Ebonyi Guber 2019: The Way Forward
The position of the Governor is the highest executive position in Ebonyi state. The powers of the Governor as stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) are enormous and attractive, hence the fireworks of high-profile interests the position generates at approach of every general election to herald new political dispensations. Like our people say, "It takes proper arrangement to cross a bunch of firewood through the forest" (Edoo nku rii, ya aghaa l'oswia). This underscores the importance of patriotic and proactive political colloquium not just at the approach of the 2019 gubernatorial election, but periodically or at the approach of every future political dispensation. The colloquia would serve to shape the issues surrounding each of the dispensations and point the best way for the people of Unwuekumenyi who, by their number, hold the political aces in Ebonyi politics to invest their votes.
AN OVERVIEW OF EBONYI POLITICAL HISTORY
Ebonyi state was created on 1st October, 1996. For three years (1st October, 1996 - 29th May, 1999), the state had two military administrations led by Navy Commander Walter Aye Feghabor and Police Commissioner Simeon Oduoye respectively. While the Feghabor administration prepared the take-off structures of the rural state; the Oduoye administration served as the chaperone of the first democratic administration in the young state. Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu, an Ebonyi northerner, became the third Governor and the first democratically-elected Governor of Ebonyi state on 29th May, 1999. Egwu was on the saddle for two unbroken tenures for a period of eight years. On 29th May 2007, Chief Martin Nwanchor Elechi from Ebonyi central took over from Egwu and was on the saddle for another two unbroken tenures of eight years.
In 2015, the great people of Unwuekumenyi successfully resisted attempts to be used to lay the foundation of inequity in Ebonyi state. Riding mainly on Unwuekumenyi's massive support and on the support of the rest of Ebonyi people, His Excellency, Chief David Nweze Umahi, braved all odds, took over the reigns of power as Governor of Ebonyi state. He is rounding off his first tenure and is equally contesting for his second tenure in the impending 2019 gubernatorial election.
ISSUES SURROUNDING EBONYI GUBER 2019
Unlike in 2015, an aggregation of Ebonyi people's opinions and conducts to the impending 2019 Ebonyi gubernatorial election indicate a favourable disposition to a Charter of Equity which though not written on paper is boldly etched on the heart of every Ebonyi man. That no one is saying that Ebonyi South should not have her two unbroken tenures like Ebonyi North and Ebonyi South respectively marks the triumph of equity over inequity; and, without fear of contradiction, credits for this hard-won victory goes first to Unwuekumenyi before the rest of Ebonyi people. The only issue being contested as regards the 2019 Ebonyi gubernatorial election is that some people want the two unbroken tenures to inure on the incubent Governor of Ebonyi state, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, while others think that the tenures should be split between the incubent Governor and another person who is alleged to have signed an "agreement" to do a single term! For obvious reasons, the votes of the great people of Unwuekumenyi constitute the target of each of the two options.
EBONYI GUBER 2019: UNWUEKUMENYI FUTURE ON TRIAL
In the 2015 Ebonyi gubernatorial election, the conscience of Unwuekumenyi people was on trial. It suffices that Unwuekumenyi passed that cardiac or conscientious test in excellent grade and summarily proved their good-heartedness. However, the approaching 2019 Ebonyi gubernatorial election presents a subliminal but a more crucial test for the meek but courageous people of Unwuekumenyi: It is a make-or-mar test on the collective wisdom and discernment of Unwuekumenyi people. Given the issues surrounding the 2019 gubernatorial election as stated above, it is certain [and I make bold to say it] that in the 2019 Ebonyi Gubernatorial election the posterity of Unwuekumenyi is on trial; and the consequences of conviction is political, economic, psychological and educational confinement with hard-labour and a perpetual stigma that will outlast the graves of this present generation of Unwuekumenyi! This calls for extra care on the part of Unwuekumenyi in the choices they make. In examining the two options in the 2019 Ebonyi gubernatorial election, I am not going to echo any slogan. Rather, I will hype a true but yet-to-be-unassimilated message which I have been sending out to my people of Unwuekumenyi and the rest of Ebonyi people since 2017. I have collated misgivings against Umahi's administration and they fall under three categories which are insufficient government projects in some parts of the state, impulsive order of priorities and uneven reticulation of economic power among the citizens of the state.
