Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, the Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources in Enugu State, in an interview with Sun said that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s achievements in his first tenure would speak for him during the elections in 2019.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration is two years, what is your assessment of the government?
The governor has done very well and he is still going to do more in the remaining part of his first tenure. In the state today, there is a massive infrastructural development and this is in all parts of the state. As I talk to you now, many roads have been completed and so many are ongoing. Again in the past, we used to have moribund state institutions like the Daily Star, ESBS TV and Radio, and so on, they are all functioning now. You can pick Daily Star which earlier had been forgotten from the stand of the vendor and read. I do not think I should be mentioning roads and other infrastructure one by one. The issue of ghost workers has seriously been tackled by this government.
When the governor came in, he set up a committee that looked into the issue of ghost workers and the fake names were identified and replaced with authentic persons who are now in the employ of the State.
What is happening in your own ministry?
In my ministry, we are looking at it from keying into the theme of this year’s World Environmental Day which talks about connecting people to nature. It is as if to say we are the key people that conceived this idea. The theme came from Canada where the Environmental Day was hosted. The day came into being since 1972 and it is being celebrated every year. In Enugu, we have been trying to raise the people’s consciousness on the need to get back to nature irrespective of the technological development that has been threatening the world peace in terms of environment. We have already programmed tree planting. We are into environmental impact assessment which we used, to checkmate the random building and other human actions in the State. We are looking at the environmental audit and we are even looking at reducing the firewood syndrome, just as we are introducing coal. It is just like gas and it is even cheaper than firewood. We are also working to construct the factories in Ugwu Orba, Ugwu Arji and Orba in Nsukka. The project is almost on course. This is to reduce the use of firewood and so on. Apart from the infrastructural development, there is peace and stability in the State.
Is there any extra effort being put in place by the State government to achieve the level of peace and stability you enjoy?
The style of the government under the governor is such that things are distributed equitably to the ward levels. The 450 communities that we have in Enugu State are being given the opportunity to come up with what they consider their priority projects and the communities would be involved in the execution of such projects. There is what we call community projects execution. The whole idea is that at the end of the day, every community in the State would have a project to point at that the government has executed for them. Such a style gives the people especially those at the grassroots, a sense of belonging. The program is already on course.
What are the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State in the next general elections?
We know that we have other political parties in Enugu State but we are not scared because the government is doing well. However, irrespective of what you are doing, there should still be opposition because that is the whole essence of democracy. But the difference here is that irrespective of the political divide people belong, the governor believes that he is for everybody in the State. He is friendly with all and he does not believe in the politics of exclusion. All the stakeholders are being carried along in the affairs of the State. That is the reason for the peace we enjoy.
Generally, all the political parties have challenges but you know that the parties would strengthen themselves when elections are around the corner. In the case of Governor Ugwuanyi, he has a solid structure in the State. I am sure that the PDP would do very well in the next election in Enugu State. I am not saying it is going to be that easy but obviously the performance of Governor Ugwuanyi would definitely be a plus for him.
Recently, it was reported that the Enugu State government was trying to reach an understanding with the South African investors on the possibility of exploiting the abandoned Enugu Coal mine. What are the prospects?
We have not signed any partnership in this respect but we are working toward that. It involves my ministry because it is about mineral resources in Enugu State. The truth is that the governor has been very receptive and hospitable to investors in the State. That was why in April last year, we came up with a program where investors were told to come and invest in the State. And coal is one of the mineral resources we have. The idea is that when you harvest coal and do value addition which is the processed product, it could be turned to electricity, fertilizer, interlock and so many products you could use for road construction. You can have a by-product like sulphur and all that because of the chemical. So, there are prospects in the coal industry and we are going to employ the best expertise to make sure that the dirt in coal in terms of the environment during processing is highly reduced if not completely eliminated.
We want the coal to be at par with what we signed in the Paris agreement this year by President Buhari. The exploitation and processing of the coal deposit would go a long way in boosting the economy of the Federal and Enugu State governments. You know it is going to be a tripartite action between the Federal Government, State and the area where the coal would be processed from. We believe it would lead to employment generation, boost the revenue of the State and Federal Government and we are hoping that it would help in addressing our electricity challenge in the State and Nigeria.
Some argue that the governor has concentrated his projects more in Nsukka, his Senatorial zone. How true is that?
The fact is that the governor is carrying out projects in every local government. What he is doing in Nsukka, he is also doing in the other Senatorial zones. What people should know is that the execution of projects is not only in Nsukka. The governor is fair to all.
However, you know that Nsukka is the second largest urban metropolis in Enugu State after the Coal city, the State capital. We all know that Nsukka has been hosting the University of Nigeria, a premier university for that matter. You also know that Nsukka is the most populated Senatorial zone in the State. So, it is expected that the governor should do more there but so far, he has been fair to all parts of the State. He is doing well and people are happy with what he is doing because if you had not visited Nsukka for some time and you go there now, you may not be able to recognize it. So, there is no doubt that there are changes here and there in Nsukka and we thank him for that and like Oliver Twist, the people would naturally ask for more.