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Beyond Ugwuanyi’s re-election

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…You can hazard a guess – the second tenure may be fraught with surprises

By Prof. Chike Anibeze

Perhaps, the declaration of Ugwuanyi as re-elected governor of Enugu state may not have come to anyone as a surprise.


The sign-posts have been clear in the horizon. These were demonstrated through the wave of overwhelming support that characterized the mood of the inhabitants of Enugu State prior to the elections.

Rallying support for political ambition has been a cardinal aspect of the political process. This has been key to the success of political office holders the world over. Most often these rallies are initiated, sponsored and organized by the political office seekers or their cronies. There are also those organised by those who genuinely feel that the beneficiaries have earned their support.

In Enugu State the rallies for support for the governor’s re-election started in the midterm of his first tenure. The genesis of these support rallies appeared not to have been initiated by the governor.   Many groups who perceived that they have gained something from the governor began to stage solidarity shows in support of the governor who is popularly and fondly referred to as ‘Gburugburu’.

The rallies subsequently blossomed into community shows where people used the opportunity to present their needs to the governor. Soon, the political NGOs took the stage and all groups of imaginable coinages took their turns to see the governor.   One thing the governor has in abundance is the patience to receive these groups no matter how insignificant their value may seem.

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Hence, the rallies to support the Enugu State Governor took the widest imaginable dimension. Groups of all varied conjectures took their turns to support the man they perceived has, arguably, been the greatest personality to occupy the Lion Building since the great Michael Iheonukara Okpara.

The list appeared endless, reflecting a juxtaposition of the serious and unserious, the professional and non-professional, cutting across local government areas, Market traders, artisans, professional associations, the academia, students, etc.

Some of the groups featured some rag-tag street urchins, frail looking plebeians and individuals in the lowest rung of society. All the groups have one thing in common and that is: ‘Governor Ugwuanyi’s performance in governance merits a second tenure’.

With this kind of overwhelming support one had wondered why the Governor seemed willing to constantly oblige the unending invitations for these group rallies that have gone down to unimaginable   levels.

But the deft political moves of the governor at that time have now manifested with the announcement of the governorship election results. Of the 22 states so far declared, Governor Ugwuanyi has won with the widest percentage margin to his closest contestant. Pundits had earlier predicted that Governor Ugwuanyi would record massive victory. It so happened.

Now that he has firmly secured his second tenure, Governor Ugwuanyi must begin to adroitly reflect on what will constitute the development platforms for Enugu state. A platform that will give him a place in history as a true leader of his people. He must revisit the definition and characteristics of leadership in line with the yearnings of the people of Enugu state.

Defining leadership can be as varied as the diverse lines to which individuals follow to achieve success but what is clear is that in a collective enterprise once success is being achieved then the leadership of that enterprise could be adjudged to be on the right path. In this regard, John C Maxwell’s definition approximates a leader. Said he:‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way’. Some of the qualities of a leader have been agreed to include honesty, integrity, confidence, commitment, quick-minded, accountability, reliability, creativity and ability to inspire others for system sustainability.

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Now, in the Nigerian political landscape, hardly anyone qualifies as a true leader with these distinctive qualities. For Governor Ugwuanyi, in truth he may not have been exceptional in performance when placed in the garb of the Okparas but one thing he has done better than all politicians is to galvanize all feuding entities into a peaceful coalition. Perhaps, this was necessary in the state at the time judging by the fierce level of political hatred and bigotry pervading its landscape. He has also galvanized the work force through regular salaries and bonuses.

Now is the time to go a step further and make a date with history. Individual pacification and empowerment are hardly remembered in history. Great leaders are those who rose beyond the threshold of persons-centered thinking to community-empowerment thinking. Truth be told, some radical development government strategies that will benefit all may often come in conflict with individual interests.  If the governor ignores this and decides on a macabar dance of individual drummers which may seek to undermine the collective good then he will certainly receive severe bashing from history.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has the credentials to lift the state. Some proactive steps he has taken point to this fact. Some of those steps have not been pursued to conclusions apparently because of shift in focus to secure a second term bid. Now is the time to revisit those steps and choose wise lieutenants to help in achieving the goal. The governor must understand that success in individual enterprise does not necessarily translate to success in collective governance. Otherwise world leaders would be dominated by the Gates, Dangotes etc. He must surround himself with men and women with the requisite ideas and passion to take the state to a new level while creating the enabling environment the individual business moguls and investors need to thrive in the state.

The unfolding scenarios of the present circumstances in Nigeria are indicative of the necessity of any true leader of his people to pay attention to education. Here we must distinguish between the educated persons and the many persons carrying certificates which they cannot defend. The rot in the society has permeated every aspect of our national life and education is not spared. It becomes worrisome to continue to allow the rot in factory mill that churns out poorly educated leaders of tomorrow.

Despite the utterances of political acolytes and sycophants, in truth, Ugwuanyi has been described by many in varied bizarre forms. Some say he is cunning and shrewd, that he is introversive with his policies and actions, while others believe his character cannot easily be discernible. A man of mercurial temperament and multifaceted personality, Ugwuanyi creates contradictory impressions.   However, one common consensus appears to be his love for his people and his realization that he is governing a people with a greater percentage of the poor who are shielded from the gains of power.

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History of some great leaders has shown some similarity. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a leader who had the greater impact on twentieth century America and the world than any other leader. Perhaps, the only quality attributed to the success of FDR which is uncommon among statesmen is his genuine affection for people and an intuitive sense of their feelings and ideas. His complexity of character baffled observers. His speech writer described him as ‘….a man of infinite subtlety and obscurity-an artful dodger who could not be pinned down on specific points’. Certainly this appears to be a bizarre description for a towering personality who dominated the world of his time.

Rollover Roosevelt enter Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. His first tenure was structured in building platforms whose direction is not discernible to the ordinary eye. He has brought back some politicians who many thought have retired from the game. Close confidants of his can only hazard a guess – the second tenure may be fraught with a lot of surprises.  In whatever way these surprises may begin to unfold, in whatever direction they will go, Governor Ugwuanyi certainly has a date with history.

Chike Anibeze,  PhD (Nig), FECAN, FRSB (Lond)

Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology

Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences

ESUT College of Medicine, Parklane. Enugu.


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