By Okenwa Cyril.
When the Prof. Humphrey Nwosu-led National Electoral Commission prior to 1993 general elections chose June 12, 1993 as the date for the presidential election, little or, at all did Nwosu and his men, and indeed all Nigerians know that an epochal date of political history had been marked in the calendar of Nigeria’s political life. After protracted but due consideration of the totality of the circumstances and fallouts of the annuled June 12, 1993 presidential election, the current federal government administration declared June 12 as the new Democracy Day in Nigeria, among other related considerations to immortalise the late Chief MKO Abiola who has gone down in history as the martyr of Democracy in Nigeria.
Democracy Day and the attendant celebrations and reflections offer us a solemn moment and definite opportunity to evaluate our Democracy as a catalyst in our national journey to the promised land. This year’s Democracy Day marking makes it the third thus far since this Buhari-led federal government changed it from May 29 to June 12, thus heeding to that elongated push and call by Nigerians, especially the Yorubas to that effect.
In this political dispensation, it is indeed gratifying to note that we’ve witnessed twenty two years of uninterrupted democracy. But the one million dollar question staring us as a people in the face is: Have we really deepened this democracy? And I reckon that the assertive answer is ‘no’. Unless we self-deceptively choose to hoodwink ourselves, the answer is ‘no’ to the degree that the principles of democracy are fragrantly abused in the country. The answer remains ‘no’ as long as democratic institutions are indiscriminately desecrated in our nation. The answer surely is ‘no’ to the extent that federal character principle is flouted in federal appointments especially in key and critical areas. The answer unfortunately remains ‘no’ as security of lives and property in practical terms is at its all-time lowest despite being enshrined in the constitution as the primary essence of government. ‘No’ surely is the answer in the face of severe threat to the corporate existence of the nation. It is a blatant ‘no’ to the extent avoidable sweeping, excruciating hunger and hardship grind the citizenry. The answer is an unavoidable ‘no’ to the extent the third arm of our governmental system, The Judiciary is justifiably disgruntled over its financial autonomy culminating into a nation-wide strike from April 6 to June 10 this year. Nigeria’s democracy remains a mirage until the flawed extant 1999 Constitution as amended is replaced with a people-oriented one that is born out of a robust framework of national constitutional conference. The answer to this yearning national question shall remain ‘no’ until the nation is diligently rescued from the precipice of collapse.
Despite the horrors of this time. Despite the heightening outcry. Despite the extent of the retardedness and callous deviation by the political class from the noble, progressive and prosperous path sacrificially charted by our founding fathers, there still remains a sprinkling of good and credible political leaders, and even potential ones; and we can find solace in the glimmer of hope they offer.
It is in view of this backdrop that the impulsive recognition to beam the spotlight on an outstanding leader and democrat of note, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, The Executive Governor of Enugu State, takes preeminence in this discourse going forward.
Taking a journey into the glorious and well-decorated world of Governor Ugwuanyi’s achievements, the spotlight focuses on his Peace heroics as we mark the edition of Democracy Day of a year in which our nation is faced with the monstrous challenges of a brewing war and variegated degrees and types of crises culminating into a rising crescendo of tension in the land. The situation and mood of the nation call for *peace mapping*. In so doing, attention should be shifted to apostles of peace.
*”Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 vs 9.*
His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Lawrence Ugwuanyi, The Executive Governor of Enugu State is a natural peace maker. His magic wand in peace-making, peace-building, peace delivery, peace sustenance and conflict management from the perspective of governance is provenly unrivaled.
No sooner than this charismatic Governor assumed office on May 29, 2015 did he put on his thinking cap to advance a paradigm that will guarantee organic peace, serenity and pervasive calmness within the Enugu geographical space. In this regard, Governor Ugwuanyi from the date of his oath of office, committed Enugu State into the ever-protective hands of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and, the awesome God of David.
Worthy of praise is his wisdom in taking cognizance of the fact that good governance is synonymous with peace. In furtherance of this, he adopted the *bipartisan approach to governance* early enough in his excellent initiative for entrenching *organic peace* in the state. I am convinced it is practical correctness to say that peace is natural in him and with him. I still vividly remember how he even before initial oath of office, intervened in a highly-tensed quarrel that broke out between his then outgoing predecessor and the State House of Assembly members. The then outgoing governor was coercively seeking the House’s approval for the collection of a humongous loan amount with very few days to leaving office. Ugwuanyi by then was the governor-elect awaiting swearing-in. The matter generated some heat. It took Ugwuanyi’s dexterous intervention to wade in and quench the fire still a governor-elect. A tough-skinned individual, or rather someone not given to peace-making might have stayed aloof relying on its technical correctness.
