A detribalized political leader
When His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi took the mantle of leadership of Enugu State in May 29, 2015, expectations from residents of the state were high considering his training as a financial and public relations expert.
As at the time the Governor came into power the world economy was in turmoil due to the sharp fall in the price of crude in the international market which had direct impact on Nigeria’s monolithic economy. The prevailing circumstance has affected the quality of leadership Nigerians have enjoyed since 2015.
Meanwhile, yours sincerely was recently on a private visit to Enugu State and former capital of the defunct Eastern Region. I was impressed with the pace of development in some of the areas visited. The mood in the capital city was a reflection of the peaceful nature of the State.
I was later led through the sacrifices and commitments by the State Governor since he came to power in 2015.
According to Mr. Kingsley Agbo, before the Governor came to power, there were some measures of despondency on residents of the State arising from the backlash of the economy coupled with reported cases of friction between natives and nonnatives, especially, those from Northern Nigeria in general and herders in particular.
“However, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the day of his inauguration, stood on the podium at Okpara Square, Independence Layout, Enugu and rekindled the hope of residents of the state by committing his soon to start administration to the provision of good governance, employment generation, enhanced social services and rural development, security and justice, equal and fair opportunities for Nigerians living in the State to make a living, create wealth and enjoy life,” Mr. Agbo recounted.
According to him, the Governor also pledged to deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment, drive with full force investment promotions, agricultural sector renewal, provision of infrastructure, human capital development and skill acquisitions.
Such were the highlights of Governor Ugwuanyi’s inaugural speech.
It should be mentioned that His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi inherited a State that was challenged by insecurity. Avoidable clashes between herders and members of their host communities nearly polarized and bred bad blood in the State. However, the open-mindedness, sincerity of purpose and commitment with which the Governor handled the delicate situation, then, gave him out as a just and truly detribalized Nigerian committed to public good.
The South East Zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki once acknowledged that their members owe their success in the State to the pragmatic and ingenious manner the Governor was handling outbursts of emotions arising from frictions between herders and farmers in the State.
Little wonder then that at a time when Nigeria is sharply divided along ethnic, socioeconomic and religious lines, political analysts see in Governor Ugwuanyi, a reincarnation of the foremost founding fathers of Nigeria like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Herbert Macaulay, Sir Ahmadu Bello and others who set aside their ethnic and religious differences and fought for the common good.
Sadly, it is the opinion of the writer that the Governor’s zeal, passion and commitment to the realization of the cherished promises in his inaugural speech, especially, his vision of a just and egalitarian Enugu State where every law abiding Nigerian irrespective of tribe, religion or class will happily and freely live to make a living seem not to be reckoned with by Nigerians.
The reasons are not farfetched: from my interaction with some residents of the State, Gburugburu as he is fondly called is not a showman and does not seek to be noticed.
A man of humble mien, candour, soft spoken and uncommon belief in alms and charity, Governor Ugwuanyi believes that politics should be played with high moral principles which negates nepotism and rewards excellence. This has found expression in his relationship with all manner of persons in the State.
To Mr. Yayangida Doronbaga, a trader from the North, Enugu State under Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration has become a home to most Nigerians, especially those from the North due to the Governor’s dispositions to and relationship with his kith and kin from the North.
“The Governor as a patriotic leader treats us as his brothers and this has actually made a whole lot of our people to relocate to the State.
“Enugu State is the most peaceful place anyone can live in Nigeria. We do not face any form of tribalism here and the Governor is always handy to douse any form of tension in the State,” he said.
Mr. Doronbaga described Governor Ugwuanyi as one of those rare Nigerian political leaders who truly believe in the oneness and unity of the country.
Furthermore, Governor Ugwuanyi, though an ardent Catholic faithful, is highly tolerant of other religious views and does not allow his religious inclination to get in the way of his relationship with others. He feels at home with Muslims and it is usually difficult to believe that he is not one when in their midst.
According to Mr. Yusuf Awwal, the Central Mosque along Owerri Road, Asata, Enugu usually plays host to the Governor every Sallah.
“The Governor shares every Ramadan with us at the Central Mosque. He provides us with cows, rams and food items during this period. He also gives us free slots for pilgrimage,” he said
Mr. Awwal believes that most Muslim families in the State owe their survival of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown to the Governor as the Muslim community received substantial part of the palliative items that were shared.
Saying that politicians in the ilk of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who are naturally detribalized, people oriented and genuinely nationalistic in their ideals are rare to find, especially, in this part of the world, would be stating the obvious.
With the facts within my disposal, I am convinced that His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is one of the best gifts by this political dispensation and as the saying goes, “a golden fish does not have a hiding place”.
Therefore, at a time when the leadership of the country is challenged, Nigeria needs the contributions of people like the Governor in whatever capacity.
Muhammed Usman writes from
No 8 Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Rd.,
Federal Low-Cost Housing Estate
Gombe, Gombe State