By Godwin Nwannem
Ordinarily, the fabricated and sponsored article against Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State titled “Governor Ugwuanyi and His Anti-Midas Touch” written with a pseudo name Edwin Ugwuanyi, who claimed to be an Abuja-based policy analyst and has been circulating on social media platforms doesn’t deserve any rejoinder or refuttal for many reasons, if not for the record to be put straight.
Apart from being embedded in and embellished with serial lies and malice from the beginning to the end, the article from findings and all indications was written and sponsored by one Mr. Kingsley Eze, a front and land speculator in Enugu, who was used by the immediate past administration in Enugu to fraudulently acquired over 1000 hectres of land belonging to Obeagu and Amaechi in Awkunanaw communities of Enugu South local government area of Enugu State under the guise of the phantom Centenary City Project.
Instead of Kingsley Eze, his company, Private Estates International West Africa Limited and their arrangee foreign investor, to abide by and fulfil the agreements reached with the Enugu State government and the communities that owned the land, which was to pay them compensation, pay government ground rent and bring in money and foreign investor to develop the place and sell, Eze reneged in all and continued to parcel the land to sell, pocket and squander the money, hoping that it is going to be business as usual, having been earlier handed over fraudulent Certificate of Occupancy of the land, by his cohorts and benefactors in the past administration.
This was what Kingsley Eze was doing with the land until his benefactors in government left office in 2015 and Ugwuanyi came in. Before then, Eze has defrauded a lot of Nigerians in Diaspora mostly Igbos by taking money from them to sell land to them at the place.
It is also on record that neither Eze’s portifolio company nor his arrangee, South Africa investor has brought a dime into the project till date. Eze also used the land as a collateral to borrow N2billion from the defunct Diamond Bank now Access Bank, which he has squandered with impunity, hoping to sell more plots there to recoup.
Having waited patiently and in vain for Kingsley Eze, his fraudulent and imaginary foreign investor and the Enugu State government to do the needful by paying them compensation on their land since 2009, while development and sale have been ongoing on it, the people of the two communities took to the land to stop all activities on it by Kingsley Eze and his cohorts. They vowed and threatened to recover their ancestral land by all means, challenging Eze and his cohorts to show documents and evidence of their ownership of the land. They marched on the street of Enugu and called on Enugu State Government to urgently intervene before blood flows in the city.
In order to avert bloodshed, Enugu State government intervened, cancelled the C of O and asked parties in the matter to maintain status quo, pending the resolution of all grey areas in the land acquisition. At this point, the matter was taken to court, but instead of Kingsley Eze to wait for the court to deliver judgment, he took to the pages of newspapers to malign Ugwuanyi’s government and twist facts on the matter.
He first sponsored adverts in some national dailies some months ago, which he dragged Prof. Pat. Utomi, who happened to be Chairman of Real Estates Development Company into to sign it inorder to lend credence to his fraud in the land acquisition and draw sympathy. In the advertorial, Eze serially distorted facts, whipped sentiments and was strongly abusive of Governor Ugwuanyi and his government, as if they are his problems.
I vividly recalled that an Abuja-based lawyer and real estate investment expert, Mr Silas Onwuagha took Eze and his sponsors to cleaners in his article titled “Enugu Land Tussle:Before Kingsley Eze and Pat Utomi’s romance mislead Nigerians.”
The article which is all over internet and social media platforms is yet to be replied to by Kingsley till date. It is important for one to google and read it for better comprehension of the reason for Kingsley Eze ‘s coordinated and covert social media attacks on Ugwuanyi and his government, which this present article under discussion is one of them. It will not be surprising to see many more of such sponsored, malicious and biled articles in the days ahead against Ugwuanyi being orchestrated by Kingsley Eze and his allies.
Back to Eze’s sponsored article on Ugwuanyi’s anti-Midas Touch. Ugwuanyi indeed has a Midas Touch, not Anti-Midas Touch. His Midas Touch is magical, having turned everything in Enugu into positivity in the last five years of his administration for the goodness and happiness of all in state.
