OF GOVERNOR UGWUANYI AND THE PERFORMANCE QUESTION

Setting The Records Straight

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It’s common to see every bit of discussion in Enugu being narrowed down to how the governor is governing the state, with emphasis on whether he has achieved anything or not. A closer observation of these discussions; be it online, in the streets, bars, buses, schools, political gatherings, formal and informal settings, one discovers that there is a linear pattern to all of them.

This linear pattern seems to be working like a spiral of silence. Spiral of Silence is a term Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann used to describe the tendency of people to remain silent when they feel that their views are in opposition to the majority view on a subject, and in the long run, they reluctantly conform to the public opinion. It works like the bandwagon effect. The Spiral of silence that is operational in Enugu since 2016 compels people to accept that the governor has not achieved anything, whether they are convinced or not. Any attempt to get those infected by this spiral of silence to state clearly, areas they think the governor hasn’t done well is usually met with stiff resistance. They won’t be able to point at one thing. The next line will be to ask you if you are not in Enugu, then when you give them examples of things being done in Enugu, the next line will be to draw a comparison between Enugu and Ebonyi, then Rivers State and Oyo State. States that have no basis for comparison with Enugu and have unique needs. If this is busted in you make them come to terms with reality, the comparison will then come back to previous Administrations, both of which were incharge when the country was balanced, economically and security wise, in comparison with this one that has seen two recessions and the highest tensions in the country since then.

When you bring them back to the reality that the immediate past Administration was reluctant to pay 19k minimum wage in the time of oil boom coupled with the fact that over 70% of the roads they constructed spoilt before they left and have been reconstructed by this Administration and that the Administration that ushered us into Democracy turned Enugu to a danger zone in a time the whole Nigeria enjoyed peace. Yet, the victims of this spiral of silence believe that maintaining peace when the whole country is boiling amounts to nothing.

It becomes almost astonishing when you find appointees of the government conforming to the spiral of silence induced idea that the governor has not achieved anything. You get statements like, “even if he is not doing well, I have to defend him because he is my boss” or “we must defend our brother whether he is working or not”. You even hear the more creepy ones like, “Even if he hasn’t performed so well, at least there is peace in the state”.

This spiral of silence is so pronounced such that even the highest beneficiaries of the Ugwuanyi Administration both in terms of infrastructures, education, interventions, prompt salary payments (sometimes 13th month salary) and employments, subconsciously agree to the insinuation that the governor has not achieved anything.

Those who are very familiar with my positions on national issues are abreast with the fact that I can’t be swayed by the bandwagon effect and my opinions remain static until proven wrong by facts and figures, which hardly comes by anyway because I don’t talk about issues that I am not very sure of. I am already used to receiving knocks from both sides of every discourse because I have continued to insist on being objective and taking the side of truth in every issue, because objective analysis is the only chance that posterity have at knowing the truth; for if we have had an accurate unbiased account of the 1966 Coup and the civil war events, we won’t be repeating those mistakes today. Receiving knocks from some Governor’s supporters and those against him because of this post won’t be a new thing to me, but the truth must be said, for posterity sake.

So, recently, in the quest to find a Presidential Candidate of South East extraction that should be presented to contest on behalf of the Igbo nation; who will meet the aspirations of Nigerians and as well as garner the support of other tribes and regions, I wrote a piece on how A Gburugburu Presidency will meet the aspirations of Nigerians, especially in these trying times of heightened tensions and calls for secession. As usual, the question of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s performance came up as a reason why he shouldn’t be considered, with some being overtly emotional about it and accusing me of unprintable things, hence, there is need for me to address this issue and set the records straight, not just for those reading it today but for posterity sake.

In answering the Ugwuanyi Performance Question, we will look at it from two basic angles:

  1. WHY PEOPLE ASSUME GOV. UGWUANYI HASN’T DONE ANYTHING
  2. WHAT GOVERNOR UGWUANYI HAS ACTUALLY DONE

The undeniable fact is that the Spiral of Silence induced Public Opinion in Enugu suggests that the Governor has not achieved anything since inception. Anyone who tells the governor otherwise is a liar from the pit of hell and God forbid that I get myself entangled in that kind of lie. Even some people close to governor are infected with this false opinion. However, the question then is how true and how factual is this so-called public opinion when juxtaposed with the reality on ground?

My personal definition of Public Opinion is that it refers to the opinion of those who have no opinion or those who cannot stand for their own opinion. I have written severally on this subject matter, citing the concept of mobilization as a tool to sway public opinion, using the example of the biblical multitude followers of Jesus who Shouted “Hossanah! in the highest” on the Holy Thursday and shouted “Crucify Him!” on the Good Friday. Though people have described this my view as being self-righteous or doing ITK but it’s nonetheless, True.

