Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Honourable Ugwuanyi must listen

I read this article by Duke Chidi Nwafor. He wrote all the way from London. I am convinced that Mr. Duke understands the plight of Enugu people well enough. This story am about to share, I believe, is more of an admonition, particularly to the incoming governor of the state.
Mr. Duke bared his mind, and I share in this wise counsel. Truly, Enugu people "deserve better romance". My understanding is that this story should serve to awaken, sharpen or even inspire the already widely acknowledged active spirit of the coming governor.

Thank you Mr. Duke. I pray and hope Hon. Ugwuanyi pays attention to the issues raised and justify the faith and confidence reposed on him by the people.

In few says to come, Hon. Ugwuayi will ascend the governorship throne in Enugu state. And we are watching, waiting, hopefully for better days.

ENUGU: In the face of democratic renaissance - 
By Duke Chidi Nwafor
(Curled from Saturday Sun)

In the build up to the recently concluded 2015 general elections, a revolutionary gust tore through the Nigerian political space and swerved the country into an era – now believed by many – to be that of hope and redemption. And the harbinger of this long awaited moment of reclamation is believed to be none but Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Since his triumph at the polls, a blanket of hope hovers around us like a cloudy sky just before the rain. At every turn the discussion is the same: Buhari and his message of change. In Enugu state, the atmosphere is different in that it is not APC that runs the show, but similar because the people have keyed in to the “change” epistle. Change – not necessarily of person or party – but attitude towards governance. I expect to see and experience a positive change, this aura of hope in Enugu state. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP) is no small masquerade and the people know why they chose him
The burden of rebuilding a broken nation is a monstrous job that a single individual cannot confront. And Buhari is only but a lone tree. He can never make a forest, thus the need for a government of collaboration. The tons of advice from both government and public quarters to Buhari since his emergence is to surround himself with a crop of competent, confident, honest but also altruistic technocrats to help reposition the nation. By extension, it means that the incoming president must guarantee a smooth relationship with governors of the constituting states irrespective of party affiliation.

Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is the governor-elect in Enugu state, and of course my soon-coming governor. It is no surprise. The former National Assembly member knew where he was going and had worked hard to win for himself an intimidating mass of teeming supporters, to the extent one almost thought the election would be a “one horse race”, until that historic feat of Mr. Buhari at the polls. And then, the challenger, Barrister Okey Ezeah of the APC saw it as a green light. But that light was not to shine. PDP, once more had its way back to the Lion Building of the coal city state. Hon. Ugwuanyi, our incoming governor must understand the enormity of work ahead of him, coming at an era of democratic redefinition.

There are foul cries in some quarters, especially from the camp of the challenging party, the APC. Many believe and allege that a number of things went amiss with the election processes, that given a level playing ground the APC would, by now, be on its way to the Lion Building, concluding plans to deliver on its “change” message. They believe that with the PDP returning to the Government House, it is going to be just “business as usual”. But how true can that be? My understanding is that the People’s Democratic Party suffered severe blow during the presidential polls and as such must have learnt their lessons, bitter as it were; that they have experienced the ravaging power of angry, discontented and disgruntled people. I believe that they cannot and shall never again put the people behind. Hon.Ugwuanyi knows, I believe, better than to provoke the people’s ire. Someone joked that “to whom brain is given, common sense is expected.” The coming governor, I know, possesses the not-so-common “common sense” plus something more. Hon. Ugwuanyi, in his acceptance speech reaffirmed his commitment to the four-point agenda of Governor Chime, and to all his campaign promises in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state. He must not be told that the people are waiting, watching, with bright eyes.
Enugu state, despite the controversial “sublime performance” in infrastructural development by the Chime administration has not, the people argue, benefited majority of the people in the state especially the ordinary man; and so, it is believed that whatever happened was at best misplaced priorities. The dividends of democracy obviously, may not have trickled down to the “common man” in the rural areas. And this is where I blame successive governments: this negligence of the common people. One cannot praise a government based on centered infrastructural provisions meant to serve the elite in established cities. Governments have paid specific attention to metropolitan development. If this continues to happen, what moral ground does the government stand to lament rural-urban drift? The incoming administration should, therefore, work to ensure an equitable decentralization of development down to the rural communities.
What is democracy if the “ordinary man” in the hinterland can only dream of drinking clean water or eating even twice a day as a huge luxury; when his languishing and pathetically impoverished children are not even privileged to screech, like others, at the erratic lighting of the bulb; when his people continue to die of common curable diseases; when he cannot afford basic education for his children; when the road to his village is long covered in refuse and towering grasses. This man has many problems, basic needs. And he’s angry. This man belongs to Enugu too, and deserves better romance, something more than a few cups of rice, salt, a piece of wrapper or campaign T-shits. We’ve got to move on.
I am confident that the incoming governor understands the concept of modern democracy; the fact that the people are the heart of modern democratic governance, and as such should endeavor to create a cordial relationship with the proverbial “leaders of tomorrow”, the youth. This is important. “We all benefit by having young people exposed to ‘the way things are done’ things are done in a democratic society” says Hans Bernard. Yet he asks, “isn’t it time…’to tap the power of youth?” The time, I guess, is long overdue. But it’s never too late. We can still get it right. The incoming administration should be proactive in creating or supporting existing programmes that can gainfully engage the teeming youth, to distract them from restiveness and other vices. The administration must pay committed attention to sports and many vocational activities that has the capacity of empowering the youth.  It must learn from Mary MacLeod Bethune who says, “we have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power towards good ends.”

