Politics is a playful sport, not to be taken seriously. As Alhaji Waziri of the then GNPP admonished, politics is service, a service to the people. It is played without bitterness. It ought to be played exclusively for the interest of the masses—the people, our own beloved people.
Everything about politics should be geared towards benefitting the people; that is what democracy is all about—the ruling of the people by the people themselves, which translates to power belonging to the people. Politics is more like golf the game of the urbane elite—a game you play without much sweat where winners do not celebrate much and the losers are commended. This is how politics ought to be, but it is not.
Surprisingly, it is difficult to fathom where the people fit into the fast moving trains of intrigues emerging from Enugu state. The situation has gotten to a stage of drawing out even a sleeping lion like myself out of the jungle and into the arena——an arena where our leaders have mutated into masquerades of different shades and sizes displaying unmeasured absurdities to the entertainment of the rest of the Nigeria. Are we becoming the laughing stock of 2015?
Enugu State had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, not for the politics that benefits the people, not for the infrastructural development of the state, rather for crude ego-tripping of the selected few, spoilt brats who never really toiled for anything. Why are they fighting over, NKU-UKWA which sensible folks know how to share without a fuss? I wonder!
Over the political years since 1999 various masquerades have emerged. There are the Abuja Masquerades and the biggest of them is in the leadership of the senate. There are home-based Enugu Masquerades on the other side with the top man manning the Lion Building. These people are all entrenched, experienced and initiated members of the Ebeano political family under the leadership of the biggest of all masquerades of his time who held sway in the Lion Building from 1999 to 2007.
The current occupant of the Lion Building, the Big Enugu Masquerades has made great efforts to convert Enugu to his private estate and he spent enormous time and money to wipe away the name Ebano and to distance his team from the atrocities of the Ebeano’s past.
However his efforts did not yield much fruits because even though Ebeano no longer ring bells, their stamp of impunity, their high-handedness, and their penchant for imposition still reign supreme in his domain. As a matter of fact, he has adopted every bit of Ebeano brand except the name as evidenced in 2011 and as is playing out all over the political terrain of 2014.
For the past several months, these two groups of masquerades (Enugu vs. Abuja) have been engaged in serious game of power, a sort of political shadow boxing throwing any and everything at each other all to retain power and remain politically viable. It has gotten to a shameful stage that the name of Enugu State is being dragged through the mud. Why?
Ironically, what started like child’s play has grown to full-scale political fracas of annoying proportion. According to an impeccable source, the fight started over a big bash thrown by the Enugu group. Amidst litany of run gals and assorted drinks the group came up with the idea of displacing the Abuja group in the 2015 election.
Just like that, the Big Enugu Masquerade called a press conference to issue decree that all those who had been at the national assembly for more than two terms are not going back. He declared national assembly representation a poverty alleviation program (PAP) where representation is to be apportioned to communities to help alleviate poverty.
Tell me, if this is not absurd, I don’t know what it is. If it is a PAP what is a Big Enugu Masquerade who reigned from the Lion Building for 8 solid years going to Abuja to do that he could not have done while at the top? How is he going to go begging and lobbying in senate when he had it all? How could our Big Enugu Masquerade with the meaty carcass of elephant right on his head for 8 years resort to footing around for crickets in Abuja? I wonder!
However, as time goes on, it became apparent that those billed to replace the Abuja Masquerades are remotely suitable to be addressed as poverty alleviation agents. For example, the Big Enugu Masquerade drafted himself to go to senate to represent Enugu West. There can be no poverty alleviation as it is in itself absurd as well as strange.
Interestingly, four or five commissioners have resigned, one to take the position of a senator up North and others for various positions in the house of representative. Most of these people have spent the greater part of the 8 years levying people, accumulating executive experience while they build political support at the grass root. They are no masquerade as they depend on the Big Enugu Masquerade to help them defeat the Abuja Masquerades.
Paradoxically, the Big Enugu Masquerade is off to senate after 8 years of accumulating allocations and dispensing security vote. He is going because he has just completed the ultra modern campus of Enugu State University of Technology at Iwollo. He is going for he has rebuilt the 9th mile corner with an International Market and free trade zone. He has attracted industries and pipe-borne water in every nook and cranny of Enugu West, and rehabilitated Udi General Hospital converting it to ESUT teaching hospital.
Or is it because he did not do anything tangible for Enugu West for the 8 years while holding the knives and the yams dishing to whoever prostrates except Enugu West. He wants to go to senate like his predecessor who ironically went to senate to rest after massive infrastructural development of Nkanu land.
Truth be told, this great Nkanu son converted Agbani to a pricey pieces of real estate where price of land has gone through the roof as a result of numerous infrastructures developments such as Ebeano City, the main campus of Enugu State University, the International Conference Center, the Nigerian Law School, the Nigerian Air force Academy the Mea Matter Secondary School and Renaissance University. This is the reason there was no opposition when he stepped out in 2007 to replace the former Senate President.