Therefore, there are reasons why many (including some members of the governor’s cabinet) believe that the governor hasn’t achieved anything, they include:

  1. HIS SOFT, KIND AND GENTLE APPROACH TO GOVERNANCE: Anyone who understands the psychology of Nigerians will attest to the fact that we have only one understanding of power; BRUTAL, RUTHLESS and RIGID. This was shown in the way GEJ was booted out of office. We see soft approach to governance as a sign of weakness and lack of capacity. Gov. Ugwuanyi’s approach make them have the feeling that their leader is weak and incapable, hence, people easily conclude that nothing good can come from him. From this alone, half of the criticisms against him were birthed. They envisage a governor who should be a no nonsense person, treat people like a dictator and crush critics like those running a police state, and since Gov. Ugwuanyi has refused to stop being humane and soft in dealing with people that elected him, they conclude that he is not doing well, yet they enjoy the proceeds of his kind and soft approach to governance.
  2. HIS OPEN DOOR POLICY: In a fashion that is alien and totally confusing to everyone in Enugu State, especially the stakeholders, Gov. Ugwuanyi demystified the Office of the Executive Governor of Enugu State by throwing the door wide open to every citizen of the state. He made the people understand that the government house belongs to every citizen of the state. Gov. Ugwuanyi made himself so easy to approach and access by all and sundry. He gives listening ear to all kinds of people. He makes himself available to the citizens 24/7. Lucky enough for him, he never felt sick, so he is always around. It is such that if Keke people want to see the governor, he will make himself available to them, listen to their complaints and solve their problems. This didn’t go down well with mostly the stakeholders and the rest of the people.

Before Ugwuanyi, stakeholders made millions just by telling people that they will talk to Governor on their behalf because the governor was like a demigod that is hardly seen nor heard, so you need intercessors to help you see him. In previous Administrations, knowing the governor was a big job as one could make millions by promising to talk to the governor, but here is a Governor that is easily found amongst the people and very much approachable. The middleman business doesn’t pay anymore.
People don’t feel comfortable with this pattern. It takes away food from the stakeholders and it breeds contempt amongst the citizens who are suffering from Stockholm syndrome with tyranny, hence they conclude that he is not doing well. This has nothing to do with his performance.

  1. WHERE HE COMES FROM: It’s a sad stuff that ethnic discrimination exists in a mono-tribal state like Enugu state. As regrettable as this might be, a good number of people believe that for simply coming from Nsukka Zone, nothing good will come out of him. So, for them, if he performs magic, he hasn’t done anything. I don’t wish to dwell much on this. It’s a sad stuff that we should do away with as soon as possible.
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA: The Ugwuanyi Administration came on board in 2015 at a time of social media explosion; a period where everyone can easily become a news caster simply with a phone in hand and an internet connection. This made it easy for everyone’s voice to be heard. I could recall the stress I passed through to publish one article in a local newspaper in 2012, but now, I can do that in minutes. So many people can easily complain of the infrastructure in their own little street and it makes news and attract wide criticism from across the country and even abroad. It’s indeed a good thing and helps to keep government on its toes. This was not so before and that’s why people assume that previous governments performed better than this one, even when this administration has reconstructed over 70% of the roads constructed by previous administrations due to their failings. The difference is that people now can complain but people then couldn’t complain, so the little they show you on the media is all you judge with but now, everything is laid bare for all to see. Other state governments have managed to curtail this by clamping down on critics but Gov. Ugwuanyi, like GEJ has decided to give everyone the freedom to say whatever they like.
  3. PRAISE SINGERS: A lot of people have turned to journalists without any training. They go about denting the image of the governor, thinking they are promoting him. They will post the pictures of one project 100 times, making people to get sick and tired of the projects already. They exaggerate things unnecessarily. For instance, the governor will say that he built a Type C hospital to cater for the health care needs of rural dwellers, they will now rephrase it and say that he built a World Class State of the Art Digital General Hospital. This annoys people and they assume that the Governor sent them to do such, when governor does not even know those people. Of course, another erroneous public opinion is that if you write anything in favour of the governor, you are under the governor’s payroll or if you write against IPOB, Buhari is paying you. Bunch of crap I must say. If I estimate my value by the amount of money people accuse me of collecting from Buhari for daring to point out the many mistakes of Nnamdi Kanu, I will be a billionaire by now.
    So, due to the activities of these praise singers, most of whom the governor does not know, people conclude that the governor has not done enough to warrant such praises, so, they assert that the governor is not doing well.
  4. LION BUILDING HOPEFULS: There are groups of people who are bent on making their ways into the government house in 2023 against all odds. To them, they have to formulate their propaganda on the backdrop of the already skewed spiral of silence induced public opinion and shout to the ends of the earth that the government has not done anything, and then promise people of better days ahead. The classic APC style. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the governor’s performance.
  5. APPOINTEES: Because there are no cars to share to counsellors as was in Sullivan’s regime or lands to be dashed to House of Assembly members and appointees as were obtainable before, most people working for this administration feel that they don’t have enough to enjoy and squander like their predecessors, so they conclude that the governor is not doing well. They refuse to understand that we have entered recession twice during the six years of this administration.
  6. NSUKKA PEOPLE: The previous administrations concentrated 99% attention on their respective zones. Chimaroke even had to lift ESUT College of Medicine out of Nsukka to his Zone. He moved ESUT itself to his LGA alongside Law School and several other things. Sullivan was not any different. When Governor Ugwuanyi came, we expected retaliation. We wanted the governor to concentrate at least 95% on Nsukka but he instead started distributing development across all the zones. He even gave Ihe in Enugu west a University of Education and Commenced work at Iwollo Polytechnic and built a free trade zone at 9th Mile. Something that didn’t really go down well with most of ndi Nsukka who want a tit for tat. Despite compensating us with the Igbo-Ano hospital, the college of medicine, Enugu Polytechnic, Esut Faculties and recently Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, we are still not that happy. We want everything! You won’t blame a people who have suffered so much marginalization to see that it’s only their own son that wants to do things the right way.
    So, for choosing to be detribalized unlike his predecessors, many conclude that he hasn’t done anything. This too, has absolutely nothing to do with his performance.

