ENUGU 2023: A SEARCH FOR ANOTHER ZIK AND OKPARA
By Ike Ona, (Ph.D.)
In 1980, precisely September 4, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe addressed the then Anambra State House of Assembly. The thorny issue of party discipline and parliamentary responsibility in democracy formed the major ingredients of the lecture. The atmosphere was electrifying and the lecture itself edifying and enriching. As the lecture commenced, Zik went down memory lane by identifying the men and women that laid the foundation of progressive Enugu, the Coal City. Thus he said,
“In 1954 in this place formerly known as Eastern Nigeria Regional House of Assembly complex, few years before Nigeria got independence from Britain, some of these great people sat here and laid the glorious foundation of the future of Enugu, the star of the East”. Amongst the persons in his list were Prof. Eyo Ita, Dr. Alvan Ikoku, Dr. Udo Udoma, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, Rev. Oko Effiong, Chief M. W Ubani, Barr. O. O Ita, Mr. A. J Ekpe, Mazi Mbonu Ojike, Dr. M.I Okpara, Chief I. U Akpabio, Dr. K.O Mbadiwe, Chief M. T. Mbu, chief E. Emole, Chief B.C Okwu, Chief M. C Agwu, Chief G.E Okeke, Mrs Margaret Ekpo, Alhaji Umoru Yushua, Dr. S. E Imoke, Chief M.E Ogon, Chief R. U Ukuta, Chief J.U Nwodo, Chief Nyong Essien, Dr. E.N Esin, and Chief P.O Nwoga. Others were Chief A. N Onyuike, Dr. W. N Onubogu, Chief Chike Chidolue. Chief P.N Okeke, Mr. F.M.A Saromwiyo, Mr. E. P Okoye, Mr. D.C Ugwu, Mr. L.U Ime, Mr. E.U Eronini, Mr. N.I .P Aprela, Mr. L.O Uzoigwe, P,O Ururuka, P,A Onwe, Rev M.D Opara, Mbazuluike Amechi and Jaja Nwachukwu, Nigeria first Speaker of the House of Representatives .
These people laid the foundation of Enugu as the white scavengers left our shores. Not too many cities in Africa had the privilege of the convergence of such quality of men and women named above at their foundational level. These statesmen lived their life in Enugu and made their marks in public service. With this solid and progressive foundation, Enugu became a spring board and a corner stone for a good number, a sanctuary for many , tourism site for those in love with aesthetics and home for a galaxy of men and women who proved their mettle in international, continental and national arena.
History of Enugu cannot be told without mention of Some of these celebrities cum statesmen whose cerebral accomplishments are linked to Enugu like Professor Kenneth Dike, the first Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Professor, Gilbert Onuaguluchi, the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, reputed to be the first African Millionaire, Nwafor Akweke Orizu the third Nigerian Senate President after Nnamdi Azikiwe and Denis Chukwude Osadebe.
Others were J. A. Jumbo, Aja Nwachukwu, C.O.C Chidozie, N. U Akpan, Ukpabi Asika, Anthony Aboki Ochefu, Dr. George Marion Johnson, Prof. Eni Njoku, Prof. Herbert Kodilinye, Prof. James Ezeilo, Prof. Umaru Shehu, Prof. Frank Ndili, Prof. Chimere Ikoku, Prof. Oleka Udeala, Prof. Umoru Gonwalk, Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefo, Prof. Julius Onah, and Prof. Bath Nnaji et al
Also in Enugu were accomplished parliamentarians and Royal Fathers Chief Charles Abangwu and Chief Elias Aneke Chime.
In the Coal city were such great school administrators like Austine Ezenwa, GBI Ikedinma, Rev, Fr, Prof. Stan Ani, Rev. Fr. Dr. Raymond Arazu, and Rev Fr, Dr. Chike Ngwu.
These other great men and women that had their foundation in Enugu ring bell beyond the frontiers of Africa for their achievement and accomplishments in Music and performing Art: Sony Okosun, the Ozidi King who started in Enugu as a Motor Mechanic, Onyeka Onwenu, first to read news on Anambra Television Channel 5-0 Enugu, Nelly Uchendu, Agu Norris, Mike Ejeagha and Tuface Idiba. Others were Chika Okpala alias Zebrudaya, James Iroha, alias Gregory akabogu, Clarus , Ovuleria, Jegede, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Pete Edochie, and so many others like Sam Loco, Nkem Owoh, Patience Ozokwo, Steve Ebo( Ajibo), Olu Jaco,Tony Ubesie and Aki and Pawpaw .
In the field of sports too, these great sports men and women had their foundation in Enugu: Emmanual Ifeajuna, Nigeria’s first Olympic Medalist, legendary Dan Anyiam, Bob Ume, Chairman Christian Chukwu, Adoke Amasiemka who later became a Judge in Port Harcourt, Emmanuel Oguejiofor Okala, Domnic Nwobodo. Grace Alele(Madam Rangers), Michael Okpala ( Power Mike) who was a world wrestling champion, Ben Lion Heart, Dick Tiger Ihetu , Emma Okocha and Austin Jay-Jay Okocha
Enugu was also a spring board for many religious leaders like Bishop Johncross Anyiogu, Bishop Michael Eneje, Bishop Godfery Okoye, Bishop Gideon Nweke Otubelu, Bishop Anthony Gbuji, and Prof. Ibeagha et al.
