All is now set for the general election in Nigeria. As activities toward the gubernatorial poll gather momentum, the nation’s political landscape is increasingly getting charged. The states have become a beehive of political activities.
From one state to the other, many are preoccupied with all manner of permutations –which party wins this or that? But in most of the states, the likely governorship candidates that would sing victory songs on the day of swearing in, May 29, have emerged even as their opponents deploy various strategies to whittle their influence.
At the moment, all the politicians are in the field doing what they know how to do best. It is time for meetings to undo opponents in the usually slippery political turf.
And characteristic of the nation’s political culture, while some engage in constructive criticism of political opponents, others stop at nothing to ensure they have their way. For such people, the end justifies the means.
In Enugu State, the situation is not different even though for those who have been following political events since the last governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, the picture of who would occupy the Enugu Lion Building is becoming clearer. Optimists insist that the PDP candidate, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is merely waiting to be crowned by the crowd of voters routing for his candidature. Analysts are in agreement that if the results of elections in the state since 1999 are anything to go by, there is no gainsaying that Enugu is unarguably a PDP state.
But ahead of the general elections, one question agitating the minds of critical observers is – will the PDP continue its winning streak in Enugu? Many would think so while others may think otherwise.
For instance, one of those who think that the PDP should give way in Enugu State is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Enugu, Barr. Okey Ezea.
On Tuesday, Ezea who has been contesting governorship elections since 2003 accused Governor Sullivan Chime of running down the state’s economy.
The APC candidate who unveiled his manifesto in Enugu maintained that the state had a robust economy, but that it was grounded by the PDP-led government.
His words: “All these have laid the foundation for a greater evil- the poverty of morals. As men’s souls are put in crucible, social norms and ethics become luxuries only a few can afford”.
In a 6-point agenda, he promised to harness the huge economic potentials of the state for the benefit of the people, assuring that the APC government would implement its programmes without over taxing residents.
Lamenting the plight of the people of the State, he said, “the poverty level in Enugu State is debilitating with 57 percent of the citizens of Enugu State rated as poor. There is infrastructural poverty through the lack of the most basic amenities- portable water, electricity and shelter.
“There is poverty of the pocket that translates to the growing incidence of hunger as a result of lack of employment opportunities and economic growth. Pensioners drop dead in long queues while waiting for meagre hand-outs that never come”.
Ezea accused Governor Chime of plundering the State into huge debts, vowing that “we are going to audit all these debt- where and when they were taken and what they were taken for. We can’t pay debts for money used to buy cars for friends”.
While vowing to defeat the PDP candidate in the election, he called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to disqualify the PDP from participating in the election since it had failed to produce a single candidate.
Since Ezea came out with his critical commentary on the administration of the PDP-led government in Enugu State, many analysts have been trying to interrogate his submission. Not a few argue that rather than criticize the PDP government, Ezea should rather concentrate on selling the programme of his party, APC to the electorate.
People in this school of thought recall that Ezea first contested the Enugu governorship election in 2003 and failed woefully. Many want the APC candidate to assure the electorate that he deserves their support.
Critical observers also take exception to Ezea’s claim that Governor Chime’s administration has impoverished the state.
Not a few have forgotten that Enugu made history recently as the only Nigerian city among 35 cities from across the globe invited to join the 100 Resilient Cities Network (100RC) pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, New York.
The announcement was made during The Rockefeller Foundation’s Urban Resilience Summit in Singapore. The other three African cities that made the list alongside the Coal City of Enugu are Kigali (Rwanda), Accra (Ghana) and Arusha (Tanzania).
The choice of Enugu was predicated on the spectacular transformation the city has undergone in the past seven years under the administration of Governor Sullivan Chime. This was an addition to numerous national and international recognitions that have been bestowed on Enugu State since Chime’s administration.
The organisers of the network said that Enugu was chosen from 331 applicants on the basis of its ability to “demonstrate a unique vision for resilience, a long-term commitment to cutting across silos of government and sectors of society, a special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable”.
