By Chuks Ugwoke
THE December 5, 2009 Local Government elections in Enugu State proved in practical terms that in truth, the only magic wand in a democracy is good governance. What spices it all is consultation.
On that day, the regime of Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime scored another first as having organized the first election involving sitting Council chairmen. But in a State whose Governor detests to celebrate his own accomplishments, the people, irrespective of political leanings, have continued to appreciate the transformation of the Coal City State .
However, the impact and implications of such monumental changes were not lost on the populace, as shown in the polls. Out of the 17 Local Government councils in Enugu State , ten Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship candidates were returned unopposed. In a similar vein, 239 out of 260 councillorship candidates had no candidates except the ruling party.
Yet, Governor Chime did the unimaginable: he led the campaign teams that visited all the Councils on campaign/thank you tours. â€œItâ€™s an opportunity for us to touch base with our people, to visit them and thank them for their support to both the Councils and the State Government.â€
Wherever the train stopped, it was an amazing carnival throughout the week-long tour which saw numerous opposition leaders decamping to PDP and even contestants in the December 5 polls publicly withdrawing from the race in deference to the good governance in the State.
For the people, it was time to repay Chime and his team the good gestures they have been lavishing on the people; it was the right moment to show that good governance pays. It was, indeed, the triumph of good governance and widespread consultation that went beyond parochial party lines to apolitical stakeholders and leaders of different wards and Councils.
To underscore the peaceful atmosphere and the fairness that produced the widely-accepted results, different Statesâ€™ Independent Electoral Commission officers who came to observe the exercise, expressed deep pleasure with the conduct and pledged to adopt the Enugu style in their distinct states.
And to be fair to Enugu-based journalists, many of them had accurate reports of the elections. But what amazed all of who are part and parcel of this profession was the concoction of falsehood that there were electoral irregularities in Igbo-Eze South Council by one of the national newspapers on Saturday, December 12, 2009.
Of course, the said newspaper has a reputation for insisting on the best journalism practices. So, it was a simple case of one employee relying on information passed on to him by a loser.
Incidentally, Igbo-Eze South which he singled out for deliberate mischief happens to be my Local Government of origin. And while I was physically there throughout the period of the elections, the said reporter who was not in the place preferred to rely on the story as told by an interested party.
Well, he simply decided to turn a deaf ear to the counsel of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger that â€œjournalismâ€™s ultimate purpose (is) to inform the reader, to bring him each day a letter from home and never to permit the serving of special interest.â€
Hear my professional colleague: â€œBut analysts are worried about the election and its aftermath which to them are signs that real democracy is yet to take root in the polity. They wonder how only one party could sweep all the positions without conceding one to the opposition.â€
Are political positions conceded in an election to opposition parties, just to give an impression that there was a contest? Or do parties and their candidates take their campaigns to the electorate to convince them and be voted into power?
Now, for purposes of argument, let us take into consideration the case of Igbo-Eze South which was the only one picked out by the reporter. Out of 16 councillorship seats, PPA contested in only two wards and had a chairmanship candidate. Where and when did these pretenders campaign when Governor Chime himself led a strong field to Ibagwa-Aka to flag off the Council campaigns and the PDP flag bearer, Hon Chris Omeje toured all the wards?
We were all witnesses to the fact that though the opposition, for fear of the obvious, had exploited every avenue to disrupt the distribution of election materials on December 5, 2009 at the Ibagwa-Aka Police Station, the said materials left in good time while the exercise ultimately and unsurprisingly produced Omeje for his second tenure in office after his inauguration with his colleagues in January, next year.
Ordinarily, one would not have bothered to respond to the impotent argument and sundry tissues of falsehood being disseminated by these desperate seekers of power and their compromised collaborators. Their analyses and the feeble efforts to sustain the unbelievable lies are their well-known resort to propaganda and lies in order to give a false impression to their sponsors and justify their colossal failure at the polls.
Even common sense would have informed these men that it is too early to heat up the polity because of 2010 polls. When the time comes, it will be for the good people of Enugu State to decide to vote for a performing incumbent or agents of destruction. Our people can no longer be hoodwinked!
Chuks Ugwoke is the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Enugu State