BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
AWKA, ANAMBRA (VANGUARD) -- The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has said that political godfathers fought him in the 34 months he was in the office as governor of Anambra state because he decided to work for the good of the people.
Ngige recalled that his administration embarked on mega infrastructural projects, public service reforms, prioritised workers and pensioners welfare, attracted federal presence and enthroned peace and security in the entire State, not minding the humongous debts he inherited from his predecessor.
The two-time minister spoke on Thursday at the Awka Egwu Uzu festival, where the traditional ruler of the Ancient Awka Kingdom, Eze Uzu (Dr) Gibson Nwosu conferred on him the Igbo royal title of “Onyili Mmagba,”meaning the man who wrestled everybody to the ground, escaped and gave freedom to others.
Speaking with journalists after receiving the title, Senator Ngige recalled that as Governor, he was kidnapped, though he didn’t pay any ransom to free himself.
According to him, “I decided to work for the people because that was the main crux of the problem. Will you stand and work for the people or the godfathers? So, I stood with the people and worked for them.
“Hitherto, Awka was a village but we tranformed the village to a befitting capital city. We brought infrastructure development and introduced reforms in the public service. We tarred all the roads in the GRA Awka. We dualised Nnamdi Azikiwe Road and put street lights on them. We repaired the water scheme and got water running in three quarters of the city including Akwata.
“We also improved electricity. The Agu Awka power station with a big 60KVA sub-injector station was brought during my time as Governor to complement the Nibo power station and we had electricity here in Awka. We put up the Ngozika Housing Estate. The Housing Estate for workers was done by us.
“We brought CBN to Awka. Before then, land grabbers like the people who claim to be fighting for traditional rulership of Awka had taken the land from CBN but we recovered and returned it to CBN. I also recovered the land near gulf course from the land grabbers and handed it over to NNPC and they brought mega station to us here in Awka. All these things made Awka a befitting state capital. These were the few things we were able to do in 34 months.”
Speaking on his new title, Ngige said the people of Awka remembered all he had done and invited him to show appreciation and he came to receive the thank you.
The minister thanked Eze Uzu for the honour done to him and prayed that God should bless the title for him to use it and work for Anambra State and Nigeria.
He threw his weight behind Eze Gibson Nwosu as the only Government recognized traditional ruler in Awka.
“There is only one sovereign government at any given time. So, the government of Anambra State recognises Eze Uzu. I recognised him. My predecessors recognised him. He is not yet dead. He is still alive. So, he is the traditional ruler recognised by all.”
Earlier, Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, urged Ndigbo not to abandon their culture and tradition.
Ezeife who was represented by Hon. Ben Nwankwo, said the social and political circumstances Igbos found themselves today can never be permanent.
He urged Ndigbo to focus on the future as what lies ahead is greater than what is being witnessed today.
Notable among other dignitaries at the event include business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, the National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Oye, Anambra State Deputy Governor-elect, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim, the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Niger and Bishop of the Awka Diocese Anglican Communion, Alexander Ibezim and other top clerics.