APC Makes Final Push to take Enugu State: A Rejoinder

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By Victor Ugwu

The article (headline above refers) in the September 21, 2018 edition of THISDAY Newspaper and written by one Louis Okolo, would have been missed by most breezy newspaper readers if not for the choice of photo illustration that would force any person closely or remotely interested in the politics of Enugu State to apply his or her brakes.

Without sounding disrespectful to the writer, the great party, the All Progressives Congress and the two great sons of Enugu State that were profiled, the very first conclusion anyone will have after reading would be that a self-contradicting article, probably put together by someone that was provided with research information he either did not believe in or did not understand. How else will one interpret an article that began by predicting that, come 2019, the “All Progressives Congress (APC) would make a significant impact in Enugu State only to also suggest it was going to unseat the incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi?

Again, apart from the headline that spoke of a “final push to take Enugu State,” the article did not go beyond the defection of Senator Ayogu Eze to the ruling party at the centre to mention or suggest strategies and/or tactical action plans deliberately designed to ensure the party would win the 2019 governorship election in Enugu State.
But this article is not by any means intended to blur whatever chances that the APC just might have in either “making an impact” or winning the governorship election in Enugu State. On the contrary, the purpose is to straighten-out some of the factual inaccuracies and wild assumptions and allegations replete in the article.

The second and third paragraphs of this write-up suggested rather unfortunately, that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi stoked internal crises in the Enugu State chapter of the APC by infiltrating its ranks, giving a semblance of a bipartisan disposition, with intent to stymie growth and diminish electoral fortunes. By every strategic consideration, this is quite childish and denies the opposition party in the state its due credits as a party that has worked hard to sustain some form of growth momentum even in the face of overwhelming high performance ratings of the sitting governor. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has since he assumed office nearly four years ago, chosen the path of delivering values for the people, a strategy, he must believe, would naturally draw the people to him, as against purchasing and renting loyalty to hoodwink the people.

I also feel that it was an insult on the persons of great sons of Enugu State for the writer to suggest that Governor Ugwuanyi dolled out “goodwill” to blind the likes of former Governor Sullivan Chime and former Senate President Ken Nnamani and other great leaders of the party in the state from growing the party.

I am not sure Dr Ken Nnamani, who Nigerians know and respect for his integrity, demonstrated during the botched “third-term” saga of 2006/2007 would take kindly to someone suggesting that he was bribed into allowing someone else prevent him from working for the growth of his party. Neither will Governor Chime find such wild accusation complimentary.

The “goodwill” Governor Ugwuanyi appears to have been dolling out is the recognition of the political plurality of the State and the creation of a level playing field for all to express his or her democratic choices and freedoms without compromising the time-honoured brotherhood that the people of the State have been known for. If the writer’s idea of politicking is the breeding of bad blood and the perpetuation of hate and distrust among peoples of different political divides in the State, then this is not the agenda of Governor Ugwuanyi, as far as those who have watched Enugu politics are concerned.

Paragraph four of the article suggested that with the recent defection of Senator Ayogu Eze to the All Progressives Congress, the regime of obstructing the growth of APC had stopped and with it, the chance to take over the reins of government come 2019. This article, once again, will not attempt to diminish the electoral values of Senator Ayogu Eze although it is on record that he was trounced by Governor Ugwuanyi during the PDP primaries in 2015 and roundly defeated him again during the long court battles that lingered from the High Court to the Supreme Court. As a citizen of this State, I am certain that even Ayogu Eze knows that should the APC allow him the very difficult luxury of winning the party’s governorship ticket, mustering significant followership and votes against a performing Governor would be a miracle that is highly improbable.

I will refer the writer to a recent event in Enugu where a well-known chieftain of the APC in Enugu openly endorsed Governor Ugwuanyi in the presence of Senator Ayogu Eze and other big wigs of the party in the state. In case the writer may have conveniently forgotten, this took place on September 10 during a thanksgiving service at Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Enugu and the endorsement came from no less a person than the National Vice Chairman, South East of the APC, Hon Emma Eneukwu, who, at the event, also praised the Governor for bringing peace and the spirit of sportsmanship to the political relationships among the political parties in the State.

If Governor Ugwuanyi had done the impossible by compromising the APC in Enugu, how would he have possibly compromised the party’s national executive committee to which Hon. Ezeukwu belongs?

I am not sure it is necessary to begin to analyse paragraphs five and six where the writer appeared to be struggling to present the political capital of Senator Ayogu Eze and why this must be unsettling for the Governor. The suggestion that Governor Ugwuanyi had displayed what the writer described as “mindless extremism” is something I am sure the Governor and his team should compel the writer to properly define. Suffice that at a time it was impossible for most of the other states in Nigeria to meet with its salary obligations to civil servants, workers in Enugu State have never been owed. As a mater of fact, I am aware that salaries in Enugu State are paid on the 24th of each month. It will also be important for the State Governor to explore every means to ensure that the writer explains what he meant by suggesting that there is capital flight from the state and that there is diversion of state resources towards the funding of the 2019 political project.

Paragraph seven suggested that Governor Ugwuanyi does not trust the PDP structure in Enugu State. This, like most other issues raised in the article, is also wild and unfounded. As the date for the PDP primaries draws near, I am not sure there is another candidate contesting the Governorship of the State, apart from the incumbent who is seeking a second and final term. Does this suggest that the party believes in him or does it suggest there is any form of mistrust, as suggested by the writer?

I saw the part where the writer, somehow, without any proper logical link, brought in the rather sad and unfortunate issue of the killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Nimbo, in Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of the State. I will not wish to dwell much here, but any person who exploits the misfortunes of his people for political gains should be marked and avoided as an enemy. I am aware that after the brutal murder of the people of Uzo Uwani, Governor Ugwuanyi moved quickly to enhance security in the state by hiring a retired General who set up and is currently also supervising the vigilante services in the State in active collaboration with the Enugu State Police Command. This has effectively put an end to the incessant disagreements between community people and Fulani cattle rearers.

In paragraph 10, this writer suggested that the ruling APC had exploited “federal might” to “capture” states that are otherwise not disposed to voting it into power. He also insulted the person of former President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of “treachery and questionable allegiance.”

I also think that it is rather strange for the writer to contrive that Governor Ugwuanyi was “undermining the PDP resource persons as if they were the opposition he should checkmate” while at the same time, and strangely too, staying comfortable in his (Ugwuanyi) association with the opinion leaders of the APC and several other moles in the PDP.

To be fair, this is a very bad testament on Ayogu Eze, a distinguished journalist and Senator who should be well schooled in information management, having also headed the Senate Committee on Information for many years. If this is the best excuse he has for a third party amplification of his credentials on the road to the coming governorship elections, then there’s a problem. Otherwise, which APC would give him a ticket when there is this subtle suspicion that the sitting governor in the state is in control of the opposition party? Will APC not feel Senator Ayogu Eze does not even trust the party; a party he only recently joined?

Again, between Senator Ayogu Eze and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who looks more like a mole? Would it be Governor Ugwuanyi that had been in PDP since inception and at the early stage, even gave up an ambition to be a local government area chairman just for the good and growth of the party? Would it be a Senator Eze that just recently crossed over from the PDP to APC, having lost the chance to be governor of the state to Governor Ugwuanyi and knowing that the only chance he has to ever dream of being on the ticket of any leading party as Governorship candidate was to abandon his own party for the opposition?

Whichever way once looks at it, this writer has done Senator Ayogu Eze a lot more harm than good and that is why I will neither bother about the silly and vain emotional drivel about how the governor does not wish for the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to return to the Senate. The cordial relationship between DSP Ekweremadu and Governor Ugwuanyi are well documented, which was why the very first set of people to volunteer to purchase the nomination form for the governor, was the people of Enugu West Senatorial Zone, where Ekweremadu comes from.

I find it also strange that this writer would think that the equal opportunity and inclusiveness strategy of the governor in determining which candidate emerges the flag bearer of the PDP in the coming elections is being interpreted as destructive. I have followed the strategy of the governor and while previous administrations imposed candidates on the party and its people, Governor Ugwuanyi had opened the field to ensure that people with genuine intentions to serve their people are given the opportunity to market themselves to the people, thereby enabling informed choices. And that is why the increase in the number of aspirants should be good news for the party, contrary to the writer’s weird interpretation.

The rest of the article is as illogical as they are unfounded and therefore are not worth even the time spent to read them. And that is why I didn’t bother trying to X-ray them. You do not X-ray phantoms.

Victor Ugwu, a Media and Public Affairs commentator, lives in Nsukka, Enugu State