MAURICE OKAFOR writes that March 20th of every year is supposedly an extra ordinary day in the life of the Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, in the sense that it was on that particular date and month,53 years ago, that he was born to be a native Orba community, in Udenu local government of Enugu State.
Having been uplifted from ‘grass to grace’ by God, at least with­in the past decade and half, he has consistently risen to political stardom, expecta­tions are high that his annual birthday celebration will al­ways be marked with pomp and pageantry, a glamorous celebration amongst friends and well-wishers from all parts of the country, political allies and cronies in high­brow hotels or the palatial Enugu state government lodge.
But these expectations were very illusive as Gover­nor Ugwuanyi celebrated his 53rd birth day on Monday, March 20.201 with Enugu prison inmates. It was not business as usual as governor Ugwuanyi left the comfort zone at Enugu government house and moved down to the Enugu prison yard and proved once again that he is a governor with milk of hu­man kindness for both the down trodden in the society.
Governor Ugwuanyi told the prisoners that he chose to celebrate his 53rd birth­day with them so as to give them a sense of belonging.
His words: ‘It is indeed the cardinal responsibility of government to cater for the well being of the citizenry including every segment and group in the society. We have taken notice of the sewage and allied challenges facing this prison and have resolved to take necessary measures to address them adequately and satisfacto­rily’.
The Comptroller of Enugu prisons Command, Mrs Uk­wuori Ndukwu Kalu who was overwhelmed with Gov­ernor Ugwuanyi’s milk of human kindness said that it was the first time a sitting governor will come to cele­brate his birth day with pris­on inmates, since the Enugu prison yard was established in 1937. She said that the gesture is a demonstration of governor Ugwuanyi’s hu­mility and preparedness to serve both the rich, the poor and the down trodden in the society.
The celebration was in fact a division of labour between him and his loyal deputy, Hon Mrs Cecelia Ezeilo who was given the task to visit the motherless Babies’ home in the heart of the metropolis, sharing gifts and sharing words of consolation.
The Nigeria Red Cross Motherless Babies’ Home and Catholic Diocese Holy Child Motherless Babies Home were part of the sta­tions she visited on behalf of her boss, Governor Ug­wuanyi.
Ugwuanyi told the Nigeria red cross through Mrs Ezei­lo: ‘‘The best way to celebrate my 53rd birthday is to use it to assist the Motherless babies, whatever thing that is meant for the birthday should be given to mother­less and the vulnerable, as means of providing succour to some of the issues affect­ing them’.
Responding, the Secretary, Nigeria Red Cross, Enugu branch, Mrs Antonia Ude­gbu poured encomiums on Governor Ugwuanyi for touching on the lives of the inmates. Likewise, the ma­tron of Catholic diocese of Enugu Holy Child Mother­less babies home, Sister Nso­for Cajethan prayed God to grant Governor Ugwuanyi a fulfilled life of longevity,for the single honour and privi­leged of identifying with less privileged at his 53rd birth­day.
The Authority further checks revealed even though the 53rd birthday celebra­tion of Gov Ugwuanyi on March 20,was very much hailed by the residents of the state,but there was less win­ning and dinning at the sev­eral joints cut across the city metropolis, by friends and political cronies of the gov­ernment, a reflection of the prevailing economic situa­tion in the country, and thus the reason for the choice of Governor Ugwuanyi for the celebration to be low keyed. - The Authority