Enugu State 2023 Gubernatorial Race and the Two Estates from which Ugwuanyi may Draw


The question is no longer about whether Governor Ugwuanyi will make the choice of his successor. That he will surely do, especially with regard to the gubernatorial candidate of his party, the ruling party in the state, the PDP. That one is assured(See my essay on Why Ugwuanyi Must Choose his Successor). Making a choice of his successor does not suggest imposition of candidates as some political simpletons may think. It is part of the people’s mandate committed into the hands of the governor for having led the state satisfactorily. Ugwuanyi has led Enugu State so exceptionally well that if it was possible constitutionally, the people of Enugu State would ask him to continue to govern the state ad infinitum, for goodness is never in excess. However, Ugwuanyi must leave to answer to the higher calling of leadership. But as he leaves, the people of Enugu State want him to pick for them someone who will replicate his leadership style and sustain the preponderant legacies of good governance he shall have bequeathed the state.

Governor Ugwuanyi is a passionate democrat, a stickler for democratic due process. In his consolidation of democracy at the local governments in Enugu State, while seeking the opinion of the people, Governor Ugwuanyi met with satisfied citizenry and party faithfuls who would rather he made the choice of the party flag bearers for the local government elections despite the governor’s insistence it was in order for the people to decide. It was yet another opportune moment for the people to recommit their mandate into the hands of the governor. What played out was apparent demonstration of the love and trust the people reposed in this leadership czar of a governor, a rare gift to the people of Enugu State.

Making such choice as the people ask of Governor Ugwuanyi is in itself an arduous task. But for the fact that Governor Ugwuanyi is eagle-eyed and capable, selecting a candidate from the retinue of aspirants is no mean a task.Nonetheless, Ugwuanyi can be trusted to make a good choice, especially with the scale of equity, justice and fairplay available to him. Equity has already weeded off the tares among the wheat. The three senatorial zones around which the governorship seat rotates have agreed it is the turn of Enugu East Senatorial Zone to produce the governor of the state in 2023. This situation has filtered the aspirations to a specific structure from which the governor may draw.

Yet from this structure lies two estates presenting themselves to His Excellency. These two divides have historical essence and seem to have inevitably presented themselves as the only sources from which His Excellency could draw his successor. Right from 1999 when the state made its debut at the polls, but for the outset when Chief Jim Nwobodo leveraging on his political clout to muscle the governorship position into his Nkanu land and raised Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, these two estates have always presented themselves inexorably. Chimaroke’s dark horse status as at then was understandable given that Nigeria was emerging into democracy from the military rule and we could not have had serious politicians on ground but for the ashes of the second republic and the ramshackle alloy of military and civilian rule called diachy, something that never worked.

When the transition of power presented itself to Governor Nnamani, he picked from one of the divides. He looked inwards and picked a candidate from his cabinet. The two shared estates were from within or without. Part of what is regarded as from within is not limited to state functionaries or those directly working with the governor. It rather extends itself to the Abuja politicians of the state extraction. The other divide is from without and without extends to those who had been in government in the past, who can be trusted with the experience of governance. Howsoever it be, all that is required of the deep of the pot is either meat or fish. What matters is the understanding that Governor Ugwuanyi is alive to the choice of a brand asset for the party, a sellable brand with no taint of brand liability.

Sullivan Chime who succeeded Governor Chimaroke also did look inwards with expanded view of the within, as it were. He made a choice of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who then was representing Udenu/ Igbo-Eze North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Part of the reasons why most governors look inwards stems from the fact that those within have got the needed experience to man the state. Besides that, it is likely they will sustain the policies of the government under which they served, thereby sustaining and protecting the legacies of their predecessor.That however is not to say that there have not been instances where technocrats were brought in and they performed. Take for instance, Willie Obiano had no political leadership experience before Peter Obi brought him from Fidelity Bank where he served as an Executive Director to rule Anambra State. Emmanuel Udom was quite another. He came from Zenith Bank also as an Executive Director to emerge the governor of Akwa Ibom State, though his predecessor, Governor Akpabio, was picked from the political within of Governor Victor Attah, his boss.

Some political pundits are wont to claim that anyone who had served in an administration belongs to the trajectory of within, though they currently hold no political office and so the consideration of the benefits of within should be extended to them. Politics is a labyrinth of intricate values appearing too undecipherable to the simple. It takes the learned in the art to be able to tease out the intricate patterns of the intertwined political tendrils and gingerly snake each around the appropriate stake. It also takes political will and courage to follow one’s conviction. Governor Ugwuanyi’s capacity to untie this seemingly taut political knot is not in doubt.

One of the arts required of good leadership is that the leader know their subordinates by name. It has a way of making the subordinates loyal since by this understanding they get attracted to the leader in the realization of the fact that they are valued. There is no politician in Enugu State that Governor Ugwuanyi does not know by name. This is down to the wards. How he does this remains one of the magics of his uncommon leadership ability. This means that Governor Ugwuanyi knows all that plays in the within trajectory. He knows them not only by their names but also by their emotions, psychology, character and capacity This near ominiscient attribute of the governor is one of the gifts of leadership God bestowed on him. He has run with this gift and profited with it in the art of governance to which he has a call and destiny. So, with this knowledge of those within this estate, Ugwuanyi arguably is the only one who would make a choice of the right candidate to replace him, if Enugu State will in 2023 continue to enjoy such democracy deliverables as Ugwuanyi has wrought.

Whether from within or without, governor Ugwuanyi will choose a competent hand, a political bride from Enugu East Senatorial Zone who will sustain and if possible surpass Governor Ugwuanyi’s many life-impacting legacies.


By Reuben Onyishi


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