At the last count, there were at least 18 aspirants to the Lion Building, the governorship seat of Enugu State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), namely former Deputy Senate President – Chief Ike Ekweremadu; Bishop Ralph Nwonye, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Capt. Everest Nnaji, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, Hon. Chijoke Edeoga, Dr. Josef-Ken Onoh, Mr. Godwin Ogenyi, Pastor Beloved Dan Anike, Engr. Erasmus Anike, Senator Gil Nnaji, Mr. Peter Mba, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, Dr. Abraham Nneji, Hon. Offor Chukwuegbo, Prince Gilbert Chukwunta, Prof. Jehu Nnaji, and Prof. Hillary Edeoga. For the PDP, this translates to about N399 million raked in from sale of nomination and expression of interest forms.
Whereas such an array of aspirants should ordinarily be exciting, something isn’t sitting right. None of the aspirants, except Ekweremadu, has presented any manifesto to Ndi-Enugu. He presented his agenda, “Pathway to a New Enugu State,” at a consultative meeting with the media earlier in March this year.
Going through the booklet, the lawmaker promises industrialization through the building of at least two industries in each of the 17 local government areas in four years and by embarking on what he called “One Local government One Product” according to comparative advantages.
He promises to reduce youth unemployment by 70% in four years, create jobs for our young men and women in tourism, agriculture, entertainment industry, ICT, etc., and create an enabling environment for the youth to thrive in the private sector.
Regarding road infrastructure, Ekweremadu promises to build super highways from Enugu city centre to Enugu’s border states as well as construct a ring road to connect all local governments in the state, which he said he had started as a lawmaker through the road projects he attracted across the three senatorial districts.
On good governance, he pledges to ensure equal treatment to all, open and consultative governance, independent and efficient legislature and judiciary, ensure 24/7 service provision through well-designed e-government, zero interference with local government funds, and prompt payment of salaries and retirement benefits to reduce corruption.
On security, Ekweremadu offers to provide a digital security network, set up an efficient state-funded security outfit that can respond to an emergency in 10 minutes, create an Enugu State Identity Database, and set up Security and Public Safety Coordination Centre.
The senator promises to build dams and rehabilitate existing water sources, pipelines, and other infrastructure to ensure that water scarcity becomes a thing of the past in Enugu. Also, he promises to expand the coverage of Enugu West Water for All.
He promises health reforms, including ensuring that there is a functional and well-manned primary healthcare facility for every community, secondary healthcare facility for every local government, whiles the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital is to be transformed into a world-class tertiary healthcare facility.
On energy, he promises to extend electricity supply to every home and restore vandalized lines, secure Enugu’s electricity lines and infrastructure going forward, embark on large-scale renewable energy and provide mini grids for remote communities. Regarding agriculture, he commits to promoting the production of crops of high demand in the international market, providing livestock agriculture, creating access to funds for farmers, and the local production of farm inputs like fertilizers, seedlings and agro-chemicals. These will make farming attractive, especially to the youths.
Going by what Ekweremadu was able to do in the three senatorial districts of the state and beyond as just a lawmaker and going by the experience, contacts, and exposure he has garnered over the years from the local to international levels, he no doubt stands a good chance to deliver on these promises.
However, the issue here is not even his capacity to deliver, but the fact that, unlike others, he has publicly tabled a blueprint by which his aspiration can be weighed. Also, Ndi-Enugu can have something with which to benchmark him if elected.
Conversely and unfortunately, other aspirants appear to be banking on the hope of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s anointment and the highly controversial “It’s our turn argument” even when the governorship position has rotated around the three senatorial districts.
Upon interaction with a handful of other aspirants on why they’re yet to present any programme/agenda, the usual answer is that they are waiting for Governor Ugwuanyi to anoint his successor.
Even by the most elementary definition, a leader is someone who can see how things can be improved upon and who rallies people to move toward that vision by inspiring passion and motivation in them. Let’s even assume that it’s Ugwuanyi’s prerogative to solely anoint and commission his successor or that the next governor must come from a certain area or that Ugwuanyi has done so well that his legacies must be sustained, does it obviate the onus on an aspirant to a serious office as that of a Governor to envision where he or she is taking Ndi-Enugu to and how he or she intends to get them there? Worse, in the absence of contestations and comparisons of visions, it simply means Ugwuanyi will anoint his successor based on “loyalty” to him, not capacity and vision. Ironically, the loyal lackey syndrome has neither paid the godfathers nor the people.
Seemingly, Enugu is travelling the same road as it did in 2015 when Ugwuanyi only promised “seamless continuity”, which though high-sounding, was amorphous and lacking in specifics. Thus, last inauguration, those elected to govern Enugu conveniently outsourced it to the “hands of God”. So, when the people complain that the streetlights installed by Sullivan Chime have gone blind; that refuse dot the city’s landscape; that water taps, which used to run in few places have finally run dry; that insecurity has resurged; and that Enugu city roads are now impassable, just ask them what did Ugwuanyi promise them in 2015? They will go dumb.
Don’t get me wrong; every human society and authority is under God, no doubt. But it doesn’t mean that a leader should outsource his responsibilities presumably to God. After all, it isn’t God that superintends over the state’s monthly allocation or manages the multi-billion naira security votes or makes critical appointments. It’s not for God to draft visionary executive bills that will transform Enugu State or ensure the welfare and security of citizens. USA, China, Asian Tigers, Europe, etc., are not prayer warriors like us, yet, they prosper because they are intentional in their choice of leaders. They put their affairs in the hands of visionary leaders, who take responsibility.
Oluka writes from Enugu via [email protected]