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Culture Economy Government

Gburugburu and Women Empowerment in the Coal City State

“The Gburugburu led administration right from its inauguration has taken a bold step where others are still lacking in prioritising women in leadership”

Introduction

In celebration of International Women’s Day which took place on the 8th March 2022, major highlights were on the contributions of women in various sectors globally. In the Enugu state and various countries around the world, there has been a welcomed shift in the disposition of women in leadership and this move has taken a cataclysmic form that has edged all the sectors of the state.

The Gburugburu led administration right from its inauguration has taken a bold step where others are still lacking in prioritising women in leadership. One can, therefore, attest with pride and added excitement the robust relationship and collaboration that exist between the state government and the numerous women groups that abound in the state which result from women taking elective and political appointments in the state and the support of the governor for the female populace of the state.

It is a historical note of great importance that His Excellency Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is among the five governors in the current democratic dispensation with a female Deputy Governor, Her Excellency, Hon. Barr Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo shows a progressive view and highlights the thriving competence of women in government. And this singular act from the outset marks his disposition towards women from the old order of things.

Women in Politics in Enugu State:

The State Executive Council of Enugu State is made up of four female commissioners holding very strategic portfolios including the Commissioner for Finance, Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism and up to the same number as Special Advisers, numerous Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, and Executive Assistants to the Governor.

The State House of Assembly is not left out in this trend of things as there are three female members with two of them occupying prime positions of Deputy Leader of House. These are Honorable Mrs. Ugwu Mary Onyinye, who serves as the Deputy Chief Whip, and Honorable Mrs. Ethel Ugwuanyi. There is also one female member out of six members of the House of Representatives from Enugu State in the person of Honorable Mrs. Stella Ngwu.

The Judiciary:

The Gburugburu led administration’s belief in the equal competence of women is the most evident in the judiciary arm of government. Here out of twenty-three (23) Honorable Judges of the State High Court and the Customary Court of Appeal combined, thirteen (13) are female. Also, in addition to this, the Judiciary of Enugu State is headed by a female judge, Honorable Justice N.P Emehelu.

In the period of the governorship of His Excellency, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the five appointments made have all been women.

There are also Female Principal Officers of the State High Courts and the Customary Court of Appeal all made possible by Governor Ugwuanyi’s belief in the competence of the female legal officers of Enugu State which are indigenes of the Coal City State.

In the Civil Service of Enugu State, there are 14 Permanent Secretaries, numerous Directors, and Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors as gender mainstreaming is achieved in all the ministries, departments, and agencies in the State Civil Service. 

In addition to the judiciary and the civil service, there are also female Chairpersons and board members of agencies and departments which are headed by women. Some of these agencies include Enugu State Environmental Waste Management Agency (ESWAMA) which is under the administration of Mrs. Amaka Anajemba, while the Enugu State Marketing Company is ably managed by Mrs. Maluze Ifeoma. 

The academic of Enugu State has seen a cataclysmic move of women at the helm of affairs. In the institute of Management and Technology (IMT), the current Chairman of the Board of Governors is Ambassador Mrs. Fidelia Njeze. Also, another tertiary institution, the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) is headed by a female provost, Prof. Ngozi Mary Nnamani. Another institute, The Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwolo, Ezeagu L.G.A has as its registrar Lady Ijeoma Ugwu.

While the feel of women in both politics and in the academic sector has been sumptuous, other arms such as the Local Government System of the State have put women in a lot of strategic positions in the state. 

The State Government under Rt Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has an affirmative policy that has seen each of the 17 LGAs in the State producing at least two female councilors, and in addition to these, two female Vice Chairmen of the Councils in Udenu, the Governor’s Local Government and the Awgu LGA at the end of the LGA elections in 2018.

Because of the mass introduction of women in government in the state, the gburugburu led government has seen a lot of positive and transformative change in the state. These have made the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, commend women for their noble role in the development of the state and the entire country.

Speaking during the start of the 2021 August Meeting for women held at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu with the theme: Women and Children must be protected as a Bedrock of our Community, Ugwuanyi stressed that globally, women have contributed immensely to the development of society.

He added that his administration at its inception recognized the pivotal role women played in the initiation and effective implementation of government policies and initiatives. The governor, who was represented by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, pointed out that it was in recognition of the above that Enugu State now has the first female Deputy Governor and the first female Chief Judge of the state, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo and Justice Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu respectively.

In his remarks, he disclosed that four women were elected as members of the State House of Assembly with three serving as principal officers of the House, adding that his administration appointed women as Commissioners for Gender Affairs and Social Development, Finance, and Special Duties. Stressing his commitment to women’s participation in governance, Ugwuanyi said the woman was elected as council chairman under his administration for the first time in the history of the state.

He, therefore, restated the state government’s commitment to continue to partner with women in all sectors of development for the good of the Enugu people. Ugwuanyi also commended his wife, Her Excellency Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, for the role she has been playing through her pet project, Ugo’s Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF), and other children and women intervention and emancipation programs that together have changed the socio-economic fabric of the state.

Her Excellency, Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi, maintained that the annual August Meeting was timely and a veritable platform for women to bond, reflect, and interact on development issues, as well as proffer solutions to the challenges confronting them and the society. Speaking, the governor’s wife stressed the need for women to take their rightful positions in the scheme of things in the state in particular and the country in general.

She charged women to always endeavor to upgrade their cherished sterling qualities, such as education, humility, intelligence, good home management, and community leadership, among others. She also canvassed girl-child education, which she said, remained a viable tool for liberating society from poverty, ignorance, enslavement, diseases, and other problems.

She expressed delight that the Gov. Ugwuanyi administration recognizes the roles of women in governance as evidenced in the emergence of the first woman Deputy Governor and first woman Chief Judge, among other enviable positions in the state. In the same event, during her remarks, the Commissioner for Gender Affairs and Social Development, Rt. Hon. Princess Peace Nnaji, thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi and his wife for signing the Child Rights Act of the state into law which with it has fostered a positive and a more progressive approach to child care and their tenacity towards the fight against gender-based violence in Enugu State, among other women-friendly programs aimed at improving the living standard of women and children.

Major highlights of the event also include a march past by women from the 17 LGAs and an inspection of farm produce from the council areas by Mrs. Ugwuanyi. Also, present at the 2021 August Meeting event was the Chief Whip of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Mrs. Jane Eneh, the Deputy Leader of the House, Rt. Hon. Onyinye Ugwu, the Deputy Chief Whip, Rt. Hon. Ethel Ugwuanyi, the member representing Isi-Uzo Constituency, Hon. Mrs. Catherine A. Ugwueze, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, Commissioner for Finance, Mrs. Adaonah Kene-Uyanwunne, her Labour and Productivity counterpart, Hon. Uchechukwu Ogbonna, Chairman, Governing Council, Enugu State College of Education (Technical) (ESCET), Ambassador Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, present and past wives of the LG Chairmen and the Permanent Secretary, Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB), Evangelist Favour Ugwuanyi.

Others include Prof. Joy Ezeilo of WACOL, the Corporate Affairs Manager, Nigeria Breweries PLC, Mrs. Joy Egolum, DPP, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Onyinye Mamah, and Barr. Ngozi Ikem, which are all women and indigenes of the state have shown great strides in the advancement of women and the effectiveness of women in leadership both within and outside the state.

Conclusion

The Coal City State under the leadership of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has shown through its good leadership that a woman can do a job just as good as any man can. It is the hope that with time, eons of episodes of gender subjugation carried out by misguided simpletons will end and the world will breathe safely with women of all races and colors at the helm of affairs.

Written by Sedo Elijah Ebinne

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