Dr. Okenwa Okechukwu
Few years before Mr. Emmanuel Macron was elected French President, France was embroiled in multifaceted crises which were taking a serious toll on the French nationals. The crises had become pronounced as a result of former President Nicholas Sarkozy’s leadership disconnect from the people. Fundamental amongst these crises were debilitating economic downturn and the general migrant crisis rocking the European Union. There was no end in sight for these in both Nicholas and Francois Hollande’s administrations. The rating of the government plummeted. People had already lost confidence. Fed up with the crisis, the French citizens set out for a new paradigm and discovery of a candidate who could turn things around for them.
In the midst of this search emerged aspirants each promising a new dawn for France. But the French were meticulous. They wanted something different. Indeed, when the 39 year old Emmanuel Macron who had versed himself in leadership and policy thrusts from Sciences Po emerged with his blueprints, the feasibility of his proposed administration knocked out the old generation in the race. History was made. Young Macron was elected. The economic journey of France was rewritten and the people became happy once again. This is the peculiar situation in Nigeria today. Enugu state under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi seems insulated from this crisis as the Governor has laid some strong economic foundation for the state. And one of the lingering questions is: who can sustain and advance the governor’s legacies?
The people of Nigeria in general and Enugu state in particular have again been presented with another priceless opportunity to elect those that will be representing them for another four years. Nigerians’ economic and political journeys in the past years should be a lesson to all, that, like France, the build up to 2023 election is a time to turn their searchlight towards discovering those equipped to turn things around for the greater good of Nigerians. There are no two ways at arriving at the destination other than electing those with impeccable leadership antecedents and strong character. Our people can rewrite their own story and make the best choice that would move the state beyond over-reliance on magic money from Abuja, called federal allocations. Revenue from oil is dwindling by the day. The country is borrowing to survive. It’s time to look inwards and see through the blueprints of aspirants jostling for the Lion Building.
In Enugu state, among those contending to rescue the soul of the state in 2023 is a very young 41 year old aspirant, Dr. Kingsley Udeh. Udeh like Macron, from all indications, is the youngest contestant for the seat of the governor. Since his announcement to leverage the achievements of Governor Ugwuanyi if elected in 2023, many political watchers have been curious about his leadership pedigree, educational qualifications, roadmap to a new Enugu state and his insistence that for the state to escape the entanglement of the national economic crisis, it must first disembark from over reliance on federal allocations and integrate into a technologically-driven economy. Dr. Udeh’s drawn up economic map is pointing towards a paradigm shift where a new system hinged on economic forces or mechanisms, such as Techncal and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), technology, public-private partnership and foreign direct investment, would have to be maximized to overcome the national economic crisis.
Although still a youth, Dr. Udeh’s leadership antecedents have proven his worth not just in Nigeria but also outside the shores of the country. His experiences in leadership and governance cut across a broad spectrum of our geopolitical and economic space. Assessing this would readily point to his ability to effect the much change the people have been yearning for. For this, Udeh has been described as a hybrid of youthfulness in terms of the energy, intellect, charisma and skills to set up a modern economy and connect the young ones into it, and that of the aged in terms of the wealth of experience, leadership positions, mentorship, relationship and eclectic understanding of different approaches to proffering solutions to our hydra-headed problems. How has he been able to achieve the above having his age in perspective?
In his early years, being one of the brightest international students, Dr. Udeh’s multi-talented skills earned him flying colours at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he made a distinction in his Masters Degree in Public International Law, specializing in Public Procurement Law and Policy, and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) respectively. Not satisfied with this incredible outing, the young Udeh proceeded to countries like Germany, the US, Canada, etc where he acquired specialized skills in Financial Management/Literacy Master; Public Finance Management; Advanced Security in the Field with the United Nations; Public Expenditure Management & Financial Accountability Review Assessment, Methodology for Assessment of Procurement, etcetera. Dr. Udeh’s educational and training exploits in law, politics, economics, finance, public policies and leadership are endless as he continues to search for the solution to a better society.
One fascinating thing about Dr. Udeh’s personality is his ability to multitask and proffer remedies to global issues even when these herculean issues are posing to be intractable. It’s not surprising, therefore, to see Udeh’s engagements at both intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, as a consultant, service provider, and policies enabler. Interestingly, Dr. Udeh has become a golden scramble for most of the international bodies not just because of his managerial competence in his areas of specialisation but also because of his unsullied integrity and his unblemished character in managing public offices. In a society where corruption has become a notorious sub-culture almost institutionalized, Udeh has distinguished himself as a model for change, representing the possibility of a new Nigeria. He is the catalyst of change the people of Enugu state should be clamouring for. He is the only man who can take over from Governor Ugwuanyi and consolidate on his great legacies.
Udeh’s resounding wealth of experiences and resourcefulness should be considered as timely for the Lion Building job. The people of Enugu state are in dire need of him to reposition the state and set the pace for others to follow. Having incredible knowledge that cuts across different spheres of life, it’s doubtless to say that Udeh is going to establish a new pattern of socio-economic engineering in the state. At such a very young age, Udeh has worked at different universities as senior lecturer which include, Baze University, Abuja, University of Nigeria, Enugu, First Tutor, Preston and the Council of Legal Education. This is absolutely amazing that Udeh, even though he has refused to drum these uncommon achievements at that young age, will continue to serve as a model for economic change. Will the people of Enugu state miss this rare golden opportunity in 2023? It’s time for everyone with progressive mind to root for Dr. Udeh as the next governor of Enugu state.
Indeed, a cogent question has arisen as to whether Dr. Udeh possesses the political experience to steer the leadership of Enugu State if elected. The answer is contained in Udeh’s past and present sojourn in governance and administration at different levels. Over the past years, Udeh has registered his presence in the heart of the people through his governance dexterity while serving the state in different capacities. His expertise and influence in international development sphere motivated Governor Ugwuanyi, who is known for his youth friendliness and talent hunt, to extend his government’s invitation to him to bring his rich experience to bear in the transformation of the state. This invitation has lent credence to the international recognition of Udeh’s stellar capacity to drive development to the next level. While he was with the state government, Udeh served as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Development Aid Coordination and Mobilization; State Focal Person, Open Government Partnership, Office of the Executive Governor; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, where he performed beyond expectations. Working as a top functionary with the state has exposed him to diverse frontiers of leadership, equipping him for the tasks ahead. In Enugu State today, the education sector has improved through Udeh’s work with other stakeholders. It’s now on record that Enugu state is one of the best performing states in both basic and higher education.
Having established the above, one would waste no time in arriving at a conclusion that Dr. Udeh is the candidate that can build bridges, reconcile and reconnect all interests across the different political divides. The time to rally round Udeh for a new Enugu state of our dream is now.