As serious as these allegations sound, Umahi's critics seemed to ignore the limit of resources available to Umahi's administration and the history of development in those areas. It is the comparative analyses of resources in Umahi's treasury and the histories of development in those areas that would have helped to establish the truth content of those allegations, but lack of those necessary and accessible data has brought these two allegations against Umahi within the realms of speculation and propaganda. The claim of impulsive order of priorities could have been true, but the fact that Ebonyi state remained a rural and largely undeveloped state until Umahi came into power has made Ebonyi a state where every sector, including urban renewal [which Umahi's critics have labeled wall-painting], compete for priority attention. As a result, the factor of desirability alone is an insufficient determinant of priority - feasibility in the light of available resources and other circumstances equally count. This underscores the need for gradual, patient and focused development captured in the universal aphorism which states that "Rome was not built in a day"! Beyond the issue of workers' remuneration on which Umahi qualifies as one of the nine saints among the 36 Nigerian Governors, the charge of uneven reticulation of economic power among Ebonyians against Umahi is imprecise and nebulous. This charge is also dwindled by the level and nature of economic empowerment programmes which characterize Umahi's administration. One evident thing is that no one has accused Umahi of inaction or lack of political will. Umahi is an imperfect human being like all of us. It is human to make mistakes; and I am sure that posterity will forgive the mistakes he made in the course of his duties, but no one will forgive Umahi or any leader for failing to take decisions and follow them with actions. Having said those things, I dare to add that I am one of the persons who have not forgotten that Umahi is a human being like the rest of us and so, has fundamental imperfections. In view of this, I charge him to see these complaints as a challenge to continue to improve and draw his administration closer to perfection by fine-tuning his administration's priorities, penetrating the hinterlands the more and building people outside his immediate cradle. The opposition should be reminded here that the best way to fast-track development into Ebonyi hinterlands is through the Ring Road project. The road blocks put in the way of that spectacular project by members of the opposition in Ebonyi state smacks of bad faith and unpatriotism!
As a custom with the opposition in Africa, Senator Sonni Ogbuorji who wants Umahi's job has been presented as a saint, without blemish. This holier-than-thou posture which is not our major concern contradicts the humanity of Sonni Ogbuorji. I must add that Ebonyi gubernatorial election 2019 is a contest for human beings and not for angels. So far, the mantra of Ogbuorji is that he has signed a written agreement to serve only for one term and hand over to Unwuekumenyi people. To discerning minds, this is frivolous because Umahi is under legal obligation to hand-over to Unwuekumenyi in 2023 and, thence forward, stand disqualified from Ebonyi gubernatorial contest for as long as the provitions of section 182 (1)b of the 1999 CFRN (as amended) remain extant. What has been legally given cannot be regarded as a bait or consideration for the votes of Unwuekumenyi people. While no one has read the purported one-term agreement allegedly entered into by the opposition candidate, I want to point out to the unwary that no constitutional right, not even a scintilla of it, can be waived through an agreement. This renders the taunted one-tenure agreement unenforceable for incompetence before the law.
THE WAY FORWARD
The foregoing implies that even though Umahi has one more tenure to extinguish his constitutional rights to the gubernatorial position, his critics want him to be changed because of what they perceive as incidental mistakes in the course of his duties and not for inaction or lack of political will; assuming without conceding that the grouses against Umahi are true, they are minor because they lie within the sphere of discretion legally permissible and so do not justify the proposed fundamental alteration of Ebonyi political arrangement. Rather than throw away the child with the bathwater as proposed by the opposition, Umahi is urged to look into those areas and make improvements.
So far, the only discernible item in the manifesto of Sen. Sonni Ogbuorji is the one-tenure agreement! At best, such agreement is gratuitous and has often been overwhelmed by the torrential allure of power to which no Nigerian has demonstrated the capacity to resist! It is on record that neither the meekest Nigerian politician personified by former President Goodluck Jonathan nor President Muhammadu Buhari who claims integrity has been able to keep such agreement. Even our own Dr. Sam Egwu, after agreeing to do one tenure, did not stop at the constitutional second tenure. In 2006, Egwu mortgaged Ebonyi state on the alter of the failed third-term agenda just to enable him benefit in it. So, the single-term agreement, apart from being illegal and dishonourable is, by virtue of section 182 (1)b of the 1999 CFRN (as amended), better gurranteed in Umahi's candidacy and therefore already in the kitty of Unwuekumenyi people. When the military junta in Nigeria taunted the people with the offer of human rights which were already guaranteed in the defunct 1979 constitution Fela Kuti told the junta that, "Human rights na my property; so therefore, you can't dash me my property"! In the absence of any further reasons or facts, the way forward in the 2019 Ebonyi gubernatorial election for Unwuekumenyi and the rest of Ebonyi people is to support Engr. David Nweze Umahi's second term project. Umahi's second-term project guarrantees, a priori, a speedy, seemless, and lawful return of power to Unwuekumenyi; the preservation as well as stabilization of the existing equitable political architecture in Ebonyi state; and minimal tension in the polity.