By Ojora Ogenyi
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State is undoubtedly leading the very few state governors who are truly worth their salt in good governance and service delivery. There is relative peace and sustained orderly development in Enugu. He enjoys unquantifiable, unprecedented and unassailable goodwill that distinguishes him from peers and predecessors alike. This sagacious aura and disposition substantially betrays his determined preparedness for concrete consolidation strategies. He has offered strong leadership and fundamental sectorial reforms that have galvanized massive acceptability as well as boosted opportunities for his re-election come 2019 and continued relevance beyond.
Viewing through the prisms of the court of public opinion today, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would certainly go down in history as the only governor since the fourth republic that would not be investigated by anti-graft agencies after leaving office. Former governor Donald Duke of Cross River enjoys such rare privilege . Again, Ugwuanyi’s second term is a fait accompli with clear indication that his administration has decimated the opposition into oblivion mainly due to his policy of all-inclusive governance. Those already queuing behind him are by the day becoming astonishingly numerous.
But it is pathetically ironic and deeply worrisome that this is just sharing preliminary thoughts. There is a gloomy picture building up in the minds of his admirers suggesting that it is only a matter of time before all these will fizzle away, and none of the fifth columnists can wait for this to happen.
As the build to the 2019 general elections now occupy the front burner, there are certain factors that will define the true character of the state government under Ugwuanyi.
In Enugu State, there is a tradition of always bringing together all the aspirants to various positions for possible harmonization of interests prior to elections. This principally takes care of certain internal dynamics guiding the sharing arrangements for political elective offices in the various constituencies, particularly state and local government. This practice has ensured the electoral victories and consolidated hold on power by the PDP since 1999.
But this seems to be changing now. There is likely going to be an implosion in the state chapter of PDP if there is no timely and dispassionate intervention by the leaders and stakeholders. Apart from the governor’s seat, all the legislative positions in both state and federal legislatures are being contested for by numerous members of the party who have since variously purchased their nomination forms. It would certainly be a very difficult task managing its adverse effects which in its own portends a great threat to Governor Ugwuanyi’s re-election in the event that some aggrieved persons pitch their tent with the opposition to rattle the PDP.
There is one hydra-headed paradox whose potency can mar the abundant viable opportunities and goodwill for ‘GburuGburu’ as he is fondly called. It could make him lose steam and innocently become a moral midget in the long run. As inadmissible as it may appear, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is unfortunately sacrificing his hard-earned massive relationship capital and unprecedented public goodwill at the altar of political patronage of soiled hands and questionable dispositions. He is latently although unwittingly tainting his government through accommodation and empowerment of twisted minds. The import of this surreptitious infiltration is that his popularity and acceptability risk extinction as they increasingly nosedive through amorphousness and philistinism on the part of certain political liabilities around him.
Governor Ugwuanyi has no justifications whatsoever to even contemplate derailing, judging by the massive cult following he currently enjoys. So feigning ignorance of all the documented criminal activities of some folks who he (innocently) inherited from his predecessor, smacks of betrayal of public trust on the part of the governor, and completely negates the zero tolerance for corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari. This brazen contradiction has become a source of concern for all lovers of good governance and particularly fans of this gentleman governor.
And for whatever reasons that may be adduced, it is only charitable that he should rather be hurt with the truth about the grim prospects of giving himself out as being favourablly disposed to propagating thievery in governance and political brigandage or as a leader whose attitude towards corruption is grossly antithetical to growth of democracy. Feeling the bite of the people he is deliberately opting to work a tight rope ahead of 2019.
Truth be told, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi saliently started well and exuded an assuring impression that he would finish well. . When for instance on Thursday, January 7th 2016 he openly admitted that there was massive diversion of local government funds to the tune of N4 billion under his predecessor, even with detailed analysis, the world saw in him a Daniel that has come to judgement. The public had anticipated an immediate and elaborate inquest on the matter, but every genuine effort made to establish those culpable were vehemently rebuffed with the gradual injection into his government of those suspected to be complicit.
