Enugu 2023: A Troublesome Truth
On Saturday, November 13, 2021, at the Pacesetter Frontier Magazine Maiden Discourse (headlined by ex-SSG of Anambra State Hon. Oseloka H. Obaze), the trendy magazine awarded Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State “Governor of the Year in Peace and Welfare.” Last week, the Messengers of Peace Foundation awarded him “Most Peaceful Governor in Nigeria.” These are testaments to the comparative claim of Enugu as nirvana in Nigeria. Peace is good. We want peace for the ceaseless struggle to survive, live, and thrive in an enabling environment that is secure and sustaining.
With the announcement of the schedule for 2023 elections, the peace in Enugu State developed an undercurrent of murmurs and rumors. The concerns created constipated consternations from zoning to micro-zoning and about who was coming or going. Add the upcoming local elections, the grumbles were set to rumble. Something must give way, right? No way: there is only one point of political power in the state.
With one ephemeral exception before the Ebeano Epoch took deep and no-shaking roots in 2003, Enugu has been practically a one-party state since 1999. Every sitting governor becomes ‘il capo di tutti capi’—the boss of all bosses. Some pushbacks popped up; notably Deputy Governor Okechukwu Itanyi (2007), Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu (2015), and Senator Ayogu Eze (2015/2019). In all, the governors prevailed.
Ironically, the political class waited for another round. Many Enuguites waited too. The pent-up political pressures needed a vent. They got it from ex-Governor now Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, the founder of Ebeano political platform. As social media outlets warmed on pilot flame last Wednesday, January 26, media manager Dan Nwomeh dropped a big propellant. The nationwide press release did not embellish the fact with diplomatese or political correctness; it was served simple and straight. “Enugu 2023: Gov Ugwuanyi will choose successor ……. Sen Nnamani.”
The audacious statement “reiterated that it is the prerogative of the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to produce his successor without challenges.” At this point, many pundits had read enough. They pounced. Alas, they missed the third and important paragraph: “We have a tradition in Enugu State politics. The governor is the leader who directs affairs. He will determine who succeeds him without compromising the electoral processes and whomever he chooses will be our next governor.”
I understand those who reacted to the supposedly shocking statement that one man will choose his successor in a democracy. They ignored the “tradition” and “the electoral processes.” They forgot that the statement was about a political platform within a partisan political party and that elections hold. The “tradition” in Enugu State is irrefutable. At the national level, President Olusegun Obasanjo handpicked Governors Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for president and vice president, respectively. The electoral processes were not compromised.
On Saturday, September 19, 2020, amidst the pandemic, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani led jubilant members and supporters of Ebeano to a solidarity visit with Governor Ugwuanyi at the Government House, Enugu and to endorse him as the leader. In his speech, the senator and founder of Ebeano told Ugwuanyi openly that it was his “right” to produce his successor –as did the governors before him: “Whomever you choose will become the next governor.” The senator just repeated the statement in 2022.
On Thursday, June 17, 2021, the Ọganiru Enugu East Senatorial District Rally held. In a communique signed by ex-Governor Jim Nwobodo, House Speaker Edward Ubosi, State PDP chairman Augustine Nnamani, State APC chairman Ben Nwoye, HOR Hons Ofor Chukwuegbo, Nnolim Nnaji, and Cornelius Nnaji, the rally’s raison d’être was stated: to defend the power of Governor Ugwuanyi to choose his successor from Enugu East.
In his speech, APC’s Nwoye stated, “The fact that you [Ugwuanyi] are here means you are with us; the fact that you are here means that you have agreed to bring the anointed one from Nkanuland come 2023.” This meant that subliminally the opposition party had conceded the crown of “the anointed one”— the next governor—to whomever Ugwuanyi chooses! Understandably, the Governor failed to pledge compliance (as he had purportedly promised PDP members from Nkanu East LGA in November 2018); he preferred instead to understand “the content and context” of the direct demand: to choose the next governor.
I have read rude reactions, decent disagreements, emotional knocks, and kind kudos. Opinions are dozens-a-dime; facts are sacred. Truth is often bitter; the truth that Senator Nnamani told is not an exception. It may require a good measure of honey to swallow but, deep down and now that the screams have subsided, the truth remains. Last Sunday evening, January 30, Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom confirmed the truth within one native week: he chose Commissioner Umo Eno to succeed him.
“Ihe gbaa afọ, ọ bụrụ omenala.” (Whatever sustains for one year becomes a tradition.) The Igbo idiom does not exclude even an abomination (‘alụlụala’). Traditions change but, if one does not wrestle over their right of way, they will not change. With weak distractions from election-season intermissions, nothing has changed in the total domination of PDP in Enugu State. Governor Ugwuanyi is now the boss of bosses. He chose all the 17 LGA chairs in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Who will stop him in 2023?
Whose fault is it that there is no functional opposition party in Enugu State? Those who disagree with Senator Nnamani should do something that I have preached since Y2K: Form a focused and organized opposition and contest ALL elected positions from councilor to president, not wait for PDP to implode and angle for the tenancy of Government House by divine intervention! We cannot complain that Ebeanọ foundation remains strong for two decades and looks set to produce the fourth frontrunner.
If the Independent National Electoral Commission were a court, opposition parties in Enugu State would be sued for electoral malpractices. Until the status quo changes, we may have to hold our nostrils and swallow the troublesome truth. Whether Senator Chimaroke Nnamani serves the statement with golden gloves and glitters or with champagne and caviar, it is what it is: the truth.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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