The incoming administration must listen and pay duteous attention to issues of the people. The health sector is so important that any serious government cannot ignore. As the saying goes, a healthy nation invariably is a wealthy nation. The administration must do well to revitalize the health sector. The state, obviously do not just want a mighty building as hospitals, no, our hospitals should be adequately equipped with innovative medical equipment and of course must maintain relevant international best practices through recruitment of competent medical professionals. Above all, medical services should not just be made accessible, they should also be affordable such that the ordinary people in the state can benefit. Democracy does not, and cannot exempt people from their own government. It involves them.

 The late Nelson Mandela perfectly understands the importance of education. No wonder he says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. But how many understand or appreciate the potency of this “weapon”, or even care to use it? We cannot turn our back on education or pay lip service to it and dream of a healthy economy? The onus therefore, is on the incoming administration. They must be willing, and be seen to value functional education as that “powerful weapon” of transforming the state. The Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, henceforth must do a lot more than “building and renovating” few blocks of classrooms. Our schools need to be equipped with best learning materials. What about the teachers and lecturers? There has to be great motivation, so they can be more creative and productive. This government cannot afford to shy away from the responsibility of raising good citizens through good education.

Moreover, the Local Government Areas must be seen as an indispensible means of delivering dividends of democracy to the grassroots. The third tier of government is purposely created for this. It is an extension, a presence as well as representation of state government in the localities. Of truth, there are scores of remote villagers who have never seen the governor, not even on television, for television too is an imaginary luxury. But clean water, good road, basic healthcare, education and of course jobs for their children can bring the governor to live in their hearts. These people do not even ask for too much, they just want to be able to live their lives in the modest way possible. This incoming government must listen to them. It must provide enabling environment such that the people can vote council chairmen of their choice to ensure the actualization of the promised rural development – in line with the four-point agenda. The commissioners and local government chairmen and council members are the eyes and ears of the governor. So, he must, as a matter of accountability, demand open stewardship from every member of his cabinet. The council chairmen must, not tell or write but, show clear evidence of performance in their various local governments.

If Hon. Ugwuanyi must succeed, considering the huge task that awaits him, there are few options available for him, alternatives he must not forgo: he must ensure that his commissioners are just as competent, creative, proactive and selfless; he must consider integrity, credibility and merit; he must eschew favoritism. The exigency of ensuring a robust working economy for the state cannot, and should not be sacrificed at the altar of compensating party supporters. This, unarguably, will be his sure recipe for becoming a man of the people.

The incoming governor cannot afford to fail. My conviction is that he will not; that he will prove to his opposition that “change” is not resident with APC; that there are other sweeping agents better than the broom. He need to show that change is one invariable index in democracy; and that PDP too, is capable of activating it, even more generously.  

The political trend is rapidly changing. There are people who were not involved deeply in active local politics even when they have both requisite abilities and spirit to serve the people. Now, seeing that it is no longer business as usual, they are now ready to serve their people. My position is that where such people are certified as credible candidates, both by the people and the relevant party, they should be given chance.

“Bad governance is worse than diabetes. A perfectly healthy man can contact a lot of ailments if he starts suffering from diabetes” says Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister. But I am confident, and hopeful too, that the coming administration, under the leadership of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi will take Enugu state to an enviable height by engendering a peoples-government.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Diary of a Lover II

Prisoner of Love

It took just one day to fall in love with Osarome; little moment of closeness, of eye contacts – sizing ourselves, measuring love as with a cup. We couldn’t even express ourselves, our desires. We were so shy like that, afraid, of what would happen, of what would not happen. It was difficult to hold hands or even cuddle. I was scared of many things I didn’t know; of things I needed to be certain about - Infatuation. Crush. Love. Which? It wasn’t easy.
That day, she told me how Ben used to abandon her for days, weeks, even months running after other girls. “I don’t like being away from my boyfriend. But he did not understand. He never cared, yet I loved her.” Now she wonders if she could love again. I understand everything, and that is the trouble with what I feel now - time and distance would be our enemy.