Governor Ugwuanyi in his administration’s six years journey so far, has built bridges across divides and camps in the state. He has dexterously reconciled sworn political enemies and extinguished the destructive fire of rival political blocs and dynasties in Enugu State. Also he has satisfactorily managed the herdsmen menace in most areas of the state, and brokered peace between the herdsmen and the host communities. Credit must be given to Governor Ugwuanyi for resolving the age-long conflict that rocked Oruku and Umuode communities in Nkanu East LGA. This landmark conciliation which was achieved last two years by His Excellency had defied a litany of earlier conciliations. The Governor has dutifully and resolutely ensured there is an aura of peace across Enugu State.
It was this trait in him that the PDP hierarchy in Wadata Plaza, Abuja saw and assigned him to lead the party’s delegation to conduct gubernatorial primary election for PDP ”warlords” in Ondo state last year. He embarked on the Ondo mission with nothing but victory in his mind. He arrived Ondo on the eve of the election and amazingly switched on the Diplomat in him. It is still unbelievable the impressive rhetorics and charisma he used on them respectively in making in-roads into their hearts for a shift in their hardstands. The candidates needed to go into the election with the spirit of sportsmanship. He took his time to address all and sundry. He was conscious of delivering a good conduct of primary election whose outcome would be acceptable to all. He masterfully controlled proceedings from the beginning to the end with a clear head, requisite vigour and manifest neutrality. And in the end, the delegation relying on the sterling leadership he provided, achieved the set objectives as it all ended in praises. Governor Ugwuanyi’s heroics in that Ondo assignment are still resonating in national political discussions. In a society that works; in a society that celebrates quality and competence when spotted, that Ondo delivery, his earlier sterling qualities and experience in the National Assembly, and his increasing catalogue of achievements as a governor, cumulatively are enough to provoke a clarion call to him to come and serve the nation as a president or vice president.
Unprecedented is the staggering volume of accolades, encomiums and awards pouring in from diverse quarters for His Excellency over his enviable Peace apostleship. Just to mention but a few, during the last Independece Day celebrations, he was inducted as the first Fellow of the Institute of Peace, Conflict and Development Studies (IPCDS) of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Enugu by the Board of the Institute in total agreement with the University Management. Also recently, the Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC), appointed His Excellency as a Global Peace Ambassador. Furthermore, on 23rd March, 2021 as Governor Ugwuanyi marked his 57th Birthday, Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) while presenting its birthday felicitation to the governor, lauded him ”for his untiring efforts in ensuring peace, national unity and economic prosperity”. They presented him with an award to that effect. Various other umbrellla associations of Northerners in Enugu as well as those of other parts of the country resident in Enugu are continually heaping unfettered praises and appreciation on Governor Ugwuanyi for deepening harmonious co-existence in the state through his accomodative governance style. Also, it is pertinent to note that the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E. A. Adeboye visited Enugu recently for a crusade and was full of praises for His Excellency’s Peace strides in Enugu state as well as his over-all myriad of achievements. On the 6th of this month(June), the continuous award-winning governor also emerged as the Champion Newspapers Most Outstanding Security and Peaceful Governor of the year 2020. The event was held in Lagos.
Severally and for a very long time now, Enugu State under Governor Ugwuanyi’s watch has been dubbed the most peaceful and safest state in Nigeria and this has no doubt increased the confidence of investors that have identified Enugu State as an investment destination.
Another index of Governor Ugwuanyi’s Peace posture is tolerance. Tolerance doubles also as an attribute of democracy thus, highlighting the connectivity between the two concepts. The governor in recognizing the place of freedom of speech & expression in modern democracy by his nature allows Ndi Enugu safe space, even to an excessive extent to raise critiques, thereby welcoming and noting every shade of opinion, and in the process, tolerating vilifications. He never feels pushed as a person. I feel there is more of his piety to it. His devoutness to God in the context of Nigerian politician remains a food for thought.
All these suffice to conclude no wonder even APC topnotch members from other states and from the presidency do not resist the impulse to pay glowing tributes to His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi, The Executive Governor of Enugu State each time they have a reason to visit Enugu. All the accolades are iron-cast testaments that Governor Ugwuanyi, Gburu Gburu as he is fondly called, is a *true democrat* and also, *an apostle of peace*.
In conclusion, as we despite the odds mark this year’s Democracy Day, let us as a people courageously look into the future with renewed zeal for our fatherland strengthened by God and inspired by the hope those like Ugwuanyi of Enugu state offer.
God bless Nigeria.
*OKENWA CYRIL is a public affairs analyst.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on our opinion page are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.