Monday, June 6, 2016

Ugwuanyi And The Potency Of Diplomatic Governance

By Nwobodo Chidiebere

“Constructive diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s right. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.”
           --Hassan Rouhani

In a democratic system of governance like ours, strategic diplomacy has been adjudged, tested and trusted as the best approach to finding lasting remedies to burning issues of governance. Great and age-long results have been made possible through constructive engagement and dialogue with relevant stakeholders than by the use of dictatorial methodology.
Gov Ugwuanyi
The developed democracies of the world like America and Great Britain have elevated potency of diplomacy cum diplomatic skills in managing public affairs issues to its rightful place. The advancement of democracy and its culminating effects on the development of these countries cannot be detached from the values they placed on diplomacy—which is the sturdy foundation of democratic governance setting benchmark to our contemporary world.

In fact, America for instance, rate and evaluate its presidential hopefuls on their diplomatic capacities more than other qualities, because American President will not run White House alone, but from time to time dialogue with congressmen and women, business tycoons in Wall Street, ICT magnates in Silicon Valley and other relevant stakeholders before major economic or socio-political policies are introduced and allowed to scale through the congress.

Since the advent of democracy in 1999, Enugu State has never witnessed a thorough democratic system of governance—where an incumbent governor will long to consult and interface with genuine stakeholders and iron-out grey edges before arriving at a consensus, in implementation of polices of his administration. There is no doubt that His Excellency Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has not only redefined standard of stakeholders and community engagements in the Coal City via dialogue and diplomacy, but rewritten political template of Eastern hub; used previously by his predecessors in the art of governance. 

Before now, Enugu State had executive governors who operated like demi-gods, called the shots and determined who-gets-what without consultations with critical stakeholders and opinion moulders. They never bothered or alluded to overriding interests of Enugu people, provided they were in absolute control of the state government apparatus. Erstwhile governors of the state were feared more than respected. They propagated and enforced political ideology of absoluteness of power—which was averse to fundamentals of 21st century democracy.

Emergence of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as executive governor of Enugu State in 2015 changed the narrative of governance in the state by discarding anti-democratic notion of a governor knowing-it-all and arrogating all the powers indiscriminately to himself. As meek-hearted and open-minded man, he descended from his Olympian height as Chief Executive Officer of the state to pedestrian rabble, to get connected to as much grass-rooters and all sincere stakeholders who are interested in development of the state via his diplomatic prowess and strategic tactic of all-inclusive government—where every Tom, Dick and Harry are carried along in the day-day running of the state.

Importation of western-style of diplomatic governance in administering the state has helped in creating comparative peaceful and conducive environment for strategic economic and political developments. Without mincing words, Gov. Ugwuanyi has won so many political battles in the state without firing single shot. His stakeholder’s engagement policy is in line with proven democratic norm that jaw-jaw is better than war-war. He has been able to accommodate (at least to a reasonable extent), intriguing aspirations of all entrenched interests of diverse political power blocks in the state, through his diplomatic tendencies cum inexhaustible government-community stakeholders engagements windows.

In the spirit of objectivity and dispelling the disparaging tag of sycophancy on the part of this writer, I will like to state without fear of contradiction, that one of the qualities going for Gov. Ugwuanyi, is his democratic cum diplomatic abilities to consult and rob minds with even his critics, not with ill-intention of wooing them over but to fashion out other elaborate ways of ensuring speedy development of the state.
I have written articles in the past vehemently chastising the governor, especially on his recent handling of invasion and massacre of villagers in Nimbo community by dreaded Fulani herdsmen, not out of hate for the governor but love for my dear state of Enugu. What baffles my imagination is the unperturbed manner at which he welcomes harsh criticisms. He sees opposing views as part of the nitty-gritty of real people-oriented government.

Ironically, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s diplomatic approach to issues of state governance enables him to see his critics as partners in progress, instead of sworn enemies that must be decimated at all cost. He believes in the wisdom epitomised quote of Edward Murrow that says, “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of democracy dies with it”. This is unprecedented of a leader in a society that thrives on sycophancy and hypocrisy.

So many African leaders’ names have been written in abyss of shame, through totalitarian use of power because they failed to link two extremes of philosophical gulfs of sycophancy and constructive criticisms. A lot of our intolerant leaders, out of sheer incompetence and abhorrence of democratic ethos, view a critic as an enemy instead of seeing them as someone opposing their ideas of governance and not their personalities.

 Gov. Ugwuanyi’s political ideology is hedged on this understanding that it is through constructive opposition of ideas that we can learn rudiments of constitutional democracy, promote principle of self-transformation and work towards intellectual osmosis and synergy for a better governed society.  President Buhari-led APC government should borrow a leaf from Gov. Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on how to engage relevant stakeholders irrespective of their political party affiliation, contrary opinions and leadership ideologies, than terming every critic a “looter” just to prepare ground for extra-judicial incarceration of perceived critics.

On this note, I think in my candid opinion that Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has set the pace on potency of diplomatic governance and its heralding benefits of altitudinal change amongst our elected and appointed officers who see the people that they are meant to serve as mere subjects that must be seen and not heard. Stifling of opposing views has never helped any government; rather it isolates the government from the yearnings of the masses, which in turn incite the people against their leaders.
Citizens of Enugu State should not mistake open-mindedness and all-inclusive disposition of Gov. Ugwuanyi as a sign of weakness but unparalleled strength, which should be emulated by other state governors in other to propagate the principle of diplomatic governance as being championed by number one citizen of Enugu State.

*Nwobodo Chidiebere wrote in from Abuja.


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