Of President Buhari’s Enugu Visit And Gov. Ugwuanyi’s Airport Reception

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President Buhari Visits Enugu

Dr. Mathias Ugwuadah

It is another election year in Nigeria. Expectedly, politicians, including heavyweight, paperweight and their followers are grandstanding and pontificating, claiming what they are and what they are not. This is even when it is known that many of them are of little value or strong political base. This is just in a bid to remain relevant and position themselves for lucre of pre and post 2019 elections. So, in this case, they always try to politicise everything or situation to their own advantage. This is what has been playing out in Enugu State since the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Enugu and Anambra states for commissioning of Zik’s Mausoleum and 2019 campaign,where he was received at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu by Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in line with the government’s established protocol. Since then, some remnants of the APC faction in the state loyal to a former PDP senator and embattled factional guber candidate, have been alleging that Gov. Ugwuanyi, by receiving President Buhari at the airport, has shown that he is in support and working for the President’s reelection. They even alleged that the governor is doing this because he is afraid of losing his reelection to the factionalised APC in the state. What a hypocritical, gullible and puerile conclusion by these uninformed APC foot soldiers without foot or common knowledge of how governments operate.

It is known that the established protocol in government demands that the governor of the state receives President of the country, whenever the latter visits the former’s state. This is irrespective of political party affiliations. The governor can delegate such responsibility if it is not convenient for him. But in most cases, the governor is always handy to carry out the task as it amounts to according tremendous respect to the office of the President and its occupant. This was exactly what Gov. Ugwuanyi did as incumbent governor of the state during President Buhari’s visit. That does not in any way mean that Gov. Ugwuanyi has abandoned his party’s presidential candidate to be supporting Buhari’s reelection as being insinuated by mischief makers and blackmailers, who are mere undertakers in a faction of APC in the state.

This, their display of ignorance is in line with the actions and inactions of their principal and factional APC guber candidate in the state, whenever the President or his Vice visits the state. So, no one is surprised with their unfounded allegation against Gov. Ugwuanyi in this direction, especially when their principal, former PDP senator and factional APC guber candidate with all his exposure cannot respectfully observe the established protocols whenever the President or his Vice visits Enugu for functions. So, theirs is a case of birds of the same feather that always flock together. But they forgot that is not Gov. Ugwuanyi’s style and nature of leadership. Even before getting into public office, Gov. Ugwuanyi was known for his maturity, patience, humility, hardwork and respect for all irrespective of status, religion or tribe. It is not a thing of yesterday or today. Itis not pretension. It is in Gov Ugwuanyi from birth. And he has not changed even as a governor. These outstanding and rare attributes have remained his greatest weapons in public office.Since, he assumed office in 2015 as governor of Enugu State, Gov. Ugwuanyi has shown tremendous respect for the office of the President and its occupant, the way he has done to other public office holders and individuals, not minding difference in their political leanings. Nobody has ever heard or read him attacking or fighting the office of the President or its occupant, no matter the situation or circumstance. Ugwuanyi is not loquacious or controversial. He is taciturn, but his is not that of weakness. Governor Ugwuanyi is a loyal PDP member and has shown absolute faith and confidence in the PDP, being the party that brought him to political limelight.

The PDP presidential campaign rally is taking place in the state today with Gov. Ugwuanyi as chief host. He does not need to desert or abandon his party and work for Buhari’s reelectionfor him to win his second term as being peddled by some mischief makers. Having performed well in office, Ugwuanyi has since won the hearts of majority voters in the state. Saying that Ugwuanyi is the most popular governor in the country today is not an exaggeration, putting all the indices, parameters and circumstances into considerations. In Enugu State today, it is as if Gov. Ugwuanyi will not be contesting the election with anybody, because the opposition candidates, including a former PDP senator and APC factional candidate from his senatorial zone cannot withstand Gov. Ugwuanyi’s popularity and acceptance in the state.

