By Ike Ezugwu
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 ideals 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!
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 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’s the people that determine how successful or otherwise, a leader is.
The critical question as we mark the third anniversary of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s government is: Has he succeeded as Governor? By this, we try to evaluate his political leadership capital, his application of this in his service delivery in Enugu State as Governor. Having put our stock assessment effort in context, it has become easier arriving at an answer to the question – Has Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State succeeded as a leader and governor? Yes. He has succeeded. This is my honest answer. Juxtaposing his vision, campaign promises on his achievements, it is easy to see that he has done 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? Gov. Ugwuanyi has a clear vision and thorough understanding of his mandate. He has remained focused and committed to taking development to all corners of Enugu State and alleviate the sufferings of the people in our various communities. He has 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 have vision but lack all other leadership skills. Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is a visionary leader with enviable leadership skills.
In this celebrative piece, I shall not be able to chronicle Governor Ugwuanyi’s achievements in these three 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 Gov. Ugwuanyi has done so well in the past three years as Governor.
Many have often argued that regular payment of salaries by a state government (in Nigeria) is not an achievement. It is standard and calls for no mention as achievement. They argue that staff or civil servants should be paid their due wages at the end of the month (unconditionally). However, in the face of harsh economic realities in Nigeria and the dwindling monthly allocations from the federal Government, more than half of the states in Nigeria cannot pay civil servants salaries. That is the situation on 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 has also cleared the accumulated pensions and ensures prompt 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”.
Infrastructural development is very critical to every state. Governor Ugwuanyi knows this and has taken on it head on. There are massive infrastructural development projects going on (with many already completed) across the state. People readily and easily cite the construction of Opi-Nsukka dual carriage way as evidence of the governor’s efforts in road construction and urbanization, but it is just a tip of an ice berg. The Governor has replicated similar amazing projects in all the other zones of Enugu State. The Nsukka attention is probably heightened due to the neglect of decades by previous governors of the state.
Governor Ugwuanyi has developed and pursued an efficient economic blueprint in Enugu State. Apart from ensuring regular payment of salaries to civil servants (largest chunk of the workers in the state), Gov. Uguanyi has initiated numerous economic projects to boost businesses in the state. Infrastructures have been upgraded and incentives given to critical sectors to reengineer entrepreneurship and boost the state’s economy. For instance, Enugu traders are enamored by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s innovative human development and empowerment Raffle Programme which ensures that 100 traders win N50, 000 (fifty thousand Naira) every month to help expand their businesses. This translates to a whopping five million Naira every month!
There is also an empowerment scheme the Governor has introduced that puts him ahead of his peers. This scheme brings development and empowerment to the people, as wanted by the people for 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. They account to themselves. The novel thing about this is that each community is allowed into development efforts of the government, as it affects and concerns them. I believe that a deeper study of this model is necessary to further deepen grassroots participation in governance and execution of community projects.
Peace and security are critical to the life of every state, every people. 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 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.”
Leadership has a lot to do with relationship management and public relations. Good leaders, through their leadership styles, garner support and goodwill from the public, their colleagues and political party. Governor Ugwuanyi’s leadership acumen has led to countless endorsements from all sectors of the populace. Avalanche of unsolicited second term endorsements abound! It is, therefore, not outlandish to say that Gov. Ugwuanyi has an unprecedented goodwill and support. No other governor of the state has ever enjoyed commensurate goodwill in the history of Enugu state. Governor Ugwuanyi has, through his leadership style, built for himself a charismatic persona of a humble, unassuming, godly, kind and god-fearing governor. His rare leadership achievements are made possible through quiet, technocratic competence and service delivery.
Experts hold that “leadership is continually judged by reputation. Leaders create their own performance measurements” – have they done what they promised? Each type of leadership claim sets up its own performance test. To what extent can the people trust Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to deliver on his promises? To a great extent! He has so far delivered on his campaign promises and even done more. Successful leaders, like Gov. Ugwuanyi, communicate, achieve aims, and strengthen relations and reputation. Failing leaders poorly communicate or never map out a vision, then often lose confidence, control, and credit.
However, with all the accolades coming from all sections of the populace, Governor Ugwuanyi does not take glory for his achievements. He gives all the glory to God. “Enugu Sate is in the hands of God”, his most popular saying, demonstrates his unending gratitude to God for his achievements. Governor 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 Governor Ugwuanyi, a great leader, to bless the people of Enugu State. Governor Ugwuanyi is a great and intelligent leader who is interested in results and 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 Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi deserves tenure as Governor is to say the obvious. This is, without disrespect for the opposition 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 shall definitely have impact on Enugu voters when they cast their ballot come 2019 Guber elections. The avalanche of unsolicited support and endorsements for Ugwuanyi, who has not even declared his intention to contest for a second term point to the direction Enugu is headed in 2019. Gburugburu, as Governor Ugwuanyi is popularly referred to, has become a mass movement of the people – traders, civil servants, youths, students, commercial tricycle (Keke) riders, commercial motorcyclists (Okada), the clergy and their lay faithful, his party members and opposition parties leadership and members alike.
May 29, 2018: Once again, we celebrate our cherished DEMOCRACY; an opportunity for all Nigerians to reflect on the Nigerian nation, her politics and development. Our Democracy Day offers us a unique opportunity for critical appraisal of the performance of our democracy, its custodians. In Enugu State, it is more of a celebration of unparalleled strides in good governance and development. We also use the day for sober reflection on the journey so far and make an informed decision on the direction to go, come 2019 Guber Elections. Guber Elections must hold in 2019, more as mark of respect for our democracy, not to elect a new governor. As my people say, in popular parlance, “there is no vacancy in the “Lion Building” in 2019. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi remains the people’s choice.
*Ike Ezugwu is a social commentator and a marketing communication specialist.