The Heavens Smile On Enugu
For inexplicable reasons, Enugu has remained a hotbed of political theatrics since it’s creation in August 1991.The fierce political battle for the first civilian governor of the old Enugu state was between Dr. Joe Nwodo and Dr Hyde Onuaguluchi in the defunct National Republican Convention(NRC). Governor Okwesilieze Nwodo was the product of the conflict. The second civilian governor was Dr Chimaroke Nnamani.
He was the product of yet another fierce battle between the Nwodo dynasty of Ukehe and Chief Jim Nwobodo, former governor of old Anambra State, both of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In each of the epic battles, various derivatives were put in use by both parties in an effort to out-manouvre the other. Each of the fights left wounds, scars, bad blood, deep enmity including in some cases, mysterious deaths, among the adherents of the major political actors in the state.
. The thinking behind such bitter contests for party nomination, especially in political parties with huge mass following is that clinching the party ticket is as good as winning the main election. In the process leading to the emergence of party flag-bearer or candidate of such a political party, the major opposition groups within the party were completely alienated. In this zero-sum game or winner-takes-all syndromes, the opposition were often left in the cold, to leak their wounds.
It is this mindset, which has always defined political contest in our clime that actually produced former Governor Sullivan Chime from the Ebeano political machinery. The Ebeano was a sophisticated and almost exclusive political structure with a unique grass-roots impetus that radiated enthusiasm, force and hope. To be recruited into the Ebeano family, a certain degree of tutelage and socialization was needed and those whose reflexes were maladjusted to the Ebeano melodrama were thrown out. Governor Chime was not only an Ebeano exponent but was found very worthy to sustain the exclusive group philosophy.
If anybody was expecting the trend to change in the last elections, that person was gravely mistaken. In the character of Enugu State politics, the 2015 general elections presented yet another fierce political battle line drawn between between the Deputy President of the Senate and Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sen. Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, CFR on one hand and the former Governor of the State, Barr Sullivan Chime on the other, both within the PDP. This battle line polarised the party into two major groups and loyalists aligned to each group according to their understanding, while yet some others burned their candles from both ends; with one foot in each group hoping to declare fully to the side with a brighter chance for victory. Irrespective of such political treachery and dubiety, the members of both groups traded hate, acrimony and all forms of vituperations such that both groups were seeing each other from pigeon holes with acerbic suspicion; describing themselves with doses of vitriolic humour and contempt.
The situation in Enugu State then was akin to a political geometry where two parallel lines would meet only at infinity. It was, therefore, an uncommon and dramatic development that the interests of the two major formidable groups and almost all the political actors in the State coalesced in Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the former House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Marine and Transport as the most viable governorship candidate of PDP in Enugu State.
His general acceptance by the warring groups is not surprising. It was an event waiting to happen. Since 1999, Ugwuanyi has remained a soldier of democracy, a dove of peace with a profound sense of creative adaptation. From a humble background, he embraced the four transcendental attributes that are the pre-requisites for success; namely, hard work, godliness, knowledge and humility.
He has an affable and infectious disposition that has endeared him to most people. Thus, the emergence of Ugwuanyi enjoyed the supports of all and sundry. Some of the support sources include the government machinery of Chime, the pragmatism of the Nwodo, the charisma of Nwobodo, the sophistication of Ebeano, and most importantly the popular Enugu sentiments and humanism embodied in Ike Ekweremadu, among others. On the other hand, this is the first time in the political history of Enugu state where a governorship candidate of a political party with such broad-based support is assuming the leadership of the State.
But it is important to appreciate the critical juncture presented by the outcome of the 2015 general election as it affects Enugu state. It is a turning point that has thrown up the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the ruling party at the centre, while the Enugu provenance, the PDP is now in the opposition.
The new political development will give rise to some variables such that those who feel they would have been absorbed by a PDP-led federal government will now be compelled to look inwards; that the dwindling revenue from oil will affect the state drastically and too many demands on the State’s poor resource jurisdiction will surely add an additional strain on the political system. Other variables in the new political equation is that the broad-based support enjoyed by the governor, especially during the campaigns goes with all kinds of expectations; and because of the poor resource jurisdiction, the expectations are not likely to be met- at least not in the immediate. In addition to the foregoing, the new administration at the centre is likely to introduce some austere measures and this will invariably create a yawning gap between the expectations of the army of supporters on one side and role fulfillment by the government on the other in what can be rightly called a revolutionary gap.
The ability to harness the enormous public goodwill and manage the likely stress that will be created by the revolutionary gap in the face of scarce resources in the state lays the gravamen of the Ugwuanyi administration. The revolutionary gap of society is represented by the armada of malcontents who in their judgments believe that they suffer various degrees of relative deprivations. Such armada concern themselves more with personal rewards than the efforts towards good governance. The revolutionary armada in any society is often aggravated by crisis of confidence among the active political actors who by fuelling the revolutionary sentiments cast aspersions, detraction and unpopularity to the government.
Ugwuanyi has started very well. He relates with almost all the major political gladiators, the Church, the academics, business tycoons and even the very lowly in Enugu state, with a keen broad mind focused on the big picture of peace and harmony. The governor has at various times publicly displayed allergies towards the indecent Enugu refrain of infightings, brickbats and pull-him-down syndrome. As a reflective leader, he has long realized that not much can be achieved in a hostile atmosphere of bitterness, mutual suspicion and rancor.
One of the first steps he has taken in this direction was the inauguration of the Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee headed by one of the most active minds in the Catholic Church, Professor Monsignor Obiora Ike. Other members of the Committee include the marvel of Nigerian politics, Sen. Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Prof. Osita Ogbu, Dr. Chilo Offia, Chief Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson Group), and Ambassador Fidelia Njeze, etc.
The Committee is charged with the responsibility of advising and guiding the government on the best economic policies that would engender sustainable economic growth, generate employment to the bulging youth population and ensure judicious resource distribution in the state. The character of the Advisory Committee and the State Executive Council indicates that heavens smile as Ugwuanyi breaks the Enugu Lion Building jinx of exclusivity, elitism and winner takes all.
Others before Ugwuanyi may have commenced with such wave of peace but any discerning mind will easily appreciate that in the Ugwuanyi phenomenon lays a good-hearted peace persona, full of grace and charisma
It is often contended that the burden shared is burden halved. Therefore inclusivity in government not only broadens the political and economic opportunities but creates various centres of conflict resolution, bridges revolutionary gaps and engenders collective responsibility. The Enugu stakeholders are very happy because of the numerous benefits that will be derived from a synergy with the federal key players from the state, Enugu political forces and the intellectuals of diverse fields both at home and in the Diaspora.
In the past, the State has incurred huge losses on account of needless battles for political supremacy; very often spawned by spivs, charlatans, praise singers, gossipers and other mean-spirited, thumb-sucking characters whose stock-in-trade is to sow the seeds of discord with the ultimate aim of ripping from the crises. While the enormity of the challenges before the Ugwuanyi administration in the state is apparent, one is confident that with prudent management of resources, and commitment by all citizens of the State to join hands with the administration in developing the state, a new dawn awaits our people for which we can confidently and truly say that the heavens are smiling on Enugu State.
Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia