By Nnamdi Nwokedi
I read an interesting intervention in the Enugu politics by one Louis Okolo, to wit: “APC Makes Final Push to Take Enugu State”, published in the ‘Thisday’ newspaper of Friday the 21st of September 2018. The writer left nothing to be guessed about the quality of his credentials given the contradictions, prevarications and sheer illogicality of his thought flow. At best, it was an embarrassing catalogue of self-indictment, laid bare by an ostensibly profuse struggle to be noticed by a receding godfather. But that is understandable, after all, it is often the passion of a dog to bark at the enemies of his master.
To this end, the article would ordinarily not have merited any attention, after all the ultimate ambition in the whole project as expressed in his first sentence is for the APC in the state to be able to make a “significant impact” in the forthcoming general elections in the state. But what wries me is the unhidden evidence that Ayogu Eze, his principal may not have weaned himself of the same hubris that has constantly exposed his knavery and avidity for histrionics and which incidentally served as his Achilles heel in his now forlorn quest to be governor of the state.
The writer takes off by making nonsense of all the efforts, investments and membership of notable political leaders in the APC and who have all the while struggled to keep the light of the party aflame before Ayogu’s recent sojourn to the fold. According to the writer, “even the defection of former governor Sullivan Chime, former Senate President Ken Nnamani and Jim Nwobodo among others, including the membership of other top notchers … could not in anyway produce the required impetus to keep the APC alive and active, let alone constitute a source of concern to the ruling PDP. … all these have changed the very moment Senator Ayogu Eze defected to the APC with an exhibition of sufficient affinity with President Muhammed Buhari…” There he goes again, one may be tempted to say!
The same hubris, the same cynical, howbeit vacuous, condescension with which he treated the leaders of the state in 2014 following the presence of former President Goodluck Jonathan at the burial of his late mother, and which disrobed him of any regard in the political circle in the state comes to mind. Does Ayogu now see himself as the messiah the APC needs in the state over and above these credible leaders of the party who have labored to keep the party afloat all this long while he hankered after an illusory, nay wild goose chase of gaining the coveted governorship seat via a senseless litigation process? Is that how best to thank a people for their benevolence in accepting an evidently famished political orphan? William Shakespeare might have had Ayogu in mind in his immortal poem, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude!”
This assertion is the most unkindly testimony to the efforts of the APC members in the state given that Ayogu, for three long years was absent from the state. In his absence, these men who he now seeks to demean have invested both their material and human resources to keep the party afloat. So Ayogu thinks he is more relevant, or has a better capacity than Sullivan Chime who governed Enugu for a wholesome 8 unbroken years? Or the inimitable Ken Nnamani who is arguably one of the salient faces of respect for the party in the country? Or indeed Chief Jim Nwobodo, a former governor of the old Anambra state, former Minister, former Senator and arguably the most charismatic politician to have emerged from this side of the country? These are yet without mention of such mercurial avatar in the person of Gbazuagu Nwkek Gbazuagu, or the indomitable Osita Okechukwu, or the business mogul, Onyemuche Nnamani, to mention but a few, who all have stood by and nurtured the party in the state.
The writer alludes to Ayogu being also a “prodigy” of the “maestro”, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani; in other words, his godson. As patronizing as this may be, it must be pointed out that Chimaroke has repudiated this infantile blackmail and the singular reason why he chose to pitch his political tent with the PDP remains the fact of Ayogu’s opportunistic presence in the APC. Can anyone ask Ayogu when last he spoke with his so-called godfather in all the travails he went through since his exit from office in 2007, including his well-known health challenges. He perhaps never reckoned there would again be a season like this. But the truth must be told, without diminishing anything from the fact of Chimaroke’s contribution to Ayogu’s new-found relevance in the state, the credit of who actually invented Ayogu as a politician should go to the Nwodo political dynasty of Ukehe that gave him the first political break in 1992.
This was followed in 1998 when again, through the instrumentality of the same family, Ayogu was made Secretary of the PDP in Enugu State. But true to his streak, he did not blink an eyelid when he abandoned them and joined hands with the emerging power in the state to torment his benefactors.
Ayogu flaunts photo-ups with childish relish. It is now fashionable to advertise the so-called “sufficient affinity with President Muhammadu Buhari” but has anyone asked him what might have happened to his well-known “sufficient affinity” with former President Goodluck Jonathan whose presence in Umuida in 2014, he truly believed was enough to guarantee him ascendancy to the Lion Building in 2015? If with all that well-known affinity with President Jonathan, he still could not defeat His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2015, I really wonder what makes him think that even with an evidently lesser degree of affinity with President Buhari, he could defeat him now as a sitting governor who in the writer’s considered acknowledgement “dispenses tremendous goodwill”.
