It simply means the willingness to be kind to others, to feel their pains and have the burning desire to help. Yes, it is about relating to what others experience and being there to assist them to remove the barriers or burden.
One of the driving forces of exemplary leadership is compassion. Exceptional leaders must have empathy for their subjects. They are selfless and often pull others out of their troubles or frustration. They walk their talk.
With the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu for repairs, it was inevitable that air passengers coming back to Igboland for the Christmas and New Year celebrations were bound to encounter obvious travel difficulties. The best alternative was to come through the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri.
Ordinarily, upon arrival, those returning to Enugu State would do close to three hours by road to get to the Coal City. It requires the same time while travelling back from Enugu. Beyond the man-hours spent on the road, there is the more frightening dimension of security concerns on the highway.
But because Christmas is a special occasion when parents bring back their families and folks reunite to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ at their ancestral homes, the pull to return home during the yuletide can hardly be resisted. There are many attractions and familial engagements that drive the moment. The lure of the village makes it a compelling destination for parents, children and their other relatives at Christmas.
The Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi understands this very well. And being a compassionate leader, his thoughts were all about how to help Enugu State citizens and other people return safely to the Coal City and travel back to their bases without hitches after the 2019 Christmas celebrations.
Truly a Governor of compassion, Ugwuanyi offered free Enugu-Owerri airport shuttle for air passengers travelling out or returning to the State through the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Imo State during the last festive season.
From December 21, 2019 through January 4, 2020, six coaster buses, three mini-luxury buses and six security vehicles loaded with armed personnel were deployed for the exercise, and also operated in three batches daily, from the Hotel Presidential premises in Enugu.
On daily basis, the vehicles left Enugu with intending travelers at 5am and departed Owerri by 10am with those coming to Enugu. The second batch always left the Coal City at 8am and made a return journey at 2pm. The third batch took off from Hotel Presidential at 12 noon and departed from the Sam Mbakwe Airport by 5pm.
To the envy of their co-passengers from other states, the Enugu passengers were the cynosure of all eyes as they were escorted out of the arrival lounge by smartly-dressed and courteous protocol officials who led them to their waiting buses. And as others were left to ponder the relativity of the unfolding drama, the proud Ndi Enugu were chauffeured out of the gazing crowd en route the fascinating metropolis founded on the top of the hill.
A similar gesture was extended by Gburugburu to other indigenes of Enugu who returned from other Nigerian cities for the yuletide by road. All thanks to the magnanimity of Governor Ugwuanyi, the State Government, once again, offered free road transportation for those willing to celebrate Christmas in their homesteads.
By this act of benevolence, the governor was only keeping faith with his unbroken gesture of ensuring that willing Enugu State indigenes who reside in other states are brought back home every year to celebrate Christmas with their kith and kin.
It is on record that he has continued to offer this yearly Enugu State Free Christmas Transportation package since he ascended the throne at the Lion Building, a sort of philanthropy that is authentic and strategic.
These gestures also underline Governor Ugwuanyi’s enduring commitment to ameliorate the suffering of his people as well as give them a sense of belonging because as he always says, “our people are the heroes of democracy and we must do whatever is possible and reasonable to enhance their wellbeing.”
From the civil servants to traders, teachers, artisans, religious groups, rural communities and other professional bodies, Ugwuanyi has not wavered in the numerous welfare schemes that cut across different classes and persuasions.
And as the last Christmas beckoned, the State Government paid yet another 13th month salary to the workforce, a novel welfare package where the governor approves the payment of Free One Month Salary to Enugu State workers to cushion the effects of yuletide expenditures on the families.
The Enugu State Traders Empowerment Scheme in which fifty thousand naira is disbursed to each successful trader chosen from many openly-conducted raffle draws, has helped thousands of burgeoning businesses to grow. Besides, thousands of youths and women have also received trainings and startup empowerment packages.
The governor also approved the release of the first tranche of five million naira each to no less than 334 communities from the seventeen local government areas to choose and construct projects that are of paramount importance to them. The money which had since been released to the communities was designed to ensure all-inclusiveness in project selection, implementation and monitoring.
In truth, Governor Ugwuanyi is a source of inspiration and emulation as he sets the standard on giving back to the society. It is, therefore, not surprising that even as some of his colleagues now strive so hard to emulate his legacy of generosity and putting money into good causes, the governor never ceases to empower his people in different ways.
By these acts of compassion, Governor Ugwuanyi continues to show paternal care that is as spotless as his trademark sparkling white attires. The gesture also underlines his enduring commitment to enhance the living conditions of his people and ameliorate the suffering of others.
For Gburugburu, this is money well spent!