Personally I don’t buy into rumors however it was said that our Big Enugu Masquerade had wanted to retire having done his best for Enugu State. But he was told that none of his boys is capable of challenging the Big Abuja Masquerade, which is why he made a detour to execute the job himself.
For me, this is a big mistake. In the land of masquerades, a fellow masquerade does not rise up to take what belongs to another masquerade. Masquerades are supposed to exhibit some modicum of deference and respect for one another as they discuss, negotiate and reach consensus instead of engaging in destructive escapades we are witnessing today.
Frightfully so, the Big Enugu Masquerade has left trail of absurd as he prosecutes his erroneous quest for senate. For example, the prominent Igwe of Udi was at 2014 Udi-Ezeagu USA convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and emphatically informed his people that he has been issued a yellow card by the Big Enugu Masquerade. The Igwe got yellow card because he told the Big Enugu Masquerade to change dance steps for the interest of the people of Enugu West.
A prominent professor from Ezeagu who had headed ESUT got the ire of the Big Enugu Masquerade for joining others on a thank-you meet with the Big Abuja Masquerade. Another embattled Igwe of Ezeagu was dethroned and another installed to the shock of the community. This Igwe has since gone to court of law where he instituted a thirty million Naira lawsuit for damages as a result of his crown, which was forcibly yanked by the Big Enugu Masquerade.
In a strange development, the Umuneke Clan of the Big Enugu Masquerade rose to question why he wants to go to senate. In a terse statement signed by one Obinna Aneke from Udi calling on the Big Enugu Masquerade to rethink his senatorial ambition, for a disgraceful end awaits him at the poll. Why?
Addressing a campaign rally in Oji River, the Big Enugu Masquerade reiterated his vow that no member of the National Assembly that had served more than two terms should consider another term. However, the Big Enugu Masquerade in a disturbing twist perfected the enthronement of his Chief of Staff to replace the senator of Enugu East who has been there since 2011 serving one term.
To drive home his seriousness the Big Enugu Masquerade descended on his Deputy. In one fell swoop his faltering steps led to the now renowned chicken impeachment. The Big Enugu Masquerade vehemently plotted and executed the chicken impeachment of the most humble, a gentle lamb and a man dripping in humility – the most loyal public official in Nigeria. As the madness was ensuing,there were pleas from the high and mighty. I heard Aso Rock pleaded and National PDP begged but to no avail.
In the most bizarre goof, the Big Enugu Masquerade on hearing of the resignation of the Enugu State PDP Chairman due to ill health, without thinking ordered the PDP secretary to call a meeting ignoring the established successive arrangement for the Deputy Chairman to take over in acting capacity till a replacement is elected. This can only point to a manifestation of perennial distrust within the rank.
Despite call for redirection by the deputy chairman, the lord of the manor in desperation opted to do it his way. I recall that in 2011, when the former national chairman of PDP resigned amidst the disagreement with the Big Enugu Masquerade, his deputy took over and stayed through the period of 2011 election. The risk of this rush job is that the INEC and PDP National could reject all Enugu State PDP candidates including but not limited to the consensus candidate.
As I was rounding up things, I came across a rebuttal of an earlier news that our very own Big Enugu Masquerade was stood up by the National Chairman of PDP who kept him waiting for five solid hours—–same treatment the Big Enugu Masquerade loved to dish out to former PDP chairmen. I wondered aloud if this was a pay back time or display of displeasure for ignoring the rule.
My suspicion did not last as the National Public Secretary of PDP National issued a press report denouncing the newly elected Chairman of Enugu State PDP. The NWC directed that the affairs of the party should be handed over to the deputy who has two weeks to schedule a meeting for the election of a replacement
Characteristics of the Big Enugu Masquerade, the directive of the National PDP did not make sense as he summoned what he described as an extra-ordinary meeting of the Enugu PDP to reelect the already rejected candidate. The battle line seems to have been drawn for a show down better the Big Enugu Masquerade and the PDP National reminiscent of 2011. But the outcome is already looking quite different.
Instructively, as they say in Igbo land, you bite as you can chew. You do not bite more than you can chew. You don’t haul the mighty carcass of an elephant and at the same time continue footing around for crickets. Masquerades do not take from another rather they engage in “ikpa ya akpa”—as in dialogue. And each masquerade starts monologue with self before engaging the next masquerade in dialogue.
Obviously, our Big Enugu Masquerade has been engaged in confusing and unnecessary political brawls opening many unwinnable battles. These battles include but not limited to (1) delivering the beloved the consensus governorship candidate, (2) displacing an entrenched Abuja Masquerade, a senator representing Enugu North with his commissioner, (3) tossing out the Abuja Masquerade of Enugu East, a senator still serving first term, with his sister and former chief of staff.