But beyond all these, who is Ayogu Eze in Enugu politics, one may be tempted to ask? Ayogu hails from Umuida, in the Igbo-Eze North Local Government of the state, a border town between Enugu and Kogi state. He holds a National Diploma from the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu. Sometime in 1992 he was appointed a Special Assistant in the short-lived administration of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo as governor of the old Enugu State. In 1998 at the formation of the PDP, the same Dr. Nwodo, employing largely his position as the first National Secretary of the party, installed Ayogu as the Secretary of PDP in Enugu State.
There is perhaps no need rehashing the circumstances that led to Ayogu’s abandonment of the Nwodo structure and aligning with the “maestro” whereof he served in the new administration for the 8 long years! What may be of interest is how he managed to get to the Senate at the behest of the “Maestro”. Even then, the story would be better told by the membership of the Nsukka caucus of that administration who still feel betrayed by Ayogu. What is well known is that while at the Senate, he related better with his kinsmen across the divide in Kogi state than with the mainstream Nsukka folks that ought to be his constituency.
In the last four years of his 8-year sojourn at the red Chambers of the National Assembly, Ayogu was not only one of the closest friends and acolytes of President Jonathan, he was equally the all-powerful Chairman of the strategic Senate Committee on Works. In a period of reckoning such as now, it ought to have been beautiful for him to be pointing at the roads he attracted to his constituency, the great people of Nsukka senatorial zone. But there is none, specifically speaking, none! As someone who passed through the harrowing baptism of abject poverty in those formative years, one would have also cherished to know how many students are studying or have graduated from the universities at the benevolence of his scholarship scheme. Again, there is none! Or how many businessmen from Nsukka senatorial zone who have been helped by the vantage position Ayogu found himself as a Senator representing them. The fact that he came into Enugu only 3 weeks ago since leaving the senate in 2015 says so much about his political structure.
Yet it must not be lost on any observer that politics is essentially local. Who does Ayogu hope will vote for him? The propaganda about his relevance is simply akin to making mountain out of a molehill. He is politically speaking a nowhere man!
Mr. Okolo alludes to the fabled federal might as a possible linchpin in the quest, but it only betrays the mindset of a deluded opportunist. The era when Ayogu ‘won’ election before the date in 2007 is gone and gone forever. The last Osun gubernatorial election should be an eye-opener to all supine prevaricators and political scavengers, that is, the food-is-ready politicians. Even President Buhari who is subtly being blackmailed, in his avowed integrity knows the virtue in working hard to convince the electorates. Even then, Ayogu’s gubernatorial dream is blowing in the wind as nobody is deceived. He needs the vantage positioning of the gubernatorial ticket only as a bargaining chip should the APC win the forthcoming presidential election. But the hardworking members of the party in the state, who have invested so much in the party knows this trick. They will not allow anyone to reap where he has not sown.
What for God’s sake would Ayogu advertise as his contributions to the party in the state to merit the coveted ticket? Rather than exercise discretion and study the structural context of the leadership of the party in the state, he has, in his usual megalomania, sought to polarize the structure of the party in the state. Thus, on his arrival at the Akanu Ibiam Airport some three weeks ago, he showed so much contempt for the indefatigable Chairman of the party in the state, Dr. Ben Nwoye and was busy searching for the defeated aspirant to the position, Deacon Okey Ogbodo.
But it may be pertinent to update Ayogu and keep him in the loop of the tremendous achievements Governor Ugwuanyi has registered in the state during his long absence from home. He has done so very well in the last three and half years such that it would be difficult for any opposition to fault his second term bid. He has employed silent dignity to achieve what noise of politics can never achieve. There is nowhere you would be in Enugu state today that you do not find the Ugwuanyi phenomenon staring at you in fact and in conscience. He stares at you by the quantum of infrastructural development he has wrought in every nook and cranny of the state.
He stares at you by the peace prevailing in the state such that Enugu is the safest state in the whole country. He stares at the civil servant by the regularity of his salary which gets paid on the 24th of every month whether that date falls on a Monday or a Saturday and whether there is allocation from the federation account or not, including the novelty of a 13th month salary! He stares at the traders by the highly impactful monthly empathy of traders’ support facilities. He speaks to the wealthy by himself keeping awake so that they can sleep with their two eyes closed. There is no community in Enugu State that does not have one project or the other of their choice currently being executed at the behest of the Governor.
He has through his very thoughtful projects, brought reasonable succor to many a community especially at the grassroots level. He has shown an uncommon creativity in the generation and management of resources such that even in this financially dreary season, the state has been running at full speed. He has introduced a new culture of politics founded in ecumenism whereby, notwithstanding the political divide you belong to, he recognizes that you are an indigene of the state first and foremost and accords you your due.
Political ecumenism refers to efforts by conscientious politicians of different political persuasions or parties to develop closer relationships and better understandings. It refers to efforts towards the visible and organic unity of differing political opinions. It is the principle of promoting cooperation or better understanding among politicians of different political viewpoints. Governor Ugwuanyi epitomizes this ideology of politics. He has been able to bind old wounds and reconcile the state. He is humble and without guile, and with him there are no broken promises.
Nwokedi, a lawyer writes from Enugu.