Similarly, great military tacticians had their foundations in Enugu. Amongst them were Majors Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Wole Ademoyega, Donatus Okafor; Major General Philip Effiong and Alexander Mbadiebo . In Enugu too was a great young revolutionist and activist, Comrade Gregory Aneke, a cerebral student activist at the University of Nigeria in late 60’s.
Also in the city on the Hills were accomplished politician and Architect Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, Nigeria’s former Vice President, Chief John Nwodo, Dr. Hyde Onuaguluchi, Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu Pius Okigbo world acclaimed economist, Supreme and Appeal Court Jurists: Augustine Nnamani, Dan Ibekwe, Anthony Aniagolu, Nnaemeka Agu and Adrian Orah
In Journalism circle these people made their mark in Enugu: Zimako Kenechukwu, Thomas Chigbo, Cyprain Ekwensi, Sir Humphery Nwokeabia Agu, Boniface Ofokaja, Eddie Iro, Kevin Ejiofor, Tony Ojielo, Ikem Ikobi, Elizabeth Okaro, Miriam Okagbue, Ikenna Nduaguba, Ralph Okpara, Edwin Enigwe, Marius Ugada, Charlie Nnaji, Chidi Okolo etc.
The humdinger foundation laid by great statesmen in Enugu starting from Azikiwe fondly known as Zik paved way for quality leadership in the Coal City State. These leaders starting from great Zik of Africa include Dr. Akanu Ibiam. Dr. M. I Okpara, General Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ukpabi Asikia, Col. John Aton Kpera, Col. Sadiq Abubakar, Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, Christian C.C Onoh, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, Comdr. Emeka Omeruah, Col. Robert Akonobi, Lt. Col. Herbert Obi Eze, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Navy Capt. Temi Ejoor, Col. Mike Lucky Torey, Col. Sule Ahman, Navy Capt. Benson Agbaje, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Barr. Sullivan Chime were once landlords of the famous LION BUILDING that is currently under the leadership of ebullient and shrewd servant leader, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi .
LION BUILDING Enugu as the bedrock of cerebral governance in Nigeria has attracted notable statesmen who could not but step their feet into Enugu so as to tap from the progressive foundation laid by the great Zik of Africa. Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from prison in 1994 told the then Nigerian Head of State General Ibrahim Babangida that Enugu city was missing in the program for his proposed visit to Nigeria. Hence, during his visit, Mandela as a president told a mammoth crowd at Okpara Square Enugu that he needed to be in Enugu to share some moments together with his mentor and role model, Great Zik of Africa. “Zik inspired me”, he said in the company of his wife Winnie Mandela.
Earlier in 1954, Kwame Nkrumah who in 1957 became the first Prime Minister of Ghana visited the LION BUILDING to address the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in honour of his mentor, Zik of Africa and to tap from the wise counseling of great men of the East living in the Lion’s Den.
The baton of sterling leadership ably kick started by Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and outstandingly taken higher by Dr. M. I Okpara was handed over to His Excellency Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in May 29th, 2015. Before his entrance to Lion Building, Enugu had witnessed leaders of different capacities. Enugu has never lacked elected Governors of unbeatable creativity and capability. In line with the quality foundation laid by Great Zik and M,I Okpara, Enugu in the last seven years has witnessed a Charismatic leader, a Bridge Builder, emancipator, shrewd economist by practice, empowerment guru, rural developer, peacemaker, Human Resource Manager and a Political mathematician. As the tenure of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the Executive Governor of Enugu State winds down, the expectation of Ndi Enugu and great sons and daughters of Eastern Nigeria residing in Enugu that take the Coal City as their terrestrial Jerusalem, is the emergence of a stabilizer, innovator and revolutionary leader like Great Zik and M. I Okpara in the forthcoming general election as the governor of Enugu State. The LION BUILDING being strategically, politically, socially, traditionally, spiritually and economically important to Ndi Igbo is not a place for elementary politicians/technocrats. The former Landlords and the present Landlord of the famous LION BUILDING has raised the flag higher which forbids any minimal capability to sneak into the hallowed building as governor.
The foundation of greater Enugu was laid by an icon of governance. Hence, It is not out of place that its progressive foundation will be taken to an admirable level by another Icon. The people of Coal City do not expect less. This generation is already in the phase of innovative industrial revolution which demands a being of creative ingenuity, moral stability, choleric lushness and inspiring rationality.
Ndi Enugu expect a being that has the character of Zik and Okpara, Ndi Enugu expect a being that has great intellectual stamina for quality decision making, quality management system for credible management of the common wealth, Human Resources Management expertise, astute financial control and grand diplomacy. A candidate that has the prior listed qualities is the best choice for Ndi Enugu. The founding fathers saw tomorrow. Ndi Enugu of the present generation need another leader that will not only see today but tomorrow. A leader that will link the entire Ndi Igbo to the Coal City with creative transformation.
The current fiscal discipline in Enugu is a testimony of a good leader. Ndi Enugu do not expect less but another well-disciplined personality with selfless service to make live better for the people. A selfless service is putting the welfare of the people you are representing before your own. Winston Churchill described it as “the first of all human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
As the campaign drumbeats for the party primary elections are about reaching a crescendo, I urge the delegates to ensure that they elect leaders that will take the mantle of repositioning Enugu in line with the pronounced dreams of its founding fathers higher. I urge the delegates to allow their reason lord over their hearts and abdomen. As you go into primary election, think about posterity, think about tranquility, think about justice, think about evidence of quality, think about creative ingenuity, think about job creation for the teeming youths, think about Enugu becoming a modern city and think about happiness of your seeds.
It is well with Ndi Enugu