A letter conveying news of Enugu’s selection and signed by Michael Berkowitz, President, 100 Resilient Cities read in part,“ Today is an exciting day. Today is the day you join a community of resilience pioneers. This year, 331 cities from more than 90 countries applied to the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. Among these hundreds of cities, your city’s innovative approach to urban resilience and your commitment to a collaborative partnership within your community and 100 Resilient Cities was deemed exceptional. It is for these reasons, among others, that Enugu has been selected as one of the 100 Resilient Cities”.
The Foundation stressed that Enugu like other Network cities will serve as a model for other global cities that seek to build their own resilience.
According to the foundation, this second wave of cities will join 32 cities that won last year’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, forming a growing network of urban centers around the world that are ready to respond to the social, economic and physical shocks and stresses that are a growing part of the 21st century.
Other renowned cities of the world invited to join the list in the 2014 edition include Athens, Barcelona, London, Paris, Boston, Chicago, Amman, Sydney and Singapore.
Many believe that with the glaring success of Governor Chime’s administration that is recognized even globally, it will be an uphill task for any other party to beat the PDP in the coming election in Enugu.
Governor Chime has successfully turned Enugu state, not only as an enviable city and investment destination but also as a veritable choice for family settlement for both indigenes and non indigenes. The thinking in many quarters is that the avalanche of Chime’s achievements speaks for itself. Those in this school of thought argue that one good thing in all these is the obvious and commendable fact is that Chime never lost focus or got distracted in his service delivery to the people.
As his tenure draws to a close, the question in the minds of Enugu people is: Who will step into the big shoe Sullivan Chime is about to leave behind? Many believe that the Choice of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as a popular candidate by the PDP National Executive Council seems to have put paid to the question given the few dissenting voices to his candidacy.
A corporate lawyer, Chief Kieran Enechi captured Chime’s success in Enugu State thus:
“Something beautiful has happened in Enugu in the past seven years and is continuing. The man on the saddle undoubtedly, has brought the actual delivery of democratic dividends, home, to the constituent parts of Enugu.
“A clear departure from the frenzied rhetoric of yesterday. This is a natural progression in the growth process of our democratic practice and the people of Enugu are glowing with joy, especially, the ordinary man in the street.
“I remember the enthusiasm in the voice of a commercial cab operator I boarded while on a private visit to Enugu sometime ago.
“Anyi eji gi kwa Governor Anyi achi ochi(we do not joke with our governor)” he enthused at a juncture in discussion. “Upon further enquiry on why they hold him so dear as to bring out a unique ring of passion in his voice, he explained that the people of his station never realized governing has the capacity to undertake transformational infrastructural developments as witnessed since the coming of Sullivan Chime’s administration.
“The changes in Enugu state now are beautiful and indeed, rare. The evenness of its distribution; the rapidity of focused completion, recommend Enugu as first among equals in that top class of four performing states. What accentuates the rarity is that Enugu State government is quiet about these positive developments, rather directing its steam on target completion dates for more and more projects for public good.
“I call this, the Enugu state example. It is shinning for all to see upon a passing visit. Expectedly, the mind behind this unique kind of leadership direction will necessarily be imbued with a keen sense of fairness and good conscience. “A fall out of this matured approach from leadership heights was the pronouncement on zoning and rotation of elective positions. As you know, this was widely received by a grateful and overwhelming majority of Enugu people across sections but not so for a few with certain interest.
“We can safely situate the current political developments in Enugu State against this backdrop especially after the emergence of the obvious popular candidacy of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as PDP consensus candidate and inevitable possessor of the onerous, challenging legacies of Barr. Chime’s administration.
“Another springboard for the current developments was the Governor’s wise decision to yield to the yearnings of his constituents to be of further good use to the people of Enugu in a strategic electable platform in the coming dispensation”.
Not a few insist that judging by the achievements of the PDP in the last seven years in the state, it will be a herculean task to any other party to dislodge it from the ensuing power struggle. Political observers argue that the APC which appears to be the main opposition party in the state lacks the requisite popularity to make any meaningful impact in the governorship election.
Many equally agree that one of the Unique Selling Points of the PDP-led administration in Enugu is in securing the lives and property of the residents. Anybody who has visited Enugu would easily attest to the fact that the Coal city state is the most secure in the South East, if not Nigeria. Since Chime came onboard, night life has fully come back in Enugu following the effort in the security network in the state.