By Amah Baldwin
From my Reporter’s Diary
**In a cultural arena, when a big masquerade enters the stage, the small ones become jittery. So it is in politics.
Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu, refered to as GNG by his numerous admirers has thrown his hat in the ring to contest for a seat in the Senate. His Senatorial District is Enugu West where Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President holds sway at the moment.
Gbazueagu has without doubt come a long way in Nigerian politics. On a number of occasions, he had served as the servant, the boss, even as the heir apparent to the throne in Enugu State and in what used to be Anambra state.
Three times in 1991, 1998 and 1999, not a few believed that GNG was the Governor-in-Waiting, not just in Enugu State, but also in the old Anambra state.
In Enugu state politics, with a formidable team of many players, GNG may not be the captain, but his comfortable place as a member of the first eleven is undoubtedly guaranteed.
He fought battles until the unfavourable result of the 1999 governorship election sent him on sabbatical.
It is instructive to note that Gbazueagu was to be Enugu State Governor in 1991, but intrigues and shenanigans associated with politics of that era, and masterminded by then sitting military government denied him his deserved victory at the poll.
While GNG and his team in the Social Democratic Party, SDP counted their blessings, having received field reports, indicating encouraging performance at the polls, the powers that were, in connivance with the umpire truncated the wishes of the electorate. That was General Ibrahim Babangida era, with Colonel Herbert Obi-Eze as Enugu military governor.
From the Red Carpet, Governor’s Lodge, orders were issued to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, one Alhaji Rafindadi. Active participants were three top officials of the government who were deployed to then three zones of the state. Then Secretary to the military government, Dr. Itcha Ituma became deputy governorship candidate only six days to the ballot which took place December 14, 1991.
Six years later in 1997, the coast was again clear for this gentle, amiable, but astute cum crack political guru. His popularity was so profound that everywhere he went, the crowd received him with frenzied applause.
Even children rushed in droves to have a glimpse of him and to touch him. Why the ecstasy? GNG is simply handsome. He is presentable, he is blessed with a towering personality, he is charismatic and is loved by a wide spectrum of the people.
In a prize-fight, the appearance of GNG in the ring, any day has the potency to send shivers down the spines of the opponent.
I recall vividly two episodes in 1997. Then military administrator of Enugu State, Colonel Sule Ahman hosted the creme of Enugu State politics. Sule Ahman told his guests that one of them would eventually replace him as Governor, for which Chief Benjamin Nnachetam, another charming politician nominated himself immediately. Colonel Sule Ahman snapped: “I hope you are aware that GNG is interested in this seat.” Everybody laughed. It was a signal.
On another occasion, the administrator was seeing off his guest, this time, Eze N’Ukpo, Prince Arthur Eze. As they stood in front of the Lion Building, Gbazueagu arrived. On sighting GNG, the irrepressible Dunukofia strong man burst out. Holding the hands of GNG and Colonel Ahman, the excited Arthur Eze beckoned on journalists who had just covered an assignment. “Gentlemen of the Press, permit me to hereby introduce to you the outgoing governor of Enugu State and the incoming governor. Again another signal.
As the National Secretary of the UNCP, the buck stopped on the table of the Oji-River born business mogul and politician. His Nza Street Enugu home turned out to be a Jerusalem of sort. Politicians from across the country swarmed his abode to receive blessings and endorsements. Notable among them was Alhaji Atiku Abubakar then governorship aspirant in Adamawa state who would become Vice president later in 1999 and his friend, Ken Nnamani who became Senate President in 2003, two of them under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Under UNCP, GNG gave them governorship and senatorial tickets respectively.
However, the death of the then Head of state, General Sani Abacha and the emergence of General Abdulsalam Abubakar pierced the balloon of public expectations.
Under General Olusegun Obasanjo civilian administration, Gbazueagu who lost the governorship election in Enugu State to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani was nominated by the South East political leaders for a ministerial position. Again the devil was at work. Three sadists in political uniform conspired to author a petition, with official stamp of authority to scuttle what could have given Enugu State an edge over others.
Enugu State ended up having a junior minister, Dubem Onyia who thought that after the conspiracy against GNG he deserved elevation to senior position.
Today, GNG is back from Sabbatical. All through his political carrier, Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu has left no one in doubt about his commitment to truly serve the people.
While in SDP, UNCP and APP, it was with an extraordinary burst of energy and perhaps unrivalled commitment that the arrow head of the Enugu Crusaders bestrode the political space with the confidence of the Lion, the undisputed King of the Forest.
Delegates to the APC primaries have to take a deep look at the antecedents of politicians jostling for the Enugu West Senatorial District seat and do the needful.