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2023 : Why Enugu matters to Igbo, by Emmanuel Onwubiko

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 2023 Why Enugu matters to Igbo by Emmanuel Onwubiko
Enugu

 

“There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament.” – Henry Van Dyke

 

“Charisma is a sparkle in people that money can’t buy. It’s an invisible energy with visible effects.” – Marianne Williamson.

In African cosmology certain natural events when they do occur and coincide with some other human events that closely relate to these natural phenomena, they are actually given concise interpretations as symbolisms of the texture, colour and success story or otherwise of a future event. Africans and by extension Nigerians are a people rich in spirituality and symbolisms.

For instance, if rain suddenly falls in the dry season whilst a foundation for a building project is been laid, it can be interpreted to mean that the building will come with lots of divine blessings and every good things that symbolise harmony and peace in the for the home owner.

The above can be said to be exactly what transpired just few months ago before the ruling political party in Enugu State- the Peoples Democratic Party elected by popular votes around July 2022, the flagbearer of the party in the coming governorship election in Enugu State which will take place in the first quarter of next year.

The party’s primary coincided with the discovery of huge gas deposits in Enugu State under the administration if Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Other political parties of significance conducted theirs soon thereafter.

But first, why does Enugu matters to the over 60 million Igbo speaking citizens of Nigeria? Enugu matters a lot to the Igbos because of its political status right from the earliest political epochs in the early 60s soon after the Country gained flag independence from Britain.

Enugu was the capital of the defunct Eastern region of the then political era just before States were created much more widely to knock off the regional composition of Nigeria.

Enugu still matters to Eastern people and especially to Ndigbo because it is generally known to be hospitable, peaceful, relatively crime free and well urbanised. Most Igbo people of means enjoy bragging right that they own a retirement home in Enugu State. Enugu is also naturally beautiful given its unique topography. Enugu is rich in mineral deposits such as Coal and Enugu has the only International Airport East of the Niger named after Chief Akannu Ibiam who was the regional governor General of Eastern region in the 60s and who forfeited his British Knigthood to the late Queen Elizabeth II for the ignominious role the British played in the unresolved genocides that happened during the civil war in the mid sixties.

And so the political health of Enugu State does not just bother natives of the geographical area known today as Enugu but to millions of Igbo speaking natives wherever they are found globally. Enugu bu nke anyi- Enugu is ours.

The discovery of the gas deposits which are still being assessed scientifically to determine the viability or otherwise in terms of the commercial value, got millions of Igbo people fascinated with this piece of news just as they are following up on the developments around the electioneering campaigns happening in Enugu beginning with the primaries of the political parties.

More significantly, this analyst is thrilled that the discovery of the gas deposit in Enugu happened in June just few weeks before political parties began their primary election and the result of one of the party primary elections manifested a cosmological coincidence which we will discuss as we flow along and then we conclude by looking at what is good for Enugu as long as the governorship of that state is concerned and we will do that by selecting what we consider to be the most important statements of intents by the candidates and our attention will focus exclusively on who we regard as the best of the bunch amongst those canvassing for votes to govern the most significant Igbo State in Nigeria of the 21st century.

And so few weeks after gas deposits sparked a fire at the Caritas University in Enugu, the Federal Government and stakeholders met to seek leeway to environmental issues and possibilities of hydrocarbons in the state.

The discovery of these mineral resources was totally unexpected just as the emergence of the quiet, calm and calculated Mr. Peter Mbah as the governorship candidate even as this gentleman is a big player in the Oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

What other sign can be much more symbolic than this that the candidate of the best performing political party who is in the Oil and Gas industry came about the same time that Gas deposits were found in Enugu State?

The media reported that in an attempt to drill for water, contractors at the university had encountered gas deposits leading to a fire outbreak that lasted for days.

While the university, the state government, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and other stakeholders battled to halt the fire and close the well, the stakeholders said that a series of investigations, including activities that might result in hydrocarbon prospectivity might commence in the area.

Enugu State has been seeking to be recognised as an oil-producing state. While Kogi State, which bordered the Coal City state was recently named an oil-producing state, Representative of Enugu North Senatorial District, Chukwuma Utazi, raised the over the exclusion of his state from the oil-producing states.

