By Marcus Aligwe
The question of who succeeds Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2023 has dominated political discussions in Enugu State and beyond.
Reasons for the attention it has gained stem from the fact that Enugu is the political hub of not just the present South-East geopolitical zone, but also the epicenter of Nigeria’s third leg of the tripod.
Since 1999, the state has been blessed with smooth electoral processes unlike other some other states whose cantankerous electioneering had severally put them as flashpoints.
Peaceful politics in the state could be traced to the state’s torturous past when it headed the fight for the liberation of Wawa people from the clutches of its southern Igbo brothers.
One of the heroes of Wawa liberation movement, Chief Enechi Onyia (SAN), in one of his accounts of the horrific road to the creation of Enugu State, gave a graphic account of how it was a taboo to ask for liberation.
Perhaps, having come that far from a background of a chequered past, the state needed all the peace to catch up with not just human capital development in comparison with its sister states, but also infrastructural equilibrium. No wonder since 1999, Enugu State has experienced smooth transitions from one governor to the other.
One of the cardinal principles that have safeguarded peaceful transitions in the state is the principle of rotation among the three senatorial districts of the state. It is an unwritten agreement but a convention willingly submitted into by the sages who understood the diversity of the people of Enugu State and how cohesion could be built to accelerate development in every part.
Unfortunately, the rotation treaty has today been made a subject of scrutiny. Individuals now have the boldness, and probably the finance to stand up and challenge their Chi like little Nza bird did after an elaborate feast.
It is said that those whose palm kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble, so it should be for any politician who in the recent day Enugu State has acquired much wealth or connection to the extent that now feels that he can challenge his Chi to wrestling combat in other to truncate his foundation.
It is time for Enugu people to be wiser and insist on rotation which has done the people a lot good in the past 21 years.
Maintaining rotation of governorship in the state is a task that should be upheld, but requires eyes beyond the façade of the ordinary to select the best man for the time.
Enugu East Senatorial zone, which unarguably should produce Ugwuanyi’s successor in 2023, has many new kids on the block. Among them conspicuously stands out a man of the moment, the rave master and one with inherent love, push and passion for the old and new order in the state, Dr. Josef Umunnakwe Onoh.
God knows why he chose that accomplishments should be made at young ages, such as in Jesus Christ, Bob Nesta Marley, Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr, just to name a few. Young Josef Onoh, has proved with the little opportunity offered to him by the Ugwuanyi administration that if given a bigger task, the state would be returned to one of the resilient and growth.
Unlike the biblical prophet without honour in his country, Onoh has people he has crossed paths with in his bid to sanitize the Enugu Capital Territory, but it takes an eagle eye to make an in-depth appraisal of a job such as his. For me, Onoh represents the new Enugu, not trapped with vestiges of background baggage, but born, nurtured and armed with strong leadership traits.
Issues in the recent time have showcased Onoh as the true son of his father, the Aninefungwu himself, meaning that the land that grows a great tree will always produce great trees, and so has the Onohs continued to regenerate in Enugu State which the young Josef has continued in the footpath.
If there was anything Architect J.J Emejulu did without knowing, it was the affirmation of Onoh as a brutal enforcer of compliance to law and order. Whereas outrage trailed Emejulu’s demolition of a federal government asset at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, little did people know that Onoh’s office had long found Emejulu’s property deficient alongside other properties in the axis and had already secured a court order against the property. In Onoh, Emejulu met his match and if Emejulu was a gangster, Onoh was the Al Capone.
Young Onoh’s enforcement of capital territory regulation is no doubt a modern-day replication of his father, Chief C.C. Onoh’s objection to the inglorious dichotomy and segregation and discrimination against the Wawas by the southern Igbo. The late C.C restored the dignity of Wawaman in Igboland.
In every single form, Enugu State should not be looking for another person to succeed Governor Ugwuanyi other than the man who has helped the administration sanitise the state.
His late father occupied Enugu Lion Building 30 years ago. Who knows if the young Onoh would be the one that will complete the dream that the military junta aborted?
The way his father had protected Enugu and indeed Wawaland, has continued to reecho in his enforcement of sanity and preservation of Enugu heritage. I, therefore, give my vote to Onoh as Enugu State governor in 2023.
Aligwe, a retired principal, writes from Okpanku, Enugu State.