Unlike his predecessor who was in office when crude oil was selling at 100 to 120 dollars per a barrel and there was excess financial liquidity in the system to the extent that the likes of Kingsley Eze and his cohorts feasted on state funds recklessly and unhindered, Ugwuanyi assumed office in the face of dwindled and recessed economy in 2015, which was occasioned by the sudden crash in price of crude oil that affected government revenues drastically. Despite this challenge, the list of Ugwuanyi’s giant strides in governance is lengthy and endless. But for the want of space and time, I will be brief and specific.
Ugwuanyi repositioned the state by bringing financial prudence, fiscal discipline and accountability to bear in the governance of the state. In the last five years of his leadership in the state, Ndi Enugu have witnessed massive infrastructural development, absolute peace, security, social justice, social services, good governance and employment generation which were among the four-point agenda of his administration from inception.
It is on record that Ugwuanyi’s administration plugged all the loopholes in Internally Generated Revenues and shored up the state’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) system for better performance and improved revenue generation. This singular action improved significantly the states’ Internally Generated Revenue from N14b in 2016 to N18.4b in the first ten months of 2017 and now N22billion, thereby placing the state in a good financial stead, even without the monthly federation allocation as revealed by The Economic Confidential in its 2018 Annual States Viability Index (ASVI).
The National Bureau Of Statistics (NBS) on May 22, 2020 published its 2019 states’ rank in Internally Generated Revenue. Enugu was among the states with impressive performance having emerged 9th position. This is despite the fact that the state is not oil producing state. Enugu was also rated the second most advanced state in Nigeria on the Ease of doing business by the World Bank Group. Enugu is also the most debt sustainable state in Nigeria today, courtesy of Ugwuanyi’s financial ingenuity.
Ugwuanyi’s leadership style which is inclusive, progressive and eclectic is unprecedented in the state’s leadership history.
Within his first term in office, Ugwuanyi’s administration has presence and footprints in virtually all the 450 autonomous communities, 17 local councils and three senatorial zones in the state.
All the sectors of the state economy has witnessed his government’s interventions like never before with rural development, education, health, infrastructure, security, workers’ welfare, youth empowerment, taking the lead.
Contrary to the claim in the article that Ugwuanyi’s depth is far below that of his predecessors. Ugwuanyi’s leadership prowess and depth has been acknowledged and eulogised by all in the state, including the poor, the vulnerable, Muslims, Christians, his predecessors with the exception of Kingsley Eze and his benefactors for reason known to them. Who cares, when majority of Enugu people are with and in supportive of Ugwuanyi’s administration
On Enugu not having proper taxi scheme in the city, can the likes of Eze and his sponsors tell Nigerians how the taxi scheme introduced by the immediate past administration in the state was mismanaged and grounded, even before the government left office in 2015? It is a public knowledge that the taxi system introduced then by the government was fraudulently mismanaged by the beneficiaries, who were relations of Eze and his allies in government, who saw and took it as their entitlements. That was why and how it collapsed even before the government left office in 2015. Again, Enugu being more of a civil service state does not need the services of an expensive government-sponsored taxi scheme that majority residents cannot afford to use or have. Of what importance was an expensive taxi scheme in the state, when the same government refused to pay the workers the right minimum wage in 2011 and failed to pay the arrears of pensioners.
Despite the financial buoyancy of the state under the immediate past administration, 14 out of 17 local government areas in the state owed workers backlog of salaries and pension arrears when Ugwuanyi assumed office in 2015. Nobody accounted for the funds meant for it.
Today, Ugwuanyi has cleared the backlog of salaries and is gradually clearing the pension arrears. Also since 2015, workers in Enugu have been receiving their monthly salaries every 23rd of the month and 13 month in December every year as Xmas bonus. That is the first of its kind in Southeast zone and third in Nigeria.
Ugwuanyi’s administration has since February this year, even in the face of the global pandemic Covid-19 virus that affected government ‘s revenues, commenced the payment of new N30,000 minimum wage to workers in the state.
On the issue of traffic light not working in the state, this is a lie from pit of hell. Traffic lights in Enugu are not only working, it had been consistently and constantly maintained and built upon by Ugwuanyi’s administration. This has improved tremendously night life and reduced drastically crime in the state.