Others are (4) delivering the PHD commissioner from Udi North to replace an experienced Abuja Masquerade leaving Ezeagu with nothing (5) replacing the battle-ready and tough Abuja Masquerade of Nkanu with another PHD commissioner, (6) electing another commissioner with tepid grass root support to replace an experienced Abuja Masquerade in Nsukka, and finally, (7) the big enchilada, unseating a fellow Big Masquerade, the Big Abuja Masquerade of the senate – the Deputy Senate President.
Granted that the governors have firm grip of the structure but the state PDP is still answerable to the National Working Committee. There is no point wasting Enugu State resourcing on those in Abuja trying to win it all. There is no point working against the Presidential Candidate of PDP. There is no benefit in confronting the National Chairman of PDP. And above all, it is absurd to violate the tenet of representative democracy by abrogating the rich institutional knowledge accruable with experience and longevity in the National Assembly.
Therefore, it is time for the Big Enugu Masquerade to come back home and listen to homemade truths. The solution stems from many Enugu people who damned the consequences and threats to tell truth to power. Starting from the Igwe of Udi who saw what is happening and tried to alert the Big Enugu Masquerade but instead he earned himself yellow card. Others have been burnt and cowered into silence and grumbling supporters
Of all the suggestions and advice one stood conspicuously out as a courageous action. I am talking about the open letter addressed to the Big Enugu Masquerade. The letter was written by the Enugu Concerned Professionals -Worldwide (ECPW). The letter provided ten reasons for the Big Masquerade to stay out of contest for any elective office. The reasons adduced, the content of the letter, the sincere presentation, the offer of alternatives and the bold truth about the Big Masquerade’s unsuitability for the position he sought, makes that letter a clear solution to the mess we have on our hands.
In fact after reading that humble and down to earth appeal, I sat back and gave deep thoughts to that letter, and my conscience made me to believe that the group meant well for Enugu State in general, and not for any partisan political benefit. I saw from a broad and critical stand point, that the group really viewed the whole would-be end result of the fate of Enugu State starting 2015 and then decided to put down their appeal in a very humble and polite manner.
Perhaps, the events playing out at the PDP congress displayed a Big Masquerade staggering along. A Big Enugu Masquerade whose dance steps are wobbly and at variance with the political tunes. The spectators are starting to worry. The handlers of the Big Enugu Masquerade are in shock and quandary of what else to do. The Big Enugu Masquerade trusts nobody. Those loyal to him have gotten very afraid. They remember the fate of the gentle lamb sacrificed at the altar of chicken impeachment. They have become more confused with the erratic nature of the beast emanating from the masked one.
Since the Big Enugu Masquerade refused to listen to his handlers and supporters, ignoring all entreaties, the Abuja Masquerades might have gotten together to put him in his place. They might have fired a warning shot. The warning shot landed with devastating effects. It is not just the faltering steps of the Big Enugu Masquerade but the fact is that he is fast loosing balance. In our land it is an abomination for the Big Masquerade to fall flat on his face for such is an inconsolable tragedy.
However, this Big Masquerade, like cat, is known to have nine lives. I recall his battle with the former national chairman of PDP in 2011. When you thought you have him cornered he could spring a surprise. Don’t rule out that there is a lawsuit filed in the remote of Aniri making its way through the court system.
The lawsuit could be challenging the Nigerian citizenship of the Big Abuja Masquerade. This is because the Big Abuja Masquerade is doubling as the deputy senate president and the speaker of ECOWAS. The lawsuit is seeking declaration to pronounce the Big Abuja Masquerade a foreigner and deport him to Ghana. Such could be the next try at extreme absurdity.
In conclusion, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies in politics. Politics and politicians should be flexible. The window of opportunity for dialogue must always be explored and be left open. Politicians should always coat their words sweet in case they have the burden of eating those words. It is not a do or die affair. The Big Enugu Masquerade and the Big Abuja Masquerade are both very important for Enugu West. We need them in Enugu State. And they are our pillars in the South East and Nigeria. We do not want one for the other. We want them to work together for the benefit of our people. This current macabre dance moves are not helping our state rather it is putting us in a very bad light. Enugu is the capital of Igbo land. Let us keep it so and bestow her with appropriate dignity. Meanwhile, my hearty congratulations go to the acting Chairman of Enugu State PDP, Elder Aja for conducting successful PDP congress. I salute the members of PDP for conducting themselves peacefully and kudos to His Excellency, the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu for taking the upper hand in round one. One down in the battle of wits, many more to go.
Ejenogwu Igwebike is a very concerned Onye-Enugu and writes from Enugu.