By Malachy Chuma Ochie
On Wednesday, 13th May 1981, a bizarre incident of global and historical significance occurred at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
It was the day that a certain Turk attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II. On this day, Catholic faithfuls from around the world eagerly awaited the arrival of the Pontiff at the St. Peter’s Square.
Just as the Pope made his entry into the arena, Mehmet Ali Ağca, a Turk acting in concert with three other accomplices, opened fire on the Pope at close range injuring the Pope.
The world was awed by this act of treachery and people of all walks of life and faith rose up in condemnation of this heinous crime.
Mehmet Ali Ağca would eventually say that he shot the Pope to elicit global attention.
The import of his confession is that miscreants must attack and even kill a person of prominence to gain attention.
Pope John Paul’s ordeal is not the first in history. In Biblical times, we read of the ugly experiences David went through prompting him to pen down Psalm 109.
This Psalm reflects a common problem which leaders across the ages have had to contend with.
The Psalm describes the reactions of a man who has been unjustly accused and wrongly treated.
David was railed upon by Nabal and God would eventually judge Nabal summarily; paving the way for David’s marriage to Abigail (I Sam: 25).
Today in Enugu State, this scenario is playing out with astonishing accuracy. Today, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has become the object of intense and caustic attacks; not because he is deserving of such invectives but simply because some of our people mistake his humane disposition to governance for cowardice.
Today, anyone who can barely read or make any constructive sentence has seen a perfect target of internet attack in Governor Ugwuanyi.
Incidentally, none of these internet tigers have been able to point to one thing they will say Governor Ugwuanyi has done wrong.
I am constrained to believe that in attacking Governor Ugwuanyi in the manner some of our people have resorted to; they believe they will create relevance and become noticed. Otherwise, there are no reasons for such attacks.
At the height of his own odyssey, David beseeched God not to be silent, for wicked and deceitful mouths were opened against him.
Such deceitful mouths, as they are doing to Governor Ugwuanyi today, spoke against David with lying tongues.
They overwhelmed David with words of hate and attacked him without cause. In return for David’s benevolence, the naysayers in Israel accused him of incompetence even as he laboured in love for their own good.
The baseline here is that they rewarded David evil for good; and returned hatred for his love.
Here was a man who was under attack from rather unscrupulous persons. Those who attacked him so bitterly were obviously not to be trusted.
“They are deceitful,” he says; “they are wicked,” i.e., they are determined upon evil, and they are thoroughly unscrupulous; they do not care what they say or what they do.
With lying tongues they were out to destroy. This is the scenario in Enugu State today.
But I do know that time was in the past when Enugu State had a certain king of fierce countenance who brooked not dissent and who threw our humanity to the dogs. Governance was of the elite; by the elite and for the elite.
Time was in Enugu State when we had a king of mean heart; when wicked people went about with crooked speech, winking with their eyes, signaling with their feet, pointing with their fingers, and with perverted hearts devised evil.
But in Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, God has blessed Enugu State with a humble and humane governor; a governor who is God-fearing and declares the awesomeness of God even in the inner recesses of government.
He is neither the king with fierce countenance nor the king with a mean heart. This is a man who picks all phone calls irrespective of the callers status. He reads every text; and he empathizes with the infirm and masses.
This is a governor who cries when his subjects are crying; dances when they are dancing and does not eat until his people have eaten.
Why are our people so stiff-necked? Why do many of us have hearts of stone? Why do we revel in cruelty but despise the just? Why? Why?
Yet it is the sole ambition of many in our midst today to continually sow discord. The Bible teaches that the fate of such persons will be calamitous and sudden.
The Bible also teaches that there are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.
The seventh one is a “false witness that speaketh lies; and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:19).
But Governor Ugwuanyi has taken all these insults in good faith. Just like the Indians despised Mahatma Gandhi at the beginning of his non-violent struggle and soaked in their disparaging innuendos, so is Governor Ugwuanyi doing today in Enugu State.
But unknown to many history has always judged such men with benevolence. And therein lies the nexus between Gandhi and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
As early as December 1909, Gopal Krishna Gokhale told the members of the Indian National Congress at Lahore that “a purer, a nobler, a braver and more exalted spirit than Gandhi has never moved on this earth.
Gandhi, he said is “a man among men, a hero among heroes, a patriot among patriots”.
This testimony aptly befits Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and we may well say that in Governor Ugwuanyi, Enugu State’s humanity at the present time has reached its high water-mark.
People like Governor Ugwuanyi are sent by God to redeem us from a sense of common place and futility, and are an inspiration to us not to weary in well-doing.
Ugwuanyi has showed us a new technique, which we cannot ignore. We must praise him for taking a non-violent approach to governance in Enugu State; for demonstrating love instead of hate for his people.
This, for me is the most essential work; the most important of all the works being done in Enugu State today, wherein not only the people of Enugu State but the entire southeast will partake of.
In Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State has seen a man without armies; without political thugs, without showmanship, with nothing but goodness; the goodness that is willing to be vilified by men of lesser understanding, whose disposition to good has risen from the north of Enugu to govern men in the east and west of Enugu State.
In an age when primitive accumulation of wealth has overwhelmed our political leaders; when the labourer is no more worthy of his wages, when the traditional values of our humanity have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has chosen to keep faith with his social contract with the people.
Ugwuanyi has showed us the way out of political crisis and that way is the way of love, benevolence and non-violence.
This approach is the moral equivalent of war against bellicosity and high-handedness in governance.
We must learn to appreciate our leaders and avoid unnecessary bickering. It is only in a peaceful environment that we can make the desired progress.
That is Governor Ugwuanyi’s evangel to Enugu State. God bless our State and our Governor.