyi had the capacity to deliver quality governance to Enugu people and further expand the frontiers of peace and development in Enugu State. The people believed he would do all he has said he would do. He had demonstrated capacity and will power to deliver and the people were at home with his emergence.


Enugu people expected so much from Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as their Governor from May 29, 2015. Enugu people believed that their then in-coming governor Ugwuanyi had all it takes to become an unrivalled achiever and the people’s true leader. The challenge facing Gov. Ugwuanyi at that point was how to effectively employ the many resources available to him in the state, human and material, in the proper combination in pursuit of the many responsibilities his office entails.

The people expected him to engineer further development of the state immediately he assumed office. They would want their Governor to give them more dividends of democracy. They wanted stronger institutions in the state; they wanted better roads, electricity, public utilities, welfare, healthcare and education. Enugu people wanted a Governor Ugwuanyi that would tackle youth unemployment and social vices. Security needed to be sustained, if not improved upon. Enugu State had, in the time of his predecessor, Gov. Sullivan Chime, enjoyed relative peace and good security. Governor Ugwuanyi was expected to, at least, maintain the same level of peace, security and order in Enugu State.

He was also expected to unify the different parts of the state. By virtue of experience and nature of his emergence (the people’s choice) he was well positioned to perform in this regard - maintain peace and unity among the people of Enugu State. Equity and justice had always been his guiding principle. He loved peace and would never wish anybody harm. Nsukka people, his home constituency would also want their brother-Governor to extend development, especially good roads, industrialization, empowerment and development to the zone.

As a legislator par excellence, Hon. Ugwuanyi was also expected to engineer stronger, more-rewarding, better and harmonious Legislature-Executive relationship in the state. His understanding of the dynamics of both arms of government was a plus to him at inception and the people never doubted that he would deliver on this and successfully unite both the members of the ruling PDP and the people of Enugu State – galvanizing the people’s energies towards collective good. The people of Enugu State expected that Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as their Governor would effectively respond to crises, both natural and man-made. They expected him to always “do something” to address the problems of the state, more and better than anybody else (past Governors) had done.

Enugu people expected that as their governor, Hon. Ugwuanyi would exert quantum strength outside the state, including at Regional, Federal and global levels. He was expected to build bridges across Nigeria and the world to ensure that Enugu State benefited from her relationships and partnerships. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi knew and understood the political, economic and social dynamics of Enugu State and Enugu people expected him to put that knowledge to their greater good. Naturally, a governor who assumed office with a huge bank of skills, knowledge, popularity and experience would be able to move into the job more quickly and easily. Gov. Ugwuanyi did not disappoint. He was swift in taking the state to the expected level.


So much was expected from Gov Ugwuanyi as he took over the mantle of leadership from Gov Sullivan Chime. He took off with clear mind and vision. He knew what he wanted to achieve and how he was going to do so. He set his 4-Point agenda, succinctly put down as:

EMPLOYMENT GENERATION: Investment Promotion, Agriculture, Public Utilities & Skill enhancement.

SOCIAL SERVICE & GOOD GOVERNACE: Education, Health Service, Public Empowerment & Social Housing Delivery.

RURAL DEVELOPMENT: Enhancing Quality of Life in Rural Communities.

SECURITY & JUSTICE: Security & Justice.

By so doing, Gov Ugwuanyi created the criteria by which he was to be judged by the people of Enugu State after his first tenure as governor. While this write-up is not meant to analyze in details how Gov. Ugwuanyi fared in his first tenure, especially at this point – after a landslide victory at the polls, where the people of Enugu State “unanimously” returned him as governor. The idea is that the people spoke and their verdict is that the governor performed so well, hence his reelection. So, this essay will try to x-ray the governor’s performance in relation to his set agenda but shall remain more focused on how he achieved the feat, rather than anything else.


By “leadership capital”, we mean a measure of the extent to which political office-holders can effectively attain and wield authority. It can be about trust, network, and ‘moral’ or ethical reputation. The measure of a leader’s skills refers to the required leadership abilities, from the communicative to the managerial and cognitive. Does the leader know what to do as a leader? Does he have vision and good understanding of what to do? If he does, does he have the required skills and political will to do same? Capacity of a leader, in all its ramifications, goes a long way in determining his eventual stock and delivery. Since no leader actually has all the required stock in place, how one manages his or her limited stock matters and impacts on the overall leadership quality. The strength of a leader’s vision, the methods he employs in driving the vision, his communication and ensuing goodwill/popularity, all add up. At the end of the day, it is the people that determine how successful or otherwise a leader is.

