*Cash flow, appointments, rural projects top expectations of the people
*The future of the Coal City State politics also at stake
* Nsukka Minister likely to be possible under Buhari’s second term
Ex Rangers and Green Eagles captain and coach, Christian Chukwu has health challenges which landed him in a hospital at Enugu. Unfortunately there was no money to foot the hospital bill. Chukwu’s family members and his kindred in Nkanu could not raise money for his treatment. A situation that attracted questions from Nigerians on where and how Chukwu spent all the money he made as a top flight player and a first class coach in Nigeria for over three decades. Consequent upon the need to raise money for Chukwu’s treatment, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was called upon to rescue the situation and he did. Ugwuanyi who is so much in love with Nkanu people did not hesitate to release N2.5Million for the Ex Super Eagles handler’s treatment
The Enugu State Commissioner for Information Hon. Ogbuagu Anikwe explained that “When Chukwu’s health situation was brought to the attention of his employer – Rangers Management Corporation – he was rushed to one of the best medical facilities in Enugu where a team of five (5) specialists have been attending to him. The management of Rangers Management Corporation immediately deposited N200,000 with this health facility to begin his treatment. On hearing about his health condition, Gov. Ugwuanyi gave an additional N1.5million to the Commissioner for Youth and Sports to give to the family — in order to ensure that the football legend did not lack anything that the team of specialists may require to manage his condition The Governor has also given an additional N1million to the family when the doctors demanded for a further deposit, bringing the total amount disbursed by Gov. Ugwuanyi and the Rangers Management to the Chukwu family to N2.7million”
Observers say, Ugwuanyi may have released money based Chukwu’s eternal status as a football legend in Enugu State coupled with the fact that Chukwu is currently a serving staff of Enugu Rangers International Football Club. Be that as it may, the truth is that, people in Enugu always look and device means to get cash from Governor Ugwuanyi. Enugu, the Coal City State has a straight forward system of doing things. What the people in Enugu need mostly is cash flow from government quarters to enable them lay hands on money to spent. They are not interested in developing new things hence they have the money to spent.
From 1999 when democracy returned to Nigeria till date successive governments in Enugu State have practiced a system that guaranteed cash flow. Under Chimaroke Nnamani as Governor from 1999 – 2007 there was massive cash flow in Enugu. Chimaroke’s aides became millionaires if not billionaires overnight. Those who were connected with Chimaroke and his aides enjoyed great days smiling home with good cash on steady basis. Under Chimaroke some government officials were more like gods and lords of the gentiles that exercised dominion over their subjects with cash and authority.
Under the administration of Sullivan Chime as Governor 2007 -2015, the situation of cash flow got worse than ever. Governor Chime presided over the era of oil wind fall with heavy amount of money coming to Enugu State treasury on monthly basis but nothing to show for it. Top government officials at the State and Local Government levels were busy milking the State treasury amid hard bitting poverty, hunger, joblessness and diseases that are ravaging the lives of the people on a high rate. Only few Local Government chairmen under Chime made effort to use their location to tar roads, build classroom blocs and sink water boreholes. Others invested the money from the oil wind fall on private establishments.
Under Governor Ugwuanyi from 2015 till date, the cash flow in Enugu continued. The only different between Ugwuanyi and his predecessors is that the source of the cash flow is not as wide as it used to be. Ugwuanyi, unlike his predecessors succeeded to cage his aides from corrupt practices but that didn’t not address the issue of cash flow in Enugu. The apparent one party system situation in Enugu State is not unconnected to cash flow from a strong quarter into the hands of political gladiators in the State who are more interested in cash into their pockets than seeking opportunity to serve through opposition quarters.
Coming in for a second term, the people will as usual expect cash flow from Ugwuanyi and as such they will device all sort of means to make it happen. Politicians, Church leaders who never see bad things in political leaders no matter how poor they lead and other relevant stakeholders who ordinarily suppose to be champions of development will always device means to get cash from government quarters. The most unfortunate thing in Enugu is that the people don’t spend the cash on meaningful things like philanthropy to help the needy and establishments of businesses that can generate subsistence activities for the youth. The best they can do is to mount billboards here and there in singing praises to the Governor.
In addition to cash flow, the people also expect political appointments from Governor Ugwuanyi’s second missionary journey to the Lion Building. Expectations of appointment is normal in the system, but what makes the case of Enugu State a little bit different under Ugwuanyi is that old politicians who have attained retirement age are still welcome in the system. It is expected of the Governor to use the opportunity of the second tenure to red card some of the old politicians to pave the way for the younger ones to show case their talents. Good enough that it is another year of Local Government election in the State, so let there be open door for younger ones in the political space at the Coal City State.
