Mr. Uche Anioke is former Chairman of Awgu Local Government area of Enugu State. He had been Managing Director, Enugu State Housing Development Corporation and Commissioner in the state at various times. He spoke recently with journalists at his home in Enugu. Emmanuel Nzomiwu was there and captured the highlights.
People are seeing the overwhelming support for (Ifeanyi) Ugwuanyi as part of the problem he will have as Governor. What do you think about this?
You don’t have to cross a bridge before you get there. When we get to the bridge, we cross it. To answer it, I know the expectations are so high. For me, it is even intimidating. But the man we are talking about is a man of political sagacity. He is a man of tremendous experience. I am sure that he will put up a team because he is not going to do it alone. He will put up a team that will support his good intentions and be able to work out something for the good people of Enugu. You may not quantify it. It is a fact that the expectations are high. They are very high, but I am sure that with his doggedness, he will be able to overcome that.
Ugwuanyi is widely seen in the state as somebody who is not given to many words, but people are misconstruing it that he may not have been endowed with the intellectual capacity needed to govern a complex state like Enugu. What do you have to say on this?
Well, I do not know that to be a Governor, you must possess a PHD or become a professor. But, if it is sufficient academic attainment, I am not speaking on his behalf, but I think that Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is well educated. Of course you know that he attended the University of Nigeria and as they say then, the only professional campus, which is the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria. And he has several Masters Degrees. That you can verify as a journalist. And so in terms of that, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is academically sound, well educated. Beyond that, he has been at the National Assembly and has been the Chairman of the Maritime Committee. And if you know what plays out there, it is not a trader’s workshop. And he has been able to midwife that for several years. But the fact is that he is not loquacious. That is what people are expecting. Do you want him to be loquacious? Sullivan has never been a loquacious person, even as Governor.
And of course, have you forgotten the proverb in “Things Fall Apart” about the mother kite and the hen. Mother kite sent its child to go and pick food and the little kite picked the little chicken. And mother cock began to cry everywhere. When the little kite came back, the mother asked, what happened when you swooped on this chicken, it said the mother started screaming and the Mother kite said ‘eat it’. And when it took the duckling, and the mother didn’t do anything. Mother kite asked what happened; it said the mother didn’t do anything. It said look, take it back, and don’t eat it. It is said that silence is Golden. For those who talk and talk, they talk themselves into trouble. Silence is Golden. It is not the most intelligent man who talks often. The Governor is not supposed to be a media commentator. Action speaks louder than words. Of course, I don’t know how many people knew Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was interested in the governorship. There were those who were
on air 24 hours, who were transversing and making all the noise that they want to be Governor. But, for him, he did the right things. He did those right things and emerged as candidate. That is in the same manner; you will not hear him shouting, but you will see Enugu State moving forward. You will see decisions taken and implemented.
So, I believe in his abilities, I believe in his capabilities and when a Governor talks, he should talk and he should be heard. I think this is even a plus. It is not a minus. So, people are judging him from a distance. When you sit down one on one with him, you will see the stuff that Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is made of.
What areas do you think he will focus to consolidate on what his predecessors have done?
Yes, if you have travelled with us all round the 17 local government areas, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has maintained that what we are going to have is seamless continuity and consolidation. One, he is going to continue with whatever projects that are not completed. That he has firmly promised. And we see that this is the first time an incoming government in this state is saying that ‘whatever is left undone, I will inherit it and complete’. And for being a man of his words, we are definitely sure that he is going to do that. He is going to consolidate on the gains already made. But, I also do know that there are a few challenges that are facing the people of Enugu State. Enugu as a crown area; Enugu as Enugu is choked. Everybody wants to live in Enugu. I think in terms of expanding the frontiers of Enugu, the new government should begin to think about taking development outside the Enugu Capital Territory. I guess that will be on his list. I guess also that the new Governor will do everything he can to ensure that we have as it were, free education in Enugu State; free education in its real sense. For me, education is key. If I am asked my advice, I will say that in everything we do, let us ensure that our children, our people get to school. They have solid education. If you ask me how we do it. We should have extra universities and extra secondary schools in Enugu State, possibly sited in Nsukka area because we already have IMT and the State University in Enugu.
I think Ekweremadu is attracting a polytechnic. I am definitely sure about that. He is attracting a polytechnic to Enugu West. And if there is a polytechnic at the Nsukka side, that will balance it. So, beyond the Parklane, we also need an extra sound general hospital. If it is sited at Nsukka, I won’t think it is a crime. So, I guess that Nsukka geo-political zone needs a total overhaul to be at par with Enugu because if you are talking about the major cities in Enugu, it is Enugu and Nsukka. And I guess the Governor, being the man I know will do much he can to bring that part of Enugu State to the real urban status that it should be. I am not speaking for him but I think I know that he will set an agenda that will transform the whole of Enugu State to the next level.