His constant avowal that has kept him going remains: “We will deploy government services to create fair opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment. We will work to maintain the official ranking of Enugu State as the safest state in Nigeria. To sustain this record, we will continue to work to ensure the security of lives and property in the state.”

Understanding and measuring political leadership is complex. This is especially so when we approach this with varying individual mindsets, viewpoints, perspectives and idiosyncrasies. Agreed, we all have ideas of what makes a leader good or bad, but they are often subjective, complex and sometimes contradictory. Is success in political leadership just about skills, morality, commitment, focus or just getting the ‘right’ things done? These ‘right’ things, yet utterly subjective, guide us in determining judgment on them; to say they have succeeded or failed. Again, why do some leaders fail and others succeed? How does “leadership capital” or “stock” of a governor determine his success or failure? The posers are therefore many.

The critical question, as welcome the end of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s tenure as governor of Enugu state is: Did he succeed as governor in his first tenure? By this, we try to evaluate his political leadership capital, his application of it in his service delivery. Having put our stock assessment effort in context, it has become easier arriving at an answer to the question. Gov. Ugwuanyi succeeded as a leader and governor. This is an honest answer. Juxtaposing his vision, campaign promises on his achievements, it is easy to see that he has did what he said he would do.

As we all know, a very critical index for accessing success of a leader is his vision. What is the big picture he has set out for? Ugwuanyi had a clear vision and thorough understanding of his mandate. He was focused and committed to taking development to all corners of Enugu State and alleviate the sufferings of the people in our various communities. He equally applied the right leadership style and judiciously applied his limited stock in governance (as all leaders only have a limited ‘stock’). Some leaders have great communication skills and popularity, but not the vision. Many other leaders are also known to have vision but lack all other leadership skills. Ugwuanyi is a visionary leader with enviable leadership skills.

In this celebrative piece, I shall not be able to chronicle his achievements in these four years. However, his performance in the area of security, infrastructural development, workers’ salaries and pension, human capital development, education, health, youths and sports, agriculture, IGR, peace and unity in the state stand him out as “the face of good governance” in Nigeria. I shall touch on a few of these, well enough to substantiate my view (and the view of large majority of Enugu people) that Ugwuanyi did so well in his first tenure and deserved a re-election as governor.

Many had often argued that regular payment of salaries by a state government (in Nigeria) is not an achievement. It is a standard obligation of government and calls for no mention as achievement, they have argued. They opined that the State’s staff or civil servants should be paid their due wages at the end of every month (unconditionally). However, in the face of harsh economic realities in Nigeria and the dwindling monthly allocation from the Federal Government, more than half of the states in Nigeria cannot pay civil servants salaries. That is the situation on the ground. Even after several interventions from the Federal Government many states, especially those that receive low allocations from the federal purse, still cannot pay staff salaries. Gov. Ugwuanyi pays staff/civil servants their monthly salaries as at when due. He had to clear the accumulated pensions and ensured prompt and continued payment of pensions.

It is common knowledge that workers in Enugu State also receive their salaries on the 23rd day of each month. The benevolent introduction of 13th Month Salary is another show of commitment to the people’s welfare: a mark of love and care on the part of Gov. Ugwuanyi. The spiral effect of this welfare package goes a long way in alleviating poverty in the state. It remains “a clear demonstration of exceptional leadership, discipline, efficiency and humanity to the suffering masses. The governor also approved the payment of the prestigious, but rare 13th-month salary to workers in Enugu State, in order to further alleviate human suffering and motivate the workforce for superior performance.” Who says then that regular payment of salaries is not an achievement?

