ENUGU POLITICS AND THE ENDLESS OF "HE IS COMINGS"

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By Josephat Okwor

Enugu, like most metropolitan cities, has always been a bay of clichés, obsessively lapping up new fads even as old ones exhibit alluring resilience. The obsession tends to go a notch higher during political seasons, which is not surprising given the usual blandishments of political rhetoric. This political season has been spectacularly susceptible to the wiles of politicians who enlist them into desperately impracticable quests wrapped in colourful mantras. A memorable experience is the now rested governorship ambition of Senator Ike Ekweremadu. Despite the fact it was doomed from the outset, being as it was, a project sustained by subterfuge and manifestly driven by crass ambition, it still drew some large, howbeit misguided followership nevertheless. Of course, they all enthusiastically chorused the mantra: “Ike is coming” nurturing what will undoubtedly remain one of the biggest political bubbles in Enugu's political history.

But lacking the basic foundations of truth and equity, the bubble soon burst, leaving the political future of countless acolytes swayed by the project's shiny illusions in limbo. Although, politics is seldom ever without risks, but in abandoning certainty for the wild goose promises of an ill-fated venture, and practically throwing caution to the wind, the legion of the "Ike is coming" brigade demonstrated a shocking lack of circumspection that is needed to thrive in the mirage-strewn world of politics. Now many are stranded and can't return to the political mainstream they had so callously abandoned. Some that were in high political positions, including membership of the state and national assemblies have all gone under the rubble. Some can’t even summon the courage to be part of the on-going political process because of that singular indiscretion.

Ordinarily, one would conclude that such grand missteps should normally lend insights that would help eliminate a repeat in future. Well, not exactly, particularly in Enugu State where a new illusion - not so dissimilar to the "Ike is coming" - is being sold to titillate the politically naive, and ultimately lure them to perdition. This time the buzz is not simply in relation to the ambition of an individual. Names that have emerged from this hallucinatory campaign of optimism include Chijioke Edeoga, Okey Ezea, etc. And the suggestion is that, contrary to the rational dictates of logic and lucid prognosis shaped by history, these politicians will ultimately triumph. In other words, “they are coming"!

Basking in that euphoria, Edeoga, notwithstanding his having earlier conceded victory to Peter Mbah and urging his followers to work for his victory, recently made the following statement regarding his governorship ambition: "Let it be clear to all men and women of goodwill in Enugu State that my aspiration to be governor of the state is within my democratic rights... My emergence as candidate of Labour Party (LP) will … offer our people a variety of choices…. The people should be allowed to have the final say on who should represent or govern them”. Although Edeoga had made the foregoing statement primarily to reiterate that his political ambition has not put him at odds with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, it is apparent nonetheless that he considers his putative emergence as the Labour Party candidate a sufficiently disconcerting subject for the governor's supporters who, to all intents and purposes, find the candidacy of Peter Mbah (the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP's candidate) far more compelling and unifying. It is only in the social media world of augmented reality that the likes of Edeoga can be deemed to possess the kind of clout that feeds the frenzy being seen on the political fringe where it exist. So, realistically, their ambitions do not stand any blip of chance. They are - if you will - vanity projects, propelled by opportunism and a sense of perceived hurt than by any real conviction.

This perceived hurt, however, is mere ruse. Beneath it all lies a string being pulled by Nnia Nwodo, still peeved that the PDP ticket had eluded Edeoga, his brother-in-law, and even more so, won by an Nkanu man; a clan he has a ravenous loathsomeness for their existence. His co-option of other disgruntled Nsukka politicians aspiring for various offices into the covert meetings he has been having in Abuja was a deliberate ploy to give his narrow, selfish interest the coloration of an Nsukka agenda. However, this ruse might have perhaps achieved its intended goal if he had actually shown fidelity to the Nsukka cause in the past as a two-time minister. But there is hardly anything tangible he has attracted to the zone whose interest he now pretends to champion. Ironically, his ascendancy has more often than not derived from Nsukka's benevolence. He is clearly obsessed with the idea of being seen as an iconoclast. But there is nothing edifying in eternally being a contrarian, especially for one who ought to be statesmanlike in utterances and conduct. Evidently, his untempered obsession for the limelight has inevitably turned him into an incurable narcissist, who would rather that he is the only cock in a roost. It has become typical for him to throw tantrums whenever he fails to impose his will on others. Such was the mindset that defined his frosty relationship with two former governors - Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime. In the case of Sullivan, he was unrestrainable until Okweilize, his elder brother lost his lofty position as the National Chairman of the PDP. We are seeing it again play out currently, this time against a man, who he never supported his governorship ambition, but from whom he has benefited immensely, both in material terms and politically. After all, we all know how he earned the Ohanaeze Ndigbo top job.

Howbeit, there is a sense of deja vu evoked by his current surreptitious rallying of forces against a mainstream thought. It is in the fact that, for all his braggadocio, he has never quite managed to back a winning horse! His influence is therefore largely exaggerated. For instance, Governor Ugwuanyi still soared politically in spite of his contrary wishes, albeit covertly, and accommodated him nonetheless when he shamelessly wangled his way back. So, there is barely any significant political capital he can add to the fortunes of those he is currently propping up. The political career of some of these surrogates fittingly reflect the saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss. In all their political perambulations, they have never been able to make any meaningful impact. The last time one of them tried, he was unsurprisingly humiliated, a chastening blow for a man with bloated ego!

Although surprises are never ruled out in politics, but history without doubt, still remains a reliable marker or touchstone. The message gleaned from history in this regard is unmistakable: the ones currently being heralded as dark horses in the race are actually going nowhere! But illusions are regular staple in politics, as the experience of the horde swayed by the tantalizing lines of the "Ike is coming" campaign had shown. Their mistake might be rationalized as a product of naive romanticism, even if the consequences on their political career have yet to fully abate. What then can be said with regard to a few still looking likely to succumb to a similar indiscretion? As far as Enugu is concerned, the only candidate that is actually “coming” is Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, assisted by his running mate Barr. Ifeanyi Ossai. Any other mantra of “coming” is an inscrutable beckon to a life on the political fringe. As the late sage, M.I Okpara would say: “to be fool once, no be fool, but to fool twice, na proper foolish”!

Dr. Okwor lives in Enugu.