As a man of absolute peace, Gov. Ugwuanyi has always opted for jaw-jaw, instead of war-war. Even as the campaigns for the 2019 elections reached its peak in the state, it is on record that neither Gov. Ugwuanyi nor his aides and supporters have attacked or are attacking political opponents. They have concentrated their campaigns on issues, verifiable and remarkable achievements of Ugwuanyi’s administration. The governor’s political opponents, who are without strong political presence or achievements to showcase, appeared to have ran out of campaign ideas as they have nothing to campaign for or campaign with against Ugwuanyi’s government, other than to beraising petty and unfounded allegation against the governor in the name of bitter and envious politics. It is not out of place that their latest antics of trying to pitch Gov. Ugwuanyi and the stategovernment against the Presidency ahead of the elections is to see if they can disrupt the enduring peace in the state and make political gains out of it. It is clear that these people are real enemies of the state, who are desperate for power without being ready to subject themselves to the rigours of free and fair elections. These are the same people, who will not spare Gov. Ugwuanyi had it been he failed to receive President Buhari at the airport during his visit to the state. Why didn’t they criticized or condemned Gov. Ugwuanyi for graciously and quickly approved the use of Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu for the APC presidential campaign rally? This is unlike in some other states, where the issue of campaign venue has pitched the governors against the Presidency and APC national leadership.

It is of utmost importance to remind these overnight converts in the APC faction in Enugu, who are behind this latest allegation against Gov. Ugwuanyi that they lack morals to pontificate on party loyalty, having hijacked APC from its foundation members close to the party primaries. They are mere passersby in Enugu APC who will leave the party in line with their habitual harlotry immediately after the elections. Didn’t they defect to the APC in the state, when they discovered that they have no chance in the PDP due to their poor pedigree in public offices before now?They should also be educated and reminded that President Buhari is the President of the country, not that of APC or its members alone. Gov. Ugwuanyi is the governor of Enugu State, not that of PDP and its members alone. There are established constitutional relationships between the state and the federal government. They do not exist in isolation. These relationships cannot be waved aside or sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics, because of its consequences on the lives of Enugu people.

Meanwhile, one wonders what those behind this divisive and destructive politics would say about Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who received President Buhari at Warri Airport recently during the President’s visit for campaign rally in the state. Was that not bi-partisan politics and maturity in politics? Has it stopped Okowa from campaigning vigorously for his party in the state? Even former governor of Anambra State and PDP vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, while serving as governor on All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA) platform, was among the closest governors to President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. In short, President Jonathan even appointed Obi into his economic team. It was alleged that their closeness made President Jonathan not to raise the hand of his party, PDP governorship candidate in the state in 2013, Dr. Tony Nwoye during a campaign rally in the state, rather PresidentJonathan told the people to vote candidate of their choice. That was how Willie Obiano, who was Obi’s anointed successor and godson won the governorship election. Obi was neither called names or blackmailed by anybody, not even PDP members in the state. He was rather praised and admired for having tremendous respect and cordial relationship with the office of the President and its occupant. As at then, PDP and the Presidency saw in Obi, a political asset they should not allow to go. So what is the hullabaloo and insinuations about Gov. Ugwuanyi’s receiving of President Buhari at the Enugu airport during the President’s recent visit? How has it or will it affect the chances of Ugwuanyi’s party, PDP in the forthcoming elections in the state? Gov. Ugwuanyi has been campaigning vigorously for his party’s victory at all nooks and crannies of the state. Enugu is PDP and PDP is Enugu. Instead of casting aspersion at Gov. Ugwuanyi for according the office of the President and its occupant due respect in line with his official duty and established protocol, he deserves praises and support of all who means well for the state and its people. Antagonising or fighting President Buhari is an unnecessary distraction for Gov. Ugwuanyi, who has distinguished himself in governance and political relationships. His style in governance and politics will in future be a case study for students of politics and political science in Nigeria.

…..Dr. Ugwuadah, a university don wrote from Nsukka, Enugu State