Infrastructural development is very critical to every state. Gov. Ugwuanyi knows this and took on infrastructural development head on. There are massive infrastructural development projects going on (with many already completed) across Enugu state. People readily and easily cite the construction of Opi-Nsukka dual carriageway as evidence of the governor’s efforts in road construction and urbanization, but it is just a tip of the iceberg. The governor initiated and completed many amazing infrastructural projects in all the other zones of Enugu State. The Nsukka attention is probably highlighted due to the neglect of decades by previous governors of the state. It is important to point out that Gov. Ugwuanyi did not hide his commitment to making Nsukka a modern university city.

On economy, Gov. Ugwuanyi developed and pursued an efficient economic blueprint in the state. Apart from ensuring regular payment of salaries to civil servants (largest chunk of the workers in the state), he initiated numerous economic projects to boost businesses in the state. Infrastructures were upgraded and incentives given to critical sectors to re-engineer entrepreneurship and boost the state’s economy. For instance, Enugu traders are enamored by the governor’s innovative Human Development and Empowerment Raffle Programme, which ensures that 100 traders win N50,000 every month to help expand their businesses. This translates to a whopping N5 million every month!

Gov. Ugwuanyi also set up a community empowerment scheme that put him ahead of his peers. This scheme aims at bringing development and empowerment to the people, just as they want and desire them. The projects are chosen by the people and executed by the people under the supervision of the people! Under the scheme, every autonomous community is entitled to N10 million for their chosen project (in their community). The people are involved! They are at the centre of it all; they determine what project to be cited and how it is to be executed. The novel thing about this is that each community is allowed into development efforts of the government, as it affects and concerns them. I sincerely believe that a deeper study of this model is necessary to further deepen grassroots participation in governance and execution of community projects.

On peace and security, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi stood out as a “man of peace”. He handled security issues with uncommon wisdom and tact. He well understands that peace and security are critical to the life of every state, every people and handled them with utmost care. As a result, there is remarkable peace in Enugu State, and this is made possible by the governor’s excellent security initiatives, which ultimately provide a buffer for investments, business activities and good social life. According to Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Vanguard), “The prevailing peace, political tolerance and bi-partisan disposition of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s government rekindle hope that of a truth there can be dividends of democracy without necessarily deploying state resources to suppress dissenting voices. He has unified the leaders and elders of the state such that political parties in the state today merely exist in the books, even as access to better life is no longer determined by political consideration or illogical sentiments. His commitment to things that benefit the masses as against personal interests of the privileged few as it is unprecedented.”

However, with all the successes and accolades coming from all sections of the populace, the Governor does not take personal glory for his achievements. He gives all the glory to God. “Enugu State is in the hands of God”, a payoff line of Enugu Sate under Gov. Ugwuanyi, demonstrates the governor’s continual, unending gratitude to God for his achievements. Gov. Ugwuanyi is not just a religious man, but a godly man. He is a kind man, very humble and unassuming. His kindness radiates “everywhere” and on “everyone”. God has used Ugwuanyi, to bless the people of Enugu State. He is a great and intelligent leader who is interested in results; whose leadership qualities have triggered socio-economic development and impacted positively on the people of Enugu State. His uncommon leadership skills anchored on clear vision, humility, good governance and respect for everyone irrespective of political leanings, equity, fair play and justice.

So, to say that Ugwuanyi deserved a second tenure as governor is to say the obvious. This is, without disrespect for the opposition parties and our democracy. This assertion is empirical. After all, performance is measurable: capturing both quantitative data and qualitative assessments. We have defined his leadership capital as an aggregate of three leadership components: his skills, relations, and reputation. These definitely had impact on Enugu voters when they voted for his reelection in the 2019 gubernatorial election. The avalanche of unsolicited support and endorsements for Ugwuanyi, during the buildup to the 2019 guber election in the state point to was unprecedented. Going into the elections, Gburugburu, as Gov. Ugwuanyi is popularly referred to, had become a “mass movement” of the people: traders, civil servants, youths, students, commercial tricycle operators, commercial motorcyclists, the clergy and the lay faithful, his party members and, even opposition party leaders and members alike. Enugu people loved him and voted for him to continue as governor.


