Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence – Robert J. Hanlon.
In simpler words, the above quote means: some bad things happen not because of people having bad intentions, but because they did not think it through properly; it means that a leader’s foibles and eccentricity in matters of governance should not at all times be dignified with the attribution of any modicum of intentional thoughts. Hanlon tries to posit, albeit correctly, that sometimes leaders hide under the cover of malice to veil their crass ineptitude.
Nrashi, for the benefit of those who are not Nsukka people, simply means stomach infrastructure (apologies to former Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State). In Fela’s lexicon, it is called Paddy Paddy Government. It is also called chop make I chop. It is the most vacuous, thoughtless political philosophy I have come to know.
My first encounter with this Nrashi phrase dates back to 2014, after the emergence of the Governor as the PDP flag bearer. In a dinner organized by the then outgoing governor, Sullivan Chime, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, I made my way to then Candidate Ugwuanyi to congratulate him on his emergence as the ticket holder. He was flanked by the duo of Sullivan and Chief Vita Abba, the then PDP Chairman of the state. On congratulating him on his emergence, the response I got from him was “iji arashi” (you will lick). At first it didn’t mean anything to me, but as the slogan later became the popular refrain that defined his campaign I began interrogating the underlining philosophy behind it.
How Enugu State ended up in the hands of a governor who ideologically believes in nothing beggars belief! Recently, I watched the viral video of a frustrated young man (ostensibly from Nsukka) pouring invective on the Governor. Amongst other things he said, he queried why the governor could not maintain mundane infrastructures as negligible as street lights left behind by the Governor’s predecessor. He ended by asking: ‘what is wrong with you, young man?’.
As harsh and scathing as ‘what is wrong with you, young man’ could be, the speaker couldn’t have delivered it better. In Enugu State, we are presently dealing with a governor who has spent five years clowning. I keep asking what this governor represents and no answer has been provided, save for the usual platitudes of Nrashi and the like . A friend had cause to tell me that ‘at least he represents treachery’. I will deal with the issue of this treachery in a subsequent article.
Whilst not trying to promote bad leadership ideals, the truth is that a leader should be known for what he/she stands for – whether good or bad – and should at all times strive to uphold such ideals. Ugwuanyi is lacking in character; his idea of poverty alleviation is a strange pedestrian sharing of money to political jobbers in a delusional, warped, crude and jaundiced Nrashi philosophy.
Each time I visit Enugu, especially Nsukka, as I always do, I come back to Abuja very dejected and disappointed. My disappointment stems largely from the realization that the Governor is still popular amongst an average Nsukka youth (the very people he has misgoverned) and I keep wondering what fuels it. The usual renditions and chants of Gburugburu (Gburugburu is the Governor’s sobriquet) that often rent the air, even in the midst of poverty, still inexplicably subsist.
It is against the above backdrop that I wish to interrogate the philosophical underpinning of the Nrashi concept of Governor Ugwuanyi and the Gburuism movement (A certain joker sometime in 2016 began an annual lecture series tagged Gburuism). The administration of Governor Ugwuanyi just clocked five (5) years on 29th May, 2020 with only two years of effective leadership remaining. This is so bearing in mind that the entire 2022 will be dedicated to 2023 politics. Though this administration has not ended, five (5) years is enough to assess the life and times of a eight-year tenure administration. The signs are truly very ominous in terms of how it will end. As they say, the jury is out already.
Beyond closing down of Ogbete Market because the shop owners allegedly derisively referred to him as a woman, one finds it difficult pointing out what can stand as the legacy project of this governor. Even at that, I got astounded in the Ogbete story to hear that this governor could even have the nerves to bite at all. This is a governor who was filmed weeping, in what could best be described as a made-for-the-camera show, while visiting the gory site of where the hapless natives of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani LGA of the State were mowed down in their tens by some murderous herdsmen, only to be seen in less than 24 hours cheering and laughing while leaving the Presidential Villa after his visit to the State House.
In short, he granted an interview (the first and only of such chance interface with the media in his five (5) years of leadership) with the State House Correspondents wherein he laughed all through like a drowning man without saying anything to reassure his people that he was with them. What and who was Governor Ugwuanyi afraid of on that fateful day?
Today, Ohaneze and some Southern leaders are shouting that Igbos are facing existential threat owing to the spate of influx of strange faces to the East, and Enugu being a borderline state, is the most vulnerable and worst hit already. Videos have gone viral of some young men who were caught in their large numbers migrating to Obollo-Afor, a transit town lying about 4 kilometers from the Governor’s hometown, Orba. One would have expected this to jolt Gburugburu into action but not this governor – he is simply clueless!
When this governor was sworn in, we were treated to how he was planning to build a world-class hospital at Orba, his hometown; how he hoped to bring back the Ada Rice of yore by revitalizing the agricultural potentials of Adani; we were regaled with tales of how Nsukka town would be transformed to meet the status of a university community hosting the first indigenous university in Nigeria; the Nrashi apostles titillated us with how industries would be established across the state to offer employment to our people. All those positive optimisms and mass hysteria that greeted his emergence have all turned into a mirage as none was actualized.
For the education of this governor who does not understand the concept of Nrashi – even though he can validly lay claims to its patent – I wish to let him know that Nrashi means creating jobs and offering employment to the people where they could earn salaries and have money in their pockets; Nrashi means ensuring good education and offering of scholarships to the educationally-sound less- privilegged ones so they can acquire education and break the cycle of poverty plaguing their families; someone should help me tell Governor Ugwuanyi that Nrashi is when he builds hospital in Orba, his hometown, and his people are granted easy access to quality health care; Nrashi is when he builds affordable housing units in Enugu and the real people who truly need such low cost houses are given opportunities to own houses in the state. These and many more should define Nrashi, and not the very thoughtless idea of servicing political hangers-on.
I will end this intervention by stating that as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has decided to run with the hare while hunting with the hounds by emptying Enugu State’s treasury in appeasement of political jobbers, someone should remind him that time is ticking. Ben Ayade just wept on realizing that he has spent five (5) years in power without anything to show for it. Does this Governor even have the prescience of mind to weep? I doubt!
Mr. Asogwa, a lawyer, wrote this piece from Abuja.