Enugu and Ayogu Eze’s 2019 guber ambition    

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MICHAEL JEGEDE

 

ENUGU, Nigeria – Enugu State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for the 2019 general elections, Senator Ayogu Eze, recently, unveiled his campaign manifesto with the theme “A New Dawn”. The manifesto, described as “a manifesto for an uncommon transformational leadership”, outlines Eze’s 12-point area of priority for the total transformation of Enugu State if he is elected governor come 2019.

 

As contained in his manifesto, the Enugu APC guber candidate’s 12-point agenda of transformation include: Tourism, Security, Agriculture, Education, Infrastructure/Rural Development, Healthcare, Sports, Economic Blueprint, Housing/Urban Development, Transportation, Independent Power Projects and Locality Administration. The actualization of these key areas of focus, as promised by Eze, will be vigorously pursued to engender the needed development, enhance wealth/job creation and improve the welfare of all citizens of Enugu State.

 

Eze, a top contender in the Enugu guber contest, believed to have the capacity to unseat the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, noted that his social contract with the Enugu people “shall be to run a goal-oriented administration that is effective, efficient and prudent, and at the same time fully accountable to them. We shall open new vistas of opportunities and bring on board operational procedures that will change our people’s business-as-usual attitude to government affairs. We shall communicate with our people and also listen to them in a feedback channel that will promote mutual respect, understanding and productive engagement. The conduct of government business shall be thrown open, in a manner that has hitherto never been seen in these parts. We will set goals and timelines for the government to achieve every aspect of this manifesto.”

 

At the presentation ceremony, the erstwhile Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Eugene Odo, implored the people of Enugu to embrace Eze’s manifesto, describing it as philosophical and the first of its kind. Odo, who is the Enugu North Senatorial Candidate of APC, applauded Senator Eze for coming up with such a wonderful manifesto, well packaged to turn around the fortunes of Enugu State.

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While the allies of Ugwuanyi-led government of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State consider the incumbent governor as a performer, who deserves a second term, Eze’s supporters see Ugwuanyi as a total failure, insisting that he has done nothing meaningful to greatly impact the lives of Enugu populace. Followers of the Enugu APC guber flag bearer believe that he remains the best option in 2019 for the state to be placed on a development pedestal and taken to the next level. It is the view of Eze’s loyalists that majority of Nigerians resident in Enugu State are solidly behind their man who, they believe, is well-equipped to entrench good governance and deliver true democratic dividends.

 

Last month, an Enugu-based Independent Campaign Network (ICN), revealed its assessment showing a very high probability of the emergence of Eze, as the next governor of the state. Presenting the report of an Independent Opinion Survey conducted across the three senatorial districts of the state, the ICN’s spokesman, Jude Ochiagha, told journalists that the Enugu people are united in their determination, to kick Ugwuanyi out of office come 2019 for non-performance.

 

Ochiagha said: “If you are doing well people will vote for you, but the situation in Enugu is such, that our people are tired of the PDP’s administration in the state, owing to his lack of performance, and the unprecedented level of corruption, that has characterized its reign. Every indicator has shown, that more than ever, the chances of the APC Governorship candidate, Senator Ayogu Eze, towards becoming the next Governor of the State, is now brighter than ever, and this is much anticipated by the mass of our people.”

 

Onuora Odo, a lawyer, is the legal adviser of Grassroots Movement (GM), Lagos Chapter. GM is said to have been advocating for good governance in Enugu State and beyond. The group, mainly made up of professionals, has been drumming support for Eze’s gubernatorial ambition.

 

Speaking in an interview, Odo, the legal practitioner said: “Personally I have had close interaction with Senator Ayogu Eze so I don’t tell you what I heard from people but what I personally experienced. Ayogu Eze is down to earth; he is a pragmatic leader, visionary leader. He is a transformative leader who will give the people a sense of belonging. He does not give you empty promises. He won’t make promise and do another thing. The man (Ayogu Eze) is needed because there is no access to medical facilities, no road network, there is no government presence in major parts of the state. And that is why we are taking it as a burden, to make sure he gets to Lion Building, the seat of government. We have taken it upon ourselves to carry this load so our people can be liberated from bad governance.”

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Eze’s 2019 guber ambition also received a boost with the leadership of the Enugu State Chapter of Abia, Anambra, Imo, Delta and Ebonyi, AAIDE, Consultative Assembly, throwing its weight behind his candidature. The Enugu Branch Chairman of AAIDE, Benjamin Nwafor, disclosed that members of the Consultative Assembly, decided to choose Senator Eze based on their conviction that he has all it takes to move the state forward, with proven track records of service to his people. Nwafor averred that the Ugwuanyi’s administration has not lived up to the expectations of the people.

 

Another group of non-indigenes in Enugu State, the Arewa Community, had by the same token, endorsed the ex-lawmaker as their preferred candidate. The members of the group, drawn from different markets and zones in the state, said it is only Eze’s candidacy that could guarantee the protection of their inalienable rights as embedded in the Nigerian constitution. While lamenting the forceful takeover of the new artisan market by the current administration, which they said, has caused them excruciatingly unbearable pain, leaders of the group, vowed to mobilize all their members across the 19 Northern states living in Enugu State to vote for the APC guber candidate.

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Key members of PDP in the state are equally queuing behind the APC standard bearer because of their trust in his ability to transform and lift Enugu to greater heights. Some PDP stakeholders from Igbo-Eze North Local Government in Enugu State visited Eze and offered to work for his victory during the 2019 general elections. PDP leaders who reportedly met Eze to pledge their support for his candidature were Hon. Dennis Agbo, House of Reps member, representing Igbo Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency, Dr. Sally Adukwu-Bolujoko, National President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Nigeria (NAPPS) and ex-President and Chairman of Council, Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), along with Chief Fidel Ayogu, one-time Nigerian ambassador to Uganda and immediate past Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals under Ugwuanyi.

 

Eze, a journalist turned politician, represented the people of Enugu North Senatorial District in the Senate between 2007 to 2015 where he was always visible in debates and articulated the needs of his constituency, particularly in infrastructural development and human empowerment.  The ex-parliamentarian effectively manned the information machinery of the Senate, as the Chairman of Information and Media Committee in the sixth Senate and was very vocal on issues relating to road infrastructure in the seventh Senate as the Chairman of Works Committee.

 

The Enugu governorship hopeful, who holds a master’s degree in Public Administration, joined politics in 1998 as a pioneer member of PDP.  In 1999, Eze became a Special Assistant and later Special Adviser to then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, and was appointed a State Commissioner in 2003.

 

The former Enugu North Senator defected to APC few weeks to the party’s governorship primary election which held on October 4, 2018. Yet, he overwhelmingly defeated his fellow contestants in a direct primary to emerge Enugu APC gubernatorial candidate – an indication that he is indeed popular and fully on ground as a grassroots politician.

 

Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from Abuja




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