to Collective Responsibility
Oguejiofo Ujam writes that much is expected from Enugu State Governor-elect, Dr Peter Mbah, to turn the fortunes of the state around for the better after inauguration on May 29, 2023.
The election of Dr. Peter Mbah and Ifeanyi Ossai as governor and deputy governor of Enugu State has underscored our peoples’ resolve for united socio-political action.
It was a keenly contested gubernatorial election that even attempted to draw the inputs and sentimental advice of outsiders as to what the people needed to confront their leadership selection challenge.
This public intervention is therefore intended to examine how the collective mandate from Enugu people imposes a huge challenge to Governor-elect Peter Mbah, vis-à-vis how to translate the mandate into collective responsibility for mutually beneficial outcomes.
The very last week leading to the March 18, 2023 governorship election saw a massive mobilization of every Enugu citizen, particularly voters, ranging from veteran politicians, clergy, traditional governance institutions, women and youth groups to ensure that the electorate spoke in one voice in line with the common purpose that binds ndi Enugu together.
It bears recording that the resistance politics of the Wawa, which took root in the days of the old Anambra State, always find expression when the dignity, nobility, and unity of the people are put to test. That test came shortly after the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
During the election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had seen a national secretary, national chairman, Senate President and Deputy Senate President, was perceived as suffering huge loss of relevance. But, truth be said, the voting pattern on February 25 was more of a show of solidarity for the presidential aspiration of Mr. Peter Obi than a total rejection of PDP.
It was therefore that erroneous perception that arose from the brotherly solidarity with Obi, who was the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) that roused the Wawa spirit of unity, which gave rise to the zoning arrangement in the state. Many outsiders fail to reflect on the dangerous and destructive divisive politics that gave rise to political power rotation in Enugu State.
I had before now elaborated on the genesis of the zoning structure in Enugu State. It was therefore against that background that we cautioned revisionists against their attempt to micro-zone and throw up an Isi-Uzo person as a possible successor to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
That was also because despite the maternal connection between Governor Ugwuanyi and Chijioke Edeoga, their communities are culturally tied to the same Nsukka zone.
Nothing annoys the Wawa people as injustice, inequity and unfair deals. That explains why the citizens of Enugu State rose in one unity to reject the posturing of Mr. Chijioke Edeoga and his few backers. They wanted to paint the Labour Party as the new giant killers in Enugu politics.
The scare was quickly put down as every citizen remembered that unity of purpose and peace were the major ingredients that constitute our articles of faith in the state.
Now that the election has been won through the collective efforts of all and sundry, it is time to sustain that unity to propel Dr. Peter Mbah to more wins through good governance. This is no time for people to begin to wave political IOUs, rather, it is time to pool ideas together to implement his proposed progressive developmental policies and programmes for good governance.
On the part of the Governor-elect, the next eight weeks leading to the inauguration of Mbah/Ossai administration should be dedicated to itemizing principles and propounding policies that would shape the programmes of action.
Briefly, the Governor-elect should distill his manifesto into action points. On this score, I expect the incoming governor to examine these seven steps as a guide to his governance scheme.
Step 1: Outlining deliverables (Project conception, funding and implementation). Step 2: Setting timelines; Step 3: Structuring governance organogram; Step 4: Adopting inclusive, transparent budgeting system, (formulation cum implementation); Step 5: Engendering periodic reviews/feedbacks; Step 6: Creating linkages for healthy cooperation/collaboration and Step 7: Deepening community involvement in governance system.
On the notch of deepening community involvement in governance, the incoming administration should adopt a workable template to keep tabs on communities and organizations so as to mainstream various needs and concerns.
For instance, I recall my remarks when the Governor-elect paid a courtesy visit on the University Community at the Nsukka campus of University of Nigeria, Nsukka on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. For emphasis, let me reproduce part of the message to the then-governorship candidate.
I had stated: “The truth remains that African, nay Nigerian leaders fail in leadership score due to their neglect or disdain for men of letters. The United States of America remains world leader, because of the level of collaboration and cooperation with the universities.
“Democracy as an inclusive system of governance rests on the fulcrum of social science approach. It is on this wise that I urge our visitor that when he becomes governor on May 29, 2023, he should maintain this conversation with academics.
“Research is usually the bedrock of good policies, projects, and programmes. Although like Americans, Enugu State is not planning to go to Mars, the inputs of professionals and academics to governance could help the state to stand out, be it in the management of the civil service, environmental sanitation, food production, health systems, educational foundation among others.
“By desiring to meet with the professionals in the Ivory Tower, I was convinced that Dr. Mbah decided to establish that purposeful contact as a necessary first step towards long-lasting and mutually beneficial cooperation.
“It should be appreciated that among those jostling for the governorship seat of Enugu State, Mbah stands out in terms of competence, emotional intelligence, and eagerness to serve. Obviously, Mbah showed that he was not only in a race among other competitors for a coveted office, but also as one racing against time”.
The time for action, therefore, is now, for him to show that the tomorrow, which he envisioned has come. Since prioritisation and focus are twin elements of successful missionary leaders, it would be proper for the Governor in waiting to adopt the seven-step approach to keep his eyes on the ball to deliver the goods.
He should know that to whom much is given, much is expected. The expectations from our people are huge. Therefore, he should get ready to hit the ground running and focus on the deliverables.
On that note, let me say, congratulations on your meritorious electoral triumph. Having done well with Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, it is a given that you would equally excel in his executive mandate.
-Prof Ujam writes from University of Nigeria, Nsukka.