In one of her many philosophical musings, Anne Bradstreet did posit: “Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.” Sitting in charge of affairs in Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has, apparently in deference to the forewarning of this 17th Century English poet’s wise saying, continued to apply wisdom, especially in handling all delicate matters of statecraft. Thus, the prevailing disposition of his administration so far has been the application of a deliberate policy of wielding authority effectively only after reining in wisdom from its maximum depots.
Parading what seems a proverbial bag filled with peculiar wands of great solutions to heady situations, Governor Ugwuanyi has continued to stun his critics and admirers alike by wading through heavily muddy political waters untainted. One of such instances is the just-concluded primary elections during which his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), produced its candidates for the coming November 4 local council polls. After the exercise, those who had visualised a gathering cloud of clashes were disappointed.
As the leader of the party in the state, the governor, working closely with the critical stakeholders, successfully staved off the sort of bitter controversies typically generated by emotive pursuits, such as electoral primary, even after coming face-to-face with the frayed nerves of party faithful eager to appropriate envisaged advantages to oil their political interests. Painstakingly, the governor trudged on with the party leaders, especially the notably incorruptible and highly principled state chairman of the party, Augustine Nnamani. At the level of the electoral wards, where councillorship candidates emerged, the party chairman clung tenaciously to the strict observance of due process, a desirable disposition that tamed the belligerence of a few, who would rather not play by the rules which would, ultimately, have marred the exercise.
Of course, Governor Ugwuanyi had, during various stakeholder-meetings with the party faithful, days before the primary elections took place, charged the people to eschew the spirit of desperation, to avoid a fixated mindset on the outcome of the exercises, but to focus on building harmony. Achieving this, he explained, would make the PDP in the state exude a renewed strength that would take it and the drivers of its affairs effectively through the coming elections.
The timetable specifying the guidelines had been released by the party chairman way back on August 2, 2017. It was on Tuesday, September 2, 2017 that the hectic exercise took off proper with the commencement of sale of expression of interest forms as well as nomination forms.
However, before the exercise went underway to build up to a crescendo with the visible overflow of enthusiasm, coming from anxious aspirants bent on throwing their zealous hats in the political ring, Governor Ugwuanyi had quickly deployed his usual political compass to probe into the inner recesses of the various gladiators some of whom may have engaged “agent provocateurs” envisaging a tough battle ahead. Early in the day, he devised his own studied master political strategy to tame what appeared as a gathering cloud and took it to various levels of stakeholders, not just within the PDP fold but also far beyond to other interest groups in communities, clans and local council areas. Of course, the other tiers of government, especially the legislative arm formed part of the very wide web of consultations employed by the governor and the PDP leadership in the state to achieve this feat of delivering a largely hitch-free PDP primary elections for the coming local government polls in the state.
He had convened a high level stakeholder-meeting of top party chieftains, who joined him in tinkering a delicate path-finding strategy to stave off crisis in view of the teeming number of aspirants that were warming up to go into the race for councillorship and chairmanship elections. From the successful consultations at that level of the party leadership, Governor Ugwuanyi, working in a formidable synergy with these leaders, took the delicate art of consultations to another level, which saw all the members of the PDP executives at all the 17 local government areas of the state and the 260 electoral Wards in the state converge on the Michael Okpara Square in Enugu. They met face-to-face with the governor and the leaders of the party in the state.
At that crucial meeting, which eventually wore the ‘visage’ of a political rally, the governor, as the leader of the party in the coal city state, acknowledged a humbling outpour of ovations and kind words. It was agreed that one sure way of doing this was to strive to produce consensus candidates where possible. Then, where it became too knotty for consensus candidates to emerge without shadow elections that would precede the main primary elections, especially at the ward levels, PDP executives and other stakeholders in the respective wards should employ a democratic means to produce a candidate. Yet, they were told that in local council areas or wards where all these specific efforts failed, the aspirants would be subjected to full-blown primary elections.
It is instructive to note here that the exercise eventually came to a successful conclusion without recording uncontrolled situations. The consultations, obviously painstaking and lasting for hours, depending on the specific issues handled, took days to accomplish.
It was a situation where leaders of each local council and their general stakeholders of the party came up with their peculiar matters, arising from the aspirations of their people. The governor presided patiently as all the cases came up. Decisions were arrived at by letting the people themselves provide the solutions with the governor acting as an unbiased arbiter.
with these rigorous political consultations that eventually schooled the PDP faithful the more on the art of persuasion and political manoeuvering, what seemed a stage set for a do-or-die battles fizzled out and rather ushered in a resounding new harmony for Enugu State PDP under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. It was no surprise, therefore, when after the exercise, the 260 PDP ward chairmen in the state wrote the governor a letter of solidarity in which they encapsulated his rare leadership qualities that have endeared him to the people of the state.
The 260 PDP ward chairmen commended Governor Ugwuanyi for what they called his outstanding performance and exemplary leadership, which have now reinvigorated the machinery of the party in the state.
The ward chairmen believed to be frontline foot soldiers at the grassroots also pledged to ensure that come 2019 election, the opposition parties would do nothing even to give the faintest scare to their governor.
In all, the primary elections have just become a further huge confidence redound for the Enugu governor, who in the past two years has continued to receive accolades and numerous approval ratings from his subjects and elsewhere within and outside the country.
• Abugu wrote in from Enugu.