By Luke Mgboh
It was Abraham Lincoln who defined democracy as “ A government of the people, by the people, and for the people” . This definition can be said to be exemplified in the positive and pragmatic relationship between the Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the good people of Enugu State. It is illustrated further, in the level of goodwill and massive support the Governor is receiving from the people; leading to the giant strides by the “Gburugburu” lead- government; anchored on security, good governance, peace, love and genuine unity, enjoyed by the people of the State and all the people living or visiting the State.
Ordinarily, in every democracy citizens have a responsibility to be part of their government by registering to vote and also by voting in elections. Citizen participation is the pillar of democracy. It means citizens performing their social responsibility of participating in government as part of their civic duties.
Through this means, the citizens have a voice in their government.
In line with this philosophy, which is powered by the goodwill between the Governor and “Ndi Enugu”, the Governor directed youths, who have attained 18 years of age, and all those who have issues with their voter’s cards to go and participate on the ongoing INEC dual, online and physical registration exercise.
Ndi Enugu (the citizens) on their part are also beginning to key into the exercise, mostly for the love of their cherished Governor and the knowledge that their participation in the exercise will boost the electoral fortunes of the State, which will ultimately attract more democracy dividends to them as has been the story, since the coming on board of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The citizen’s participation in so many ways have helped to provide the needed impetus, which is driving and motivating the Governor to do more for the people; thereby making Enugu State the “Home For All”, especially for the people of the South East.
This argument has since been advanced by The Economic Confidential, in its 2019 Annual States Viability Index, listing “Enugu State among the six most economically viable states in Nigeria” and no doubt, one of the safest States in the country.
Citizen participation means that every one, including children can get involved in doing something that will make the living conditions better for all and sundry.
It is equally true that in a democracy the power to positively change things lies in the harmonious working relationship between the citizens and the government through the protection and preservation of government properties.
Worthy of note is the role of Enugu youths who turned out in their numbers, to help stop the “ End SARS demonstrators from further destruction of public utilities in the state. They went as far as explaining to the demonstrators the importance of all the public utilities in the State and went further to plead with them to shield their swords in the general interest of everyone.
Furthermore, the youths galvanized themselves and helped cleanup the entire city; demonstrating clearly the importance of informed youths in any society.
That gesture from the youths will forever remain indelible and unprecedented and will continue to motivate the people’s Governor to roll out more developmental projects despite the present challenging economic fortunes of the state and country at large.
It is therefore not surprising that the government has been relentless in providing numerous rural and urban developmental programmes, which have greatly transformed the living standards of rural dwellers on one hand and urban settlers on the other hand. For instance, the construction of several rural roads, construction, renovation and upgrading of district, and cottage hospitals, health centers, plus schools, classroom blocks and so many modern customary court buildings, massive employment of teachers, empowerment of women and youths through SMEs, among others are there for all to see.
Urban centers like Enugu and Nsukka are not left out of the Governor’s largess. Numerous roads were constructed or renovated, New Unity Relaxation Park commissioned, bus stops constructed in every part of Enugu, Enugu State Secretariat Annex Nsukka completed, Infectious disease hospital completed, construction of first Enugu State Customary Court of Appeal Headquarters, ongoing construction of Nike lake T junction Flyover and underpass and so on.
The welfare of civil servants through the regular payment of their salaries and payment of 13th month worker’s Christmas bonus is unprecedented, alongside regular payment of pensions and the ongoing construction of Civil Servants Estate are some of the gestures that a robust citizen participation entrenches into to the system, following the good working relationship between Labour and government.
All these achievements by government it must be noted stem from the fact that citizens participation in governance does not end at voting in elections. it is an ongoing civic activity. In the case Enugu State, the goodwill between the Governor and the people is traced to days before he became their Governor. There was already an existing philosophy known as “Gburugburuism” which was entrenched in the Governor’s humility, selflessness, positive impact on everybody around him and his philosophy of ‘giving’ back to the society.
Furthermore, the people are always alive to their responsibilities and are also quick to demand for their rights from a friendly Governor through various pressure groups in a convivial atmosphere.
Little wonder the citizens of Enugu State are happy people as they welcome visitors to the state with open mind. Their hospitality is second to none.
It is no longer news that any visitor to Enugu State always long for a return to the Coal City State. This ‘open mindedness’ is also found in the behavior of Governor Ugwuanyi in his love for the country leading the Interior Affairs Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to laud the many ways the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is promoting the spirit of “ One Nigeria “, adding that such actions are what the country needs to make steady progress.
Obviously, the contribution of citizens to good governance can never be over emphasized. It offers every individual an opportunity to have a say in the political, social, economic decisions and policies of government. This could be said to be giving impetus to the Governor’s bottom – top approach to leadership in the state.
Under Ugwuanyi communities are encouraged to initiate developmental projects which best suit their needs.
Other means which the people of Enugu State influence their government include political rallies, social carnivals , pressure groups, religious gatherings and many other viable means not mentioned here. On their part, they also know that they must be alive to their civic responsibilities by having their voter’s cards and voting during elections.
They are also very active in protecting public utilities such as roads, traffic lights and electrical installations, bus stops, relaxation parks, public buildings etc. They are equally aware that all the public utilities belong to them not to government as was erroneously believed.
This robust relationship between Ndi Enugu (Citizens) and their beloved Governor are some of the contributory factors to Ugwuanyi’s success story in Enugu State.
That’s why in Enugu, we Say ‘Enugu Amaka’ (Enugu is beautiful) because “Enugu is in the hands of God,”
Dr. Luke Mgboh is a Public Affairs Analyst working in Enugu State.