“God gave us the gift of life;
It is up to us to give ourselves the gift
Of living well and in peace”
Since the beginning of mankind, such vices as conflicts, mutual suspicion, disobedience, envy, quarrels and wars have pervaded the social space. This has remained a major issue among early and present philosophers. Among the early philosophers that devoted time to understand the “state of nature” was Thomas Hobbes (1578-1679). He was an accomplished philosopher whose robust works in geometry, philosophy and politics will continue to resonate for centuries. One of the Hobbes thesis in his classic, The Leviathan, is that “the true nature of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” and that the condition of man is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.” He cautioned that to propose the basic laws of nature such as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and the concept of doing to others as we would want them do unto us are merely illusory. John Locke, another 17th century English philosopher whose ideas contributed immensely to the development of liberal democracy and the theory of knowledge known as empiricism, also wrote extensively on the “state of nature.” His writings, alongside those of Hobbes and some other writers of their ilk would eventually form the foundation for the social contract theory.
Hobbes and Locke reasoned that having the ability to kill one another meant that man in nature would be in a state of continual insecurity. To escape this intolerable situation there was the need for a social contract between man and society; that by mutual consent man would be subject to an over-arching authority that guarantees collective defense, personal security of lives and property and in return man would owe total allegiance to the authority. The evolutionary process of human development has continued in the search for ideal conditions and the right crop of men through which civilization can attain its highest estate in life. The social contract has therefore given rise to the State, which enjoys the legitimacy to determine what is just and unjust, right and wrong; and the strong arm of the law also provides the ultimate sanction for wrong or right conducts.
I have gone this far merely to capture the character of Enugu State politics before the emergence of Rt. Hon. Lawrence Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi as the Governor of the State. Enugu Sate was created from the old Anambra State by former military President, Ibrahim Babangida in August 27, 1991. That was the era of the Social Democratic Party-SDP and the National Republican Convention- NRC. The Enugu Seat of Power at Independence Layout is known as The Lion Building. As would be expected in the contest among lions, the battle for the first Lion that would occupy the Lion Building was, in the Hobbesian context, very crude, nasty, brutish and poor. In the epic battle for the party flag bearer between Dr. Hyde Onuaguluchi and Dr. Joe Nwodo, both of the National Republican Convention (NRC), various malignant fragmentations and cleavages were created with deeply entrenched enmities. This atavistic contest for the Lion Building between these men would eventually lead to their disqualification.
The ultimate beneficiary of that disqualification was His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Okwesilieze Nwodo, who eventually contested the election with Chief Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu (SDP) and won; and was sworn-in as the first civilian Governor of Enugu State in January, 1992. The Nwodo administration tried to heal the wounds that emanated from the NRC intra-party primaries but was truncated in November 1993 by the Sani Abacha military coup de grace that sacked the Shonekan-led Interim National Government.
The old cleavages would resurface again in 1998, in the build-up to the present political dispensation. This time it was another political battle between what was known as Nwodo group, headed by Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and Nwobodo group, led by His Excellency, Chief Jim Nwobodo. This battle, which produced former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani as the second civilian governor of Enugu State was sign-posted with deep-seated anger, hate and acrimony.
There was yet another acrimonious struggle between the Ebeano group headed by Dr. Nnamani and the Nwobodo group in 2002/2003. The most recent was another hate-filled battle for supremacy between Senator Ike Ekweremadu and former Governor Sullivan Chime. It was a battle that forced Chime to surrender his ambition for the Senate. In real terms, Enugu State has never known political peace until the emergence of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2015. Governor Ugwuanyi has shown tremendous dexterity in managing the diverse interests in the State; in bringing together hitherto political enemies to sop from the same table. He has, through the novelty of bipartisan politics, accommodation and inclusiveness, reduced the high-wire politics of acrimony that has been the bane of Enugu politics.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State rates the administration of Ugwuanyi on the following parameters: Policy thrust of the Government; Citizenship Participation; Intergovernmental Relations (Vertical and Horizontal); Elite Consensus and Inclusiveness; Servant Leadership; Infrastructural Development; Human Capital Development; Peace and Security. Space will not allow us to dwell in details the findings made by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
In arriving at our conclusions, the Ohanaeze leadership in Enugu State requested Engr. Greg Nnaji, the Honourable Commissioner for Works to conduct us round the various road construction and rehabilitation sites and other components of the infrastructural initiatives of the Ugwuanyi administration, which he did. We went, saw and confirmed the numerous quality constructions undertaken by the administration. We have also confirmed that each of the 475 communities in Enugu State has been primed to conceive a project of Ten (10) Million Naira each out of which Five Million has been disbursed to each community as first tranche. Furthermore, each of the 17 Local Government Areas in Enugu State was paid the sum of One Hundred Million each for a prime project of their choice. Interestingly, in arriving at decisions on the expenditure of each fund, all the concerned stake-holders were consulted as per the application of the funds.
On the vertical and horizontal inter-governmental relations, Governor Ugwuanyi maintains a cordial relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, his political appointees and party members from Enugu State. Ugwuanyi maintains cordial relationship with almost all the governors in Nigeria. His policy of charity to all and malice towards none has been a huge asset in approach to politics, governance and social relations. On inclusiveness, Ugwuanyi in his goal-achievement vision places premium on intellect, competence, experience and track records in appointing persons into vital public offices and at the same time appoints the less skilled into offices for political considerations. More importantly, no section of the state is complaining of marginalization.
The most astounding of the Ugwuanyi mystique is his extra-ordinary emotional equilibrium and equanimity in condoning unprovoked attacks, vituperations and innuendoes from the least expected quarters. One of the assumptions in the servant-leadership theory, the Magnum Opus of Robert Greenfield, is that the most effective leaders are the servants of their people. On peace and security, the inhabitants of Enugu can attest that Enugu is most secure of other metropolitan cities with a hitch-free night life. On the elite consensus, this is the first time in the history of Enugu state that all the political gladiators in Enugu State are united for the greater Enugu interest. Such stalwarts include Chief Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Sen. Prof Ike Ekweremadu, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Sen. Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Dr. Hyde Onuaguluchi, Sen. Fidelis Okoro, Sen. Ben-Collins Ndu, Sen. Chuka Utazi, etc.
For those who do not know, time was in Enugu when the National Assembly members from Enugu State were barred from attracting federal projects to Enugu State. Enugu was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and in a condition of war of everyone against everyone. Hoodlums took over the streets in the day and turned armed robbers at night. The elite rancor took over the social space. The line-up or political cleavage of an individual solely determined his or her altitude in politics. Workers’ salaries and pensions to retirees were owed in months. Merit was thrown overboard in appointing persons into positions of authority. Journalists went underground for fear of their precious lives. The native doctors and diabolic enclaves thrived and the Church and the government were at war. Ohanaeze notes with immense delight that, all these, as they say, are now history.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo salutes the Rt. Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi at 55. We salute him for his re-election as the governor for the next four years. We salute the Harbinger of Peace in Enugu and the harmonizer of diverse interests. We salute a perfect gentleman with a golden heart. We salute his humility, hard work, accessibility, spirituality, transparency, friendly mien, prudent resource management and integrity. As Abraham Lincoln would say, “In the end, it’s not so much in the years one has lived on earth that counts; what counts is what you have impacted on society in your years on earth.” Congratulations, Your Excellency, on the milestone of 55 eventful years.
By Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia,
President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State.