On refuse clearing and disposal in the state, the compactors procured by the immediate past administration, collapsed even before the government left office in 2015, simply because it could not maintain them, having fraudulently procured them as refurbished, with false claim that they were new ones. So instead of wasting public funds in repairing fraudulent and dead-on-arrival compactors, Ugwuanyi’s administration decided to engage the service of professionals in clearing the state of refuse.
The writer of the article never said that the state is littered with refuse. His only grouse was that the refurbished compactors procured by his paymasters which didn’t last at all were not maintained by Ugwuanyi’s administration. Why encouraging such wastages in government, when there are other better and cheap means of getting even the best result. There is no doubt that Enugu is one of the most peaceful and cleaniest cities in Nigeria today. Ugwuanyi’s government employed additional one thousand street sweepers that have continued to keep the state clean. Refuse are being cleared and disposed as at when due and the residents of the state are not complaining.
On many businessess collapsing and closing in Enugu, no business or businesses have collapsed in Enugu due to multiple taxations. The fact is that since the 2015 economic recession, businesses across the globe suffered setback and are recovering slowly. There have been challenges of business funding and others.
In Enugu State, after plugging the leakages in Internally Generated Revenue system, Ugwuanyi’s government waived tax for small and medium scale business owners and petty traders in the state. Their businesses have been booming and growing rapidly. They have been creating jobs.
On the fraudulent concession of state’s hospitality heritage, Hotel Presidential Enugu by the immediate past government to a team of investors for 35 years. Who are these team of investors and where are the funds they brought to invest in the hotel? Can Kingsley Eze tell Nigerians who they are and those behind them? The concession was not different from the fraudulent handover of the ancestral land of Obeagu and Amaechi people’s land to Kingsley Eze without proper documentations. That is why the concession failed woefully. It was placed on nothing concrete or tangible.
On the allegation that Ugwuanyi’s has vice presidential ambition in 2023 and has planned to dump his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for All Progressives Congress (APC). Ugwuanyi being a Nigerian is constitutionally qualified to contest any elective position of his choice in Nigeria. But for now, he has not told anybody or made any move indicating that he wants this or that in 2023. Presently, he is obsessed with his work as governor and concentrating on delivering good governance to the people of the state that voted for him enmasse during his reelection.
On defecting from PDP to APC, he is entitled to freedom of association so far nothing bars him legally. That Ugwuanyi took advertorial in national dailies to congratulate Festus Keyamo on his 50th birthday does not mean that he is planning to defect to APC. Ugwuanyi as a detribalised Nigerian has before now taken adverts on newspapers to congratulate and celebrate his friends and Nigerian leaders, irrespective of their party leanings or tribes.
On developing of estates across the state, Ugwuanyi’s administration just continued from where his predecessors stopped, considering that population is growing astronomically in the state, hence there is need for more houses for the people. All the estates developed and being developed since Ugwuanyi assumed office are not under contention. This is because all neccessary documentations and procedures are followed, concluded and sealed with parties involved in the land acquisition before the commencement of work on them. That is why one hardly sees anybody or communities having issues with Ugwuanyi’s administration in that direction.
The character called Kingsley Eze, who hide under the pen name Edwin Ugwuanyi to peddle libellous and malicious article against Ugwuanyi and his government on social media platforms should not be taken serious by anybody. Eze, a loose canon is frustrated and under immense pressure from people he has defrauded with the phantom Centenary City Project. Instead of Eze to carry his cross, go and resolve his problems with the communities that owned the land, he is now transferring aggression to Ugwuanyi’s administration, because the people of Obeagu and Amaechi Awkunanaw have insisted on recovering their land that was fraudulently handed over to him by his benefactors in the past administration.
Eze and his cohorts had expected Ugwuanyi’s government to use government machineries to support them in oppressing the people of the communities. That is not in Ugwuanyi’s nature. Ugwuanyi is a fair-minded and just leader, who detests oppression and intimidation with passion. He is a man of peace and justice.
Godwin Nwannem, a community leader writes from Agbani road, Enugu State.