My affection for Osarome grew by the day. I tried to tame it, despite what I felt, to make it understand that Osa lived far from me; that she hates to be away from her boyfriend. I tried my best but my effort was all but vain. I was perpetually condemned to what I felt for her. The only option was to continue to love her, near or far. And so, little by little I found myself gradually dissolving into a passive lovebird, bird without wings else I would have flown to Maiduguri, wherever she was just to be with her. Poor lover boy! I was fast becoming a prisoner – prisoner of love.
Oh Osarome! Did she even know how much I loved her? Obviously drowned in love - after she departed - and unable to cope with the disturbing sting of her absence, I called her every day. I sent mails on yahoo and facebook, mails most times unreturned. But it was never enough. Now I can only dream. I recall with nostalgia those moments with her at the park, the only opportunity I had to touch her velvet skin, to brush the hairs on her ebony arms. I imagine the beauty that grace her tender face, the clarity and precision with which she produced every word. I try to imagine what she would say if I touched her: push me away and call me names? Or look at me with a renewed, rejuvenated passion and hold my hand to her skin and whisper sweet words in my ears? I imagine so many things now. I will always remember her; the look, the smile, the laughter…and then the unwillingness to go: memories of an angel.

Two weeks later, I got a text on my cell phone. I was on my way back to school, Osa sent me a message. It was her first text to me, a confirmation text I called it: “Every finish line is the beginning of a new race. When I looked into your eyes, you got me hooked with your love controller…I am tripping, but ian’t falling over. I am not the one easy to get to. But all that changed when I met you. Tell me what you like because what you tell me is what I like.”
I pressed my little phone against my chest and closed my eyes. I was on cloud number 9. “Truly, I am in love, once again,” I said to myself. My fears started to disappear. But there were still questions in my heart. Didn’t she mind about having boyfriend far away from her anymore? The answer was handy: things change. Love change things. Looking out the window the trees waved endlessly. Satisfied, I drifted into a reverie: and there she was, right in my arms, cuddled, at peace. I looked at her, an angelic figure. She smelt of fine fragrance, not of fashion cologne, something in the semblance of nectar; I could feel her breath, gently rising and falling. I brushed her hair and made a trace between her apples, tot the lower parts. And she moaned pleasurably.
It was the sharp galloping of the car that jolted me. No problems, we will not be far from each other as we thought after all. Love conquers all barriers.

I returned to school drenched in her thought. It wasn’t difficult to see. I spent more time with her on the phone than ever: morning, afternoon and night. But all these were never enough. And that worried me much. Gradually, as if washed by persistent rain, Osa became an abstract figure, someone that only lived in my dreams. She doesn’t call anymore. No text messages. And she hardly picks my calls. I couldn’t understand it.  I think of the day she wrote to say, “I won’t leave you”. I think of the day we met. I think of Fred and his casual philosophy on love. I am mad. I want to curse. But no. I do not curse the one I love. I remember a mail I sent her once, this one:

My Osarome,
It has been ages since I watched you slip into that cab. It wasn’t easy for you. I saw it. You wished you could stay a little longer. But you had to go. You did. Today, I write to remind you of everything; of the promises I made to you. Remember? I made you a promise. A promise I knew I would keep; to keep you close to my heart, all the time. I promised to tell you everything that happens to me and around me. I promised to call you as much as I can. I have done my best, you know.
It is cold and dry here. It makes me miss a whole lot of you. There aren’t so many beautiful parks and gardens here like the place where we met. But I still see you. You told me that it was not going to be long, no matter how long. I believed you.

I want to tell you about this one - keeping my promises; there are many girls here in school, as you know. They appear at every turn. It is not easy to say no, with the girls flipping and pestering all around you. But I have been faithful to my promises. It is a difficult task, I am at war. But I hope to win. It is another promise I made, to myself – to keep myself firm and dry as the day I met you; that no water will drop off me till I meet you again. It is a tougher decision. See!
There are other friends around me. Good friends I like to say. Lillian, Patience, Kenneth… I used to tell you about them. They have been good. They have helped me love you more. The sad news is some of them would graduate when the semester ends. I miss them already. Lilian told me that love is patient when I told them how I miss you; she told me that love means loving the imperfect person perfectly when I complained about the calls you did not return. But there is a question I want to ask you before I go: do you still love me?

 Waiting to hear from you, soon.

Truly yours

No reply ever came. Where did I go wrong? “Those who truly loved never lose everything,” my father told me once. But Osa seem to have gone with everything. “Life must go on” was the most courageous thing I said. But just how far without Osarome?