When you look at the above, you will understand why the spiral of silence is effective. A lot of people are not happy with the new pattern of government introduced by Governor Ugwuanyi for various reasons, but in an ideal society, that’s the way governance should be, but do we live in an ideal country? Do we want an ideal society where things are done the right way? That’s a question for another day.

From all indications, it can be deduced that truly, the negative perception against Governor Ugwuanyi and the false spiral of silence induced Public Opinion against him have nothing to do with his performance as Governor but various issues that are insignificant which a governor shouldn’t be judged nor assessed with.

WHAT GOVERNOR UGWUANYI HAS ACTUALLY DONE

In their criticism, people will always ask for an important landmark project executed by the administration as a way of judging whether he has performed or not. They do this, drawing inferences from Ebonyi and Rivers States. So, there is need to properly state some of these projects as it relate to their sectors:

  1. Civil Service: The Enugu State Secretariat Annex, Ede-Oballa with its attached Conference Centre and Coal City View Estate with 750 Houses for Enugu Civil Servants. This is in addition to prompt payment of minimum wage salaries. New Court buildings across all the zones, the first in decades.
  2. Health: The Type C Model Hospitals that cut across all parts of the Zone. Colliery Hospital Enugu, Igbo-Ano Hospital and new College of Medicine, Poly Clinic and countless others.
  3. Education: The Ikeje Asogwa-led ENSUBEB’s visible total transformation of primary and secondary schools. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t been to Enugu State. Rebuilding of IMT Enugu with several new class room blocks and standard roads. Enugu State Polytechnic, and the recent Ohodo Federal Polytechnic and a host of others. Recall that all state owned institutions have maintained stable school fees despite the twin recession and hyper inflation.
  4. Economy: Enugu Free trade Zone, 9th mile; the hallmark of the Oganiru Enugu Summit, the beginning of Economic rebirth in Enugu. Various Agro Grants and Tech grants, of which over 600 Enugu indigenes got 3 million each to start up Agric Ventures.
  5. ICT: Enugu State Tech Hub and Youth Innovation Centers, Enugu and Udenu chapters. An ICT village is already at arms length.
  6. SECURITY: This is perhaps his most visible and widely accepted achievement and his strides in that area is unmatched anywhere in the country. The Enugu State Forest Guards and Vigilante remains the most equipped state Security outfit in the country, head and shoulders above the much publicised Amaotekun. This was done without controversy, and thousands of vehicle purchased was used to boost a fellow Igbo man’s business.
  7. INFRASTRUCTURES: From Opi Nsukka, to Eha-Amufu, to Abakpa, to Amurri, to Nsukka town, to Uzo- Uwani, to Ohodo, to Udi, to Obeagu, to Amechi, to Emene, etc, the roads and bridges constructed by this administration are countless and it can only get better.

There are other areas like culture and tourism, youth empowerment, Agro support schemes, Child Rights, Gender Equality, youth inclusion and countless others that I cannot recall because I am not the Governor’s media aide.

The above is more than enough to answer the performance question of the Ugwuanyi Administration to any sincere and right thinking mind.

I wouldn’t say that Gov. Ugwuanyi has performed miracles or magic or that Enugu State is where it should be. No! That’s not true. I still dream of Enugu State that will be booming economically enough to compete with Dubai, where everything is almost perfect and I wouldn’t desire to go to Canada. An Enugu City that will make it to the top 20 cities in the world. That’s my dream and that is what the Ugwuanyi Administration is laying its foundation now. There is a long way to go but the journey has started.

Therefore, given the Nigerian context and situation, this administration has performed very well and we hope it gets better with time.
Facts don’t lie.

Ugwuagbo Emmanuel Chizoba is a Journalist and Scholar based in Enugu.
([email protected] 08108528564)

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