New thinking in Enugu

The high point of the session was perhaps when five minutes into his speech, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
stood up to plead with the visiting media men to help project a positive image for the state

It was a plea that made sense against the background of political crises that had blemished the Peoples Democratic Party’s unquestioned hold over the state.

Indeed the new image the governor sought to project had been shown few minutes earlier when he stepped out from a caucus meeting with the three senators from the state in one of the adjoining rooms beside the Banquet Hall of the Government House.

Indeed, the sight of the three senators seated beside the state governor was an unusual experience for the Enugu State political class. Since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Enugu State has without break been noted for a spate of political crises in its leadership, with its governors almost always at odds with the political leadership.

However, last Saturday, Governor Ugwuanyi, popularly hailed as Gburugburu, was flanked by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senators Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North).

Also present were the Deputy governor, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, the state chairman of the PDP, Chief Ikeji Asogwa, Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Gabriel Ajah and chairman of the State chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, Prince Cornelius Nnaji among others.

The past stories of wrangling were despite the unquestioned supremacy of the PDP in the affairs of the state. It is perhaps the only state in the country where no other opposition party has been able to break through. Whereas its neighbours such as Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue have all separately been wooed by other parties such as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress, APC respectively, Enugu has seemingly remained aloof to the entreaties of other parties.

That, however, did not translate to peace within the ruling PDP. Within months of his coming in 1999, a war of acrimony broke out between then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani and most of the patrons in the party who were not taken along in the beats of the Ebeano phenomenon.

The rancour continued even with Nnamani’s chosen successor, Sullivan Chime. Not long after his emergence, Chime fell out with his predecessor leading to the dismantling of the Ebeano machine that threw him up. Chime who governed between 2007 and last May was not only at war with his predecessor, he also fell out with the state’s highest political office holder, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who some claimed, helped to stabilise him in office when he had challenges in his re-election quest in 2011. Chime was to also fall out with his deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi leading to the controversial chicken impeachment episode last year.

However, Governor Ugwuanyi, who took over last May has seemingly effected a paradigm shift with his determination to forge a consensus among the political class. That was evident last Saturday evening as the three senators and the governor rose from a consensus building meeting to meet the team of visiting journalists.

The need to project peace, the governor said, was especially because of the need to augment the falling revenue to the state on account of the slump in oil prices.

In that direction he conceived the Enugu State Economy Advisory Board with stakeholders such as Senator Ekweremadu, former Minister of power, Prof. Barth Nnaji and local motor manufacturer, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson) among others as members.

It is arguable to assume that Governor Ugwuanyi was forced by the economic circumstances of the time to alter the attitude of political bickering that was prevalent in the state before his coming.

Indeed, many laud the governor as a peace builder who before his election was one of the few politicians in the state with a reach to the different political tendencies in Enugu.
New thinking in Enugu New thinking in Enugu Reviewed by Ioaness vita on Tuesday, July 07, 2015 Rating: 5

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