- Bishop Onaga urge for peace and unity
By Chike Ogbonna
As part of her contribution in initiating deep dialogue and exchange of ideas at the threshold of the nation’s general election, the Politics Commission and the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu host gubernatorial candidates in Enugu State to a Podium Discussion and an interactive session tagged: ‘Enthronement of Good Governance through the action of the laity and the state executives’.
The event took place on Tuesday, February 21st at the Jubilee Hall, Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu. Guber candidates from the ADC, APGA, Labour Party, PDP and many other political parties present were given the opportunity to share their vision for Enugu if elected into office.
In his welcome address, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga noted that Politics being an interesting aspect of human life, precipitated the idea behind such fora, which is to create a cordial environment to speak to one another as one family in discussing important issues affecting the state. According to His Lordship, this is an opportunity for us to talk and hear ourselves, a phenomenon which he described as a platform to talk to ourselves and not at ourselves.
“I find this very family discussion very important. It is a family discussion. I want to remove the adjective “campaign” from today. It is a family discussion. The Catholic Church is always there for the good of humanity, for love. Central to this discussion is love.
“This is not a place to scare people off or talk about people or scare people. Let us talk like Christians which we are.
“We have come to talk to ourselves and not at ourselves. In a Month’s time, one of you will be the Governor of Enugu State and when that happens, all of you should gather to work with him for the development of Enugu State”, His Lordship urged.
The director of JDPC, Rev. Fr. Donatus Onigbo buttressed the place of dialogue in nation building. In his introductory speech to usher in the debate, Fr. Onuigbo said that dialogue is the basis of building a nation, as well as its people. According to him, through dialogue, issues are solved in a better manner, which hitherto would have led to an avoidable chaos. According to him, the event was conveyed by the laity with the aim to begin a dialogue and will continue even after the election.
This he believed will lead to everyone rallying around whoever eventually wins and invariably establish a friendly environment that will metamorphose into an approachable situation for the people of Enugu State.
As the floor was declared open for the various candidates to share their vision by the moderators led by Prof. J.U Onwumere, the ADC Candidate, Pastor Donatus Obi-Ozoemena shared his desire to tackle the issue of security in Enugu State through the establishment of a 3 to 4 digit emergency number for the people of the state. He promised to ensure a stable power supply in the state and reiterated that his agenda in governance will focus on the key issues of; Security, electricity, creating an enabling environment for private investors to come into Enugu State through incentives, as well as Agricultural development which will help fight hunger and unemployment in the state.
Frank Nweke of APGA in a seeming dig on the PDP led administration in the state, established in his speech that citizens vote parties back into office when they do well. He noted that he will prioritize the issue of water scarcity, security and education if elected into office. He said that he will lead by example and will not in any form tolerate abuse of office, directly or indirectly. He further promised to make primary health care delivery, human capital development at all level, youth development and empowerment as top of his agenda amidst many more lofty ideas he espoused.
For Dr. Peter Mbah of the PDP, the evil that is responsible for our many challenges in the state is bad governance. He promised to enshrine good governance in the state through upholding the rule of law, being open to the daily workings of government, accountability as well as inclusiveness in governance.
“Our goal is to attract investors to Enugu State. We will expand the economy from $1.4billion to $40billion using funds from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and federal allocation.
Several sectors of productivity have been recognized.
“Agriculture will be the first sector, covering production, processing, and packaging. then develop an industrial state. We will construct 1000 km of roads.
We’ll make Enugu attractive to investors. We are considering how young people will interact with the digital economy in the future. Children will study while being exposed to technology.
There will be basic medical care. The goal is to shift the economy from public to private sector driven”, He said.
The PRP candidate, Comrade Chris Agu pledged to first and foremost embark on a spiritual cleansing of the state. According to him, the problems of the state are spiritual.
“Our people died without getting their gratuity and pension in Enugu. As a former teacher I will pay minimum wage. On security i will deal with idiots that kidnap our people.
“All the areas that they kidnap our people and enter, we shall build roads to the farm. We shall plant palms and plantain. We shall build a feed factory. History must be compulsory in our school curricular. We shall give our students a bursary. Our traditional rulers shall have their returns from the Internally Generated Revenue of the state”, he promised.
Having studied and lived overseas for many years, YPP’s Ugochukwu Bethel Ede believes that he can replicate what is obtainable in the western world in Enugu state as far as human capital development is concerned. According to him, he will industralise the state through building
17 factories in 17 LGA in Enugu.
He promised to employ the youths and pay them well. “I will employ 2000 youths from every LGA. On security we will use foreign standard and on health you won’t pay hospital bill and I improve research opportunities”, he said.
For the Labour Party flag bearer, Chijioke Edeoga, he will place his focus according to order of importance.
He promised to ensure a deeply grass root oriented governance that will ensure a significant impact across all the wards in the state. Decentralizing water supply and having a core community immediate need focus amongst many others according to him will be the crux of his governance. He also assured that he will run a corruption free government and will be an open book for all to read and access.
Cyril Elochukwu Mama of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) promised that between now and April, more than 1.7 million Enugu youths will be empowered. According to him, he has a plan with a Chinese company to provide uninterrupted electricity for Enugu State.
“The state will not lack water, especially within the state metropolis. There will be 17 microfinance banks across the 17 local government areas to help rural people access loan. We shall invest in ICT and digital technology. Women inclusion is mandatory for our party. We shall invest in gas that has already been discovered in Enugu state. We shall generate light with the coal we have in Enugu state. We have come to save life from insecurity. We shall guard the forest and keep the road safe. We will handle boundary issues to bring peace among communities”, he said.
Indeed it was a harvest of ideas and promises by the Gubernatorial candidates. The floor was opened for questions as the audience posited direct and general questions to the candidates concerning their plans for the people of the state. Ostensibly, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Uche Nnaji was absent.
In his closing remark, His Lordship, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga urged the candidates to ensure that they conduct themselves in a peaceful manner. His Lordship called for united front when the result is declared and a winner emerged. He asked that all join hands in partnership to move the state forward.