The 2019 general general elections are almost here. Like never before, Nigerians are showing an uncommon interest. On social media and in small groups, Nigerians are eagerly waiting to sack some politicians and hire new ones. The enthusiasm is unimaginable. The buzz won’t fizzle out anytime soon. Kindly get used to it.
Beyond the enthusiasm and buzz, politicians in almost all the states are at war. Governors who are on their way out want to install their successors. That is not all. Senators, members of the House of Representatives and others seeking for different elective positions are digging it out.
In Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Lagos, Edo and others, it’s a fight to a finish. In the midst of this madness, one state stands out–Enugu. The peace permeating the political sphere is unparalleled. Lest you forget, it has never happened before. Enugu, until 2015, was the epicenter of political crisis in the South East.
The governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold in the coming days. And many people are oblivious of what’s happening in Enugu State. As I pen this piece, no one is at war. Ugwuanyi, like a sweet northern star, is coasting home to victory and no one is challenging him.
It has never happened. Instead, it’s endorsement galore, even from his enemies, who can’t help, but appreciate his politics of peace and stability.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has changed the narrative. Let’s take a brief walk to some recent historical events in Enugu State. It is unusual for elections in the state, especially the gubernatorial, to end on a smooth note. In 2003, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani’s second term suffered from electoral petition challenge waged by the then candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Ugochukwu Agballah.
In 2011, Governor Sullivan Chime’s second term election grappled with the intra-party litigation from Architect Alex Obiechina, who advanced facts to claim that he, rather than Chime, was the rightful winner of the governorship primary.
Prior to the 2015 general elections, Enugu politicians were at war. The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and former governor Chime, went to war. Not even the gods could reconcile their differences. Their face off almost snowballed into something else.
In the last three years, some remarkable things have happened in Enugu State under the democratic watch of Governor Ugwuanyi. First, no serving political office holder has defected from the PDP to another political party. Secondly, no political assassination has been recorded in the state in the last three years. Thirdly, Ugwuanyi’s political rivals are his greatest praise singers. Let me take it one after another.
I doubt if there is any state in Nigeria, beside Enugu, where serving political office holders have not ditched their bosses to defect to other political parties. In Ugwuanyi’s Enugu State, it’s like a dream how he has endeared himself to everyone.
How does Ugwuanyi perform this magic? Why is he not rocking the boat? Why does he not ignite unnecessary political wars and make political fortunes out of it? Why is he different from his power drunk colleagues from other states? I think post-graduate students should be commissioned to write theses on Ugwuanyi’s leadership style in Enugu State.
Before 2015, Enugu was known for all manner of things. Desperate politicians took laws into their hands and did some despicable things. Cases of political assassinations and intimidation were common. Some politicians were even accused of maintaining militia groups which they always deployed to fight their perceived political opponents.
Take your mind back and think. When last did you hear about these dangerous trends? In Enugu State today, politicians disagree, but on the basis of superior arguments. No one is threatened or killed. In Enugu today, life is now sacred.
Many governors are under serious verbal and physical attacks for a number of reasons. They have become punch bags their opponents easily use whenever they are idle. Their media aides are always busy defending them. For them, it is one day, one trouble. That’s the reality.
In Enugu, it’s accolades upon accolades. Enugu State has key members of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Never in the history of the state, has there been a situation where the governor is insulated from insults. It’s a wonder.
Privately or in public, opposition members don’t denigrate Ugwuanyi. Instead, they are his biggest cheerleaders. They resound his praises and sometimes take it to the extreme. Ugwuanyi must be so loved by God to enjoy such an uncommon favour.
There is one more thing I must include here. Almost everyone who has defected to APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), didn’t do that because he or she fell out with Governor Ugwuanyi. I am yet to see or read about anyone who has accused Ugwuanyi of any wrongdoing.
Even Ayogu Eze, who for reasons best known to him distracted Governor Ugwuanyi for three years by dragging the state back, through endless litigations, left the PDP on personal grounds. If Senator Eze was from another state, he would have gotten his own dose of political flogging.
But not so for Ugwuanyi. As soon as the Supreme Court case was decided, Ugwuanyi extended an olive branch to Eze. That is a true display of statesmanship and only Ugwuanyi could have done that. If you are in doubt, visit other states.
Ugwuanyi doesn’t muzzle the opposition or coerce anyone to join his party. He respects constituted authorities and he is not one himself. No opposition party in any state in Nigeria enjoys what opposition parties enjoy in Enugu. For him, politics is not a do or die affair.
Even at the peak of the Biafra agitations in the South East, not once did Ugwuanyi publicly take side. As a leader and a true one at that, his interest was the public good of everyone. While other state governors in the South East were misfiring over the agitations, Ugwuanyi spoke for everyone. Don’t you just wish that Ugwuanyi was your governor?
In Enugu, since Ugwuanyi took over, it has been a jolly good ride for everyone. The road may have been bumpy and rough, but with Ugwuanyi, the ship berthed well.
Imagine what would happen to him when he is reelected? Enugu will be so much transformed, so much so, that even the blind will see Ugwuanyi’s wonders. Enugu people, this is your project.
–Ikem sent in this piece from Lagos