In this interview with MAURICE OKAFOR, Barr Nana Ogbodo, an Enugu based political analyst/critic and Director of Communication of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Campaign Organization for his second term election explains the milestones achieved by Governor Ugwuanyi, as well as his unique sterling qualities that have endeared him to all classes of people in the state and even the opposition. Excerpts…
You have just been appointed the Director of Communications of the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi Campaign Organization; how would you describe your task?
I consider it first and foremost, a privilege and then a challenge. A privilege because in a state with a population of about 4 million people, for one to be chosen to serve is beyond what can simply be described without a deep feeling. It is perhaps recognition of one’s modest striving. But again, it goes without saying that to be so recognized by such a celebrated leader like Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, inevitably shores up your profile. It is therefore not lost on me that to whom much is given, much is also expected. To this extent, it is as well a challenge. Governor Ugwuanyi has extended the paradigm of governance beyond the ken of the ordinary mind. Whereas the ordinary mind is fixated on what is done with the allocation that comes from Abuja every month, Governor Ugwuanyi contemplates a future when this may not be so anymore. It therefore would rest on my shoulders to locate the substance of Ugwuanyi in the politics of the state, the uncanny creativity he has shown in both the generation and management of resources. Bringing to the fore what value he has been able to add to the governance of the state that makes him most deserving of a second term in office. It is going to be an engaging experience!
Enugu has been a PDP state since 1999. Given that the PDP no longer controls the government at the centre, where does this fact leave your principal especially against the fact that Ayogu Eze, the APC governorship candidate is a tested politician in the state?
I would like to be circumspect on the issue of who actually is the governorship candidate of the APC in the state because the matter is still before the courts and therefore remains subjudice. But talking hypothetically, as a resident of Enugu, do you actually see distinguished Senator Ayogu Eze as a veritable threat to the second term ambition of His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi? Where are his structures for the supposed battle? He came into Enugu barely two months ago since 2015, and it speaks volume to imagine that of all his supposed membership, it is the man who joined the party barely one month before the primaries that would emerge as the governorship candidate of a party that wishes to be taken seriously in the state. It shows desperation, driven essentially by expediency to clutch at any available straw. The APC may indeed be the party at the centre, but they are hardly present yet in Enugu state. Even President Muhamadu Buhari knows this much as could be gleaned from the intensity of his campaigns. But here in Enugu some people are docile, apparently confused, and only revel in the wishful but infantile bogey of the supposed magical wand of a federal might. The APC in the state is at best still a fledging political party that is made up essentially of some seemingly irreconcilable emergency godfathers that are perpetually at war with each other. As at now, we do not know who actually the chairman of the party in the state is; neither do we actually know their governorship candidate. It still remains a rope of sands.
Even going further, it must not be forgotten that this is not the first time Ayogu and Governor Ugwuanyi would be squaring up against each other. In 2015, Senator Ayogu, as a serving senator, who held the powerful position as the Chairman of the Committee on Works, and even more so, as a very close ally of the then President Goodluck Jonathan seemed to have had a better momentum, yet Governor Ugwuanyi was able to reduce all these to ordinary and triumph at the 2015 PDP governorship primaries
What would you adopt as the Governor’s selling point in his quest for a second term?
They are in legion! If I start with the usual, howbeit pedestrian recourse, I am proud to say that the Governor has lifted the souls of many a forgotten community in the state that are having a lease of unexpected new life. He has opened up many forgotten roads by extending road construction beyond the city of Enugu. Nsukka the University town is now wearing a fantastic new look. The people of Isi Uzo can now afford to wear white garments during the dry season without been covered by the Eha-Amufu powder and also go home even during the rainy season as a result of Governor Ugwuanyi’s uncommon thoughtfulness. The long-abandoned bridge that had arrested development in the whole of the area, and the all-important Eha-Amufu road has been constructed. The people of Ubahu, Owo, Amechi Idodo, etc, can now travel to their local government headquarters without having to pass through four other local governments because Governor Ugwuanyi built bridges and the road to the council headquarters. The Amuri people would continually sing Gburu Gburu for rescuing them from the dark ages of sinister abandonment. The Governor has revolutionized the art of even-spread of amenities such that anywhere you are in Enugu State today, you cannot escape his eyes literally speaking because his achievements would inevitably stare at you! He stares at you by the quantum of infrastructure he has unleashed on the state. In the 460 communities in Enugu State, there is none of them that are not currently executing one project or the other of their specific choices at the behest of the governor’s N10 Million grant. In the Enugu metropolis, we cannot forget such roads like Airport Roundabout-Orie Emene-St. Patrick-Eke Obinagu Road; the Orie Emene-Adoration Ground Road; Edward Nnaji Street-Ogwuagor Road; Amaetiti-Ugboye, Abakpa Nike etc, all in Enugu East local government Area; or the New Market-Miliken Hill-Ngwo -9th Mile Corner Road; Ibuzor Street Independence Layout; New Market-Camp 1 and Extension etc, all in Enugu North Local Government Area; or the Dualization of Opi-Nsukka road; Opi-Obollo Afor Road; Post Office Roundabout-Odenigbo-Ogurugu-Ikenga Hotels etc, all in Nsukka Local Government Area, or the Ohom Orba-Nkwo-Orba Market Road, Obolo Eke Junction-Agala-Okpaligbo, etc, all in in Udenu, or such roads like Amankwo-Amaeke-Ama Brewery by-pass, Amokwe Road, etc all in Udi Local Government Area. And so it has been all round the state and in all other sectors including health. He stares at the civil servant by the regularity in the payment of his salaries and allowances. And whereas most other states are still in arrears of several months, the civil servants in the state are paid on the 23rd of every month whether such day falls on a Monday or a Saturday, and whether there is allocation from the federation account or not
Before this time, you were more of a social critic; a political analyst who monitored the democratic process in Enugu state.
I am still what I am and it may be difficult for me to change. But don’t forget that my mantra has always been that when evil men conspire, good men should combine! And I encountered a man who is with power yet incredibly humble. I encountered vision, passion and compassion. These are the grimly virtues that define Ugwuanyi’s leadership. Why should I not combine with him? Even in his private life before this office, he has never left any man poorer than he met him, and with him, there are no broken promises. Why should I not combine with him?