The Grassroot Campaign in Enugu

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Samson Ezea

Just few days to the elections and despite the prevailing atmosphere of sure victory for Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon.Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his party, Peoples Democratic Party in the state, the governor has vigorously continued his street-to-street, door-to-door, market-to-market and community-to-community campaigns, interfacing with the teeming voters and reminding them of the social contract he had with them in 2015 and how he has fulfilled and abided by it in the last three years plus, through the provision of good governance in all sectors of the state economy. Places, markets and streets already visited by the governor so far include One Day Road, Garki, Timber, Kenyetta Market, Owerri Road, Artisan Market, Ninth mile corner, New Heaven market, GSM village, Aria New Market, Udi Town, Four Corner Junction, Oduma, Mpu in Aninri, Apugo in Nkanu West, streets and markets in Igbo-Eze North, South, Nsukka, Udenu and others.

The exercise which is the last lap of the governor’s campaignwill continue across the nooks and crannies of the state, until thecampaign deadline. The governor, being the people’s leaderrecognises the need and importance of taking his campaignmessages to the busy residents of the state, who their tight schedules may have not allowed to participate actively in the ongoing campaigns and political activities in the state ahead of the polls. So encouraging and surprising is the boost, admiration, acceptance and commendations, the exercise has received fromthe traders, artisans, rural dwellers, party supporters and majority residents, who usually troop out en masse to welcome the governor in their areas.

They are often taken aback by the governor’s surprise and unscheduled campaign visit, considering that it is the first of its kind by any governor in the state since 1999. Renting the airwherever the governor visits are accolades, encomiums and assurances by the jubilant crowd, who say Gburugburu carry go!!! Gburugburu our man, 2019 is assured!!! We will vote forGburugburu massively!!!, No vacancy in Lion Building come May 2019, Enugu people have already decided that Gburugburu is their choice and other words of fillip, commitment andassurances. Majority of them told the Gov. Ugwuanyi not to stress or bother himself coming to campaign on the streets or markets, saying that he has no opponents and that his good works in office speak for him. They praised him for providing good governance, massive infrastructures and enduring peace in the state.

But the performing, energetic and grassroots governor, who often enjoys interacting with the residents sees the exercise as normal engagement to keep in close touch with the people at the grassroots and reminds them of the glaring giant stride of his government across the state. Wherever he stops, he assures the voters that his second term will be a continuation of his monumental achievements in office, which was made possible by the massive support his government enjoys from them. So obvious across the streets, communities, strategic locations and markets in the state are numerous billboards and banners of different sizes with the governor’s picture and bold inscriptions endorsing him for second term. These were sponsored by public spirited individuals and non-governmental groups in appreciation of the governor’s outstanding performance in office and support for his second term. Also considering that every politics is local, PDP stakeholders, party’s candidates, elective officers at various levels and their supporters are busy campaigning for the party at all the wards, council areas, village square, town halls and rural areas in the state. The campaigns are momentous and carnival-like with party supporters and voters catching fun.

In the same vein and buoyed by Gov Ugwuanyi’s inclusiveleadership style, youths of Hausa extraction resident in the state had after campaigning for the governor on the streets on Tuesday, trooped in large numbers to Government House to pledge their unalloyed support for his second term bid. Speaking during the visit, the youths described the governor as a peaceful and detribalised leader, that treats everybody equal, regardless of religion and tribe and equally commended him for developing the state, like no one had ever done.

“Most of us were born and brought up here in Enugu and don’t know anywhere else as home,” Alhaji Hamza Buba, leader of Arewa Youths said amid cheers from the excited crowd.

“According to him, youths in the Hausa community in the state have been members of the PDP and will always remain in the party. We remain loyal to you because you are our father. Our votes will be cast entirely for you and the PDP. We will definitely ensure you return to Lion Building, he said, adding that they would be going into the streets from Government House to campaign vigorously for him.”

A former Youth Leader, Alhaji Danladi Abubakar, praised the governor for enthroning an inclusive policy that gives every resident a sense of belonging.

“You are the first to give the position of Chairman of Pilgrims Welfare Board to us. No governor has ever done that. We are 100 per cent with you. You visit us during our period of fasting, you assist widows, women,” Alhaji Abubakar, who is also the chairman of New Artisan Market said. Responding, Gov. Ugwuanyi in his usual humility thanked the youths for the solidarity visit and tremendous support, they have always shown his administration, and for the prevailing peace in the state. He also pledged to continue to work with them for the development of the state.

Relatedly, coalition of governorship candidates of political parties in Enugu State, had on Monday, unanimously endorsed Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for reelection, saying that the decision was to allow and support the governor to complete the good work he has started in the state. Briefing journalists during a solidarity visit to the Government House, Enugu, the candidates of different political parties, through their coordinator, Dr. Vicgenial C Odumejemba of National Conscience Party(NCP)said the action was in recognition of the sustainable security and peace in the state made possible by Ugwuanyi’s administration.

The governorship candidates added that the decision was taken based on Gov. Ugwuanyi’s humane and down-to-earth handling of issues without discrimination, prudent spending and refusal to embark on unnecessary loans as an economic expert and debt manager.

Pledging to mobilise their teeming supporters to vote massively for Gov. Ugwuanyi, the candidates said: “We are committed to working together with the government to ensure peaceful elections in the state. There will be no recruitment of thugs, no character assassination and hate speech which will ruin our relationship. No buying or selling of votes, because majority votes will be cast for Ugwuanyi.”

Other prominent governorship candidates in the delegation, who were accompanied by the Director General of Political Parties Strategic Forum, Chief Adonys Igwe, include Hon. Frank Emeka Ugwu (ANDP), Hon. Engr. Chinedu Anuche, (KOWA), Dr. Gerald Abonyi (LP) Hon. Anthonia Nwobodo (ACD) and others. This endorsement is not different from the gale of endorsements of Governor Ugwuanyi’s second term bidby various groups, including the Inter-Party Advisory Council, the umbrella body of all registered political parties in the country that conferred the award of Commander of Good Governance and Democracy Dividends in the state on him. Withthe endorsement by the coalition of governorship candidates of political parties in the state, it simply means that Gov. Ugwuanyi has no opponent going into the election on March 2.

These unfolding political events in the state few days to the elections are strong and enough indicators that Gov. Ugwuanyiand his party, PDP, are not only on ground in the state andwidely accepted by the people, but they have earned the confidence and trust of majority voters ahead of the elections.This, the governor did by the good governance, massive infrastructures, enduring peace, youth empowerment, and other numerous achievements of his government in the state since he assumed office.

•.Ezea wrote in from Enugu