We have raised our hopes and our cities high

We have followed fragile dreams

But only One could take the measure of our goals

And we’ve stumbled over the trials of life

And we’ve wrestled the unseen

But only One can calm the storm inside our souls

In the hands of God we will fall

Rest for the restless, and the weary

Hope for the sinner

In the hands of God we stand tall

Hands that are mighty to deliver

Giving us freedom

When our strength gave way to the weight of guilt

’Til we strained for every breath

Only One could lift our shame and make us well

And when all is finished and we face

The fearsome power of death

Only One has overcome the gates of hell

You’re amazing

You’re amazing, You are

And we praise You, Lord

For what Your hands have done

– In The Hands Of God – The Newboys

After being declared winner of the Governorship election in Enugu State in 2015, Hon. Ugwuanyi must have had his thoughts filled with great amazement, fear or apprehension over the enormity of the task at hand. He probably had asked God if He actually meant him or someone else. He also probably had reasons to ask God if he wasn’t making a mistake by choosing him for the leadership of Enugu State. God must have answered him in the affirmative: “I have chosen you”; yet he felt it would be beyond him to do it alone. He needed God to go with him! “The truth is, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we walk humbly by his grace, for God does not call those who feel equipped, he equips those He calls.” Everything God does is according to the “gratuity of God”. What did the young man, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, do after all? He put it all in God’s hands! He was to publicly declare this on the day of his inauguration as Governor, Enugu State, May 29, 2015. Not many people at the Okpara Square, including my honorable self, could feel the import of the speech made by His Excellency at that moment. It seemed just a slogan or pay-off line for one great communication campaign. However, neither his eloquence nor the applause could dim the import of the declaration that he was handing Enugu State over to God.

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi knew, from the beginning of his reign as Governor that “the pieces of fish available to him” would not be enough to meet the expectations and yearnings of the people of Enugu State. However, he didn’t want to dissipate energies seeking solutions where none existed. He simply handed it over to God and left the rest up to God. When the Federal Allocation to states is not sufficient to impact on the lives of the people, Governor Ugwuanyi placed it all in God’s hands and earnestly worked in the direction set by God to get results. The former Senate President and Chairman of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee, Senator Ken Nnamani, echoes this when he said that “Enugu State is lucky to now have a governor who has respect for everybody irrespective of political differences and has equally transformed the state with the meager resources at his disposal occasioned by the prevailing economic crunch in the country”.

Ultimately, the story of five loaves and two fish illustrate for us the miracles that happen when place our lives in the hands of God. This applies to all aspects of our lives as well as in leadership. God wants us to place our gifts, resources, energies and talent in His hands; not forgetting our challenges and pains. “Many times we cling to our challenges, grief; we cling to our bitterness and we cling to our anger in such a way that we cripple ourselves.” By placing Enugu State in the hands of God, Governor Ugwuanyi has not only sowed for bountiful harvests but have also handed all our troubles, those things eating away at our souls, robbing us of the joy in our lives….

When the Fulani Herdsmen attacked Nimbo in Enugu State, stories made rounds of a Governor that would rather shed tears and call for prayers than call for reprisal attacks on everything and everyone Fulani. Governor Ugwuanyi, ended up offering a way out of chaos and war. While still working to strengthen security, peaceful co-existence in the state, he handed the state over to God, the All-powerful God. David Washburn in his beautiful piece, “In The Hands of God” captures the beauty of handing it over to God:


The definition of an iconic leader or leadership remains subjective, contextual and conditional. It is complex, yet we can point out traits and behavior that mark some leaders out as iconic. Apart from delivering desired results or not, Iconic leadership relates as much to providing symbolism, meaning and values to a group of followers. It is important to note that “when we think about models of leadership, we're not talking about following individual leaders, but their philosophical and practical approaches” that made them succeed.

Ordinarily, for a politician, that he is, winning election and thereafter a reelection is a sure sign of his success and effectiveness as governor. However, the leadership of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi transcends these. He has taught us compassion, demonstrated humility, shown innovativeness, patience, resilience, character, integrity, all-inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and prudent management of the state’s resources. Also, apart from having demonstrated excellence over a period of time, Gov. Ugwuanyi has maintained a repeatable and demonstrable act of delivering dividends of democracy – good governance. He has thrown up consistent behaviour or model that present and future political leaders can emulate to be successful. This shows Gov. Ugwuanyi as not just a good leader but also an iconic one.

•Ike Ezugwu is a Mass Communication expert and social commentator.

Source: News Express

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