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Another Look At Ugwuanyi’s Cabinet

Posted: Jul 14, 2015 at 12:58 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Nzomiwu –  Enugu


After six weeks of mounting the saddle, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Thursday, forwarded a list of 24 Commissioner nominees to the State House of Assembly for consideration and confirmation. But no parable captures the make-up of Ugwuanyi’s emerging cabinet dominated by recycled politicians like the Biblical parable of “Old Wine in New Wine Skin”.

The composition of the list of Ugwuanyi’s Commissioner nominees, read on the floor of the House of Assembly on Thursday, by the Speaker, Edward Ubochi, include three former House of Representatives members, Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, Chijioke Edoga and Peace Nnaji.

After serving in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003, representing Igbo-Eze North/Udenu federal constituency, Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, who was then a member of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), now defunct, contested for the governorship seat of the State on the platform of the same party in 2003 and 2007 and lost in both occasions.

Based on the Government of National Unity formed between the then ruling party at the centre, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ANPP, Ayogu was appointed the Nigerian Ambassador to Uganda in 2007. During his stint as Ambassador from 2007 to 2011, he dumped ANPP for PDP. He was appointed as a member of Enugu State delegation to the National Conference held last year.

Similarly, Chijioke Edoga was a former member of the House of Representatives representing Enugu East/Isi-Uzo federal constituency from 1999 to 2003. Before serving in the House of Representatives, he was Chairman of Isi-Uzo local government area of the State. He served as an Adviser to the President in the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mrs. Peace Nnaji was also a member of the House of Representatives representing Nkanu East/Nkanu West from 2007 to 2015. Before goingto House of Representatives, she was a Commissioner in the administration of Chimaroke Nnamani who was Governor of Enugu State from 1999 to 2007.

A former local government chairman in the immediate past administration of Governor Sullivan Chime, Ozo Gab Onuzulike, is also in the list of Ugwuanyi’s nominees. Onuzulike served two terms of four years as Chairman of Oji River local government areas.

Veteran politician, Charles Egumgbe, also featured in the list. Egumgbe was founding Chairman of PDP in Enugu State in 1999. The list equally contained the name of Rita Chinelo Mba who was an Adviser to immediate past Governor, Sullivan Chime. The other nominees are Dr Sam Ngwu Patrick Ezebuilo Ikpenwa, Udeuhele Godwin Ikpechukwu, Mabeke Obinna Benjamin, Greg Nnaji, Chika Smart Ogbe, Ndukwe Charles Chuka, Chidi Aroh and Sam Ogbu Nwobodo.

The list further includes Emeka Okeke, Miletus Ezegwuorie Eze, Prof. Uchenna Eze, Charles Ogbonna Asogwa, Solomon Izuchukwu Onah, Mr. Vitus Okechi, Mike C. Eneh, Fide Ani and Eucheria Uche Offor.

Some politicians in the State who pleaded anonymity expressed disappointment with the list of Commissioners forwarded to the House by Ugwuanyi.

“Many of us expected Ugwuanyi to come up with a list of Commissioners better than that of his predecessor, Sullivan Chime. But the quality of what he prepared is far below the standard set by Sullivan. For God’s sake why would he be recycling members of the National Assembly. What Ugwuanyi did is mere political patronage. It is not result oriented,” one of our sources said.

Apart from the recycling of politicians, keen observers of political developments in the state also noticed the contradiction inherent in the long list of Ugwuanyi’s commissioner nominees.

For instance, on the day of Ugwuanyi’s inauguration on May 29, he said: “While expectations are high, and rightly so, it is also important to state that the times we are in require some patience. With patience, faith and your full involvement in governance, we will surely get there. However, I also believe that we must match our faith with the right decisions and good work. I will therefore be calling on Ndi Enugu to tighten their belts.

“But the difference between our model of belt-tightening and the one you used to know, is that the belt-tightening under this administration will start with government functionaries and business. We will lead by example. We will lead a lean government to free up resources and channel them to the real development issues.”

Therefore, the list of 24 Commissioner nominees was seen as a contradiction to Governor Ugwuanyi’s earlier pronouncement to run a lean administration, more especially when the House of Assembly had earlier given him approval to appoint 12 Special Advisers.

According to a concerned political observer, “Ugwuanyi ought to have emulated some of his counterparts, including Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai ,who trimmed down the number of Commissioners in their State to less than 15.”

He added: “At most, the number of Commissioners in Enugu ought to have been 17 to make sure that each of the 17 local government areas was represented in the cabinet. But from the list forwarded to the House, Nsukka local government area alone got three Commissioner nominees while Awgu got 2. The implication is that money that ought to have gone into development would be spent on maintaining this large number of political appointees.”

The role stakeholders played in the nomination of the Commissioners was also seen as a contradiction. Enugu State PDP stakeholders had on Saturday June 6 granted freedom to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to choose political appointees for his administration. The decision was taken at the meeting of Enugu PDP stakeholders, held inside the Old Governor’s Lodge, Abakiliki road Enugu.

Notable among those at the meeting were Governor Ugwuanyi, his Deputy, Cecilia Ezeilo, former Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, senators-elect, Gilbert Nnaji and Chuka Utazi, state party officials, council chairmen and former Commissioners.

Ugwuanyi had summoned the stakeholders meeting after his administration could not announce even one appointment one week after take-off. But all the stakeholders who were in attendance at the meeting, unanimously told the governor that they have confidence in him and therefore he should use his discretion to choose whoever he wants to work with, to realize his dreams for Enugu State. They described the formula of asking them to nominate three persons per local government as capable of causing confusion in the State.

Addressing the meeting, Ugwuanyi said it was not as if he does not know what to do but because he wanted to run a peoples oriented government, he asked stakeholders to nominate two persons per ward.



He said: “I wanted to carry the people along in my appointment. That was why I asked stakeholders to nominate two persons per ward. But, there was problem here and there. Some nominated their wives. Some nominated their brothers.”

Ugwuanyi said since the stakeholders had given him the go-ahead to use his discretion and choose, as soon as he concludes the inauguration of the new House of Assembly, he would send the list of his Advisers to the House for approval.

Although he has not appointed his advisers, the signature of the stakeholders were all over the list of Commissioners he submitted to the House. For instance, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was believed to have influenced the nomination of Godwin Udeuhele who was his Special Assistant in the last Senate.

Similarly, Rita Mba’s nomination may not be unconnected with her very cozy relationship with ex-governor Chime who Ugwuanyi has pledged his loyalty to, in and out of office.  Chime is also believed to have influenced the nomination of Ozo Gab Onuzulike who is his in-law. Sam Ogbu Nwobodo is believed to be the candidate of former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji. Nwobodo served as an Assistant to Nnaji while he was Minister.

A member of the House of Representatives, Chime Oji, the nephew of former governor Sullivan Chime was believed to have nominated Dr Sam Ngwu, a United States based medical doctor who contested for the House of Representatives with him.

When Oji was asked to make the nomination for Enugu North LGA, he chose a law Professor who hailed from Ngwo town with him, but the law Professor insisted that he would not take any potfolio outside Ministry of Justice or Education.

But while the nomination of the Professor was being considered, the People of Ogui came up with the calculation that when the tenure of the Chairman of Enugu North LGA, Emeka Ede, who is their brother ends by December, no Ogui man would be in government whereas Ngwo has all the political offices for the local government including House of Representatives. Ugwuanyi sympathized with Ogui people, and this prompted the nomination of Dr Ngwu. The other nominees were believed to have been influenced by one stakeholder or another.