He was reacting to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission’s (RMAFC) recent declaration of Kogi and Anambra states as oil-producing states, insisting that OPL 915 and 916 in the Anambra Basin belonged to Enugu State.

Coming at a time when the Federal Government already reserved 30 per cent of the oil profit that comes from Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) production sharing contracts, risk and service contracts and the likes to explore oil, NUPRC said in Enugu yesterday that the Federal Government was already collecting necessary data at the site.

NUPRC Chief Executive noted that although there are possibilities that the gas deposit is only on a surface level because the fire at the university had gone off by itself, investigation and data collection are being expedited to enable the commission to reach a meaningful conclusion.

Represented by Owerri Zonal Coordinator of NUPRC, Enorense Amadasu, he said a series of data collection, analysis and production processes would be required, making it impossible for the commission to reach a quick conclusion at the site.

He disclosed that the incident at the site did not occur as a result of a gas pipeline leak, adding that no pipeline passes through the area.

The governor of the State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, noted necessary steps had been taken to ensure that the environment where the gas fire erupted was safe.

Represented by the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Greg Nnaji, the governor said the roles played by the stakeholders, especially the school and the NUPRC, must be commended.

Speaking at the press conference, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the school, Prof. Micheal Orji noted that the cost of shutting the well and cleaning up the university is yet to be quantified.

He revealed that the fire had gone off by itself while stakeholders were still meeting to find a lasting solution, a development, which he described as a miracle.

Orji said while the school is still going ahead to explore for water, the development meant that serious work would be done to avert the reoccurrence of such a situation.

“We are going to do a lot of seismic studies to be able to get clearer pictures. When that is done, a lot of information will be generated as to the technical environment which then perhaps will provide a direction,” Orji said.

He noted that the school is now working collaboratively with NUPRC to determine whether the deposit of hydrocarbons in the area is viable.

Around July this year soon after the primary, whilst addressing party members and supporters, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, who is a former National Chairman of the PDP, expressed confidence that the candidacy of Mbah and his vision for the state, Enugu would make tremendous progress in technology, infrastructure, development and beyond.

Describing Mbah “as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) compliant and an enabler of fourth and fifth industrial revolutions,” Nwodo promised to rally the people to vote for the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer.

He further stressed that the local council would queue behind Mbah by giving him maximum support in the election.

“We all know the position of our great party, PDP, in Enugu. Since we formed the party in 1998, we all know that from council to the house of assembly elections, national assembly, governorship and presidential elections, Enugu has been emerging victorious with 100 per cent in all elective positions.

“We are praying to God that the victories will be replicated in the forthcoming 2023 elections. PDP has solved our problems and it will continue to solve our challenges in the near future. We thank God for these our children, Mbah and Ossai, who has been elected as the PDP governorship and deputy governorship candidates, respectively,” Nwodo added.

This analyst has gone through the statements made to the media by the candidates of the Labour Party Mr.Chijioke Edeoga, All Progressives Congress Chief Uche Nnaji, All Progressives Grand Alliance which has Frank Nweke as candidate.

So much of their public statements so far have revolved around seeking to explain why they are better than the party that rules Enugu State. The only exception is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party Peter Mbah who has not spent any time in the media running down the other co-contestants but has focused exclusively on what he has to give to Enugu State to ensure good governance.

So we will pay more attention to what he has to say and then we reflect what he has said so far to why Enugu matters to all Igbo people Worldwide.

The gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2023 general elections, Barr. Peter Mbah, has said that he emerged as the candidate of the party on the principle of justice, equity and fairness.

Mbah, who spoke when the members of Enugu North Traditional Rulers Council endorsed him on Tuesday, at Adada House, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, said that his leadership would be guided by those principles when he emerge the governor of the state in 2023.

He pledged to partner the traditional rulers in his administration’s development plans, adding that the blueprint for the development programmes was centered around the people.

“What you have demonstrated today by endorsing and praying for me is that you are a just and fair-minded traditional rulers. Posterity would not forget this day. I want to assure you that this decision would translate to a monumental development across all parts of the state.

“We would make Enugu North Senatorial District the preferred destination for tourism in the entire Africa. The reason is that with the kind of topography in this District, there is no way anyone from this continent would go to any other place other than Enugu North for tourism. We hope to attract over 3,000,000 visitors to this District on tourism. For this to happen, we must have the key infrastructure; we must construct roads, provide water and electricity,” he said.