A particular case in point is the one involving the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board where billions of naira was embezzled under Sullivan Chime. Even though the matter was reportedly taken to both EFCC and ICPC the principal suspects in this humongous fraud are today variously occupying vantage positions in Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s government which logically represents a clear reward for jobs well done. And ironically, that was the very place where a permanent secretary was molested and his pseudo-nude photographs widely-circulated.
Not-too-recently when it was reported that a professor of political science and former local government chairman, Sam Ugwu, rejected his appointment into the board membership of the state joint committee on revenue allocation many were taken aback but only very few saw reasons with him.
Cornelius Nnaji after two constitutional-but-woeful terms of four years was re-appointed as caretaker committee Chairman of Enugu-East LGA for yet another two years. The near collapse of local government system in Enugu State despite the huge volumes of funds allocated to the councils is traceable to him, yet Nnaji was specially-considered for the chairmanship of Enugu State Joint Account and Allocation Committee.
And curiously, he is as of today the only aspirant to have been reportedly tipped by the state seat of power to represent the Enugu-East and Isiuzo federal constituency presently being occupied by Amb. Kingsley Ebenyi. Although there is an internal rotational arrangement between the two component local council which now favours Nnaji’s Enugu East, there are several others who have shown interests with even more service and leadership credentials defined by high degree of credibility and integrity. Besides, his elder brother is presently serving as a senator and vying for re-election. So it means that federal representation is now an exclusive preserve of one nuclear family. Added to this misnomer, an age long internal understanding among the Enugu-East local government area with regard to rotational occupation of their two state constituencies seats have been breached to favour Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, the speaker of the state assembly. While Hon. John Agbo Ugwumba has graciously and honourably given way having done two terms at the rural constituency, including the deputy speaker Donatus Uzogbado, Ubosi is sitting tight at the urban constituency even when there is no justification for his continuity aside except following governor to every function as if the legislature is an extension of the executive. This is an imminent thumb-down for the state if the scheming sails through. It signifies that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would have been grossly distracted by the infiltrations of corrupt men whose only vision for the government is for the impunity to continue unabated and also for Enugu State to be heated up and polarized in order for them to be indispensable. Their sole prowess is the skills in fishing in troubled waters.
But it is highly imperative that Governor Ugwuanyi is seen to maintain a clear isolation of his government from soiled hands so as not to eventually be ambushed in the long run because this is one cardinal area that shall determine how diligently committed he is concerning his re-election bid and continued relevance even after office. He should understand that enjoying the company and good graces of contemptible hypocrites does not translate to popularity. Given his pedigree, he does not share their primordial characteristics. They are rather around him principally to rock the ship for him at the fullness of time. His worst enemies are those cheering him on and creating avoidable battle grounds for him.
Understandably, however, especially as reality is a difficult pill to swallow, he might be tempted to assume that after all Nigeria’s democracy rather panders to the tyranny of the majority he should realise that though the people can be forgetful, posterity is the ultimate judge. And it will be to his eternal credit and fulfillment if he leaves office as an unblemished giant by shunning every semblance of vendetta, clannish tendencies and petty alliances which culminate into distraction and destruction by counter-productive wagon of dirty servants. Corneluis Nnaji and his ilk are not known to be elegant in public leadership as they have proven to be terribly and pathologically dependent, vindictive, divisive, malicious, and conspicuously lack the inert powers of critical thinking as well as managerial capacities. They are born apologists and opportunists seeking relevance and grounds to fight their numerous battles. They are bereft of ideas, emotional and psychological stability to engage constructively.
Governor Ugwuanyi should immediately pause to ponder on what the domination of his regime by corrupt and incompetent folks portend for him. He cannot afford to limit his choices to them so that in the end it does not turn out to be a self-inflicted injury to his reputation and political capital. Their presence in his team can only water down his influence and public rating invariably cast a doubt on his dedication to domiciling Enugu State in God’s palm.
Though not a Christian, I recall the admonition for mankind to be courageous in chopping off tempting finger in order to be fulfilled.
But in all these, His Excellency should know that our democracy is no longer nascent. History has a way of repeating itself when men choose to relish the comforting lies at the expense of unpleasant truths.
Osita Ogenyi, FCE, Eha-Amufu, Enugu State