Another major being expected from Ugwuanyi is execution of rule rural development projects. Rural dwellers in Enugu State are suffering from lack of access roads, lack of adequate water supply, lack of good classroom blocs for primary and secondary schools. lack of heath care services and lack of electricity supply. Some rural areas don’t even have electricity at all. Ill equiped hospitals still prevail in the villages across the State. The worst is insecurity in the rural areas owing to poor equipment of the police and the vigilant groups others wise known neighbourhood watch. A police station that lack money to fuel its patrol van cannot protect the people.
Most towns and villages are suffering from security lapses leading to rape cases and killings. There is serous security lapses in Enugu Ezike a densely populated town in Igbo North Local Government with over 30 large sized villages. The reported case of 18 years old girl who allegedly raced to raped to death at Imufu and the killing of four people at Isiugwu are clear evidence of lack of adequate security in Enugu Ezike. The police divisional headquarters in Enugu have to given more attention with more equipments to enable the men and officers live up to their billing of securing the people.
The Governor have to ensure a functional Local Government system by setting target to the presiding officers of the council failing which they have to be shown the exit door. What about the welfare of farmers? Agriculture is one area that needs massive improvement in Enugu State. There have to be means of encouraging people to go into agriculture such availability of soft loan, providing of fertiliser at affordable rate and patronising the local products by government itself. Take for instance in Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano mandated livestock farmers to rear Igbo cow with assurance that he will buy it.
Another challenge facing the Coal City State number one citizen is job creation. Last year he made good effort to train and empower the youth numbering 750 with skill acquisition programs in the State under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 750 trainees, who are now chief executives of their various businesses, after they were assisted with N100,000 seed money each by the State government early this year, upon attending a one-year free vocational training in focal areas such as Tailoring, Hairdressing, Haircut and Aluminum works apprenticeship.
Another political leader in Enugu who the people have set their eyes on is Deputy President of Senate Senator Ike Ekweremadu. For Ekweremadu to be reelected for a fift term by the people of Enugu West is an indication that he is not doing badly. On account of his representation from 2003 till date, the Mbu in Aninri Local Government Area born Senator has attracted dividends of democracy in many areas such as jib opportunities for the people, massive road projects, provision of scholarships to students of poor families and philanthropic gestures to the needy. Going for another term, there is no gain saying the fact that all eyes are channeled at Ekweremadu for continued service delivery.
The opposition leader in the State Senator Ayogu Eze is also in the eyes of the people. What kind of opposition is Eze going to mount in the State? Is it chop I chop opposition or opposition in the real sense of it? Going by the large support that Eze enjoyed as the governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 polls people expect him to mount a robust fire brand opposition good enough to bring the best out of the incumbent Government under the platform of APC. All that Ayogu needed to ensure a fire brand opposition in Enugu is adequate support from the headquarters of APC at Abuja.
The future of Enugu State politics is also at stake following the 2019 polls. Observers and pundits believe that the political wind of 2023 has started blowing already. This is where all political heavyweights in the State come into the scene. Heavyweights like the sitting Governor, Ekweremadu, former Governors like Jim Nwobodo, Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime plus former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Senator Ayogu Eze and others are interested in fixing themselves in a stronger position to be relevant in determining who gets what in the politics of the State.
The issue of who takes the Federal Ministerial position of Enugu State is the first port of call looking at the interests of the heavyweights. Pundits predicts that the position has to be conceded to the governorship candidate of APC Senator Ayogu Eze being the leader of the party in the State. According to a pundit Professor Joe Ezebuagu Senator Eze deserves the Ministerial slot of Enugu State because since the return of democracy in 1999 Nsukka zone otherwise known as Enugu North Senatorial District has not produced a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Professor Ezebuagu noted that Enugu East and West Senatorial Districts have been sharing Enugu Ministerial slot since 1999 with Enugu West taking a lion share of it. He listed Dubem Onyia, Frank Nweke Junior, Fidelia Njeze and Geoffrey Onyeama as Ministers from Enugu since 1999 till date. In the same vein the heavyweights will also be battling to get their preferred choice appointed as Commissioners, SSAs and SAs. After that the issue Local Government election takes centre stage.
The most critical battle however is the issue of 2023. What will be the interest of Ike Ekweremadu in 2023? Is he going to remain in the senate or will he try to take a shot at the Lion Building. Way back in 2015 there was a strong clamour from the people of Awgu axis where Ekweremadu comes from to produce the Governor of Enugu State before the seat was conceded to Nsukka zone. The interests of Ekweremadu in 2023 will go along way to shape and determine the future of Enugu State politics and that is the gospel truth.