He equally pledged to provide job opportunities through agriculture to tackle the issue of insecurity in the state.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers council, HRH,

Igwe Simeon Itodo, the grand patron of the council, said the traditional staff given to Mbah was a as mark of victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state.

He said the council gave Senator Chimaroke Nnamani the staff and he became governor of Enugu State in 1999 and equally gave Chief Sullivan Chime and he emerged governor of the state in 2007.

“The council also gave the staff to Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and he was elected governor in 2015,” the royal father also said.

He also said “As royal fathers, we screen and screen candidates in our own method before presenting this staff of office to a guber candidate in the state.

“All the guber candidates we gave this staff in Enugu State in the past were victorious, you will also be victorious in 2023 as we have blessed you and given you this staff,” he said.

In an interview with newsmen, Vita Abba, PDP candidate for Nsukka/Igbo-Eze-South Federal Constituency in 2023 said that traditional rulers endorsement for the guber candidate would result in his victory.

“We are happy that traditional rulers in Enugu North District gave Mbah staff as mark of support and victory for his governorship ambition in 2023.

“This means a lot to us as members of PDP in Enugu North Senatorial District as well as in Enugu State,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd and Enugu State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah has said that the only way Nigeria could navigate out of its current multifaceted ordeals was through the right leadership in all the strata of the society.

Mbah, who disclosed this at the weekend, while delivering a lecture as guest speaker at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, bemoaned the state of the nation as discouraging to the youths.

He stressed that security challenge, high crime rate and the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian University were products of bad leadership in the country.

Speaking on the theme of the annual lecture series: “Leadership in Modern Times: Youths Bridging the Gap,” organised by the Medical Research and Humanitarian Society (MEDRHUS), University of Nigeria, Mbah expressed confidence that only the right leadership would put Nigeria back to track by harnessing the huge potentials of the nation’s youths to build a country of their dream.

“Good leadership should not only be about leadership traits, or visionary nature, but also about the ability of the leader to convey his vision and most of all, about his ability to carry his team through the motion of moving from their current state, to achieving their envisioned state.

“The test of leadership is the management of the journey and the dynamics of carrying the team along to the final objective,” he noted.

According to Mbah, Africa was still battling with the kind of leadership model its colonial masters bequeathed on it which he described as – heroic leadership complex – where leaders wanted to be worshipped as heroes rather than seeing themselves as servants of the people they’re representing.

This, he said, had led to the collapse of leadership in Nigeria where youths are now at the receiving end.

“The collapse of leadership in Africa has had a reverberating effect on youths of the continent. Nigeria for example reflects this collapse in the different malaises suffered by the youths.

“For instance, the level of nepotism that is currently in the country, the collapse of security, the menace of students staying at home for upwards of seven months simply due to the inability of government and the lecturers’ union to come to an accord on issues of funding of universities have a linkage to this collapse.

“More significantly is the fear that the Nigerian economy can go bankrupt if no urgent steps are taken to halt the decline,” he observed.

While looking at the dire implication of the leadership failure on the country, the 2023 governorship hopeful said youths, the most valuable resources are leaving Nigeria in droves in search of greener pasture abroad which he said is termed as ‘japa’ often had such desperate youths journeying through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe and ending in disappointments and calamities.

Well, public campaigns have just started on September 28th 2022 and it is the expectation of Igbo people that the rest of the governorship candidates of the other political parties should begin to tell Enugu voters what they have as workable blueprints to advance their economic wellbeing and maintain stability and peace for greater economic growth. They need to do quick catch-up with the phase of the governorship candidate of the PDP Peter Mbah.

These other candidates need to learn from the Enugu State Candidate of the PDP Peter Mbah and engage in constructive debates on plan of actions for Enugu State because Enugu matters so much to all Igbo speaking people and must get the best to take over from the current governor of Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has won many national and international accolades as a leader who cherishes Peace and stability of Enugu State and the only serving governor who wears his State as a badge of honour in his immaculate white cap with the inscription of the word ENUGU creatively written in Green colour. Enugu voters need to elect a charismatic leader to succeed their genuinely charismatic governor in the person of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

 

* EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and one time National commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

the sun newspaper today

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