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Sam Ugwuozor: Governor Ugwuanyi an apostle of political ecumenism

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Etymologically the word Ecumenism was derived from the Greek word “Oikoumene” which means the totality of the inhabitants of the world. The early Christians however used the same word to describe the general assembly of all the leaders of different churches for a meeting. The churches meet to cultivate closer relationships among the churches in order to promote Christian unity and cooperation.

Whether the Christian churches achieved or are still pursuing their objectives of working together embedded in the spirit of ecumenism is not the concern of this. What is however important is that they are talking; they are meeting; they are in dialogue. Dialogue is an exchange of ideas or opinion, a conversation on issue of common concern with a view of reaching an amicable agreement or settlement. Through the process of dialogue, mutual understanding, esteem, respect and love are likely established between persons or groups that are engaged in it.

To achieve the objective of ecumenism, the people must cultivate, adopt and predispose towards the attitude of tolerance, patience, benevolence and forgiveness. They must consistently demonstrate what late Fr. Stan Ani called a catholicity of spirit, open mindedness and indulgence to the opinion or practices of others as long as it is not harmful to the common good. They must shun all forms of bigotry and conscientiously show sympathy to the beliefs and practices that are different from their own.

How we wish that we Nigerians can play our national politics from an ecumenical perspective – a politics of brotherly understanding, mutual love, tolerance, forgiveness, willingness to dialogue, accepting the reality that truth exists and a resolve to comprehend and reach a clearer understanding of issues at stake.

On a number of reasons people have requested to know why Enugu State under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is so peaceful. The answer is so simple; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administers Enugu State from an Ecumenical perspectives. Underpinning his ecumenical approach is an ethos embedded in his personality which seeks to promote commonality of purpose working to overcome divisiveness and antagonistic postures, reconciliation of conflicting tendencies and an uncommon orientation towards the common good. His deliberate policies of inclusiveness and participation of the people in the affairs that concern them, his respect for human right and the rule of law, equitable distribution of resources, transparency and pre-eminence of justice in the actions of government. Part of this ecumenical approach to governance is his policy of gender mainstreaming in accordance with the United Nations campaign of eliminating gender discrimination to ensure equality and dignity of all men and women. This assertion can be measured by the number of women participating in many critical areas of Public Service in Enugu State; the civil service, local government, legislature, Judiciary etc.

One can conveniently call Ugwuanyi a Lincolnian in politics. He has like President Lincoln of the United States appointed into his cabinet people who strenuously disagreed with him politically and ideologically. Having identified his mission in politics as the opportunity to serve the people, to bring peace, to ameliorate the condition of the poor and the down trodden, to uplift positively their material condition and to govern in truth and justice, he believes that views and inputs of those who are of different political and ideological beliefs could still be relevant in accomplishing his mission.

His ecumenical perspective in politics is also captured by his ever ready disposition to dialogue with individuals and groups to an extent where his close aides find baffling. Government House or Governors Office is often tagged ‘a no go area’. The intimidating presence of battle-ready security personnel excites fear and trepidation in people. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s sojourn in Enugu Government House has changed this narrative. His open door policy, his humility and compassion, his keen willingness to listen, his patience and tolerance of the views of others have unshackled the iron gate of Government House and thrown it open to all manner of people to talk with their leader.

With or without notice he effortlessly and reciprocally welcomes them, listens and addresses the issue they present, reconciles warring groups, encourages the reign of peace, friendship and understanding and the people will go home with joy. This paper cannot possibly contain comprehensively the length and breadth of Ugwuanyi’s Ecumenical actions in governance. It is enough to say that his political ecumenism flourishes in reciprocity of mutual love and friendship, tolerance of plurality of views and dialogical disposition and not in troubles, conflict and wars, antagonism and disagreements.

To the glory of God his unflinching disposition to peace has undoubtedly bequeathed on Enugu State serene, calm, unpolluted and uncontaminated breeze of “ordered harmony of authority and obedience” which any visitor to Enugu would immediately, on entry, feel, perceive or experience. This assertion was confirmed by the late Senator Ibrahim Mantu. While eulogizing Governor Ugwuanyi, on the peaceful atmosphere he met at Enugu, he said; “we perceive peace, we perceive love, we perceive fraternity, you have the ability to give justice, the ability to give peace, you are a man who believes in justice, a man who believes in equity, you are a man who believes in fair play”. Ibrahim Mantu (may his soul rest in peace) has said it all. Nigerians in search of leadership should listen to him.

Sam Ugwuozor Ph.D. is an Attorney and Political Philosopher based in Enugu.

Sam Ugwuozor: Governor Ugwuanyi an apostle of political ecumenism

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